Six on Saturday-Short Walk on the Wild Side

Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. We had a nice week with temperatures not too unbearable at all. I took a walk through the hayfield a couple of days ago to check on the progress of the Elephantopus carolinianus in the back of the farm. It always amazes me how some wildflowers start growing like mad after the hay is cut.

#1-Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)

Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)

There were several Asclepias hirtella, the Tall Green Milkweed, blooming again. Normally, they don’t flower the second time but they are this year. I can’t quite figure out why they call this species Tall Green Milkweed when there are other species that grow much taller…

 

#2)-Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot)

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) under the persimmon tree.

I have walked to the back of the farm several times over the summer to check on the progress of the Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot). These are really neat wildflowers that I only noticed growing on the farm last fall after they had already dried up. I found the dried up flowers and leaves in an area that grows up in poison ivy and other brush but I marked the spot…

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot)

I was very happy when I found a colony under the persimmon tree so I won’t have to walk to the spot I found them earlier. Well, I usually go there anyway… The plants have mostly buds with a few flowers beginning to open up. Until the flowers are fully open, I can’t show you why I think they are so neat.

I walked through the brush behind the ponds to check on the Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (Calico Aster) and S. ontarionis (Ontario Aster) but so far no flowers. At this point, they still look the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are both the same species but only time will tell…

#3)-Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)

This area in front of the two back ponds is LOADED with Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed). The wind was blowing so there wasn’t as much activity on the flowers as usual.

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)

The above photo isn’t that great because, as I mentioned, the wind was blowing… Many species of butterflies and other insects love ironweeds. Later on, they will be swarming with Monarch Butterflies and the always interesting hummingbird moths.

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)

The Vernonia baldwinii (Baldwin’s or Western Ironweed) grow in another area. Baldwin’s Ironweed have recurved involucral bracts where Missouri Ironweed’s bracts are appressed. To be honest, some of the flowers in this colony have recurved bracts and some don’t… The two species do hybridize which can drive a person batty…

#4-Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)

I walked to the pond in the front pasture to check on the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) which is also a late bloomer. They are also kind of late to come up in the spring which had me wondering if they survived the winter. The New England Aster grows to over 6′ tall. I put a water bottle at the base of the plant for size comparison…

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)

I only found this species last fall because we had a late “F” and the flowers are pink. Their clusters of flowers caught my attention from quite a distance. I am hoping the same will be true this fall. They are working on it.

 

#5-Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed)

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed)

One of my favorite wildflowers on the farm is the Verbesina virginica also known as White Crownbeard and Frostweed. These are also very tall plants that grow much taller than me… They are always in the same location every year.

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed)

They aren’t exactly early bloomers either, but they are getting there.

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed)

They do have neat white flowers in time, but the neatest thing is their winged stems and very long leaves.

#6-Strophostyles helvola (Amberique Bean)

Strophostyles helvola (Amberique Bean/Trailing Fuzzy Bean)

Even though seeing the Elephantopus carolinianus beginning to flower was exciting, I believe the find of the day was the Strophostyles helvola (Amberique Bean/Trailing Fuzzy Bean). The first time I found this species there were only a few flowers and the leaves had all dried up. Since then, I have kept an eye on them. This year I found a few growing closer to the gate and was able to get some good photos.

Strophostyles helvola (Amberique Bean/Trailing Fuzzy Bean)

From a distance, they resemble an off-color sweet pea. I kind of like this color much better than pink. 🙂

That completes my Six on Saturday kindly hosted by The Propagator. Be sure to check out the other Six on Saturday posts.

Well, I better get going for now. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful. Be sure to get dirty if you can!

 

 

Wildflower Catch Up With A Few Bugs…

Hello everyone! It is an interesting time of the year to go wildflower hunting since most of them have gone to seed. There are still a few flowering, especially where the hay was cut. I also noticed there weren’t as many insects as last week but there are still a few Monarch butterflies. The weather has been nice for the most part but we are supposed to have a couple of chilly nights. After that, it will warm up a little again.

Of course, the seeds of the Desmodium paniculatum (Panicledleaf Ticktrefoil) are always trying to hitch a ride. I have done pretty well avoiding them until the last three times I went out. This time was the worse. I walked through the middle of the south hayfield to avoid them which turned out to be a good idea. Unfortunately, I had to go through them to get to where I was going. I was on a mission. 🙂 Then when was finished, I walked out of the briars and looked at my boots. GEEZ! I should start wearing my old rubber boots with the hole in them. After that, I didn’t bother trying to avoid them. When I came back to the house, I removed them off my pants then sat down on an old telephone pole to pick them off my boots.  I removed them from one boot then thought how glad I was they weren’t those other stick tights (from the Torilis japonica). I pulled off the other boot and sat my foot right down on a cluster of the other stick tights I hadn’t noticed when I sat down. GEEZ!!! My sock was LOADED! One of their common names is the Tall Sock Destroyer and they live up to their name.

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) seed pod…

I originally went out for the walk to check on the last of two milkweed seed pods for the experiment crew at the Augusta University Biology Department in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They are studying the Showy and Common Milkweed and the hybrid species between the two. The Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) grows in the eastern half of the United States and the Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) grows in the western half. There is an area where they overlap and hybridize in the middle. They contacted members of iNaturalist that submitted observations of these milkweeds to participate in the study. I agreed to participate so they sent envelopes for the samples. I mailed the two pods on Thursday.

Their information says, “We gave been collecting genetic, metabolomic (any small-molecule chemicals found within a tissue sample), and phenotypic (physical characteristics, such as shape of the leaves, color of flowers, etc.) data by taking leaf and seed pod samples from plants in each species zone and within the hybrid zone. Once we have finished collecting this data, we will begin to analyze the differences between the two species and their hybrid species. With this information, we hope to begin to understand why these species remain geographically separated and how genes are passed between them.” 

On the way to where the milkweed was, I stumbled on something very interesting…

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-12-21, #843-9.

I remember seeing maroonish leaves on another plant just like this one closer to the briar patch a while back, but this one was more in the center of the hayfield. I didn’t pay much attention earlier because I thought the plant had maroonish leaves because maybe something was wrong with it. You just never know… Weird things happen in nature. Anyway, Wednesday I saw this one with flowers and I completely didn’t recognize it. Of course, I took A LOT of photos. 🙂

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-12-21, #843-10.

The large leafy bracts should have turned a light on because I have identified only one species like it. The flowers weren’t open which is probably why I still didn’t recognize it.

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-12-21, #843-11.

After I went through the 94 photos I had taken for the day and deleted the ones I didn’t want. I separated them by species and uploaded the observations on iNaturalist that I already knew. Then, I took the first photo for this one and uploaded it for ID. It suggested ONLY Elephantopus carolinianus. I thought it was completely whacky! I did the same to the second and it said the same thing. I took a better look at the second photo and then it hit me. HOLY CRAP! I have Elephantopus in my hayfield!

I first saw this species on September 9 in 2019 while I was herding cattle on a friend’s mother’s farm. I was in a dead run going down a wooded hillside toward the creek when I spotted them. I almost rolled the rest of the way down. Anyway, you can read about it on THIS POST.

The Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) is definitely one of the most interesting wildflowers I have ever seen. I will try and get photos of its flowers opened up, but you can click on the name above to go it its own page.

Ipomoea hederacea (Ivy-Leaved Morning Glory), 10-12-21

There were several Ipomoea hederacea (Ivy-Leaved Morning Glory) blooming in the south hayfield as well. I don’t have a page for this one because I just got a proper ID. 🙂

Then I walked to the southeast corner of the hayfield to go to the back pasture, through the blackberry briars…

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed) in the southeast corner of the back pasture on 10-12-21, #843-28.

The Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed) are still blooming up a storm. They attract A LOT of pollinators and other insects that have a hard time finding food this time of the year. Normally, they probably aren’t flowering that much now, but they regrew after the hay was cut. I do not have a page for this species yet.

Danaus plexippus (Monarch) on the Vernonia missurica on 10-12-21, #843-5.

There are still a few Monarch’s flying around the ironweed but not near as many as last week. This one let me get very close.

Euthochtha galeator (Helmeted Squash Bug) on 10-12-21, #843-22.

There are many species of insects that look similar to this Helmeted Squash Bug. This one was feeding on what looked like whiteflies when I first saw it and it didn’t really like my intrusion. I asked it to pose and give me a big smile but it kept looking at its food.

Croton capitatus (Wooly Croton) on 10-12-21, #843-3.

There is a lot of Croton capitatus (Hogwort, Wooly Croton, Goatweed Etc.) flowering in the back pasture right now… There aren’t usually that many here…

Then I walked north toward the…

Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon) on 10-12-21, #843-7.

The Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon) tree in the back pasture is really LOADED this year.

Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon) on 10-12-21, #843-8.

Besides being able to cut the milkweed seed pod and seeing the Elephantopus, being able to eat a few persimmons made the whole walk worthwhile. Then I walked to the house to pick off the mess on my boots.

That’s all I have for now. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful.

Elephantopus carolinianus and Perilla frutescens Observed

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-19.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I was helping a friend move cattle from his mother’s farm a few days ago and stumbled across this interesting plant. I helped him move a 1964 Ford Pickup from a hill that had been in the trees for 15 years a couple of days earlier. That was interesting. I didn’t take the camera at the time but I wish I had because seeing the old pickup in the trees and what we went through to get off the hill and up the road to the house would have made an interesting post. His mother sold her farm so we had to get everything moved.

 

Perilla frutescens (Beefsteak Plant) on 9-9-19.

Now, you have to visualize a shady hillside with a creek running along the side. The hillside is covered in trees with literally THOUSANDS of Perilla frutescens (Beefsteak Plant). While I was waiting for my friend (Jay) and another helper (Jay Wagler, Ruth Wagler’s son from Wagler’s Greenhouse), to drive the cows up from somewhere, I waited on the hill. Of course, I had my camera that day so I took several photos of the Perilla frutescens.

 

Perilla frutescens (Beefsteak Plant) flowers on 9-9-19.

I thought it was very interesting how the Perilla frutescens there were in full bloom when the plants behind my back pond were just budding.

After a while, the cows came so I had to forget about taking photos. I had to go up the hill from where I was then run down the hill as fast as I could, through all the Perilla, trees, vines, etc. toward the creek, then across the creek so the cows couldn’t go back to where they had come from. While I was running toward the creek, I almost tripped more than a few times. Anyway, as I was running I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going because I was looking at the plants. I spotted a plant I had never seen before but I didn’t have time to stop… By the time I made it to the creek, the cows were heading that direction. They crossed the creek and so did I.

Now, if you have ever driven cattle through a forest that have no idea why they are being herded in the first place, you will know they aren’t just casually walking. Some of them are calm and in no hurry while most of them have their ears up and are running full speed ahead. The calves were going in circles because they had no clue. Mama cows would run ahead then realize their kid wasn’t with them, so they would turn around. And, of course, there were always a few that just stand way behind the others that think they can get left behind. They try to sneak off while you are trying to get the runners to go where you want them and not where they want to go, which is back to where they were in the first place. The opening we needed them to go through was plain as day and right in front of them. What did they do? They stood there looking at the opening. The opening in the fence was to the pasture where the barn was… Ummm… Where the corral was. Now, if you are a cow that is used to a daily routine you would be wondering why you are being herded to the barn in the morning instead of being called to eat feed later in the afternoon. You would be thinking something is fishy. After a while, a few started toward me. Then the rest followed. As I waved at them they found another opening in the fence so they could circle around to the other opening to try and get away. Well, that didn’t work and finally, they went to the barn.

There is a little more to what happened next, but we did finally get them in the coral. All but a cow named Fuzzy who escaped.

Once the cows were in the trailer, I walked back to the creek. I had to go back up the hill to get the tractor I had left there but the tractor wasn’t on my mind. I had to find that weird plant!

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-19.

I crossed the creek and started up the hill through all the vegetation. The hillside was nice and shady and I had to just stand for a minute to admire nature at its finest. There was so much life going on! The bugs were all busy feeding on flowers and each other, birds were flying around, butterflies flying from one flower to another. I found the plant I was looking for with no problem because there were a lot of them along the bottom of the hillside. It was sure a strange plant and I had never seen any quite like it. That evening I identified the plant as Elephantopus carolinianus (el-eh-fun-TOE-pus  kair-oh-lin-ee-AN-us). Common names include Elephant’s Foot, Carolina Elephant’s Foot, and Leafy Elephant’s Foot.

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

Reading the description of this plant on the Missouri Plants website can be pretty complicated.

Inflorescence – Capitate cluster (glomerule) of flower heads terminating stems. Peduncles to +10cm, antrorse appressed pubescent. Peduncles subtended by a single foliaceous bract. Flower clusters subtended by typically three foliaceous bracts to +/-4cm long. Bracts with antrorse appressed pubescence.

I think that means the stem ends in a cluster of flower heads that are compact or unusually compressed. Close to the top of the stem is a leaf with another 3 1/2-4″ of stem above it. Then there are 3 leaves (foliaceous bracts) which the flower clusters sit on. Bracts and peduncles have short hairs.

Involucre – Phyllaries loose, to -1cm long, 2mm broad, acute, green in upper 1/2, scarious below.

GEEZ! An involucre is a bract (phyllary) or set of bracts (phyllaries) that surround a flower or cluster of flowers. In this case, I believe there is something a little strange going on… Skip down to the photo after the next one…

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-19.

The flowers are rather strange. Although this plant is a member of the Asteraceae (composite) family, the flowers are not “daisy-like”. They only have disc flowers.

“Disk flowers – Corolla lilac to whitish, irregularly 5-lobed. Corolla tube 5mm long, glabrous. Lobes to 5mm long, linear, glabrous. Stamens 5, adnate at base of corolla tube. Anthers connate around style, 2mm long, exserted. Style included. Achene (in flower) white, pubescent, 2mm long. Pappus of 5 bristles. Bristles to 5mm long, slightly flattened and expanded at base.”

Hmmm………………………………………. Something seems a bit odd.

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

Some of the plants have lavender-pink flowers. The above photo is somewhat easier to explain… The flower emerges from the phyllaries… WAIT A MINUTE! Take a closer look at that mass of petals… Something is weird! I think I need to jump the fence and have a closer look. How many flowers do you see? One? Count again… I see at least four.

So, using the above descriptions, each bract has a set of four loose phyllaries (actually 2 pairs of 2) in which 4-5 flowers emerge from. Have you ever seen a Fan Flower (Scaevola sp.) where the petals are on only on half the flower? I think that’s what is going on here…

It would have been better to have read the descriptions then searched for this plant so you will know what to look for. For sure you would have known what this plant is when you see it because there is none even similar.

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

Lower leaves are quite large and “spatula-like”. One website says these lower leaves are 5″ long, but just guessing, I would say they are closer to at least 8″.

Missouri Plants says: “Alternate, sessile, elliptic to oblanceolate or spatulate, acute to acuminate, shallow serrate to crenate-serrate, slightly scabrous and pubescent below, sparse pubescent and shiny dark green above, to -30cm long, -10cm broad, tapering to base.” That is about 11″ long by about 4″ wide and the leaves attach directly to the stem with no petiole (sessile).

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

The plant’s upper leaves are MUCH smaller and kind of oval in shape. Here you can see this leaf is what is meant when Missouri Plants says: “Peduncles subtended by a single foliaceous bract.” This leaf is where the “inflorescence” begins and is part of it as the “single foliaceous bract.” At least that is my opinion. Subtended means “under” so it makes sense.

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

Besides a camera, I also need to remember to take the magnifying glass, a small note pad and pen… A field guide would also be promising. I haven’t normally been one to bring plants home from other locations, but I am really tempted with this one. I saw this plant again while I was helping Jay at either his farm or in the back yard of his mothers (the one she sold). Apparently this plant is fairly common in that neck of the woods. I think I may need to check the creek behind here even though I don’t own that property. I normally only go there in the spring to hunt morels. No one will ever know… 🙂

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

I think I read somewhere that the bracts contain a single seed that doesn’t fall out. The whole bract falls off with the seed still inside.

Map from USDA Plant Database showing where Elephantopus carolinianus is native.

Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 23 species of Elephantopsis. Four are native to the United States including E. carolinianus, E. elatus, E. nudatus, and E. tomentosus. E. carolinianus most abundant from Kansas down to Texas and eastward to Pennsylvania and down to Florida and has been Introduced to Cuba. Most species are native to several countries in South America and several in a few countries in Africa. 

The cows were loaded into a trailer in the afternoon and taken to another pasture. As far as I know, Fuzzy is still at large.

I have been working on the post about the Persicaria species (Smartweeds) here and ran into a snag. Two species are very much alike and one is variable. One has longer leaves than the other and both have the same identifying features. I think many colonies could have both species which makes it complicated. I was measuring leaves in a very large colony and a few plants have 6″ long leaves while most are 3 1/2 to 4″. The rest of the species were fairly easy to identify. I am going to check out Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri on Monday at the library to see if they can help. The original was written by Julian Steyermark was published in 1963. In 1987, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Missouri Department of Conservation decided to work together and revise and update the older book in a three-volume set. The first edition, written by Mr. Steyermark was published in 1999 and it is available at the local branch. Volume two was published in 2006 and volume 3 in 2013. Volume 2 and three were written by George Yatskievych. They are at another branch but can be delivered here or I can drive 18 miles to pick them up. Each volume has over 1,000 pages. The post is ready, but I need to make sure about the one (or two) species.

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Be thankful and observant. Never know what you may will run across.