The Quest For Truth: Wildflower ID Part 1

Convolvulus arvensis (Field Bindweed) on 6-24-19.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. I guess the title of this post could get some attention for many reasons. Many of us are on a quest for the truth about something because, after all, the truth will set you free. We wonder about the truth of who we are when traditional religious teaching leaves us asking questions we are told have no answers. Some of us accept there are no answers and we go about life la-de-da. Well, I am not one of those people. While I may live in my own little la la land sometimes, it is far from a life of not knowing who I am, where I came from or where I am going. I have concluded it doesn’t really matter where or how we originated. What matters is who we are now and how we embrace life day by day. Growing spiritually, being thankful, and remaining positive are a few keys to living a happy and abundant life. We continue learning and making new discoveries which makes life truly amazing.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working outside this summer. The past several months spraying and digging thistles on Kevin’s farm have allowed me to watch many wildflower species grow and flower. I have identified many species not growing on the 38 (or so) acres where I live which has been pretty exciting. There are many plants I haven’t identified fully because I am waiting for flowers which can get a bit entertaining. Partly because sometimes I can’t find a plant I was watching and partly because the cows eat them before they flower. So many species in different genera look alike while they are growing then they change when they are about to bud and flower. Some plants of the same species look different growing in different areas of the pasture.

Taking a lot of photos of many different plants can be somewhat confusing if you let it be. Going from one plant to the next then finding better specimins later. Maybe a feature you didn’t shoot before to help clarify a species… I usually photograph a finger (or fingers) between plants. I have learned from experience to take as many photos as possible when you have a chance. You may think there will be other plants of the species somewhere else but maybe not. Then later, when you didn’t find any others, you may not be able to find the plant you photographed earlier. Been there, done that more than once.

 

Convolvulus arvensis (Field Bindweed) on 6-24-19.

One of the many plants I haven’t encountered before is the Convolvulus arvensis commonly known as the Field Bindweed. There were several flowering in the front area of Kevin’s pasture all white flowers with five pale pink stripes. I saw one on the west side with all white flowers and information on Midwest Weeds and Wildflowers says they are commonly all white or mostly pink. There are five pink bracts on the underside of the flowers which may be why the flowers appeared to have pink stripes. The bracts distinguish it from the Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium). Their roots can grow from 8 to 30 feet deep with stems up to 9 feet long. Their roots can send up many shoots and a group of these can spread up to 20′ per year. They produce LOTS of seeds which are viable for up to 30 years!

 

Asclepias sp. in question on July 17.

The biggest issue I have been dealing with is the cows eating the plants I have been watching. I am certainly not complaining about the cows or anything. It is just the way it is and part of the cycle of life and nature. The milkweeds are a good example. The cluster of milkweed I posted about before that I couldn’t ID was likely because it had been snacked on at an earlier age. I took the above photo on July 17, which you can tell from the caption. 🙂

 

Asclepias sp. in question on July 17.

This probably caused the leaves to be smaller and is perhaps what caused the stems to a different color than it would have had if it had been allowed to grow to maturity naturally. While the growth habit, even though nipped earlier, sort of remained the same. So, the Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed) would still remain a bit of a sprawler. Even though several Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) stems were eaten earlier, the growth that remained would still grow upright. Both the Common Milkweed and Green Milkweed have similar leaf veins but their growth habit, leaf shape and other characteristics remain true for the species.

 

On Monday, July 22, I went to Kevin’s farm to locate the Milkweed I previously questioned to get more photos. I wanted more in-depth photos of its leaves and stems on the upper and lower parts of the plant. I didn’t work on Monday so I wasn’t taking time away from my duties. Hmmm… I went to where I thought it was and it was not there. I thought maybe I wasn’t in the right spot so I walked around a bit and still couldn’t find it. So, I went back to where I originally thought it was and found a clump that was probably it. I remembered the clover and other weeds growing with the clump which was the determining factor but the whole spot had been eaten. What remained left me somewhat confused. What remained looked like Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed). The upper part of the stems that left me questioning what species it was earlier was now missing. At least I am fairly certain this is the same cluster… Hmmm… With the cows grazing and eating all the time, the surroundings change. Plants and parts of plants they like get eaten while weeds they don’t care for continue to grow.

 

Asclepias sullivantii on 6-22-19.

There are a few milkweeds that look similar but have distinguishing features that separate them from the rest. The Asclepias sullivantii (Prairie Milkweed) grow more upright with up facing leaves. The veins on the leaves are also more refined than the Common Milkweed but the midrib is pretty similar. When there are no flowers it can be somewhat difficult so you have to look for other features. Am I 100% certain? Not going to tell you…

There is a fairly large colony of Asclepias sullivantii in one area but the plants are spread out quite a distance from each other. They are supposed to flower in June and July but none of the plants had flowers during the time I have been there. There are no seed pods…

 

Arctium minus (Burdock) on 6-22-19.

Then there are the plants that completely change in appearance as they mature. The Arctium minus, commonly known as Burdock, is one of these species. The HUGE lower leaves that look like rhubarb are all but completely gone and have been replaced by smaller leaves and flowers (or buds).

 

Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia) on 6-22-19.

Rarely have I seen Ruellia humilis, the Wild Petunia (etc.) with this many leaves. Without the flowers, it may be a little difficult to identify because we look at their flowers first. If I saw this plant without flowers, not having seen one this large and with so many leaves, I may not have even recognized it. The only plants I have been around are those that have been in the pastures and the ditch where they are constantly eaten or mowed. The one in the above photo somehow escaped being eaten. When I mowed on Saturday I also noticed a large specimen in an area of the ditch here that hadn’t been mowed. The Wild Petunia is a true survivor.

We depend a lot on flowers for proper identification but sometimes that isn’t enough when there are many species in a genus that all have similar flowers. We have to look to their leaves and stems and sometimes their calyces on the underside of the flower may be the only difference.

Sometimes we get a little surprise and have to rethink what we think we know. Notice I am saying “we” (trying to avoid “I”).

 

Unidentified species on 6-22-19.

Several clumps I have been watching have done this… It is in an area where there are several Vernonia baldwinii (Baldwin’s Ironweed) that are now beginning to flower. This plant is definitely not an Ironweed. The teeth on the upper leaves look like little nubs…

 

Hmmm…

The upper leaves are growing upright…

 

Double HMMM…

The teeth on the lower leaves look similar to many species, including Ironweed… Well, some of them… As these plants grew the teeth on their leaves changed somewhat.

Over the years I have taken a lot of wildflower photos on the farm but not always in every stage. So, it could be I will recognize it once it flowers.

 

Vernonia sp. (Ironweed) on 7-24-19.

As I mentioned, the Vernonia baldwinii are now beginning to flower. Actually, some had started earlier in another area and I included them in an earlier post. This plant is Baldwin’s Ironweed which most people just call Ironweed. At my place, an Ironweed is an Ironweed but I noticed something a little weird.

 

Dark stems on this cluster of Ironweed on 7-24-19.

This particular cluster of Ironweed has very dark stems. Some colonies stems are darker than others but have the same general characteristics otherwise. Stems partially dark but not necessarily the entire stem.

Have you ever thought something was right then started feeling maybe not?

 

Again with the Hmmm…

Notice the stems, or whatever you call them, on the entire inflorescence are a maroonish color… Well, I think it looks pretty neat!

 

GEEZ!

And then there is this one… No dark stems…

 

DOUBLE GEEZ!

Its inflorescence looks like this! No maroonish color at all!

 

TRIPLE GEEZ!

WHAT IS THIS? Its leaves look like the plant in question from before with the little nubs! Hmmm…

 

Ummm…

Here is a blooming inflorescence of the same, umm, Ironweed in a different spot.

 

Here is the whole group of Ironweed without dark stems. What you don’t notice in the photo is that these plants have a reddish glow which is quite fascinating in person.

Missouriplants.com gives descriptions of four species of Ironweed. The Missouri State University website, Midwest Weeds and Wildflowers, has five. Looking at their descriptions of Vernonia baldwinii AND photos I took of plants here last year… Ummm… They all are plants with green stems and not dark. Vernonia gigantea (or Vernonia gigantea var. gigantea), the Tall Ironweed, has dark stems. Information says Vernonia baldwinii is “variable” and sometimes difficult to ID. Species in the genus cross to form hybrids as well. The different species can be identified by looking at the bracts surrounding the flower head. The phyllaries are somewhat different, but GEEZ!!!

So, I sent Pamela of Missouri State University some photos to get her input. The photos in the folder are not all labeled because they are not all ID’d. Actually, the photos in the last three folders are not all labeled. Each day of photos is in separate folders… Ummm… 606 folders so far since 2009.

Well, I think I will conclude this post and start on part 2. There may even be a part 3 and 4. I kind of like the name of this post. The Quest For Truth…

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Be thankful and get out and enjoy the fresh air.

Past Week Wildflowers

Asclepias stenophylla (Narrowleaf Milkweed) on 7-16-19. #602-1.

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. The past week has been fairly hot with no rain. I went back to check on the status of the thistles at Kevin’s farm north of town on Tuesday and Wednesday. I think I have them pretty well whipped but there are always a few I missed from before. The Bull Thistles are always a one-time shot and not that big of a problem. The Musk Thistles have been a different story. The bigger plants are all gone but small ones continue to sprout a flowering stem here and there. It is almost like they do this overnight. Supposedly they grow a rosette the first year and flower their second. Well, I can argue that point after spending two months with them. The plants that continue to shoot up flowers are less than a foot tall while earlier the bigger plants were up to around 4′ tall. It has really been an experience.

I have continued to take photos of wildflowers while I worked. There is a combination of two days of photographs in this post but I wanted them in alphabetical order. The Asclepias stenophylla (Narrowleaf Milkweed) in the above photo is getting with it now.

 

Asclepias stenophylla (Narrowleaf Milkweed) on 7-16-19, #602-2.

The bumblebees really like them.

 

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) seed pod on 7-16-19, #602-4.

I had to take a photo of the seed pod of the Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed). Its unique seed pods are one of the identifying features of this species of milkweed.

 

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) on 7-16-19.

While taking photos, a cow walked by and ate the tops right off this Common Milkweed. You can see the sap oozing out of the stems… Hmmm…

 

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) on 7-16-19, # 602-6.

The Common Milkweed is a very robust plant that can grow to over 6′ tall. In pastures, they don’t get that chance and this group is only around 3′ tall, possibly multi-stemmed perhaps from an earlier pruning.

 

Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed) seeds on 7-16-19, #602-7.

The Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed) are among the first of the milkweeds to flower at the farm then are among the first to go to seed.

 

Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed) seeds on 7-16-19, #602-8.

By contrast to many other plants, the large seed pods are mainly filled with fluff which helps the seeds float through the air. The distance they travel depends on a few things including wind speed and the height of neighboring plants. Rain can also spoil their trip by making the fluff heavy and wet and then the seeds just fall to the ground close to the parent plant.

 

Asclepias viridis on 7-17-19, #603-3.

While there are still a few Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed) flowering, most have gone to seed.

 

Asclepias sp. on 7-17-19, #603-1.

While most of the milkweeds are pretty easy to identify, especially when flowering, I have found one that has me stumped… When I first saw this plant and took a couple of photos, I didn’t realize what a difficult time I would have identifying it. If I had have known, I would have taken more photos and looked around for other plants like it while I was working.

 

Asclepias sp. on 7-17-19, #603-2.

If I have a plant I cannot figure out, I contact Pamela Trewatha from the Missouri State University (Springfield, Missouri). I am not sure if she is a botanist, horticulturalist or what but she maintains their Midwest Weeds and Wildflowers website and I think she took most of the photographs. She was stumped on this one as well which was very surprising. She thought it could be Asclepias sullivantii although she said she has never seen one in person. I looked at hundreds of photos online and I haven’t figured it out. This plant does not have the growth habit like Asclepias sullivantii nor are their leaves similar. There are many other differences as well that ruled out A. sullivantii. There were a few possibilities but not close enough. The one species that came close does not grow here and where it does grow it is very rare. There were no flowers on this plant and I didn’t notice any old flowers or seed pods. When I go back I will scout the area and see if there are other plants like this clump and possibly find flowers or seed pods. The spent flower in the above photo is a Red Clover…

There are several wildflower websites I use for ID. While there are milkweeds with similar leaves, some species leaves are “variable” and can be “oval” or have a slight point at the tip. However, the veining on this species leaves are not that “refined”, the tips are round, the midribs are light green (some species can have either maroonish or green midribs), and the central stems on this milkweed are brownish and not green like most… The leaves are also fairly small.

 

Cotinis nitida (Green June Beetle) on 7-16-19, #602-9.

I found a good-sized group of Bull Thistle I had somehow overlooked right in the middle of a large area. When I was getting ready to spray, the plants came to life as these HUGE beetles started flying out. It was very hot, so apparently, the beetles were farther down inside the thistles. I couldn’t get any photos at first because the beetles were moving pretty fast. Then, several feet away, I noticed this beetle along with a Japanese Beetle on a stem of an old Musk Thistle.

 

Cotinis nitida (Green June Beetle) on 7-16-19, #602-10.

The Cotinis nitida (Green June Beetle) is a pretty good-sized bug. They feed on flowers in pastures but also eat fruit. I attempted to pick up this guy (or gal) but it wanted no part of a new friendship. Beetles are not the most graceful flyers and sometimes you wonder if they even have a clue as to where they are going. These beetles sound like a small plane (very small) when they fly. When there are hundreds flying at once you might want to take cover because you will get run into.

 

Croton capitatus (Hogwort) on 7-16-19, #602-11.

This interesting species is the Croton capitatus, commonly known as Hogwort, Wooly Croton, and Goatweed. Croton is a very large genus consisting of 1,173 species (as of this post date) and this species is found through much of the United States. The Missouri Department of Conservation says there are three species of Croton in Missouri. I have two species growing on the farm.

 

Croton capitatus (Hogwort) flowers on 7-16-19, #602-13.

Their flowers aren’t that particularly interesting unless you take a closer look… The cluster of flowers consists of male flowers toward the tip and female flowers below. Male flowers have 5 tiny white petals and 10-14 anthers. The female flowers don’t have petals but have 6-9 calyx lobes which are split 2-3 times making a total of 12-24 lobes. The fruits are about 1/4” wide and contain only three seeds each. Apparently doves and quail like their seeds.

While many wildflower species have many medicinal benefits, this plant produces Croton Oil which is a powerful laxative.

 

Dianthus armeria (Deptford Pink) on 7-17-19, #603-5.

The Dianthus armeria (Deptford Pink) grow throughout the farm here as well as at Kevin’s. The flowers are so small it is very hard to get good photos of, especially close-ups. The plants are very short and have narrow, lance-shaped leaves. Although not an original US native, they can be found growing throughout most of the US and Canada.

 

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cutleaf Teasel) on 7-16-19, #602-14.

While I was walking around the area where the Cutleaf Teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus) were I noticed more flowers. I guess the photos I had taken for a previous post were their buds and now they are flowering.

 

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cutleaf Teasel) flower on 7-16-19, #602-15.

There were a lot of bumblebees on the flowers as well as a few Japanese Beetles. It was funny watching for a few seconds. It was like the bumblebees were on a mission and no Japanese Beetles were going to get in their way.

 

Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow Coneflower) on 7-17-19, #603-6.

I needed to go visit a friend Wednesday afternoon so I decided to drive by the large colony of Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow Coneflower). This is where I was going to dig some plants up this spring but… Well, it didn’t happen. Maybe I can collect some seeds later. I love the way the native coneflowers petals droop.

Ummm… While I was taking photos of the Yellow Coneflower, I noticed some really neat leaves but there were no flowers… Then later I spotted them again with flowers… The name begins with an “S” so it is farther down in the post. 🙂

 

Lotus corniculatus (Bird’s Foot Trefoil) on 7-17-19, #603-7.

I have seen this plant growing along highways for MANY years and have always wondered with it was. Usually, I don’t have time or I don’t have the camera, but mainly because I didn’t want to stop along the highway. Well, when I went to visit my friend on Wednesday I noticed them growing along a different road. Not only them but the plants that begin with the “S”.

The plants in the above photo are Lotus corniculatus commonly known as the Bird’s Foot Trefoil. Hmmm… OK, I know how common the Bird’s Foot Trefoil is but I had never seen any up close and personal until now.

The Lotus corniculatus isn’t a US native. The Wikipedia says the plant is native to parts of North Africa and Eurasia. Hmmm… I learned something. I had to click on Eurasia to find out where it was. I don’t think they taught it was Eurasia when I was in school… It is the largest continent on Earth consisting of all of Europe and Asia with 70% of the world’s population. Hmmm… I didn’t even realize Africa was considered an Asian country. Well, I got stuck reading about Eurasia so I better get back to…

Where was I anyway? Oh yeah! Lotus corniculatus!

 

Lotus corniculatus (Bird’s Foot Trefoil) on 7-17-19, #603-8.

I lost my train of thought while reading about Eurasia and kind of went blank because I didn’t know… Anyway, it was interesting.

Bird’s Foot Trefoil is grown as a high-quality forage plant for pastures, hay, and silage that does not cause bloat.

 

Lotus corniculatus (Bird’s Foot Trefoil) on 7-17-19, #603-9.

The flowers are particularly interesting. What is even more interesting is that a plant guy didn’t even realize these yellow flowers growing along the road were Bird’s Foot Trefoil! Several people have asked me what they were over the years but I never knew until now. Now I know and I am thankful. I am also thankful for learning where Eurasia is. 🙂

Ummm… The Lotus genus is a member of the Fabaceae (Pea Family) and contains 124 accepted species.

What we usually think of as a Lotus is the Nelumbo nucifera, also known as the Sacred Lotus Flower, Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Bean of India, Egyptian Bean or simply lotus. It is the only genus in the family Nelumbonaceae with two accepted species. Strange the Water Lily isn’t in the same family, but they are in the Nymphaeaceae family. Hmmm…

I had to check on that because I was wondering why Bird’s Foot Trefoil was a Lotus. Then I find out the Lotus isn’t a Lotus. Double hmmm…

 

Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange) on 7-16-19, #602-16.

OK, I realize the Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange) isn’t a wildflower and maybe most wouldn’t find them that interesting. For me, though, I think they are a magnificent tree especially when they get very old.

 

Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange), 7-16-19, #602-17.

Just look at that massive trunk… This tree isn’t quite as large as the old one at my place, but it is still pretty good sized.

 

Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange) on 7-16-19, #602-21.

This tree, like most very old Osage Orange, have stood the test of time. Just think of how many high winds, thunderstorms, heavy snows, and ice they have been through. If you ever have a chance to visit a very old and large Osage Orange, look up into the tree and you can see how they have twisted and turned over the years. They tell a tale of a long life in the elements of nature and have endured them all. This tree was really talking and I enjoyed our brief visit and feeling the energy surrounding it. It is more than alive, it is A LIFE! 🙂

 

Nepeta cataria (Catnip) on 7-17-19, #603-10.

While I was spraying in a little area I had rarely gone, I noticed a plant I completely didn’t expect to see in the wild. I said, “It’s a mint! What in the world are you doing here?” Of all places next to a Gooseberry bush and Osage Orange tree where an old fence row had been. Just goes to show you just never know what you might find… Oh! It is a Nepeta catariaCatnip! They have different leaves and flowers than Spearmint.

I suppose the Catnip has to grow in the wild somewhere and there are several mints that are native to Missouri. I have just never seen any in the wild. Of course, they are members of the Lamiaceae family along with 234 other genera of aromatic and tasty culinary herbs.

 

Physalis longifolia (Common or Smooth Ground Cherry) flower on 7-16-19, #602-22.

Had I not noticed something weird about this plant, I could have easily passed it off as a Horsenettle. All I saw at first was a nearly hidden yellow flower drooping downward so I thought I would have a peek because Horsenettle does not have yellow flowers. Then I saw what else was hidden beneath the leaves. As it turns out this plant is a Physalis longifolia, commonly known as the Common or Smooth Ground Cherry.

 

Physalis longifolia (Common or Smooth Ground Cherry) flower, on 7-16-19, #602-23.

AH HA, you say! 🙂 Well, at least I thought it looks like the plant called Chinese Lantern, which is actually Physalis peruviana. Perhaps you were thinking about the Tomatillo or Mexican Husk Tomato which is the Physalis philadelphica and/or Physalis ixocarpa. Well, inside of these small lanterns is a fruit which is also edible…

 

Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia) on 7-16-19, #602-24.

The Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia, etc.) are growing here and there on Kevin’s farm as where I live. They seem to be growing as solitary plants rather than in colonies except for in my ditch where there are several. I think there are more in the ditch in front of the house than on the entire pasture and hayfield. While they flower over a long period, they seem to only produce one flower at a time. While one bud is beginning to open, the one before it is fading. Some information online says the flowers open in the morning and fall off in the evening. Hmmm… These plants are very easy to recognize in the wild because, after all, they are a petunia. Not saying all Ruellia species are the same, but all do have similar characteristics. Plants of the World Online currently list 357 accepted species in the genus.

Now that I am down to the mystery plant… Well, maybe I should save it for a post of its own. Just kidding. 🙂 But I do feel a nap coming on…

 

Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant) leaves on 7-17-19, #603-13.

OK… The above photo, although taken out of numerical order, is the leaves of the plant with no flowers I saw when photographing the Echinacea paradoxa. They were by the road so apparently, their flower stems had been mowed off. I took the photo because I thought they were quite strange and unusual.

 

Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant) on 7-17-19. #603-20.

Hmmm… I realize you are laughing at me AGAIN because anyone who has driven on most highways and backroads has seen this plant. Of course, like me, maybe you just passed them off as some kind of sunflower. I had no idea this plant had so much interest whatsoever.

Found throughout Missouri except for the southeast corner, the Silphium laciniatum is easily identified by its pinnatifid leaves, hairy stems, and big yellow flower heads. Its common name is the Compass Plant because their flowerheads follow the sun across the sky (heliotropism) like many species in the Asteraceae family such as sunflowers.

 

Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant) leaves on 7-17-19, #603-14.

Silphium laciniatum has been used as a worm expelling, coughs, lung problems, asthma, and as an emetic. The resin produced on the upper part of the stems was chewed by Native Americans. The mouth cleansing gum is said to be fragrant but bitter.

Contrary to what you might think, the common name comes from their leaves and not their flowers. Pioneers believed that the leaves of the Compass Plant pointed in a north-south direction. The basal leaves do usually grow on a north-south axis thought to minimize intense overhead sun exposure. Of course, their flowers follow an east to west movement following the sun…

 

Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant) flower on 7-17-19, #603-23.

The Compass Plant grow from 6-12 feet tall and their flowers can be up to 5″ across. It can take several years for these plants to develop into a full-sized plant but they can live up to 100 YEARS! Their taproots can grow 15′ deep! The basal leaves can grow to 18″ long while the upper leaves are much smaller.

So now we know these plants are Compass Plants and not just another sunflower. 🙂

 

Solanum carolinense (Horsenettle) on 7-17-19, #603-25.

Of course, this is the common ‘ol run of the mill Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense) we may all love to hate. One of its common names, Tread Softly, says a lot! While it is a member of the Nightshade family (along with tomatoes) and its fruit may look like cherry tomatoes, DO NOT EAT! The Wikipedia says:

“All parts of the plant, including its tomato-like fruit, are poisonous to varying degrees due to the presence of solanine glycoalkaloids which is a toxic alkaloid and one of the plant’s natural defenses. While ingesting any part of the plant can cause fever, headache, scratchy throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, ingesting the fruit can cause abdominal pain, circulatory and respiratory depression, or even death. “

I may have not taken a photo of the Horsenettle if it weren’t for the flower below which I noticed the day before…

 

Solanum dimidiatum (Robust Horsenettle) on 7-16-19, #602-25.

Ummm… As I was working I noticed something a little unusual… While I do have a lot of Horsenettle in my pastures and hayfield, some of the colonies in Kevin’s pasture have these blue flowers. While it is true that some in my pasture do have a slight tint, they are mainly all white. So, I took photos and found that these are Solanun dimidiatum commonly known as the Robust Horsenettle. While I did find it particularly interesting this was a different species, I won’t be collecting any of their seeds. One Horsenettle plant is plenty. The Housenettles are not really nettles in the sense of what nettles are. Ummm… What I mean is, they are not true nettles they are just called nettles. Kind of like the Sacred Lotus not being a Lotus. GEEZ!

I have seen a few plants that looked like the Black Nightshade which I sprayed because they looked pretty shady to me. I had one growing at the farm last year in an area behind the chicken house. I took a lot of photos of it one day and the next day it was completely gone (no trace whatsoever). I thought that was very strange that the plant grew so large, flowered and even set fruit and then the cows must have eaten it. What else could have happened to it? Maybe the Wood Chuck or a bunch of squirrels?

 

Verbena stricta (Hoary Vervain) on 7-16-19, #602-29.

One of my favorite wildflowers is Verbena. The interesting thing is that the species growing on Kevin’s farm are different than the ones growing where I live. This one is Verbena stricta commonly known as the Hoary Vervain. The species growing in my pastures and hayfield is the Verbena hastata commonly known as the Blue Vervain. I mainly noticed the difference by the Verbena stricta‘s broader leaves and larger flowers. The one thing that makes them very similar is getting photos that aren’t blurry… While Plants of the World Online list 147 species in the Verbena genus native to most parts of the world, Verbena hastata and Verbena stricta are native to most of the US and Canada.

I am finished for now because I ran out of photos. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed this post because I learned A LOT. I am thankful I found out about Eurasia, too!

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always, always, be thankful! After a week of heat and no rain, I am thankful we finally had rain this morning and as I am finishing this post.

 

 

 

 

Wildflower Walk Part 2

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Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth, Spiny Pigweed, Etc.)

Hello again! Here is part 2 of the Wildflower Walk. Starting out with one of the most dreaded weeds in the pasture is the Amaranthus spinosus also known as the Spiny Amaranth. I remember my grandpa battling these as a kid, digging and hacking away. Well, they are still here in great numbers, mainly in the area behind the barn, around the pond, and… Come to think of it, they are just about everywhere in the front pasture.

All the photos on this post were taken on September 8…

They have these darn little thorns on their stems that make them such a pain. When I put “the good stuff” in the garden from where I feed hay, these crazy guys come in the garden. You either have to use gloves to pull them up or grab the lowest part of their stem.

 

This weed is native of the tropical Americas but has been introduced to almost every continent. Hard to imagine, but it is a food crop and used in many dishes in Africa and several Asian countries. In India, they use the ashes of the fruit to treat jaundice. Water extracts from its roots and leaves have been used as a diuretic in Vietnam.

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Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)

Many people know this plant all too well when it comes to allergies. Luckily, I haven’t been bothered with allergies but I know several people who have the problem. Many have never even seen a Ragweed.

 

Even though the flowers are tiny, they are LOADED with very potent pollen.

 

Even when not in flower, the plants can be recognized by their tri-lobed leaves. Some of their leaves aren’t trilobed, and of course, there are other plants with tri-lobed leaves that aren’t Ragweeds.

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Bidens bipinnata (Spanish Needles)

Bidens bipinnata is the naughty cousin of the Bidens aristosa known as Spanish Needles (and a few other choice names I can’t write down).

These are my second least favorite of the stick-tight crew.

 

Quite often when I need to walk into an area where these are growing I change my mind and go somewhere else.

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Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle)

I didn’t realize this plant was a thistle until I took these photos and did the research to find its name. Yeah, the flowers look like thistles alright, but the leaves are nothing like the other two or three species on the farm. My favorite didn’t come up this year which means my eradication program worked for it. 🙂 Getting rid of thistles is fairly easy without spray and you make a big dent in the population within three years (the same as with spraying). Just stick your shovel into the stem, about 3″ below the surface, and that’s it.

 

The bad thing about thistles is that their flowers are so neat!

 

While their leaves do have a few small needles, they are nothing like the other species. These don’t seem to be as plentiful, either.

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Commelina communis (Dayflower)

This cute little flower is the Commelina communis which is the Dayflower. It is in the Commelinaceae family with the Spiderworts, Purple Hearts, White Gossamer, Wandering Jews, and so on.

 

There are several species of Commelina with similar flowers. The flowers emerge between a folded up leaf at the top of the stem, just as with Tradescantia pallida (Purple Heart and Pale Puma) and the Tradescantia sillamontana (White Gossamer) on the front porch.

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Eupatorium altissimum (Fall Thoroughwort)

From a distance, you might think this plant is the Ageratina altissimum (White Snakeroot) which is in part 1. This plant is Eupatorium altissima, the Fall Thoroughwort. Apparently, some botanists were confused as well, even Carl von Linnaeus himself. Carl Linnaeus named and described the Eupatorium altissima in AND the Ageratum altissima in Species Plantarum in 1753. Then, in 1754, he changed Ageratum altissima to Eupatorium altissima in his description in Systema Vegetabilium. Did he forget he already gave a plant that name? The error was eventually found out, but it took until 1970! For over 200 years there were two species being called Eupatorium altissima. Hmmm…

 

OK, I know this group of plants in the above photo is not White Snakeroot. 🙂 GEEZ! Now I have to figure out how I came to that conclusion again. I need leaves and stems for its page.

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Euphorbia corollata (Flowering Spurge)

Well, I don’t think there is any mistaking this species. There don’t seem to me that many of these on the farm and I only notice them in one area. They are easily overlooked, though, because their flowers are very small and can be easily be lost in a patch of taller vegetation.

 

Their little flowers attract quite a number of insects of many types… As with most plants in this genus, their stems and leaves contain toxic latex.

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Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia)

I have seen this Petunia looking plants growing in the ditch along the road in front of the house for several years. I hadn’t taken any photos of them and then I found several growing in the pasture. Low and behold, they really are Petunias! Well, not like the one we grow in planters and hanging baskets. Different family… The Petunias we grow as an annual are in the Solanaceae family and Ruellia species are in the Acanthaceae family.

 

They are in the same family as the Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) I had in Mississippi and what Mrs. Wagler gave me a while back. They certainly have the classic Ruellia throat. Common names for this species include Wild Petunia, Fringeleaf Wild Petunia, Hairy Petunia, and Low Wild Petunia. The Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder says they from to 2′ tall, but the ones on the farm never have the opportunity to grow that tall. I am either mowing them off in the ditch and maybe the cows eat them in the pasture. Hmmm… Wonder what they taste like?

 

Interesting how many species are in some genera and where they can be found growing in the wild from various parts of the world. Although the Wikipedia says the Ruellia humilis are native to the Eastern United States, the USDA Plants Database says they are in many states from the east coast to the midwest.

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Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain)

The Blue Vervain is found flowering in a few of the lower areas in the back pasture from June through October. They like to grow in damp meadows and river beds.  The Missouri Botanical Garden says they can grow up to 6′ tall. Hmmm… Maybe I should mark their spot and avoid mowing them off to see how tall they can grow here. Butterflies seem to really love their flowers. I always like their tall spikes of purple flowers. They are native throughout the United States and most of Canada.

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Vernonia baldwinii (Baldwin’s Ironweed)

In my opinion, Baldwin’s Ironweed has some of the most beautiful flowers of all the wildflowers on the farm and they grow just about everywhere. They start flowering sometime in June or July and are pretty much finished in September. I know this is October but these photos were taken on September 8. 🙂

 

I realize to many it is just a darned old Ironweed, but if you take a closer look, you will see very interesting and complex flowers. As you can imagine, they are a butterfly magnet. Although they can grow up to 5′ tall, they normally reach only 3-4′. There are many species of Ironweed that prefer damper soil, but the Vernonia baldwinii does well in dry areas as well.

 

It gets its common name from being a very stiff and tough-stemmed plant and by the rusty color of the dried up flowers. When you run over this plant with a mower or try to pull it up, you will see that they are very tough.

Well, I think I am finished for this post and ready to start on Wildflower Walk Part 3.

Until next time… Stay well, positive, and be safe. As always GET DIRTY! I need to do some mowing and other things around the yard today.