A Walk On The Wild Side…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I had been hoping the hay could be baled before I took another trek to the south hayfield but that didn’t happen. Rain plus more in the forecast had put off baling so I thought I needed to go check on the progress of one plant in particular… One photo led to another. The mosquitos were insane as always in the early evening over there, which, along with it getting darker drove me back to the house.

You may remember past photos of the big mess along the boundary of the south hayfield. It was a wooly mess grown up in small trees, blackberries, and the invasive Japanese Honeysuckle. Last summer it was mowed off by one of Kevin’s men so he could put up a new fence. As it turned out, the old fence was in the wrong place and should have been about 20 feet or so more toward the trail. Clearing out the area allowed A LOT of other plants to grow I didn’t even know were there before. BUT, it also allowed the blackberries to run WILD! A few weeks ago, the briars were still fairly short, but that wasn’t the case this time. It was like walking through a thorny maize… Well, I was on a mission, so I didn’t let that stop me. The mosquitos were more of a problem than the thorns so I was glad I was wearing a cap to cover my bald head…

SO, you may be wondering, why would I walk through the tall grass all the way to the south hayfield?

Arnoglossum atriplicifolium (Pale Indian Plantain) on 7-8-21, #809-5.

Yep! To photograph this plant. The Arnoglossum atriplicifolium (arn-oh-GLOS-sum at-ry-pliss-ih-FOH-lee-um). If that is a little too much, its common name is Pale Indian Plantain. So, why have I taken an interest in this species? Well, on October 4 in 2018, I was walking along the edge of the south hayfield and noticed an odd plant with strange leaves…

Arnoglossum atriplicifolium (Pale Indian Plantain) on 10-4-18, #515-31.

I looked around and this one plant was all I found. I took photos but couldn’t identify it because there were no flowers. Trying to identify wildflowers without flowers is almost impossible sometimes. Notice the leaf in the upper part of the photo?

Arnoglossum atriplicifolium (Pale Indian Plantain) on 10-4-18, #515-32.

I have still not figured out what that critter is… It was like a stick stuck to the leaf on both ends with horns! I found this plant again in May 2019 and uploaded the photos on iNaturalist which suggested it was Arnoglossum atriplicifolium. I didn’t see any in 2020…

Arnoglossum atriplicifolium (Pale Indian Plantain) on 6-15-21, #800-1.

THEN, on June 15, when Nathan was with me, we were walking in the area where I first noticed the plant, and there it was… Just as pretty as you please! It was like it was asking, “Are you looking for me?” To be quite honest, I was… Well, it was getting late and I didn’t take the above photo until 8:51 P.M. To make sure this was actually a Pale Indian Plantain, I had to do one thing in particular…

Arnoglossum atriplicifolium (Pale Indian Plantain) on 6-15-21, #800-4.

Flip over its leaves and you will see the abaxial side is a silvery-white… You can’t miss that even in the dark!

Arnoglossum atriplicifolium (Pale Indian Plantain) on 7-8-21, #809-10.

Back to June 8. Yeah, I know it is now 1:05 AM on July 13, but what can I say. It seems like yesterday… The main reason I HAD to check on this plant was to see if it had flowered yet. While the flowers weren’t opened yet, we do have LOADS of buds… By the time I get this post finished maybe the flowers will be open so I will have another excuse to go back. I will not miss this plant among the blackberry vines as it grows up to 10′ tall.

The flowers need to be pollinated to produce seeds, but only a few wasps, flies, and smaller bees visit this plant for the nectar. Even though it is a member of the plant family Asteraceae, it has no ray florets (petals).

I don’t have descriptions for this species on ITS PAGE yet, but there are more photos and links for further information. I am still behind writing descriptions…

Arnoglossum atriplicifolium (Pale Indian Plantain) on 7-8-21, #809-11.

Oh, yeah… There are A LOT of younger plants to flower next year. Apparently, it has been at it for a while, blooming under the brush, because there are a few good-sized patches.

 

Teucrium canadense (American Germander) on 7-8-21, #809-42.

Around the same area, I noticed several American Germander (Teucrium canadense) growing. Previously, the only place I saw it growing was in the back pasture.

Teucrium canadense (American Germander) on 7-8-21, #809-45.

I think the flowers of the American Germander are pretty neat but sometimes it is really difficult to get close-ups. Right now, their leaves are riddled with holes.

After taking several photos I looked toward the back of the hayfield and decided I wouldn’t venture any farther…

 

Sambucus canadensis (American Black Elderberry) and Phytolacca americana (Pokeweed) on 7-8-21, #809-26.

Two more interesting plants grow in abundance in this area, the Sambucus canadensis (American Black Elderberry) and Phytolacca americana (Pokeweed). While the Pokeweed grows everywhere, the Elderberry is certainly isolated to the south side of the farm where they like a little shade. Until the wilderness was cut back, I thought they were only growing in the swampy area in the southeast corner. They are actually growing from one end to the other.

Sambucus canadensis (American Black Elderberry) on 7-8-21, #809-27).

I really like the huge clusters of flowers on the Elderberry.

After I finished taking photos in the south hayfield, I looked toward the new gate (cattle panel) that was put up last summer and spotted a Smilax growing on it… Yeah, Smilax tamnoides grows in several places here, but this one was A LOT different…

Smilax tamnoides (Bristly Greenbriar) on 7-8-21, #809-33.

It has HUGE leaves! I thought for sure I had actually found a Smilax rotundifolia (Roundleaf Greenbriar). There are several areas here that the Smilax tamnoides (Bristly Greenbriar) is growing in the trees but finding new species is always exciting. I was fighting the mosquitos even more at 8:20 PM, but GEEZ! I took photos of the leaf underside, thorns, and tendrils hoping to have found a new species. I uploaded them on iNaturalist and messaged a member who I had discussed Smilax with before. Well, she said,

“This is certainly a prizewinner for size, but it is still Smilax tamnoides. I agree it would be hard to ID just from the leaves, but the prickles are needle-thin and all one color. By contrast, Smilax rotundifolia prickles are much stouter and typically 3 colors from base to tip. I’ll try to get a chance to review the iNaturalist observations of Smilax near you in the next few days. I never say never, but the official records don’t show Smilax rotundifolia in Pettis County.”

HMMM… She sent a link to one of her observations PLUS a link to the BONAP map… Well, GEEZ! The USDA Plants Database map doesn’t even show S. tamnoides in Pettis County and mine is the only observation on iNaturalist anywhere near here. They grow EVERYWHERE! The USDA map DOES say S. rotundifolia is present in Johnson County which is only a few miles away. The problem with USDA maps is that they are WAY out of date and most are from old herbarium samples taken YEARS ago. A lot has changed since then and many species were misidentified in the first place. So, why am I even looking at the USDA map? I think it is time for an update with actual new observations nationwide. Many species are now extinct or endangered while other species have traveled.

I started walking back to the house but kept finding more I thought I should give attention to.

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 7-8-21, #809-19.

I spotted this solitary Geum canadense (White Avens) and it was just begging me to take its photo. Maybe it thinks I should put it on a Geum dating site to attract a companion. 🙂

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 7-8-21, #809-20.

You have to admit its small flowers are kind of neat. The most interesting thing about Geum species is how their leaves transform and change as the plant grows. In the spring, the Geum canadense has a rosette of long lobed leaves that die off as long, spindly stems grow with completely different leaves. You wouldn’t even know it was the same plant…

 

Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot) on 7-8-21, #809-22.

Of course, the Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot) is quite common here now and new colonies pop up here and there every year. Now there is even a cluster in the ditch next to the house. Of course, I let it grow which may look a little strange where it is. Once it gets done blooming will cut it down. Well, I even let the Hemp Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) grow in the ditch in front of the garden. I am sure it makes some people driving by wonder why I am letting weeds grow along the street like that… Going wild, I guess. 🙂

When I lived here before, in the 1980’s, I don’t even remember Monarda fistulosa. Now there isn’t a road anywhere you don’t see them.

I went to bed now it is 1:20 PM on Tuesday. Let’s see if I can get this post finished. 🙂 Where was I?

After leaving the Monarda, I walked back toward the two Mulberry trees along the ditch where the pond drains. I noticed something a bit off…

Celastrus scandens (American Bittersweet) on 7-8-21, #809-18.

There is an average size Multiflora Rose growing along the ditch in front of the two Mulberry Trees. Last year, a White Mulberry tree came up in it, and now this weird vine has joined in. I took photos to ID it and it turns out to be Celastrus scandens whose common name is American Bittersweet. Well, there you go… A new species for the day.

There are several Red Mullberry trees here on the farm but only a couple of good-sized White Mullberry. The Red Mulberry behave themselves, but the White Mullberry do not. Their leaves are different, so I always know when one has come up. They grow so fast, so if you think you will cut it down later… You better do it soon or you will have a tree where you don’t want it. I have a nightmare around the corral behind the barn I “should have” taken care of a few years ago. Now I have a big problem and the corral will need to be rebuilt.

Arctium minus (Lesser Burdock) on 7-8-21, #809-1.

There are quite a few Arctium minus (Lesser Burdock) around the two Red Mullberry trees and on the south side of the pond. They can get a bit carried away as far as their population is concerned. I do like their HUGE lower leaves in the spring, but they kind of get old and fall off. Then they grow this tall central stem which terminates in a multi-branched inflorescence.

Arctium minus (Lesser Burdock) on 7-8-21, #809-3.

Burdock has an edible taproot and some eat the heads like artichoke hearts. Young stems can be steamed or boiled. Taproots have been ground and dried and used as a coffee extender similar to chicory… The roots are also used as an herbal remedy.

This is one plant I don’t bother waking through late in the summer because its fruit/seed pods will stick to your clothing. The involucral bracts (phyllaries) are hooked

The last thing I wanted to talk about because I try to avoid it in every way possible is the…

Torilis…. (? Hedge Parsley) on 7-8-21, #809-48.

HEDGE PARSLEY!

If I were to use the word hate, these plants would be in the description… I have mentioned before we have history since I was a little kid, so no need to talk about it again. Until recently, I thought the species here on the farm was likely Torilis arvensis which is the Common Hedge Parsley. It was first observed and documented in Jasper County, Missouri in 1909 but rampantly spread throughout the state. The other similar species, Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge parsley), wasn’t discovered in Missouri until 1988. I always figured the species growing here was Torilis arvensis and really didn’t pay that much attention. I figured the species had been here for a very long time, even dealing with them in my socks since I was a kid, so at that time they certainly weren’t T. japonica…

I posted the species as Torilis arvensis last year on iNaturalist and a member just had to ask if I was sure it wasn’t T. japonica… GEEZ! SO, I decided I would investigate further a few days ago but I can’t give you the results on this post… This post is for July 8 and I didn’t start checking the bristles until July 11. 🙂 Talk about tough to photograph!!!

I have also been arguing with the Vernonia baldwinii (Baldwin’s/Western Ironweed), Eupatorium altissimum (Tall Thoroughwort), and Eupatorium serotinum (Late Boneset). They aren’t blooming yet, but I discovered that wouldn’t really make that much difference…

SO, I will close this post and start working on the next… I will reveal the identity of the Hedge Parsley…

Until next time, take care, be safe, stay well, and always be thankful. I am going to get dirty and mow the grass… The garden is too wet because we had rain AGAIN.

Another Wildflower Update

Allium sp. ?

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. We had a storm pass through on Monday that did some damage in town. A big tree was uprooted at the park and a smaller tree snapped off at the base. There were a lot of limbs at the park and throughout the town. The house I grew up in had damage when two trunks of the same tree fell on it. It was a tree with four trunks and I remember it as a kid. Not much damage in my own yard, though, just a big limb that fell from one of the maples in front of the house. I was surprised the old elms in the chicken yard didn’t have issues break but they went through the storm.

I went back to the woods on Sunday, May 3, to check on the progress of some of the wildflowers and there were three I couldn’t find… It was later in the afternoon so I was more selective where I looked and didn’t have time to find many new plants. Before I left I took a few photos here and a few when I returned. As usual, they are in alphabetical order and not as they were seen. 🙂 It is easier for me to upload photos and write captions and then write the post.

I took a few photos of what appeared to be a species of onion but there is no oniony scent. Wild Allium species fascinate me and there are MANY. It is very difficult to tell which species is which so I just label them Allium sp. Missouri Plants lists 7 species of Allium and Plants of the World Online a whopping 977.

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Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon, Dragon Root)

air-uh-SEE-nuh  dray-KON-tee-um

I went back to the woods on May 3 and found the Arisaema dracontium starting to flower. I have seen photos online, but it is AWESOME in person. Not only does the plant only produce one leaf, but it also only produces one flower… I first posted about this species on April 26 which you can check out HERE.

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

Whereas the other Arisaema species I have seen online have a hooded spathe, the Arisaema dracontium is much different. The base of the spathe circles the apex of the flowering stem. The stem can be anywhere from 6-12″ up to the apex. The spathe itself will be around 2″ long, glaucous and glabrous, and partially open.

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

One of several good-sized colonies of Green Dragon in these woods.

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

The spadix can grow from 6-12″ long or more, the lower 2″ enclosed in the spathe.

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

Weird…

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

Inside the spathe is where the male and female flowers are. In other words, the plants are monoecious with separate male and female flowers, but sometimes they are unisexual. The male flowers are above the female flowers and are both small and rather inconspicuous. Flowers last about a month and have a fungus-like scent that isn’t noticeable by humans…

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Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)

Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)

HES-per-iss  mah-tro-NAH-lis

Hesperis matronalis is another plant with a mistaken identity. One evening toward the end of April I noticed what appeared to be a Phlox divaricata flowering in the area north of the chicken house where they have not been before. There is quite a large colony of them growing along the road up the street past the church which I also always assumed were Phlox. The Wild Blue Phlox (in the last post) grows abundantly in large colonies along highways and back roads in several areas. I decided to take photos of the plant and noticed right off it WAS NOT a Phlox divaricata. Hmmm…

 

Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)

Phlox divaricata has flowers with five petals and this one only has four… They have a pleasant scent which gets stronger in the evening. Hesperis matronalis is a biennial or short-lived perennial that comes up and forms a rosette of leaves its first year and flowers the second.

 

Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)

The other distinguishing feature for Hesperis matronalis is the leaves. Phlox leaves grow opposite one another on the stems and Hesperis leaves grow in an alternate fashion. The leaves have no petioles and darn near clasp the stems.

 

Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket) along the road on 5-8-20.

Hesperis matronalis is a native of many Eurasian countries and was apparently brought to North America in the 17th century. The USDA Plants Database shows its presence in most of North America now. Common names include Dame’s Rocket, Dame’s Violet, Sweet Rocket, and Wandering Lady. Many states have listed this species as a noxious weed and it is recommended not to move it or grow it under conditions that would involve danger of dissemination. Hmmm… Seed is available and wildflower mixes often contain its seeds which helped its spread in the first place.

You can read about the Phlox divaricata from a previous post by clicking HERE.

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Koeleria macrantha (Prairie Junegrass)

Koeleria macrantha (Prairie Junegrass)

kee-LER-ree-uh  ma-KRAN-tha

Grass. It’s everywhere in one form or another sun or shade, wet areas or dry. Once in awhile I find a colony I hadn’t seen before which was the case on May 3 when I was exploring the woods. I spotted a colony growing in an open area between two wooded areas so I took a few photos so I could ID it using iNaturalist. It turns out to be Koeleria macrantha commonly known as Prairie Junegrass and Crested Hair-Grass. It is native to most of North America, Europe, and Eurasia.

 

Koeleria macrantha (Prairie Junegrass)

The grass is suitable for livestock and wildlife and even used in fire control. Its seed can be ground and boiled and used for porridge and ground as flour for making bread.

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Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle)

Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle)

la-POR-tee-a  ka-na-DEN-sis

There is a lot of this growing in the woods and is easily identified as a nettle because of its stinging hairs on the stems. There are many nettle species and this one happens to be Laportea canadensis also known as Wood Nettle, Canadian Wood Nettle, and Kentucky Hemp (and probably others). They weren’t flowering when I observed them on May 3 but will be soon.

 

Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle)

Plants produce both stinging and non-stinging hairs and can leave you with an unpleasant experience of you aren’t careful. They can cause burning and stinging of the skin and sometimes can leave barbs in your skin. Skin can turn red and blister which may last for several days…

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Menispermum canadense (Moonseed)

Menispermum canadense (Moonseed)

men-see-SPER-mum  ka-na-DEN-see

First off, kind of ignore what the genus name looks like because that is NOT how you pronounce it.  It has nothing to do with mini sperm. Secondly, it is NOT a grapevine. It is Menispermum canadense commonly known as Moonseed. It flowers and bears grape-like fruit about the same time as grapes BUT these are poison. Three key differences help to tell them apart. 1) the fruit kind of has a rancid flavor, 2) the seeds are crescent-shaped instead or round like grape seeds, 3) vines have no tendrils while grapevines have forked tendrils.

Menispermum canadense (Moonseed)

The principle toxin is dauricine and can be fatal even though the Cherokee Indians used it for a laxative. HMMM… It makes you wonder if they thought they were grapes and, well, we know what happened… Somehow, they also used the plant as a gynecological and venereal aid. I am not making this up. It is on the Wikipedia page. Did you ever wonder how many Native Americans died figuring our what plants did what? I wonder if they experimented on captives from other tribes? The roots have also been used for skin diseases and to treat sores on the skin. 

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Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple)

To be quite honest I have never seen the fruit of a Mayapple until now. I suppose it is because I am looking for mushroom when they are flowering then pretty much forget about them after that. I did learn that the ripe fruit is the only part of the plant that isn’t poison. If the fruit isn’t ripe, it is also poison. So, what do I do? Wait until is it soft like a peach to try it? What about mushy like a persimmon? Remember from before I mentioned flowers are only produced from female plants, plants with two leaves instead of one. Fruit may be harder to find than female plants

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Smilax tamnoides (Bristly Greenbriar)

Smilax tamnoides (Bristly Greenbriar)

SMIL-aks  tam-NOY-deez

Of all the plants in the woods I try to avoid for one reason or another, this one ranks #3. I try to avoid it so much that I pretty much refused to ID it until I ran across what I supposed was Smilax ecirrhata (Upright Carrion Flower) from the last post. Now, I am wondering if that plant was actually a deceptive Wild Yam… ANYWAY, there is absolutely no mistaking Smilax tamnoides commonly referred to as the Bristly Greenbriar, Hag Briar, and Sarsaparilla Plant.

Yes, this plant’s rhizomes are apparently where sarsaparilla comes from… YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!?!? You know what that is, right? The drink Sarsaparilla… Similar to root beer in flavor… Hmmm. I always thought it was spelled sasparilla. 🙂 

This plant is edible and young leaves, shoots, and tendrils can be added to salad…  DOUBLE HMMM...

Smilax tamnoides (Bristly Greenbriar)

Doing plant research has brought many smiles as many plants have evolved to survive. What people have used plants for is sometimes very interesting as well. This one is no exception… The thorns of this plant have been used as a “counter-irritant” by rubbing them on the skin to relieve localized pain… A tea made from the leaves and the stems has been used to treat rheumatism and for stomach issues… Wilted leaves can be used as a poultice for boils… A decoction made from crushed leaves has been used as a wash on ulcers (such as leg ulcers)… Tea from the roots is used to help expel afterbirth… TRIPLE HMMM… I could also mention testosterone and steroids but that has not been confirmed or denied.

We went from soft drinks and salad to being a counter-irritant, removing afterbirth, and the possibility of its roots containing testosterone or steroids. GOOD HEAVENS!!!

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Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad)

Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad)

val-er-ee-ah-NEL-uh  rad-ee-AY-tuh

I have written about this species before but now their tiny flowers are open. I find this species interesting for several reasons. Their leaves are a very distinctive feature which you can see from a previous post HERE (since I haven’t gotten its page finished yet).

Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad)

Another interesting feature is that although the plants have a single stem, the flowering stems branch out far and wide making you think there are many plants than there really are.

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Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet)

Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet)

vy-OH-la  pew-BES-senz

Of the four species of Viola present on the farm (and in other areas), I think the Viola pubescens is the most interesting. When not in flower they pretty much look the other species. One might wonder why it has the name “pubescens” as a species name or “downy” as a common name… Well, it has nothing to do with flowers or leaves…

Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet)

I didn’t give much thought to the meaning of the names until I was in the woods on May 3 and saw this colony of Downy Yellow Violet looking a little strange. The yellow flowers had been replaced by fuzzy fruit…

Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet) on 5-3-20, #695-64.

Now tell me… Why in the world would the Universe decide to give Viola pubescens fuzzy fruit? Plants of the World Online lists 620 species in the Viola genus found nearly worldwide and this one has… FUZZY FRUIT! I don’t know about you but I think that is amazing.

Well, that is it for this post. I need to go back to the woods periodically to check for flowers on plants I already identified that weren’t flowering at the time. Finding some of them may be a bit of a challenge.

I moved the potted plants (cactus, succulents, etc.) to the front and back porches a while back because they were screaming at me. Tonight there is a chance frost so I may have to move them all back inside again for a few days. The Alocasia are still in the basement and I haven’t planted the Colocasia rhizomes yet.

Until next time, be safe, stay well, and always be thankful.