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.

Problem Areas and Wild Weeds, ETC. Part 3 PLUS A SURPRISE!

Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley)…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. October is here once again and some of the wildflowers aren’t looking their best. There are a lot of insects and butterflies feeding right now. I have taken a lot of photos the last few days and I am getting behind. 🙂 I now have 655 observations posted on iNaturalist covering 343 species.

This saga of the wild weeds (and wildflowers) and problem areas on the farm continues as I walked out of the main hayfield to the front pasture…

The above photo is the dreaded Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley). There doesn’t seem to be as much of this stuff growing as there has been in the past. That is certainly fine with me…

 

Eleusine indica (Goosegrass)…

As you can imagine, there are A LOT of different species of grass growing on the farm. Heck, pretty much every yard around the world has a lot of species of grass. I don’t know about you, but the worse grass in my yard and pastures has got to be the Eleusine indica (Goosegrass). It is the grass with very tough blades you have to mow over multiple times and even then it still looks raggy. The second worse is the crabgrass which I don’t really want to talk about…

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper)…

There are still a few fairly good-sized colonies of Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) here and there but nothing like 2019 when I identified seven species. That was definitely the year for the Smartweeds.

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed)…

The Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) is also scattered among the grass in the front pasture, mainly around the two old mulberry trees. The other six species are scattered about here and there.

 

Hmmm…

I walked over to what used to be a smallish Multiflora Rose. Dad and I pulled up several rose bushes with the tractor a few years ago but left this one. It wasn’t that big and is it along the drainage area where water runs from the pond. When we pulled up the others it left a HUGE hole and I didn’t that that would be a good idea in this area. Three years ago a White Mulberry grew up in it, then last year I noticed a Celastrus scandens (American Bittersweet) in the mix. To the left is a small colony of Solidago (Goldenrod) and the other cluster is either Eupatorium altissimum (Tall Thoroughwort) or Eupatorium serotinum (Late Boneset/Late Thoroughwort). Those two species look a lot alike and I didn’t take a closer look…

Both of those species have seen better days throughout the farm. There are still quite a few Solidago in bloom along the main hayfield. I am not really sure which species of Solidago are growing here but likely Solidago altissima and maybe also S. gigantea. The galls on a few plants are generally found on both of those species.

 

Xanthium strumarium (Rough Cocklebur)…

I am not really sure where I took this photo of the Xanthium strumarium (Rough Cocklebur). It is growing here and there and seems to be getting carried away again. I had been “working on it” for several years and seemed to pretty much have it whipped. Well, it seems to be coming back with reinforcements! I don’t have a page for the Cocklebur…

I walked across the ditch to get photos of what I saw as I started the walk. It was this mass of pink right behind the pond in the front pasture I had somehow just noticed. Probably because I hadn’t been paying attention, but that just can’t be. Just last week, or maybe the week before, I had taken photos of a few plants near the pond and I didn’t notice it then. I am saving the photos for the end of this post so I can end it well… 🙂

After I took some photos behind the pond, I walked toward the fence along the road in the front pasture to the biggest eyesore here…

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)…

The Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac) has spread into the pasture along the fence. This is a big problem…

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)…

I put the camera across the fence to get a photo of the mess between the fence and the street. In the first place, the fence is a little too close to the ditch, and the ditch is cut too steep to mow. Whoever did this had no concept of maintenance and it was done MANY years ago. The county used to come along several times during the summer but now we are lucky if they come once a year. At the end of the yard, there is a telephone pole between the fence and ditch making it impossible to get a mower along the fence. To mow the ditch, I would have to drive down the street to where the gate is and come up… Then, I would have to back the mower all the way back down to the gate… Since the ditch is cut like it is, and part of it has washed out a little, it is kind of unsafe. To fix this problem, the fence would have to be removed and moved back and the ditch smoothed out at a slope allowing it to be mowed safely. It is a real eyesore and I don’t like it one bit. I don’t like using chemicals, but this area needs cut and sprayed. Water from the ditch runs to the lake at the park… Perhaps I can talk to the county or the conservation department to find a solution.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining because I am very thankful to be here. I have a lot to be thankful for. It seems like I have been given an opportunity and I would like to do much better but I am not quite sure how to go about it…

Getting closer to the surprise…

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)…

One of the first plants to grow after the hay is cut is the Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed). Over the years, trying to tell the difference between Verononia baldwinii (Western or Baldwin’s Ironweed) and V. missurica has been somewhat difficult. I know the difference but couldn’t find enough of the latter to get a good confirmation to prove to myself that’s what it was. To make it worse, the two species hybridize… Earlier, all the ironweed were definitely Vernonia baldwinii.

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)…

Now, most of the ironweed are likely most definitely (GEEZ) Vernonia missurica. The heads have more florets (30+) and the involucral bracts are appressed. With Vernonia baldwinii, they have fewer florets and the bracts are recurved. I don’t have a page for the Vernonia missurica and the page for Vernonia baldwinii is still in draft mode. They have been driving me crazy so I wanted to make sure what I was talking about. Am I sure now? Well, not really. 🙂

OH, so here we go…

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)… On 9-28-21…

Don’t laugh like I am. This is probably the first pink flowers I have gotten excited about in my life. For one, the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) is the first species in the genus I have been able to properly identify and it become research grade on iNaturalist. The flowers are 1 1/2″ wide while the others are 1/2″ (more or less) and most commonly white or a pale lavender-pink. I am sure, almost, I have identified one species as Symphyotrichum pilosum (Hairy White Oldfield Aster) but I can’t get anyone on iNaturalist to stick their neck out and agree. I have submitted a few species that are difficult with the same results… Birds are easy and every species I have submitted are research grade.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) on 9-30-21, 1 1/2″ diameter…

The Missouri Plants website lists 16 species of Symphyotrichum in Missouri and most are pink. The USDA Plants Database lists 154 accepted species (including infraspecific names)in North America. Plants of the World Online lists 95 species worldwide including 12 hybrids but not including possible varieties. To find that out, I would have had to click on 95 pages. For grins, I checked out The Plant List which hasn’t been maintained since 2013. It lists 143 species (including infraspecific names), a whopping 1,116 synonyms, and only 37 species unplaced at the time. I would count the list on the Wildflower Research website, but I am sort of exhausted…

the underside and upper leaves of the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)…

Getting back to the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae… Information online says their flowers are purplish and rarely pink. Well, these are pink fading to white. It also says they supposedly grow to around 40″ or so tall. Hmmm… There is a problem. The huge clusters of pink flowers are on stems in a circle 10-12′ in diameter.  One could mistakenly “think” the stems are 40″ or so tall. BUT, in the center of the circle, there is a cluster of bent over stems (at the base of the plant). I picked one of the stems up and it was about a foot taller than me and I am 5′ 8ish… The stems had gotten so heavy they fell over and curved upward (like sweet corn). I took more photos on the 30th, including the bent-over stems at the base of the plant. Unfortunately, the photos of the base of the plant were blurry so I will have to try AGAIN. Possibly take a tape measure (and photograph the measurement) to prove my point. That happened before with another species of Symphyotrichum growing along the fence in the front pasture. The stem was growing in the fence and it couldn’t fall over and was close to 8′ tall. I do have photos but I have never been able to identify the species…

Danaus plexippus (Monarch Butterfly) on the New England Aster…

There were a lot of small butterflies and insects were very busy. There was a single Monarch enjoying itself as well.

Jocelyn asked me to take a 20-30 minute video of the farm for her YouTube channel so, on Friday, October 2, I decided I would give it a shot. I took a video of the New England Asters and the butterflies then walked up the ditch toward the main hayfield. There was a large colony of Missouri Ironweed at the corner and there were more Monarch feeding than I ever saw before. There were several colonies of ironweeds scattered about halfway across the front of the hayfield so I continued recording. Then I walked to the back pasture where another pond is. There is a HUGE colony of ironweeds where I found HUNDREDS of Monarch feeding and it was quite a sight. There were even several Hummingbird Moths which are impossible to photograph but they came out quite well on the videos. Well, I took 17 videos normally 3 minutes or so each. A couple were 7 minutes because I got a little carried away and a few are around a minute because I had to stop recording to take photos. She will just have to splice the videos together to get 20 minutes or so. I have to upload the videos on Skype, and if I make them too long it takes forever and sometimes it won’t work at all. If I had a better way to do it I would…

Well, I better close for now. I took quite a few photos this past week and I need to do some catching up. 🙂 We have FINALLY gotten some rain…

Until next time, take care, be safe, and always be thankful!