Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis

The Bloodroot in my woods is just beginning to bloom. It’s impossible to miss the white glow of these petals.
I think this is the most abused wildflower in the woods. I’ve been on many nature hikes where our group leader began by lecturing us on the perils of picking wildflowers and later stopped along the trail to yank a Bloodroot from the ground just so we could see the red juices ooze from the root. One leaf and one flower stalk is all this plant produces each year. What a set back if either is lost.
The folded leaf looks as though it is trying to hold the plant in place. I find this to be a remarkable little plant. Photos taken April 2, 2010 in Adams County, Ohio.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Golden-star - Erythronium rostratum

March 23, 2011 - Adams County, Ohio

This stunning member of the Liliaceae family is the state endangered Golden-star (Erythronium rostratum).  It was originally found in Ohio by famous botanist E. Lucy Braun in 1963.  Since it's discovery nearly 50 years ago in the valley of Rocky Fork in Scioto County is has never been found anywhere else in the state...until now.  Another population was discovered on March 23, 2011 on the Edge of Appalachia Preserve system in Adams County; the first time this plant has been documented outside the forested hillsides of Rocky Fork in the state of Ohio.

March 23, 2011 - Adams County

Very similar and easily confused with its relative, Yellow Trout-lily (Erythronium americanum), this flower can be separated from the two in a couple ways.  The tepals (petals) of this species spread out in a star-like fashion on a flat plane while the Yellow Trout-lily's petals reflex (curl) back to fully reveal the stamens and pistil.  Another diagnostic characteristic is the bloom of the Golden-star is erect on its peduncle and faces up towards the sky.  The similar Yellow Trout-lily's flowers droop over and face the ground.  Also the Golden-star blooms on average a couple weeks before any Yellow Trout-lilies bloom.

March 23, 2011 - Adams County

While not entirely a sure thing, most Yellow Trout-lily's stamens are red/orange and their inner section of their petals exhibit a scattering of reddish specks.  As seen above, the Golden-star's stamens are golden yellow and lack any spotting on the inner petals.  The fruit is the best means of positive identification when comparing them against the other Erythroniums of Ohio.  Both the Yellow (E. americanum) and White Trout-lily's (E. albidum) fruit lay prostrate along the ground as they mature while the Golden-star's peduncle is erect up off the ground.  The Golden-star's mature capsule also has a "beak" on the end while the other two Erythronium's do not.

March 23, 2011 - Adams County

This species typically blooms in the Rocky Fork region in late March or Early April.  It only blooms for a short time so you really have to hit the timing just right to experience this gorgeous flower!  The newly discovered Adams County population is very secluded and way off the public path; whether the Edge will open this area up to viewing is currently unknown.  I fear with the cold snap and short blooming period these flowers are finished and already in fruit.

If interested in a more detailed account of this discovery feel free to check out my personal nature blog at The Natural Treasures of Ohio.  I look forward to contributing to this site often in the future!  This is on pace to become a fantastic resource for fellow Ohio botanists and plant appreciators!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Juniper Sedge - Carex juniperorum

Juniper Sedge is one of those Southern Ohio rarities that often goes unnoticed. The flowers should be developing within the next couple of weeks.
It’s not hard to understand why people overlook this plant. It’s doesn’t get very tall and in larger plants, the growth seems to radiate from a central point in such a way that the plant appears to have been flattened by someone’s boot.
The flowers are soon replaced by the long beaked perigynia.
Juniper Sedge thrives in the same dry conditions so often frequented by Eastern Red Cedar. The presence of cedars doesn’t seem to be a requirement of the sedge, so look for Juniper Sedge in any prairie-like openings.

Photos taken April 25, 2010 in Adams County. Ohio.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Squawroot - Conopholis americana

Here’s something to watch for while you’re out looking for woodland wildflowers. Squawroot, Conopholis americana, is parasitic on oak trees. The bulk of the plant is underground where it bonds with the roots of the tree. It’s one of those odd plants that lacks chlorophyll and takes all of its energy from the host.

The flower buds are hidden behind rough looking scales. The emerging flowers push themselves up over the lip of the scale.

The flower spikes of Squawroot emerge from the ground looking like malformed pine cones. Squawroot is like the person that never seems to fit in. In the middle of a woods full of enchanting and delicate spring flowers, you have this brute of a spike pushing through the leaves, displaying its unhealthy looking browns and pale yellows. It’s not hard to see why some hikers give it a wide berth, as though afraid of contracting whatever disease has ravaged the plant.

Photos taken April 25, 2010 in Adams County, Ohio.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Common Yellow Violet - Viola pubescens

The Common Yellow Violet will soon add its bright yellow pattern to the floor of the dry woodland. This is one of the brightest of the spring flowers and is impossible to miss when the sun reflects from the lemon yellow petals.

The blooms have not yet appeared, but the leaves are quickly pushing upward. Look for the pubescence beneath the leaves, especially along the veins.
Photos taken on April 10, 2010 in Adams County, Ohio.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pennsylvania Sedge

March 20, 2011- Worthington, Ohio

I don't think it's possible to be a botanist and to not love sedges.  Here's  a tight shot of Carex pensylvanica growing in our backyard. These brown overlapping things are scales- the scales are now concealing the very reduced sedge flowers, which is where all the love happens.  I'll try to keep an eye on this spike as it develops and post more pictures to help demystify sedge anatomy.  I love spring.


Dwarf Hawthorn - Crataegus uniflora

Crataegus uniflora is one of the easiest to identify Hawthorns, but it is also the easiest to overlook. Once you've seen them, the leaves are hard to mistake.

As the name implies, this is a small shrub. In my opinion, it's probably the cutest of the native Ohio shrubs. Height is typically less than 18 inches, with many flowering specimens being less than a foot tall.

I've seen Crataegus uniflora growing in both sun and shade. It is most common on calcareous soils, but I've also seen it growing on low pH shale based soils. Watch for it as you check out the spring wildflowers in Southern Ohio.
Photos taken May 23, 2009 in Adams County, Ohio.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Potato Dandelion - Krigia dandelion

Potato Dandelion basal leaves begin to emerge in early winter, but are most noticeable at this time of year. At a glance, the leaves resemble young Trout Lily leaves and can easily go unnoticed. It’s hard to predict where you might encounter this rare plant, except to say that it is most likely to be encountered in dry soils. There are very few known occurrences of the plant in Ohio, but it’s liable to grow in any soil type from sand to heavy clay and in sunlight conditions ranging from open field to thick woodland.
Photo taken March 17, 2010 in Adams County, Ohio.

As the season progresses, the leaves begin to elongate and develop lobes. The amount of sunlight received by the plant seems to influence the lobe development. As sunlight increases, the lobes tend to narrow and elongate.
Photo taken March 24, 2010 in Adams County, Ohio.

The mature leaves bear little resemblance to the late winter growth.
Photo taken May 5, 2009 in Adams County, Ohio.

In early May, a single flower will open at the top of a long stalk.
Photo taken May 5, 2009 in Adams County, Ohio.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Carolina Whitlow Grass - Draba reptans

This winter annual could win ribbons at the fair in the smallness category. This is a mature plant and represents a typical size. Those logs laying beside it are actually small grass stems.

A leafy central stalk is typical for this plant.

It's not unusual for each plant to bear just a single flower . The Draba cuneifolia in the lower center, a tiny plant in its own right, dwarfs the even tinier Draba reptans. These two species are often found growing in the same site.

Draba reptans is currently at the tiny rosette stage, but will be blooming within the next couple of weeks. Watch for it in open rocky sites in Southern Ohio.
Photos taken April 16, 2008 in Adams County, Ohio.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wedge Leaf Whitlow Grass - Draba cuneifolia

Leaves of young Draba cuneifolia don’t show the characteristic dentate margins. Unless you have eyes in your knees, you won’t be able to identify these tiny winter annuals from a standing position. Photo taken on 3-12-10 in Adams County, Ohio.

Older plants are more easily identified. Photo taken on 3-16-08 in Adams County, Ohio.

The small flowers are hard to see from above. The best way to find the blooming plants is to get close to the ground and look horizontally across the surface. Photo taken on 4-30-05 in Adams County, Ohio.

Photo taken on 4-19-06 in Adams County, Ohio.

Blooms are very short lived. Seed pods emerge soon after the flower opens. Photo taken on 4-19-06 in Adams County, Ohio.

These plants are typically found on dry, bare soil in areas with abundant sunlight. Photo taken on 3-12-10 in Adams County, Ohio.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Leavenworthia uniflora

This is the time of year to be searching for the rosettes of the uncommon Leavenworthia uniflora. Look for the tiny plants growing in shallow, calcareous soil in Southern Ohio. Photo taken on February 18, 2011 in Adams County, Ohio.

Plants should begin blooming within the next few weeks. This is a typical full sized plant. Photo taken April 5, 2010 in Adams County, Ohio.

When growing conditions are perfect, you may find robust specimens such as this. This plant has more than a dozen flower buds clustered in the center of the whorl. Photo taken on March 25, 2010 in Adams County, Ohio.