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One lovely goldenrod, milkweed
and a nasty weed.
Waldo, Marion County, Ohio
September 10, 2009.
Where's Waldo? It's a little town in southern Marion County, Ohio, right alongside Rte. 23, midway between Delaware and Marion. It's rural, and there are parts of the Delaware Wildlife Area there. There's some nice wild land to walk around on. I went looking for mosses, but didn't see very many of them. There were, however, some interesting wildflowers. One of them is the loveliest of common goldenrods. This is gray, or old-field goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis (family Asteraceae). It is an especially low-growing species, with a fidelity to dry open areas. It has a distinctive wand-like appearance, short obovate leaves, and short gray hairs (not visible in the photo below).
Gray goldenrod. Waldo, Marion County, Ohio.
Fruiting earlier than other milkweeds, this swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata (family Asclepiadaceae) has follicles that have split open and are releasing long-haired seeds that are wind-dispersed.
Swamp milkweed seeds are wind-dispersed. Sept. 10, 2009. Marion County, Ohio.
A noxious weedy member of a genus that includes some lovely prairie, glade and meadow wildflowers is Chinese lespedeza, Lespedeza cuneata (family Fabaceae). This plant has a distinctive appearance, consisting of sprays of wiry wand-like flowering stems with flowers and leaves hugging the stems along most of their length. An Asian native, It occurs along roadsides, prairies and pastures. Thriving in poor soil, it can be seen in reclamation areas.
Chinese lepedeza has a wand-like inflorescence. Sept. 10, 2009. Marion County, Ohio.
According to information in their excellent collection of synopses of the nastiest nasties of the plant world, Kaufman and Kaufman (2007), in "Invasive Plants" (Stackpole Books) explain that the species was introduced in Richmond Virginia in 1899. It has been, and still is, planted for forage and erosion control, roadside stabilization, and as ground cover for nesting birds. Chinese lepedeza blossoms are pea-like, typical Fabaceae, with papilionaceous (butterfly-like) bilateral symmetry:
Chinese lespedeza. September 10, 2009. Marion County, Ohio.
Some Late Summer Insects
Nashville, Miami County, Ohio
September 6 2009
Again, it was a great pleasure for us "city mice" to visit our "country mice" friends at their lovely 15-acre paradise in rural southeastern Ohio. Having recently obtained Lang Elliot and Will Hershberger's awesome "The Songs of Insects" book, a goal was to snap some pics of night-time singers. A general level of entomological interest was raised, resulting in photos of representatives of six orders: Lepidoptera, Homoptera, Orthoptera, Dermaptera, Diptera, and Hemiptera.
I chased a black swallowtail nectaring on red clover. The butterfly is very fond of the clover, so you could say it loves clover. Several times I had to move the butterfly in order to get a better picture of the clover. Being near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, there was a lot of air traffic, including a helicopter piloted by a man named Rover. My attempts to relocate the butterfly with an affinity for Trifolium attracted some scrutiny from the pilot, so I ducked under a tree for cover. To monitor my activities from the air, the flight dispatcher's instruction to the chopper pilot was simple: "Hover over clover-lover mover cover, Rover!"
Black swallowtail sips nectar from clover. September 6, 2009. Nashville, Ohio.
Night fell, and orthopterans began singing merrily. One of these was a jumping bush-cricket, Orocharis saltator, on a leaf about 5 feet up a tree. Will and Lang tell us this cricket is "often heard but seldom seen...a common inhabitant of rural and urban backyards." They cite its flattened or compressed appearance as distinctive. The call is a "clear brief trill or chirp, repeated at the rate of one or two per second," at a frequency of about 5 kHz.
Jumping bush cricket. September 6, 2009. Nashville, Miami County, Ohio.
At the base of the tree was evidence of the emergence from the ground, earlier in the summer, of a daytime songster. This is a cicada, one of several possible species in the genus Tibicen (order Homoptera). These are termed "annual" cicadas, as some adults emerge every year (and to distinguish them from the 13-year and 17-year "periodical" ones). Note however, that even though annual adults emerge every year, an individual annual cicada's life cycle includes several years below the ground.
Annual cicada exoskeleton at base of tree. September 6, 2009. Miami County, Ohio.
Tree crickets are lovely animals, surprisingly delicate in appearance, with light bodies and transparent wings. They sing at night. About a dozen species occur in the eastern United States, and several look quite alike. Seen under a leaf of a tree a at the edge of a woodlot, here is what seems to be a narrow-winged tree cricket, Oecanthus niveus, a species that Elliot and Hershberger tell us is "light green in color with a prominent reddish cap ...a handsome species that often sports pale blue eyes." This seems to be a match. The song is "a mellow trill of variable length, usually lasting about two to ten seconds."
Narrow-winged tree cricket. September 6, 2009. Miami County, Ohio.
About 10 feet up a cottonwood tree (a ladder helped here) a tree cricket merrily sang a loud long continuous call. I didn't get a good picture of that one, but while hunting for it did see a creepy-looking earwig (Order Dermaptera).
Earwig acting like a tree-cricket. September 6, 2009. Miami County, Ohio.
A row of northern white cedars separates our friends' property from their neighbors. Here, at eye-level (without the ladder), a tree-cricket songster allowed close approach while singing. The wings are held erect over the body. The song matched that of the broad-winged tree cricket, Oecanthus latipennis, described as: "Perhaps the loudest of the tree crickets. Males can be heard from two hundred feet away or more. Songs are pure-toned continuous trills that are rarely interrupted, with a main frequency of about 3 kHz. and a pulse rate of about 25 per second."
Broad-winged tree cricket. September 6, 2009.
Some other features that seem to conform to latipennis are the "elegant wide wings" and reddish accents not only on the head (seen on the narrow-winged) but also extending up the base of the antennae.
Broad-winged tree cricket. September 6, 2009. Miami County, Ohio.
The next day a crane fly landed on the screen door. Here's what it looked like. Flies are in the order Diptera, an appropriate and descriptive name because, unlike other winged insects that have 2 pairs of them, for a total of two times two equals four wings, flies only have two one pair, i.e., two wings. The hind wings are reduced, formed into knobby balancing organs called "halteres," visible in the photo below.
Crane fly on screen. September 6, 2009.
And a late-summer walk in the garden to pick some tomatoes, the asparagus plants have berries on them. And on one of the berries, a stink bug (Order Hemiptera).
Stink bug on asparagus berry. Miami County, Ohio. September 6, 2009.
A Botanical Wilderness Area (of sorts)
September 3, 2009, Columbus Ohio
It's inspirational to travel to places where natural processes unfold without the interfering hand of man. Today I trekked to one of those sacred areas, an undisturbed island of spontaneously arising vegetation along North High Street in Columbus, Ohio. The site is near a very terrific camera store with great deals, smart friendly salespeople, and wooden floors that squeak: Midwest Photo Exchange.
A wilderness park in Columbus, Ohio. September 3, 2009.
Travelers who voyage to this exotic location may encouner a mysterious black flower on a vine that, according to legend, sometimes grows so thickly it can tangle up a dog! "Dog-strangling vine," better known as black swallow-wort, Vincetoxicum nigrum (in the milkweed family, Asclepiadaceae), is a noxious weed native to Europe.
Black swallow-wort. September 3, 2009.
The swallow-wort flower is dark purple, almost black. Structurally, it is similar to milkweeds, having a columnar extension of fused portions of the stamens extending upwards termed the "corona," and pollen that is adherent into waxy masses called "pollinia."
Swallow-wort blossom. Septtember 3, 2009. Columbus, Ohio.
Several wind-pollinated monocots grow side-by-side in this botanical paradise. Prominent among them is an unidentified species of foxtail, an annual grass in the genus Setaria (family Poaceae). One type of millet (millets are various one-seeded grasses) is a horticultural derivative of the Eurasion Setaria viridis, one of a few species that occur in Ohio.
Foxtail and other grasses. September 3, 2009. Columbus, Ohio.
Some of foxtail's associates here are also annual grasses. Goose grass (Eleusine indica) is one, an old world native. Its genus commemorates Eleusis, a town near Athens, where ancients worshipped the harvest goddess Demeter in a cult-like manner that offered hope for life after death.
Goose grass. September 3, 2009. Columbus, Ohio.
With its finger-like secondary infloresence, Eleusine is often confused with crabgrass (Digitaria), but the resemblance is superficial. The genera are in different tribes within the famly Poaceae, so there are many technical differences separating them. For example, within the tiny true infloresence called the "spikelet," Eleusine has 3-5 flowers, whereas Digitaria spikelets are one-flowered. Taken from too far away to see that, or to identify what species it is, here's a picture of crabgrass anyhow.
Crabgrass has flower clusters (spikelets) arranged in fingerlike racemes.
An unidentified species of umbrella-sedge, genus Cyperus (family Cyperaceae) is in bloom. The stems of a huge Egyptian species of Cyperus, C. papyrus was used to make an early version of the internet, the paper-like product papyrus. The inner portions of the stem were cut into stripes, two layers were made at right angles by laying the strips lengthwise with the edges overlapping, and the layers were flattened, dried, and polished with a stone or shell. The plant is still used by Egyptian people living near swamps, to make nets, baskets, mats and the like.
Umbrella-sedge (Cyperus) in Columbus, Ohio. September3, 2009.
These sedges produce each tiny flower singly in the axil of a leaf-like scale. The scales are in two rows along short stems that are arranged together in head-like clusters, and then the clusters themselves are situated atop long stems. The end result is vaguely umbrella-like. The species have perfect (hemaphroditic) flowers, but today this one seems to be displaying only the pistillate (female) part. Note (MOUSEOVER) the elongate corn-silk-like styles that catch pollen drifting in the breeze.
MOUSEOVER the IMAGE to see ZOOM-CROP of STYLES
Umbrella sedge flowers. September 3, 2009. Columbus, Ohio.
Alongside the foxtail, we see common groundsel, Senecio vulgaris. This is a rayless composite, i.e., a member of the Asteraceae lacking the petal-like peripheral flowers typically found on the flower heads. The two yellow-tipped heads in the center foreground are in full flower. In the background are dandelion-like fruiting heads of common grounsel.
Common groundsel in full bloom. September 3, 2009. Columbus, Ohio.
Amaranth, or pigweed (any of various members of the genus Amaranthus), is a wind-pollinated weed in the goosefoot family, Chenopodiaceae. In many places, expecially Africa and Indonesia, amaranths are cultivated for their grain-like seeds and as a nutritious leafy vegetable.
Pigweed (Amaranthus sp.) in Columbus, Ohio. Sepember 3, 2009.
Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana, family Phytolacaceae) is a native perennial herb. It was a favorite food of the passenger pigeon.
Pokeweed flowers. September 3, 2009. Columbus, Ohio.
Some wildflowers are in fruit. One of these is Hibiscus trionum, the short-lived blooms of which are the basis of its common name, "flower of an hour." In the photo below, we don't see the fruit per se, but the expanded globe-like sepals (calyx) that surrounds a five-parted dry capsule.
Flower of an hour (Hibiscus trionum) in Columbus, Ohio. Sept., 3, 2009.
A succulent ground-hugging herb is also in fruit. This is purslane (Portulaca oleracea, family Portulacaceae). Purslane has an unusual fruit type, a circumsessile capsule called a "pyxis," that splits along an equator-like seam around its midsection.
The purslane fruit is a capsule that splits all around its middle.
September 3, 2009. Columbus, Ohio.