to bobklips.com, the website of Bob Klips, a plant enthusiast living in
June 29, 2009. Lucas County,Ohio
(more on the emerald ash borer)
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium, Myrtaceae, the myrtle family) is a New Zealandish shrub, the source of an oil popular among those who employ herbal remedies. According to one web site promoting its use, preparations made from manuka leaves have long been used by the Maori people to cure a variety of ailments such as urinary complaints and head colds, as well as as a "febrifuge" (fever-reducer). The bark is used along with the leaves to concoct a muscle and joint-soothing salve, or it is or simply chewed as a relaxing sleep-enhancer. Nowadays, and more widely, a very aromatic concentrated oil made by steam-distilling manuka leaves and small twigs is sold for its antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-acne properties. A major active ingredient is leptospermone.
***Study hint for the upcoming pharmacology quiz: If you don't know the name of a plant-derived chemical, simply take its genus name and add "-one" or some similar cognate at the end. It works every time! Well, not every time really...but every so often at least. Here are some examples:
Some instances of plant-derived chemicals the names of which are similarly derived.
Manuka oil is also used in aromatherapy. People love manuka oil because it smells like a stressed and dying ash tree! Well, not people maybe, but apparently emerald ash borers do, because manuka oil is a great attractant for detecting the presence of the metalic wood boring (Buprestid) beetle Agrilus planipennis. How do they discover these things? A pad saturated with the oil is used inside sticky traps made of cardboard-like plastic pyramidal cones hung from ash trees in areas where EAB researchers are assaying the abundance of the pests. The traps are purple because purple is the beetle's favorite color. How do they discover these things?
This day I had the pleasure of accompanying USDA Forest Service and OSU researchers at the Oak Openings Metropark in Lucas County (northwest Ohio, near Toledo). The sites we visited were low-lying areas, formerly forested, where green ash was predominant.
EAB researchers employing aromatherapy.
Oak Openings Metropark, Lucas County Ohio. June 29, 2009.
The trap at this location don't have very many beetles stuck to it, mainly because the beetles have already "been there, done that." Since there are no living ash trees of substantial size remaining --the devastation is awful --the emerald ash borer is scarce there now. The photo below shows the extent of the tree loss.
Devastated lowland ash forest in Lucas County, Ohio. June 29, 2009.
By contrast, at a study site in central Ohio where the beetles arrived only in the past year or two, they are thriving. The pictures below show a stinky sticky purple trap high up in a tree at the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio.
EAB trap at Stratford Ecological Center. July 14, 2009.
...and a bunch of beetles stuck to it. Its interesting they are all on their backs. Do they approach the traps that way, or do they struggle to get free in a manner that ultimately gets them more stuck, on their backs?
Emerald ash borers on sticky trap at Stratford Ecological Center. July 14, 2009.
At Oak Openings Metropark, the newly created no-ash openings seem peculiar as they are occupied by plants normally found in shadier places (as they were until quite recently, thanks to the borers). It was nice to see green dragon, Arisaemia dracontium, family Araceae, in fruit.
Green dragon at Oak Openings Metropark. June 29, 2009.
Green dragon is in the same genus as Jack-in-the-pulpit (A. triphyllum). It has a very intriguing leaf complexity --compound, but divided into two main segments, each of which is further subdivided into leaflets totalling 7-13 in number. This composition, termed "pedately divided," is like that of maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum).
Green dragon leaf. Oak openings Metropark. June 29, 2009.
The green dragon flowers are arranged in typical aroid fashion, wherin the flowers are small, and aggregated over part of a fleshy spike termed the "spadix" (Preacher Jack is a spadix.) subtended by a large leaflike bract, the "spathe" (Jack's pulpit is a spathe.). In fruit, it displays a cluster of berries that will eventually turn orange-red.
Green dragon young fruit. June 29, 2009. Lucas County, Ohio.
Here's what green dragon looked like in flower, in a picture taken six weeks and four years ago.
Green dragon as it appeared in flower, mid-May (2004).
The wetter spots are home to a very dramatic sedge that looks like a collection of midieval maces.
From a online weapons shop for reenactors (I hope so anyhow):
a collection of midieval maces
In the Lupulinae section of the genus Carex, this is either Gray's sedge (Carex grayii) or bladder sedge (C. intumescens). Both species bear a few large wholly pistillate spikes of a globose shape composed of relatively few, relatively large, perigynia (perigynia are the papery-covered single seeded fruit units characteristic of Carex) and a long narrow terminal spike that is entirely staminate. After that is gets confusing.
Carex grayii or C. intumescens at Oak Openings Metropark. June 29, 2009.
...confusing because while in the field I was sure this was Carex grayii, a species which which I was long familiar (or at least thought I was). Another botanist in the group suggested it might be Carex intumescens but I rudely scoffed at that idea, thinking is was just the result of his having inhaled too much manuka oil. It can do that to you. But now that it's time to label the photos and present them here, consultation with E. Lucy Braun through her excellent 1967 Ohio monocots book casts this identification in a different light. It turns out there are indeed two mace-headed carices in our area!
Carex section lupulinae key in The Monocotyledonae of Ohio.
Arghh. She's asking about details of the pergynium best seen by looking at a specimen through a hand lens, not a picture of a specimen. But perhaps the "megapixel wars" are good for something. Here's a zoomed in view of another pic taken today.
Enlarged portion of sedge head. June 29, 2009. Oak Openings Metropark.
While they don't seem hairy, "hispidulous" could be missed in a photo like this. (Moreover --see below --there are evidently glabrous-ruited forms of C. grayii.) One thing at least: In this photo, these perigynia do certainly seem "lustrous" (shiny), not "dull." That pushes it towards C. intumescens! The situation is made totally worse by examining carefully the species descriptions in the Ohio monocots book.
Species descriptions in Ohio monocots book.
E. Lucy tells us that C. grayii has perigynia radiating out in all directions. This can be observed in a picture, and indeed they are. Usually the remarks at this stage in a key are very species-specific. But there is, sadly, no explicit complementary refererence to the head shape of C. intumescens, implying that they are both equally globular. There are perigynium measurments, making me wish that I had a specimen, but only for a fleeting instant do I wish that because it always happens that, if, say, one species' perigynia are supposed to be 12-18 mm long and the other's are given as 10-16 mm long, the perigynia on your specimen will be 14 mm long, squarely within both ranges. Always.
Mace-headed sedge pics and range maps from The Monocotyledonae of Ohio.
The range maps indicate that either species is possible in this area. Also, reference to the wonderfully useful appendix to "Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) for Vascular Plants and Mosses for the State of Ohio," by Barbara Andreas, John Mack and James McCormac, 2004, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency shows that both species have the same wetness affinity, shade-tolerance, and middling "5" for their Coefficient of Conservatism (an estimate of the degree to which a species tends to occur only in specific habitat types. These are mainly high-quality natural communities similar to those that existed in pre-settlement times.)
Portion of OEPA's Floristic Quality Assessment Index showing pertinent sedge species.
There is hope perhaps by turning to another, more modern reference: volume 23 of the Flora of North America (FONA) North of Mexixo --Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Cyperaceae, publishd in 2002 by the Oxford University Press. In it, A.A. Reznicek states explicity what E. Lucy Braun hinted at and then backed away from. Yes Virginia, there is a head-shape difference between the two species!
"O.K. contestants and Jeopardy fans, the category is 'sedges' for $1000. ...These have the largest perygynia of all Carex." "Buzzzz" "Yes, A.A?" "What is section Lupulinae?!"
FONA excerpt showing differences betwen two mace-headed Carex species.
...and the illustrations corroborate that, thankfully.
Mace-headed sedge pics from FONA
So it seems, provisionally at least, that this mace-headed sedge is Carex grayi after all. If only www.bobklips.com were an nice interactive blog rather than a static website, then someone --perhaps Tim Walters, seen on the far left standing next to the EAB trap in the picture below, who teaches a yearly workshop on sedges and also has dozens of such species growing in his yard/garden--could post helpful sedge identification comments.
EAB researchers and their enthusastic followers at Oak Openings Metropark, Lucas County, Ohio.
Below are images of some of the other woodland plants that are wondering who turned the lights on all of a sudden. Honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis, family Apiaceae) is especially abundant.
Canada avens (Geum canadense, family Rosaceae) is a typical member of the Rosoidea subfamily of the rose family. Note the calyx of 5 separate sepals, corolla of 5 separate petals that are equal in size and shape (i.e., the flower displays radial symmetry), and especially numerous stamens and carpels that are spirally arranged. In fruit, the styles of avens become elongate, stiff and hooked, attaching to animals to disperse as a "stick-tight."
Honewort at Oak Openings Metropark. June 29, 2009.
Tall meadow-rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum, family Ranunculaceae) is a dioecious (i.e., having separate male and female individuals) herb.
Tall meadow-rue at Oak Openings. June 29,. 2009.
Left: Pistillate (female) plant. Right: Staminate (dude) plant.
...closer views of the meadow-rue flowers.
Tall meadow-rue flowers at Oak Openings. June 29,. 2009.
Left: Pistillate (female) flowers. Right: Staminate (dude) flowers.
Canada avens flower. Oak Openings Metropark. June 29, 2009.
Ohio is home to five native species of Rosa (family Rosaceae), plus six alien ones. Our most distinctive native is climbing prairie rose, R. setigera.
Rose setigera. June 26, 2009. Wyandot County, Ohio.
The first important subdivision in E. Lucy Braun's excellent rose key in The Woody Plants of Ohio (OSU Press; 1961, 1989) asks whether or not the styles are united, forming a column exserted from the throat of the receptacle. Rosa setigera indeed displays this trait. Below are images showing the styles of Rosa setigera and another rose --R. carolina --that doesn't have the styles so united.
Roses are very stylish!
Left: Rosa setigera showing styles united into column.
Right: Rosa carolina showing styles shorter, covering throat of receptacle.
Rosa setigera is our only native rose with styles of this form. Also, it has large pink flowers, and leaves that are nearly always 3-foliolate (i.e., composed of 3 leaflets). Today the flowers are being visited by (presumably) native pollen-gathering bees (video).
Climbing prairie rose and pollen-gathering bee. July 5, 2009.
Incidentally, one of the nastiest invasives is also in the small group of roses hacing an exsert column of styles. This is the dreaded evil multiflora rose (R. multiflora). It has small white flowers. This picture, with a hidden spider I didn't notice until long afterwards, was taken in early June last year.
Dreaded evil multiflora rose displaying its style column. June 8, 2008. Marion County, Ohio.
Absent flowers, malevolent neer-do-well multiflora rose can be neatly recognized by a vegetative feature: ragged-edged (fimbriate) stipules. Stipules, paired leaflet-like stuctures at the very base of a leafstalk, are a hallmark of the Rosaceae that is especially evident in roses proper.
Distinctive fimbriate stipules of terrible demonic multiflora rose.
June 23, 2009. Columbus, Ohio
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica, family Caprifoliaceae) is a twining or trailing vine that H.A. Gleason, in the best book ever written (The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora...) aptly describes as "oppresively abundant; native of east Asia. May-Sep. Its densely tangled stems are capable of smothering and destroying shrubs and small trees." Here's a picture of its twining stems going up a tree a few years ago in northern Ohio.
Japanese honeysuckle twining. March 25, 2009.
Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
The species is flowering profusely now in central Ohio, displaying well the features of its family, the Caprifoliaceae. The honeysuckle family consists mainly (in our area at least) of shrubs with opposite leaves. The three predominant local genera can be distinguished simply on vegetative traits alone. Viburnums (genus Viburnum) and honeysuckles (Lonicera) both have simple leaves. Those of viburnum have serrate (toothed) margins (in some species they are lobed as well), whereas honeysuckle's leaves have entire margins. Contrastingly, the leaves of elderberry (Sambucus) are pinnately compound (suggestive of ash).
The flowers are perfect (i.e., hermaphroditic, bearing both male and female parts), epigynous (having an inferior ovary), with small sepals, and (usually) 5 petals fused together. The stamens are as many as the corolla-lobes (five), and attached to them (epipetalous). Honeysuckle flowers have a distinctively elongate style and a corolla that is tubular or funnel-shaped, deeply or shallowly 5-lobed, and often distinctly bilaterally symmetric.
Major genera of the Caprifoliaceae. Left to right: Viburnum, Lonicera, Sambucus.
Japanese honeysuckle displaying strongly zygomorphic (bilateral) flower symmetry.
Columbus, Ohio. June 23, 2009.
A more detailed view of the flowers shows the 5 stamens (per flower) consisting of elongate curved filaments tipped by oblong-linear anthers (pollen sacs), and the single, slightly longer and straighter style tipped by a capitate pollen-receptive stigma.
Japanese honeysuckle stamens, style and stigma. June 23, 2009. Columbus, Ohio.
An interesting honeysuckle trait is the manner in which the flowers are arranged --in pairs, with each flower sessile (stalkless), and the ovaries somewhat united. Here's a closeup of a pair of Japanese honeysuckle flowers taken a few years ago, also in central Ohio.
Paired inferor ovaries of Japanese honeysuckle. Aug 30, 2006. Pickaway County, Ohio.
After pollination has occurred, the flowers fade to yellow as a signal to pollinating insects that the flower is "sold out" of nectar, and they ought to look elsewhere for a meal. The stamens wilt before the style. Perhaps sperm-delivering pollen tubes are still growing down through the style on their way to the egg-containing ovules (future seeds) inside the ovary (future fruit).
Senescent honeysuckle flower. June 23, 2009. Columbus, Ohio.
Extrafloral nectaries on Vicia angustifolia
June 21, 2009 at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Marion County, Ohio.
It can be confusing. "Extra" as a word simply means more of something, whereas "extra-" as a prefix signifies something that is outside or beyond. It is in this later sense of "extra" that some plants produce extrafloral nectaries. Vetchling (Vicia angustifolia, family Fabaceae) is an annual vine-like herb that bears alternately arranged pinnately compound leaves that end in a pair of tendrils. The flowers are paired in the upper axils of the leaves. A native of Europe, the plant is established in fields, roadsides and waste places. (What are waste places anyway?)
Narrow-leaved vetch in a roadside field (definitely not a waste place though)
in Morral, Marion County, Ohio. June 21, 2009.
Looking carefully at the blossoms, we see several traits typical of the legume (bean) family.
[Note: In England and elsewhere, beans are called "pulses," and so the Fabaceae is known as the "pulse family." Q: Why did the cardiologist get arrested at the farmer's market? A: She took someone's pulse!]
We see a calyx of five fused (connate) sepals, and a corolla that is strongly bilateral with so-called "papilionaceous" (i.e., resembling a butterfly) symmetry. The corolla consists of the five petals that are separate from one another except for a slight fusion at the tips of two of them. Thse consist of a huge upper petal (termed a "banner" or "standard"), and two lateral petals ("wings") held closely together and concealing the two lower partly-fused lower ones (together comprising the "keel").
Narrow-leaved vetch. June 21, 2009. Marion County, Ohio.
Note also at the base of the leaf there is a dark semi-circular gland from which an ant is feeding. That is an extrafloral nectary. It is an accessory nectar-secreting structure that serves not to attract pollinators as do typical nectaries, which are located in flowers. Rather, these nectaries promote visits by ants which (I presume, not knowing whether this particular case has been studied scientifically) provide the plant with protection from herbivores. The relationship is a good example of a mutualistic symbiosis.
Here's a video...
Ants visiting extrafloral nectaries on narrow-leaved vetch.
June 21, 2009. Morral, Marion County, Ohio.
Flower longhorn beetles tussle on pasture rose
June 21-26, 2009
Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Wyandot County, Ohio
Longhorn beetles (Coleptera; Cerambycidea) are distinguished by having antennae that are as least half as long as, and often nearly as long as, their body. Members of this large family are all plant feeders. Longhorn larvae feast on the solid tissues of plants. Accordingly, they cause serious defects in lumber. Some kill trees; the notorious Asian longhorn for example, is threatening forests in the eastern U.S. and adjacent Canada. However, most contribute beneficially to forest ecology by enhancing the decomposition (recycling) of dead and dying trees. As adults, some species eat nothing, but many feed on flowers, in some cases with great specificity as to species of flower. Thus the family is the most effective of all beetle pollinators.
Along the road separating Marion and Wyandot counties in north-central Ohio, pasture rose (Rosa carolina, family Rosaceae) is flowering now, and the longhorns seem to love it.
Pasture rose and flower longhorn. June 21, 2009. Wyandot County, Ohio.
The beetles visiting the rose, munching its pollen and probably also sipping its nectar (do roses offer a nectar reward?), are "flower longhorns," i.e., members of the subfamily Lepturinae, that Richard E. White in the Peterson "Beetles" field guide points out are often distinguished by having a bell-shaped (narrower at the front) pronotum. (He kindly explains that the pronotum is the upper part of the first thoracic segment, a segment that, in beetles, is generally prominent, so that it may appear to comprise the entire thorax.)
A flower longhorn beetle (Strangalia luteicornis) displays bell-shaped pronotum.
June 21, 2009. Wyandot County, Ohio.
Thanks to a pair of terrific on-line resources --the BugGuide and the wonderful accurately labeled photos of Tom Murray on PBase --I was able to pin names on this species (Strangalia luteicornis) as well as another one, the "banded flower longhorn," Typocerus velutinus, that seems to be competing quite successfully for space on the rose blossoms.
While Typocerus velutinus stands prominently on a rose flower, Strangalia luteicornis
peeking from beneath, considers making an ascent. A smaller beetle seems to be saying
"I'm getting the heck out of here"!
While is may seem in the photo below that the beetles are merrily having lunch together, it might be more of an armed stand-off. The larger Typocerus persistently drives the smaller Strangalia off the flower, but Srangalia keeps coming back, and even aggressively tries to "jump" the big brute!
Two flower longhorn species on rose flower. June 26, 2009. Wyandot County, Ohio.
Here's a video showing the interaction between these flower longhorns.
Flower longhorns tussle on rose flower. June 25, 2009. Wyandot County, Ohio.
Another sanicle --S. trifoliata!!!
[dateline: near Highbanks Metro Park, July 17, 2009]
While merrily snapping some pics of goldenseal fruits (coming soon), it was a pleasure to almost step on ...yay!!...another sanicle!!!
Large-fruited snakeroot. July 17, 2009. Delaware County, Ohio.As mentioned in the sanicle/snakeroot essay below, all 4 Ohio species of Sanicula (family Apiaceae) look quite alike. But this plant immediately stood out by virture of its young fruits being elliptical rather than globose, and the hypanthium bristles seeming straighter (less hooked) than the others. Back in the lab, reference to The Dicotyledoneae of Ohio, Part 2 (Cooperrider, 1995) showed that a short-styles Sanicula with its comparatively few staminate flowers on relatively long pedicles, bearing elliptical fruits that are sessile with a persistent calyx that forms a persistent hard tuft at the fruit apex is "large-ftuited snakeroot," S. trifoliata. The species is found throughout Ohio. Below, a studio portrait displaying those traits.
Sanicula trifoliata umbel. July 17, 2009. Note the persistent calyx forming a hard tuft.
A tale of two sanicles
Sanicula gregaria and S. canadensis
June 19, 2009. Morral, Marion County, Ohio
The sanicles (also called "snakeroot," along with, it seems, about eleventy-seven other plants) are members of the genus Sanicula, in the wonderfully distinctive parsely family, Apiaceae. There are five Sanicula species in North America, four of which occur in Ohio. They tend to look alike. H. A. Gleason, in the best book ever written --The New Britton and Brown Ilustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada (published in 1952 by the New York Botanical Garden) --explained "Our species are all glabrous and sparingly branched, 3-8 dm tall or rarely taller, and so alike in general habit that the existence of more than two species in our range was scarcely suspected until 1895."
It's nice to be in good company, even if, as is most likely the case, the two species growing side-by-side at the Marion County Park District's Myer's Woods Preserve in Morral, Ohio are, by sanicle standards, the easiest to separate. By far the most abundant one here is "clustered snakeroot," Sanicula gregaria, widespread in the woods where it is shady.
Clustered snakeroot. June 14, 2009. Myer's Woods, Marion County, Ohio.
At the edge of the woods there is a sanicle (snakeroot, whatever) that looks a little different --the branches are more ascending than wide-spreading, and the flower clusters also seem a bit more compact. Moreover, they appear to be a little earlier along, phenologically, as some of the flowers still have petals. Subsequent study revealed this to be "short-styled snakeroot," S. canadensis.
Short-styled snakeroot. June 19, 2009. Marion County, Ohio.
Both Sanicula species display a leaf feature typical of the Apiaceae --deeply cleft leaves with an expanded base. (The leaf base wraps around the stem a bit, although that trait isn't evident here.)
Short-styled snakeroot leaf. Marion County, Ohio. June 19, 2009.
The hallmark of the Apiaceae, indeed why hence it is sometimes called the "Umbelliferae," is that the inflorescence (flower cluster), is an umbel. An umbel has all its flowers attached at the same spot on the top of the flowering stem ("peduncle") AND the flowers are individually stalked (otherwise the inflorescence would be a head, not an umbel). A signature example of an umbel (a compound umbel, actually) is borne by Queen Anne's-lace (wild carrot). At first glance, snakeroot (sanicle, whatever) doesn't seem to have an umbel, but closer inspection reveals that it does.
Below, side-by-side, are the dense head-like simple umbels of our two most common species of sanicle (snakeroot, whatever). The genus displays another pecilarity: the flowers are of two types! Each umbel is composed of 3 sessile or (in this case) very short-pediceled "perfect" (hermaphroditic) flowers each with a bristly hypanthium covering the swollen inferior ovary, and mixed in are several-many staminate (male) flowers with smooth hypanthium, all or chiefly on long pedicels.
Fruiting umbels of sympatric Sanicula species. June 19, 2009. Marion County, Ohio.
Left: S. gregaria. Right: S. canadensis.
Diagnostic features are seen on both types of flowers. When the perfect flowers of S. gregaria develop into fruit, the two styles are longer than the bristles of the fruit, recurved-spreading and conspicuous, whereas those of the aptly (common) named S. canadensis --"short-styled snakeroot" --are so short they just seem lost among all those bristles. Meanwhile the staminate flowers of S. gregaria are abundant --10-20 in number, and their sepals (calyx lobes) have a broad triangular shape. Contrast these guys with the male flowers of S. canadensis, which are much fewer in number (only 1-5), and have narrowly awl-shaped calyx lobes.
Below, an photographic explication of the diagnostic features of the two snakeicle (sanroot, whatever) species. First, see the style length feature that is evident on the perfect flowers.
Then, please MOUSEOVER the IMAGE to see staminate flower traits.
Distinguishing features of co-occurring Sanicula species. Marion County, Ohio.
Hello, 911? I'd like to report a robbery!
Carpenter bee on foxglove beard-tongue.
June 19, 2009. Marion, Ohio.
Is this really an emergency? I don't think so! Anyhow, flowers are exquisitely constructed to maneuver visiting insects in a manner that fosters the removal and deposition of pollen. However, some nectar-feeding insects find it easier to circumvent the flower's design. Each June, a stand of foxglove beard-tongue (Penstemon digitalis, family Scrophulariaceae) at the Larry R. Yoder Prairie at the OSU-Marion campus is visited by carpenter bees, honeybees, and bumblebees. They tend to behave differently with respect to how they exploit the flowers. Most strikingly, the carpenter bees totally short-circuit the flower's "plan" by piercing a slit at the base of the corolla and drinking nectar directly through it, with no apparent benefit to the plant.
Carpenter bee robbing nectar at Larry R. Yoder Prairie. June 19, 2009.
Here are 820 more pictures of this, displayed successively, 1/30 second per picture. Each photo is slightly different than the previous one, and they seem to blend together.
Carpenter bee robbing nectar from Penstemon digitalis. June 29, 2009.
Like looters entering a store after somebody else has initially broken into it, honeybees acts as "secondary theives," drinking nectar through slits made by the carpenter bees.
Honeybee driking nectar through slits cut by carpenter bee. June 19, 2009. Marion, Ohio.
Playing "Gallant" to Carpenter Bee's "Goofus," most (but not all) of the time the bumblebees are doing the right thing, entering the flower through its throat, thereby potentially effecting pollination.
Bumblebee "legitimately" forages on foxglove beardtongue in Marion, Ohio.