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June 24, 2010. Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio.
Climbing Prairie Rose is an Insect Cafeteria (videos)
Today I saw this pretty little flower, with bilaterally symmetric flowers of separate petals, one of which is much larger than the others. It is obviously a legume of some sort. It was rather abundant in a field.
Lovely little legume in a field in Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio. June 24, 2010.
Here's the field it was growing in.
The field it was growing in. June 24, 2010. Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio.
O.K. ha ha. It's just a soybean field. You knew that, didn't you? But I'd never looked closely at a soybean plant before, at least not in flower. In fruit, they're a lot more distinctive, as seen during October a few years back.
Soybean fruits. October 10, 2008. Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio.
...and the field these were growing in:
Autumn soybeans. October 10, 2010. Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio.
The soybean is a very ancient "cultigen," i.e., a plant that has been deliberately altered through artificial selection. It originated from a wild Asian species, Glycine soja. Although soybeans are high in protein and glycine is the name of an amino acid (the building blocks of proteins), the generic name "glycine" is actually derived from a Greek work meaning "sweet." However, the sweet thing that prompted Linneaus to come up with that crazy name was actually the tuber of a wholly different legume --a North American vine now known as Apios americana (groundnut), which he originally classified as Glycine apios.
At the nearby Claridon Railroad Prairie, another legume is in flower. This one is the extremely wild, extremely beautiful and, at times, extremely annoying showy tick-trefoil, Desmodium canadense.
Showy tick-trefoil in Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio. June 24, 2010.
Tick-trefoils are often annoying because their fruits have tiny little hooked bristles on their flat sides, and this causes them to adhere to clothing. Here's a picture of showy tick-trefoil taken in September a few years back. The tick-trefoil fruit is a slight variant of the a several-seeded legume fruit that is called a "loment." A loment breaks apart at constrictions between the seeds and disperses as annoying one-seeded units.
Showy tick-trefoil at the OSU-Marion Prairie.
September 16, 2006.
June 22 and 25, 2010. Wyandot County, Ohio.
Climbing prairie rose, Rosa setigera, in Rosaceae, the (surprise!) rose family, is a beautiful native shrub. It's our only native rose that has its styles united into a column protruding from the orifice of the hypanthium (i.e., "floral cup," consisting of the fused bases of the sepals, petals and stamens). This style-column extends above the very numerous and spirally arranged stamens.
Climbing prairie rose styles are united into a column. June 22, 2010. Wyandot County, Ohio.
The style column is positioned in the flight-path of approaching pollen-gathering bees. In the following video, note first a non-pollinating fly of some sort, apparently finding something nutritious on the petals that it is gathering with its weird sponging-sucking mouthparts. In the exciting finale, see how a "pollen bee" lands by grabbing on the stigma-column, no doubt effecting pollination of the rose.
Fly and bee on rose blossom. June 22, 2010. Wyandot County, Ohio.
The pollen-gathering hymenopteran is a "sweat bee," i.e., a member of the family Halictidae. Sweat bees, depending upon the species, may be solitary or, more frequently, "semisocial," wherein daughters stay with their mother and help her rear more daughters. Halictids nests are located in burrows in soil or decaying wood. Based solely on picture matching on this great web site, this here seems maybe to be Augochlora pura.
Note how she extracts pollen, by bundling together a bunch of stamens and buzzing. The vibrations evidently break grains loose from the anthers. Indeed, a phenomenon called "buzz pollination" is a well-known mechanism seen in a few quite specialized flowers, such as those of tomato and nightshade, that have tubular anthers pointing downward and opening by terminal pores. But buzzing to extract pollen from rather typical anthers, let's call it semibuzz pollination, is something I've never heard of. Is it well known? Given the high amount of visitation to these rose blossoms, not only by bees but also by pollen-consuming beetles (see below), there's probably just a few stubborn pollen grains left left in the anthers, and the buzzing seems urgently needed in order like to squeeze them out.
Augochlora pura buzzes off pollen!
Meanwhile, members of a different insect order --Coleoptera (beetles) --visit the flowers to acquire pollen. Prominent on the prairie rose is a type of flower longhorn beetle (family Cerambycidae, subfamily Lepturinae) that almost but not quite picture-matches to Typocerus acuticauda. The sharp-pointed rear edge of the elytra (hardeneed front wings, the hallmark of the coleopterans) seem suggestive of that species.
Flower longhorn beetle on prairie rose. June 22, 2010. Wyandot County, Ohio.
Flower longhorns are long and narrow, distinctively tapering from broad-"shoulders." Larvae develop in the decaying wood. The adults are active in the daytime, visiting flowers to feed on pollen. Here's a still image of one doing that.
Flower longhorn --Typocerus acutcauda perhaps? --on rose blossom, eating pollen.
...and here are 6,660 more images of the same beetle, displayed in rapid succession. The pictures sort of blend together, giving an odd sensation of motion (a curious illusion, probably without any commercial value).
Flower longhorn feasts on rose pollen. June 22, 2010. Wyandot County, Ohio.
An Aggregate of Drupelets
Raspberry Fruits (and a flowery flashback)
June 21, 2010. Caledonia, Marion Couny, Ohio.
It's fun to observe the same plant at different stages of development, particularly when at one time it's flowering and then later it's in fruit. Today I stopped by Terradise Nature Preserve in Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio to re-visit a particular black raspberry shrub (Rubus occidentalis, family Rosaceae, the rose family).
Black raspberry fruits are aggregates of drupelets. June 21, 2010. Marion County, Ohio.
Forty-two days earlier the shrub was in flower.
Raspberry flowers are 5-merous, with numerous stamens and pistils.
May 10, 2010. Marion County, Ohio.
The raspberry flower displays well the features of the family Rosaceae, or at least its biggest subfamily, the Rosoideae. Note the perfect (bisexual) radially symmetric flowers with 5 separate sepals, 5 petals, many spirally arranged stamens, and many spirally arranged carpels set atop a dome-shaped receptacle. The flower eventually matures into an aggregate fruit, i.e., one largish fruit-like thingabobbie that is in fact many small subunit fruits packed tightly together, wherein the members of the bunch are each derived from separate carpels of the same individual flower. Here's a close-up of the raspberry flower.
Raspberry stamens and carpels are numerous, and spirally arranged.
May 10, 2010. Marion County, Ohio.
The genus Rubus comprises both raspberries and blackberries. Both are aggregate fruits wherein the small subunits are "drupelets," i.e., miniature versions of what cherries, peaches, and apricots are: drupes. Raspberries are distinguished from blackberries by the manner in which the aggregate fruit detaches from the plant. When a raspberry is picked, it separates from the receptacle, which is persistent on the pedicel.
MOUSEOVER the IMAGE to "PICK" the FRUIT
A raspberry wholly separates from the receptacle. Notice its stumpy remnant.
June 21, 2010. Marion County, Ohio.
A blackberry is very similar to a raspberry. Here's one, common blackberry, Rubus allegheniensis, seen a few years ago at the Larry R. Yoder Prairie at OSU-Marion.
Blackberry flowers are 5-merous, with numerous stamens and pistils.
June 3, 2005. Marion County, Ohio.
A blackberry flower in cross-section displays well the Rosaceae, subfamily Rosoideae, floral details enumerated above. Moreover this view shows another Rosaceae feature --the one that differentiates roses from buttercups (family Ranunculaceae) -- the presence of a small but distinct hypanthium, or "floral cup," consisting of the fused bases of the sepals, petals and stamens.
A Wallflower (not the wallflower).
Kenilworth-ivy (Cymbalaria muralis)
June 20, 2010. Columbus, Ohio.
A little vine sometimes seen as a weed in greenhouses is also occasionally encountered out-of-doors. This is ivy-leaved toadflax, also called "Kenilworth ivy," a native of Mediterranean Europe in the toadflax family, Scrophulariaceae. The specific epithet "muralis" means "wall," so this might rightly be called "wallflower," but that common name is already taken, by some plants in the mustard family (several Erysimum species). But true to its non-name, Kenilworth-ivy is merrily growing on a stone wall along a little embayment of the Scioto River in Columbus.
A stone wall with Kenilworth-ivy on it. June 20, 2010. Columbus, Ohio.
The flowers of Cymbalaria are typical of a subset of the Scrophulariaceae (in the traditional sense): snapdragon-like blossoms that are 5-merous. zygomorphic, with a spurred corolla, and 4 stamens (not visible in these photos). This pretty little plant is sometimes cultivated (apparently less commonly nowadays than in the past) in shady rocky areas.
Kenilworth-ivy flower is snapdragon-like, with a spurred corolla.
A Leather Fungus, Perhaps.
Theleophora palmata (?)
June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio (for sure).
During the afternoon, the OMLA foray to Henry County landed at one of the few remaining wooded areas in this predominantly agricultural area, part of the Maumee State Forest. There a non-lichenized but nonetheless intriguing fungus stands atop a mossy log. (Atrichum angustatum is the moss.) It looks like a little grove of model railroad trees. The fungus has a leathery texture and a quick look under micrsoscope at 400X showed basidia, so this is likely one of the so-called "leather fungi" in the family Thelephoraceae. There are no spot-on matches with any of the books I have, or on the web, but Thelephora palmata seems like a reasonable guess.
Thelephora palmata (?) with Atrichum angustatum moss on log. June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
Nearby, a large stand of a robust fern, bracken, Pteridium aquilinum (Dennstaedtiaceae). Bracken is often found in recently burned-over areas, although it doesn't seem like this area has had any fires recently. Bracken is an especially wide-ranging fern that historically has had many uses as food and medicine, but also has been shown to be carcinogenic, so it's best to avoid eating the stuff.
Bracken fern, June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
At the edge of the woods it was a pleasure to see a tree stump coated with a lichen. From a distance it appears uniformly gray with a brownish cast over part of it.
Lichen-covered tree stump. June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
Closeup it was apparent that this is a fruticose (shrubby) lichen in the genus Cladonia. Most of the light gray covering the stump consists of the lichen's primary squamules, that resemble a foliose (leafy) lichen. These squamules are very small and finely lobed. Delightfully, there are abundant short upright podetia topped with dark brown spores bearing structures called "apothecia." In other words, this is a perfect specimen for a definitive ID. Chemical spots tests --no reaction with 10% KOH (potassium hydroxide), but quickly turning red upon the application of "P" (paraphenylenediamine) --proved this lichen to be "stubby-staked cladonia," Cladonia caespiticia, an eastern U.S. species that is widespread in eastern and southern Ohio, with this a new recond for the county (yippee!). It is said to be common on bark, rotting logs, soil and moss.
Stubby-stalked cladonia on a stump in Henry County, Ohio. June 19, 2010.
Another lichen in the vicinity, this one insanely common, is a foliose one on tree trunks that is large and gray, with abundant "isidia" (small cylindrical outgrowths on the surface). It's rough speckled shield lichen, Punctelia rudecta.
Rouch specked shield lichen at Henry County, Ohio. June 19, 2010.
A few miles away we went to an open area traversed by a trail entertainingly named the "Wabash Cannonball Trail."
Wabash Cannonball Trail. Henry County, Ohio. June 19, 2010.
There weren't many mosses or lichens there, but there was, as if to make up for the evil buckthorn in its family, a decidely non-invasive native member of the Rhamnaceae. This is New Jersey tea, Ceanothus americanus.
New Jersey tea. Henry County, Ohio. June 19, 2010.
New Jersey tea is a low shrub of open areas. Being fire-tolerant, it is a known as a prairie plant. It a larval food source for the mottled dusky-wing and spring azure butterflies, and is a nectar source for many butterflies.
New Jersey tea. June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
Also present along the trail in this wide open area is a dogbane less frequently seen than Indian hemp. This special one is spreading dogbane, Apocynum androsaemifolium (Apocyanceae). It's larger and bushier than A. cannabinum and the flowers are more open, with reflexed corolla lobes and pretty pink striping within.
Spreading dogbane. Henry County, Ohio. June 19, 2010.
June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
Thanks to "Facebook," I now know what a muck farm is. Not, as I had suspected, a place they grow muck, but instead a farm for celery, lettuce, and other "wet" crops. They have them in Celeryville, Ohio. Yay!
In the dense thicket of evil buckthorn at the abandoned muck farm that OMLA visited this morning seeking cryptogams, there's a small population of an orchid called large twayblade, Liparis lilifolia. Orchids are annoying, in part because, while they're so rare and local you'd be Public Enemy Number One for yanking one out of the ground, orchid flower structure is so different from that of other plants that close examination, best achieved by yanking one out of the ground, is required in order to figure out what's what.
Large twayblade. June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
There is a detailed description in E. Lucy Braun's "The Monocotyledonae" (of Ohio; 1967, OSU Press). E. tells us that orchid flowers are "...zygomorphic (bilaterally symmetrical); sepals 3 (or 2 by fusion), the lateral often differentiated from uppper; petals 3, the lateral similar (in species-text referrred to as petals), the third highly modified and called the lip (labellum) often larger and different in color from others and extended at base into a spur..."
Here's a "zoom crop" of one flower in the picture above on which several of the features cited by E. are evident. Note, by the way, that the Liparis labellum has no spur. Also, although it is not evident in this photo (but it is on the next), there are indeed two lower sepals, and not one by fusion; the narrow sepals are simply close together and parallel.
MOUSEOVER the IMAGE for LABELS
Orchid flowers are upside-down!!
E. goes on to tell us that the flower has "ovary inferior, of 3 carpels but unilocular, it or the pedicel usually twisted 180 degrees, causing the dorsal to become (in position) the upper sepal and the lip to be downward, the flower thus resupinate (turned upside down)..." Orchid flowers are upside down! The lower petal is actually the upper one. and the upper sepal is actually the lower sepal!! There seems to be a little suggestion of an oblique longitudinal fissure or ridge, evidence of torsion during development, in the ovary on the photo above. Maybe?
Orchids, in an admirable but futile attempt to become milkweeds, have a compound structure in the middle of their flower, and they also disperse their pollen not as separate individual grains, but all together as waxy masses called "pollinia." E. puts it this way: "...style, stigmas, and stamens (1 or 2) are united and form a central "column"; if one stamen then anther terminal on column, if two then lateral on column [Note: in Liparis there is one stamen, terminal on column.]; stigma low on anterior face of column; pollen coherent in granular or waxy masses, pollinia, in each locule of anther..." Some of these feature can be discerned in the image below.
MOUSEOVER the IMAGE for LABELED ZOOM-CROP
June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
I'm not sure exactly what a muck farm is, but about a dozen intrepid Ohio Moss and Lichen Association members went to one on their annual Summer Foray, this year to Henry County in northeastern Ohio.
Abandoned Much farm in Henry County. June 19m 2010.
The soil seems to be an interesting misture of wet, calcareous, organic, and sandy, a quite unique habitat that is home to some intruguing vascular plants with a fidelity to such areas. Here's one of them, Kalm's St. Johnswor Hypericum kalmianum (Clusiaceae) a remarkably large-flowered member of the genus, and one our very few woody Hypericum species.
Kalm's St. Johnswort. June 19, 2010. Henrey County, Ohio.
The Clusiaceae (formerly Hypericaceae, and Guttiferae) is a large and variable family that consists mainly of tropical trees and shrubs. We have only two genera in our region, of which Hypericum (St. John's-wort) is by more common and speciose. These are opposite-leaved plants with flowers that are yellow and, except for one 4-merous oddball (St. Andrew's cross, H. hypericoides, that used to be in a separate genus, Ascyrum) 5-merous. The stamens are typically very numerous, giving the flowers a nice fluffy brushy look.
Here's a closer look at the flower.
Kalm's St. John's-wort flower. June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
Another unusual plant that is found either in moist or dry, usually sandy soil is colic-root, Aletris farinosa (Liliaceae). The tepals (petals and sepals, considered together because they are so similar) are roughened with short scale-like points, giving the flowers a mealy ("farinose") appearance. The genus name is from the Greek. (Why do they always say "the Greek"? Is that any different from just "Greek?") Aletris is a word that means a female slave who grinds corn, also in allusion to the mealy flowers. (I don't think it's actually her name, but just what she is. Sorry, aletris, not only do you have a lousy job, but you don't even have the pretty name "Aletris."
Colic-root flowers. June 19, 2010. Henry Couny, Ohio
A strikingly beautiful little annual herb, albeit one that is not especially rare, is field milkwort, Polygala sanguinea (Polygalaceae, the milkwort family). These plants produce numerous small flowers that are presented in a dense head-like raceme. The most conspicuous parts of the flowers are two sepals that are enlarged and petaloid and, in the photo below, are obscuring the other flower parts: 3 smaller sepals, and 3 small petals fused to a column of stamens, and a pistil that matures into a small capsule.
Field milkwort at the muck farm. June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
Meadow sundrops, Oenothera pilosella, is a nifty little wildflower. It's in the evening-primrose family (Onagraceae), and a member of a genus that indeed includes some night-blooming, moth-pollinated members. However, this is strictly a daytime one. Having 4 petals, sundrops and other members of this family might be mistaken for mustards in the family Brassicaceae, but they aren't especially close. Note here we have 8 (not 6) stamens, and an elegant deeply 4-cleft stigma. A more fundamental distinction is the inferior ovary, visible as the swollen part where the flower is attached to the stem, and retained as the oblong, 4-angled fruit.
Meadow sundrops at the muck farm. June 19, 2010. Henry County, Ohio.
Some mosses at the muck farm are large and distinctive, and they politely posed for the camera. One of these is "fern moss," Thuidium delicatulum (family Thuidiaceae), a very common and distinctive moss that, owing to its triangular shape and tripinnate growth form, does indeed look like a wee little fern.
Thuidium delicatulum (fern moss) at the Henry County muck farm. June 19, 2010.
Another moss with a somewhat widely known common name is "broom moss," Dicranum scoparium (Dicraniaceae). This robust species occurs as individual upright stems with very narrow leaves that are "secund," i.e., swept to one side as if it were a tree in a very strong wind.
Dicranum scoparium (broom moss) at the Henry County muck farm. June 19, 2010.
A moss that should have a widely known common name, but, alas, doesn't, is the very distinctive genus Fissidens (Fissidentaceae). The leaves of Fissidens are inserted in two distinct rows directly across from one another, making it very flat. Moreover, the upper base of each leaf is split lengthwise, and clasps the base of the leaf just above it, an arrangement that is called "equitant" because the orientation is similar to the manner in which a rides sits upon a horse (except that it's upside-down, which is what would probably happen if I ever tried to get on a horse, which is why I wouldn't ever do that). This species is F. adiantoides (a specific epithet that means "resembling Adiantum, maidenhair fern). There's also a trace of a trailing carpet moss with bent-back leaves, Campylium stellatum (Amblystegiaceae).
Fissidens adiantoides at the Henry County muck farm. June 19, 2010.
Free Central Placentation!
June 18, 2010. Columbus, Ohio
Soapwort, also called bouncing Bet, Saponaria officinalis, is an Old World member of the Caryophyllaceae, the pink family. According to the Best Book Ever Written --"The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada," by Henry A. Gleason (1952, New York Botanical Garden) --the species was in cultivation before it spread to roadsides and waste places. I wonder what is was in cultivation for. The specific epithet "officinalis" indicates that the plant has or had some medcinal purpose. Was it cultivated for medicine, or just because it is pretty. It is pretty pretty. Here is is beautifying the edge of a parking lot in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio.
Soapwort population in Columbus. June 17, 2010.
The genus name "Saponaria" is from the Latin sapo, soap, in reference to a mucilaginous juice that the leaves contain, forming a lather with water. But I wouldn't recommend washing dishes with it, because the plant is somewhat poisonous.
Soapwort. June 18, 2010. Columbus, Ohio.
Soapwort somewhat resembles various campions and catchflies but the flowers of those genera have 3 styles (Silene) or 5 styles (Lychnis). Saponaria flowers have only 2 styles. Some pink family traits seen in the images above and below are the simple oppositely arranged leaves, and 5-merous flowers that have sepals fused together, and separate petals with a distinctly narrow base ("claw," concealed by the calyx) and expanded blade (the only part visible). If the flowers below are any indication, soapwort flowers develop in "protandrous" fashion, with the stamens maturing before the pistil.
Soapwort flowers. June 18, 2010. Columbus, Ohio.
Upper blossom is older, and shows exert styles and withered stamens.
Lower blossom is younger, showing fresh stamens, and style included.
Another pink family feature, a bit obscure but nonetheless intriguing, is that the fruits have an unusual placentation type. "Placentation" refers to the manner in which the seeds are borne along the inside of the ovary. Here are three examples from the grocery store, and then, tah-dah! --soapwort.
1. Marginal Placentation. Fruits such as legumes, that are composed of a single modified seed-bearing leaf (megasporophyll), or "carpel," bear their seeds along a line that corresponds to the margin of the leaf that, in highly modified form, encloses the seeds. Such a "unicarpellate" fruit bears its seeds along a line on one inner edge of the ovary. This is barely visible as bulges in the photo below.
Snow pea, showing seeds borne along one row.
The row along which the pea seeds are borne is its marginal placenta.
Snow pea split to show marginal placentation.
2. Axillary (sometimes called "axile") Placentation. Except for legumes, unicarpellate pistils are quite uncommon. Most pistils are "syncarpous," i.e., composed of two or more seed-bearing units (carpels) fused together. Sometimes the carpels are evident as chambers of the fruits, or at least ridges or incomplete internal divisions. It is common for seeds to be produced where the internal divisions of the carpels come together, or on the chamber-forming internal walls of the fruit. Here's a cross-section of a hot pepper, showing this common placentation type, called "axillary placentation."
Hot pepper split to show axillary placentation.
3. Parietal Placentation. A fairly uncommon placentation type is one where the seeds are borne along the inside wall of the ovary. The gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) has this "parietal placentation." Here's a cucumber split to illustrate the placentation type (and to make a salad).
Cucumber showing parietal placentation.
4. Saving the best for last, it's Free Central Placentation!! This uber-uncommon placentation type is had by soapwort and other members of the Caryophyllaceae. Here, the ovary has no internal walls, but there is a central post-like column attached only at the base of the ovary, and that column is covered with seeds! This condition is called "free central placentation." The photo below shows (left) a soapwort flower teased apart to expose the outside of ovary, topped by its 2 styles, and (right) a soapwort fruit split lengthwise to expose the seed-covered central column.
Soapwort flower and fruit details.
Left: flower with overy topped by 2 styles.
Right: fruit split showing free-central placentation.
A Weed, Not Weed. Knotweed
June 17, 2010, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Maron County, Ohio
There was a Grateful Dead convention at Killdeer Plains today. One of the participants rolled up the leaves of this little plant in a little piece of paper and was about to set it on fire. I said to him. "That's knotweed." He said, "Oh, far out, man. Thanks. My mistake. What a bummer." Common knotweed, Polygonum aviculare (Polygonaceae, the smartweed family) is an annual herb with repeatedly branched stems. The leaves are small, with a distinctive Polygonaceae feature. The leafstalks have cylindric appendages at their base called "stipules" sheathing the stem. "Polygonum" is from the Greek, meaning "many knees," in reference to the conspicuously jointed stems of many of the species. Hmm. Maybe it was the jointed stems that attracted the deadhead's interest.
Common knotweed is abundant in dry open areas. especially along roadside disturbed areas, as shown below.
Common knotweed. June 17, 2010. Killdeer Plains. Marion County, Ohio.
Habitat of common knotweed
Killdeer Plains, Marion County, Ohio.
Knotweed flowers lack petals, but the calyx is pretty pretty. It's composed usually of 5 sepals, alternating with 5 stamens. The fruit is a dry one-seeded type called an "achene." Incidentally, buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum, the achenes of which are a grain-like foodstuff, is a member of this family. The only other economically important (in a good way) polygonaceous species is rhubarb. (Rheum rhaponticum).
Common knotweed flower. June 17, 2010. Marion County, Ohio.
The 4th Red Flower
June 16, 2010. Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, Ohio.
A few years ago somebody told me there are just four pure red Ohio native wildflowers. Is that true? I hope so, because if it is, today I snapped a picture that makes my scrap-book complete, and further cements my eternal gratitude to the Canon Corporation for making a camera that produces respectable images under the low light conditions of Deep Woods' deep woods.
This is it: round-leaved catchfly, Silene rotundifolia, a woodland herb in the pink family (Caryophyllaceae) with a fidelity to rocky cliffs and banks. A southern Appalachian species at the northern edge of its range here in southern Ohio, it is a weak-stemmed, decumbent plant with 5-8 pairs of broadly lance-shaped to nearly round leaves. Here at Deep Woods it grows on, and at the rocky talus base of, a sandstone cliff in a hardwood forest part of the preserve. Round-leaved catchfly is potentially threatened in Ohio, known from only 4 counties.
Round-leaved catchfly at Deep Woods. June 16, 2010.
On an unidentified leaf quite near the catchfly are some other life-forms, the photographing of which also benefited from a high-ISO camera setting. This is a pretty pair of net-winged beetles (family Lycidae) that appear to be Calopteron reticulatum, identified using the superb "Kaufman Field Guide to the Insects of North America," by Eric Eaton and Ken Kaufman. The authors note that these beetles are "usually seen sitting on leaves or flying slowly through forests at dusk." They also tell us that larvae occur in decaying wood or crawling on the forest floor.
But I digress; back to the red flowers. Two other red Ohio flowers are also members of the genus Silene. One of these is also a woodland wildflower, but more common and wide-ranging than S. rotundifolia: fire pink, Silene virginica. Compared to round-leaved catchfly, fire pink has a more upright growth form, and fewer pairs of leaves, which are narrowly oblanceolate (backwards lance-shaped). Here's fire pink as it appeared almost exactly one year ago in a rich woods in Marion County, situated in the Northwestern Till Plains bio-region of the state.
Fire Pink at Myer's Woods Preserve Marion County. June 14, 2009.
The third scarlet Silene is another rare species, a prairie wildflower called royal catchfly, Silene regia. Royal catchfly is threatened in Ohio, which some people find surprising in light of the fact that it has been found in some fairly disturbed roadside sites, and easily also thrives in cultivation and prairie restorations. The photo below was taken at the restored prairie on the OSU-Marion campus.
Royal catchfly at the OSU-Marion's Larry R. Yoder Prairie. July 23, 2007.
The 4th member of the crimson quartet is, of course, the famous cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis (Campanulaceae, the bellwort family). This much-loved wetland herb occurs at Deep Woods Preserve, where this picture was taken during August of last year in wet soil along a bank of the creek that bisects the property.
Cardinal flower at Deep Woods. August 16, 2009.
The genus Lobelia displays several "derived," i.e., evolutionarily advanced, floral traits: an inferior ovary; bilateral rather than radial symmetry, and; fusion not only of the petals with one another, but also fusion of the anthers with the terminal half of the filaments. While we might have to wait a few weeks to see cardinal flower here, a different lovely lobelia in flower today. This is a meadow and prairie species called pale-spike lobelia, Lobelia spicata, fairly common in the open meadow where, earlier today, we saw cow-wheat and jelly baby (see below).
Pale-spike lobelia at Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County,Ohio.
A few other plants caught our eyes on this beautiful midsummer day. The top of a large sandstone boulder in the woods is the home of a thriving stand of rock skullcap, Scutellara saxatilis. The skullcap genus is one of the more easily recognized ones within the mint family, as the calyx bears a distinctive upright protuberance on its upper edge. Like round-leaved catchfly, this is a species chiefly of the Applachians, at a northern boundary of its range in south-central Ohio.
Rock skullcap at Deep Woods. June 16, 2010.
In areas of the forest where eastern hemlock predominates, the soil is rich in organic humus (not to be confused with organic humous; I tried the soil on a piece of pita bread and it wasn't very tasty!). Here, an especially robust leafy liverwort covers soil, rocks, logs and tree bases. This is Bazzania trilobata (family Lepidoziaceae). Bazzania leaves are arranged in an "incubous" fashion (incubous, not to be confused with...oh, never mind). Leaves that are incubous are shingled in such a way that the upper edge of each leaf overlaps the base of the next higher leaf along the stem. This arangement is less common that the opposite form, called "succubous." The leaves of this Bazzania are prominently 3-lobed at the tip.
Bazzania trilobata (and Dicranum moss) at Deep Woods. June 16, 2010.
Parasites, Hemiparasites, and Myco-heterotrophs, Oh-my!
Cancer-root, cow-wheat, and Indian pipes.
June 16, 2010. Deep Woods Preserve. Hocking County, Ohio.
A group of plant enthusiasts decided to go on a general purpose midsummer botanical foray to Deep Woods, a privately owned nature preserve in Hocking County, Ohio. One of the first plants seen in flower today is Indian pipes, Monotropa uniflora, in the subfamily Monotropoideae within Ericaceae, the heath family (formerly placed in its own little family, the Monotropaceae).
Indian pipes in flower. Deep Woods. June 16, 2010.
While fully and completely a flowering plant, because Indian-pipes lacks chlorophyll and is ghostly white, it is sometimes mistaken foor a fungus. Tom Volk, on one of his excellent " Fungus of the Month" pages (where of course he starts out be explaining this isn't a fungus at all), cites current research that elucidates the 3-way relationships, wherein Indian pipes is parasitic on a mushroom-style basidiomycete fungus that is itself engaged in a mutualistic mycorrhizal (i.e., "fungus-root") association with forest trees. This is called "myco-heterotrophy." Volk cites research done by Martin Bidartono and Tom Bruns that show the fungal hosts of members of the Monotropoideae to be quite specific and, moreover, not shared among co-occuring monotropoids. The hosts of Monotropa uniflora are members of the genera Russula and Lactarius.
Flowers of Indian pipes. June 16, 2010. Deep Woods Preserve. Hocking County, Ohio.
Not far from the pipes, we did in fact see a Russula fungus. Nearly impossible to identify to species, Russula mushrooms are often colorful, have a brittle stalk that can be snapped like a piece of chalk, and have widely spaced gills that do not bleed white when broken. (If the gills do bleed white, then it's probably a Lactarius).
Russula mushroom (and Polytrichum moss) at Deep Woods. June 16, 2010.
Speaking of fungi, just a spore's throw away from this mushroom is an interesting little mushroom-like non-mushroom fungus called a "jelly baby," Leotia lubrica. Leotia is an ascomycte, i.e., a member of the class of fungi that produces spores in microscopic sac-like structures (asci) as opposed to the club-like ones (basidia) had by mushrooms (basidiomycetes). As most macroscopic ascomyscetes have a cup-shaped fruiting body, it is a distinct treat to see this little cap-and-stalk shaped one.
"Jelly baby" fungus (and Dicranum moss, and Cladonia lichen) at Deep Woods. June 16, 2010.
But I digress; let's get back to Monotropa. Ohio's only other monotropoid species is pinesap, Monotropa hypopithys. Looking like a multi-headed Indian-pipes, pipesap tends to occur in the same rich forest habitats as does Indian pipes, but is much less frequent. According to the Bidartono and Bruns (2001) paper cited above, pinesap's fungal hosts are various Tricholoma species. Unbeknownst to us this fine June day, pinesap, unseen, was present and flowering or perhaps just about to come up. A couple of months later a few fruiting pinesap plants will be seen in the immediate vicinity. (I'm so far behind on the web site!)
A glimpse into the future: pinesap (in fruit).
August 7, 2010 at Deep Woods, Hocking County, Ohio.
Growing in a shady spot at the edge of the glade-like meadow where we did much of our botanizing, in a dense bed of Polytrichum and Dicranum mosses is a more typical representative of the heath family. This is a very low-growing trailing plant that, being woody, is technically a shrub even though it just looks like a wildflower: teaberry, Gaultheria procumbens. Having as distinctive oil wintergreen flavor, teaberry is delightful to nibble on.
Teaberry at Deep Woods. June 16, 2010.
In this open meadow where the soil is thin and dry, there is another wildlflower that may be a bit less self-sufficient than we expect plants to be. This is cow-wheat, Melampyrum lineare, in the Orobancaceae (broomrape family), to which it was recently transferred from the Scrophulariaceae (figwort family) by somebody who didn't much like it and noticed that "broomrape" is an even skeezier name than "figwort." Cow-wheat is a "hemiparasite," meaning that it is in fact green and photosynthetic, yet derives some of its nutrition, perhaps only some of the time, as a direct root-parasite on other plants (sans fungal intervention). It must have taken a keen eye (and some digging) to have originally discerned this, because cow-wheat looks for all the world like a regular little old wildflower, with nothing in the least parasiticey (ahh, no spell checker in Kompopzer, no wiggly lines...freeeeeedom, yay!!) about it.
Cow-wheat at Deep Woods. June 16, 2010.
Deep in the woods, another member of the Orobancaceae is quite abundant. This is cancer-root, Conopholis americana. Cancer-root is a "holoparasite," i.e., it lacks chlorophyll and is wholly dependent on its host for nutrients and water. Conopholis directly connects to oaks and beech by means of underground attachment organs called "haustoria" that tap into their roots.