Images of the day

Aug. 11, 2020

Vanillaleaf leaves have a very distinct odor of vanilla when dry. There are references to use in flavoring drinks. But some reliable sources do not mention the plant, so it is not clear how useful or safe it is to put this in your coffee. Doubt you'll find it at Starbucks. Vanillaleaf grows in AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, and SC. Colquit Co GA, 10/19/15. Aster family, Asteraceae.

Aug. 10, 2020

Artfully out of focus? Or the results of a photographer that didn't want to get too close to the ground when he was already dressed for a day on the road? This field pansy was another target of opportunity, early in the day while the rest were back at the motel getting ready. Viola bicolor is V. kitaibeliana in my 1970 edition of Gray's Manual of Botany. That is an Old World plant. Since then botanists have decided that our plants are a separate species, and not immigrants. This is part of the pansies division of the Viola genus, which are largely Old World. White, pink or blue flowers are all common. Field pansy grows in AL, AR, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, AB, BC, NT, ON, and SK (certainly not native in all of those). York Co SC, 3/15/16. Violet family, Violaceae.

Aug. 9, 2020

Northern needleleaf is a bromeliad. This family is amazingly creative. One adaptation in Tillandsia allows night time photosynthesis. Yeah, I know, I had the same class about how sunlight was part of photosynthesis. K-12 was a simpler time, but now we can celebrate the complexities. Tillandsia has discovered a way to use acid to power photosynthesis. This allows them to close their pores during the day and conserve moisture. They have only enough root to anchor them to their habitats of trees, cliffs, or even power lines. Moisture comes only from rain and dew. In this instance the photographer was more fortunate than the subject. Its home on an oak branch had blown down in a storm. Northern needleleaf is native to FL, then south and southwest. Not the frame of reference we normally associate with 'northern'. Polk Co FL, 3/16/16. Bromeliad family, Bromeliaceae.

Aug. 8, 2020

Romanzoffiana? When Adelbert von Chamisso first described and named hooded ladies'-tresses in 1828, why did he bestow a mouthful like 'romanzoffiana' on it? It's a commercial! Our programs don't come to us without the sponsorship of the people behind all those commercials. Nor can botanists do their work without the resources of sponsors. So who paid for the round-the-world exploration on which Adelbert collected his specimens? Nikolai Rumiantzev, Count Romanzoff, of the Russian nobilty. Effective commercial! Here we are talking about it 192 years later. Hooded ladies'-tresses grew in Ives Fen Preserve in 1980. It now seems to have disappeared into a swarm of hybrids with nodding ladies'-tresses (S. cernua). Either way, it is delightfully fragrant. Hooded ladies'-tresses grow in AK, AZ(R), CA(where Chamisso found it), CO, CT, IA(T), ID, IL(E), IN(E), MA(E), ME, MI, MN, MT, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, NY(V), OH(T), OR, PA(E), SD, UT, VT, WA, WI, WY, all of Canada, and on SPM. It also makes the only Eurasian appearance by Spiranthes in Ireland. Jackson Co MI, 8/5/20. Orchid family, Orchidaceae.

Aug. 7, 2020

The Botanical Club foray group had just pulled onto the roadside, and was getting ready to trek into the cedar swamp in search of fleabane. Or just searching, because the first thing that caught the eye was this native honeysuckle. This is not its prettiest moment, but honeysuckles are always fun. What advantage have they found in flowers that are always paired? Or in having two flowers for one ovary? That round bit at the top of the flowers will become a single blue berry. What advantage is there for the bug that chewed a hole in the flower to get to the nectar? Why not just crawl in? Plenty of fodder for botanical discussions. But this day the group was there to find fleabanes, and the honeysuckle didn't get much attention. Except for one camera. Mountain fly honeysuckle has been found in CT, MA, ME, MI, MN, NH, NY, OH(X), PA(E), RI, VT, WI, AB, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, and on SPM. Mackinac Co MI, 5/27/17. Honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae.