Images of the day

Sep. 25, 2022

Florida clover ash is in the tibouchina family (Melastomataceae).
So I'm going out on a limb here. There are two things I've noticed that seem to be present with this family of plants. Those are buzz pollination and flowers that change color, or are different colors in a bunch. Here that second trait only shows up with red or greenish centers in the flowers. Buzz pollination accounts for the odd shape of the anthers you can see at the top of the image. Those are hollow tubes, open at one end. The pollen stays in the tubes until a bug that is vigorous enough comes along and buzzes to shake it out. However, I really don't know how typical these trait are for this family. Florida clover ash has dark purple or black berries that are edible, and are said to be tasty. But please leave them be. This is a threatened species that with us only grows in southern FL. Miami-Dade Co FL, 3/20/16.

Sep. 24, 2022

Noxious! It was kind of neat to see these purple flowers next to that store's parking in Nebraska. But it turns out they're officially noxious. It is the property owner's legal responsibility to control purple rocket and other plants listed as noxious weeds. They even pay taxes for the privilege, and there's a county board that regulates the effort. So how come I found it? Well I suppose if it wasn't so successful, it wouldn't be so noxious. With purple rocket we get reduced crop yields and tainted milk, so it is a serious matter. Maybe I should have reported Walmart for insufficient weed control? Purple rocket has turned up in AR, AZ, CA, CO, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OH, OR, OK, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, WA, WV, AB, BC, and SK. Lincoln Co NE, 6/15/13. Mustard family, Brassicaceae.

Sep. 23, 2022

These days there's some plant blindness going around. People with that affliction have a particularly hard time seeing plants that don't have showy flowers. Plants like clubmosses. In the days before the onset of plant blindness, fir clubmoss was used by Native Americans. The Nitinaht used the stems and leaves as an emetic. The Tanana used it in a poultice for headaches. More recently clubmosses were used as greens for Christmas decorations. Fir clubmoss grows in CT, MA, ME, MI, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, WI, AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, QC, SK, YT, and GL. Baraga Co MI, 7/13/14. Clubmoss family, Lycopodiaceae.

Sep. 22, 2022

You have all seen orache. This is one of our most ubiquitous weeds. So ubiquitous that its unclear where it came from. Most figure it started in Eurasia. But seeds have been found in west coast archeological excavations that predate the European arrival. Orache can be eaten like spinach. There is a garden species that is more used. Common orache grows everywhere except AR, AZ, LA, MS, NM, OK, TN, TX, LB, and YT. Beal Gardens weed demonstration bed, MSU, 8/13/13. Amaranth family, Amaranthaceae.

Sep. 21, 2022

When you become fascinated by wildflowers, you will probably want to put names to them. Which star-grass is that? Here in Michigan it's easy. There can be only one. But as you go south you could see six others. And you may soon realize one of the essential truths of wildflowers. With some of them, if you can see the flowers, you can't identify them. In some cases, you have to have the seeds. Star-grasses are one instance. Hawthorns are another. Then FNA notes that we will not fully understand our star-grasses until related plants in South Africa are fully studied. But I'm reasonably sure this one is Curtiss'. For one thing, literature from the site narrows it down to two possibilities. Whatever works! Curtiss' grows in AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, and TX. Big Thicket National Park, Hardin Co TX, 4/16/22. Star-grass family, Hypoxidaceae.