Botany Blog Plants of the Northeastern U.S.

October 2, 2016

Spiranthes magnicamporum

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 20:49

Great Plains Ladies-tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum) was first identified in New York at an alvar preserve in Jefferson County by Dan Brunton in 2014 (see Winter 2015 NY Flora Association Newsletter). Not long after another distinct population was located within the same preserve in Jefferson County and two other populations in St. Lawrence County. It is likely that this species had been overlooked in the past because of its similarity to S. cernua, though it is also likely restricted to a few locations in northern NY.

With this in mind I asked Don Leopold if he had seen this species at another large privately owned alvar in Jefferson County we had visited back in 2011. He soon sent me a picture taken several years ago of what he thought was S. cernua at the time. Sure enough it appeared to be S. magnicamporum. We revisited the site on September 25th of this year and found what may be the largest population of this species in NY.

Plants tend to be scattered, though in one location there were about 50 plants with some close enough together to get several in one shot.

spiranthes_magnicamporum2

The flowers of this species tend to be a bit longer than those of S. cernua and have a bit of yellow in the throat, with lateral sepals that spread over the top of the flower. The leaves are typically absent at the time of flowering.

spiranthes_magnicamporum1

The plants in these photographs have characteristics of typical S. magnicamporum.

spiranthes_magnicamporum3

We found a few plants that had started flowering earlier and had characteristics that suggested possible hybridization with S. cernua. Examination of seeds collected from some of these plants seems to support gene flow from S. cernua, as some capsules contained a mix of monoembryonic and polyembryonic seeds.

mono_magicamporum

The above seed appears to be monoembryonic. Below is a polyembryonic seed from the same sample.

poly_magnicamporum

Another common species at the site was fluxweed or false pennyroyal (Trichostema brachiatum).

trichostema_brachiatum

September 25, 2016

Autumn in the Pinelands

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 21:32

Visited NJ again the day after the autumnal equinox. There were a number of thoroughworts (Eupatorium spp.). I believe this one is white-bracted thoroughwort (Eupatorium leocolepsis).

eupatorium_leucolepis2

The involucral bracts are acuminate and puberulent.

eupatorium_leucolepis1

Asters are another group well-represented in the pinelands. This is showy aster (Eurybia spectalibis). Not visible in this image are the phyllaries which are squarrose in the outer series.

eurybia_spectabilis

Grass-leaved or shaggy blazing star (Liatris pilosa) reaches its northern limit in NJ. This bumblebee was diligently examining every flower for nectar.

liatris

The highlight of the trip were two species that are named for the season in which they bloom. Slender rattlesnakeroot (Prenanthes autumnalis) is one of the more attractive members of the genus.

prenanthes

Pine barren gentian (Gentiana autumnalis) is another Atlantic coastal species that reaches the northern limit of its range in NJ. I recall the flowers having a bluish hue, though they photographed purple. I’ve adjusted the color slightly to match my recollection.

gentiana_autumnalis

Most of the flowers were open, though a few were still in bud. I noticed that plants in the shade were nearly closed, so they might need sunlight to get them to open up.

gentiana_autumnalis2

September 11, 2016

Flax-leaved Aster

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 18:25

Took a trip to northern NY in an attempt to find flax-leaved aster (Ionactis linariifolius) where it was collected nearly 100 years prior. Didn’t take long to find it.

Ionactis_linariifolius

Also found a green snake (Opheodrys vernalis) on the trail.

green_snake

In the sandy soil on the edge of pine woods there was some blue ground-cedar (Diphasiastrum tristachyum).

Diphasiastrum_tristachyum

August 12, 2016

Rusty Woodsia

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 12:35

Today I finally found a fern that I’ve been trying to find for several years. While not rare in NY, rusty woodsia (Woodsia ilvensis) can be difficult to find because it prefers to grow in crevices in rocks. In central NY suitable habitat for this fern is restricted to rocky cliffs surrounding mountain summits. Even after finding the plants, getting close enough to photograph them proved to be a challenge. Fortunately there were a few plants that were accessible with a little careful maneuvering.

Woodsia_ilvensis2

The plants are rather small. The largest fronds were not more than 5 or 6 inches in length.

Woodsia_ilvensis3

The common name comes from the appearance of the fertile fronds which are reddish-brown on the underside.

Woodsia_ilvensis4

The rusty appearance comes from the color of the sporangia and a mixture of scales and long hairs that turn rusty-brown at maturity.

Woodsia_ilvensis1

Adirondacks

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 12:16

Visited the Adirondacks for three days earlier in the week. On the drive up I stopped near Hinckley Reservoir and found Canada burnet (Sanguisorba canadensis) in full bloom.

Sanguisorba_canadensis

Near Raquette Lake I found dwarf rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera repens) in several places. This one was growing in a clump of the leafy liverwort Bazzania trilobata. Others were found growing in Sphagnum.

Goodyera_repens

Also found one checkered rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera tesselata). This species is a little bigger than G. repens.

Goodyera_tesselata

On a dry slope found long-bracted orchid (Coeloglossum viride var. virescens). The petals had withered but the long floral bracts were still evident.

Long_bracted_orchid

Some capsules of western spotted coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis) were found nearby. This variety blooms earlier than var. maculata and usually has more reddish capsules, though some plants with yellow capsules were present. These were likely a pale form of var. occidentalis.

Western_spotted_coralroot

This was a good year to see creeping snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula) in fruit. The fruits taste like wintergreen.

Creeping_snowberry

Also found some nice flowering clumps of false violet (Rubus dalibarda).

False_violet

On the last day I made a trip to Whiteface Mountain to see alpine flora. Three-toothed cinquefoil (Sibbaldiopsis tridentata) is often done blooming at lower elevation this late in the summer but were just getting started in the alpine zone.

Sibbaldiopsis_tridentata

Alpine goldenrod (Solidago leiocarpa) was in full bloom on rocky outcrops.

Solidago_leiocarpa2

A Milbert’s tortoiseshell (Aglias milberti) was feeding on one of the plants.

Milberts_tortoiseshell

Large-leaved goldenrod (Solidago macrophylla) was abundant in areas with some shade and could also be found along the road further down the mountain.

Solidago_macrophylla

Another species found growing on rock outcrops was mountain stitchwort (Minuartia groenlandica). Plants in the sun were done blooming, possibly due to drought, while those in the shade were still going strong.

Minuartia_groenlandica

This is northern meadowsweet (Spiraea alba var. latifolia). Alpine plants have been called var. septentrionalis.

Spiraea_latifolia

Several dwarf shrubs are found in the alpine zone including bearberry willow (Salix uva-ursi).

Salix_uva-ursi

One of the dominant shrubs is Alpine bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum). The blue-green leaves and 4-merous flowers distinguish this species from lowbush blueberries.

Vaccinium_uliginosum

Black crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) is a rare species restricted to rock outcrops in the alpine zone.

Black_crowberry

Mountain alder (Alnus viridis ssp. crispa) is another alpine shrub found here.

Alnus_viridis

Alpine rattlesnakeroot (Prenanthes boottii) only occurs at the very top of the mountain growing around boulders. Most had already gone to seed though I was able to find a few open flowers. This plant is very rare and unfortunately some of the plants appeared to have been trampled by visitors.

Prenanthes_boottii

Three-leaved rattlesnakeroot (Prenanthes trifoliata) was also present here and a little further down the mountain. Alpine plants have been called P. nana.

Prenanthes_trifoliata

Descending the mountain one passes through an area of dwarfed and deformed trees known as krummholz. The common fern here is mountain woodfern (Dryopteris campyloptera).

Dryopteris_campyloptera

A few alpine clubmosses can also be found here.  Appalachian firmoss (Huperzia appressa) is occasional here and in the partial shade provided by boulders in the open areas. It resembles a diminutive shining clubmoss (Heuperzia lucidula) with the addition of gemmae (asexual propagules) produced near the apex of the stem.

Huperzia_appressa

A few plants of clasping-leaved twisted-stalk were found in the shade of the krummholz. Apparently this species was found here for the first time just a few days earlier by a group on a New York Flora Association outing.

Streptopus_amplexifolius

A species that was relatively abundant along the road leading up to the summit was narrow-leaved gentian (Gentiana linearis). This species was also found growing with the Canada burnet near Hinckley Reservoir.

Gentiana_linearis

 

July 31, 2016

Pine Barrens in Late July

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 14:15

Visited the NJ pine barrens again over the weekend. Toothed whitetop aster  (Sericocarpus asteroides) was in full bloom along one of the sand roads.

Sericocarpus_asteroides

A short distance down the road we found a pond surrounded by sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia). This is a common shrub in southern NJ and can be seen blooming now along roadsides.

Clethra_alnifolia

Once we got deeper into the pine barrens we found an eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina). Unfortunately these turtles have become less common because of poaching for the pet trade. We snapped a few photos and then moved on.

Terrapene_carolina

We spent most of the time searching what are called savannas down there. These are fens that occur along many of the rivers that run through the pine barrens, and are open peatlands typically fed by groundwater. They are often bordered by atlantic white cedar swamps. Nuttall’s lobelia (Lobelia nuttallii) can often be found where the swamp transitions into the savanna. It has a very slender flowering stem.

Lobelia_nuttallii

Canby’s lobelia (Lobelia canbyi) is occasionally found growing in the open savannas, though it is much less common. Like Nuttall’s lobelia it is quite slender but has a thicker flowering stem and a more upright growth habit.

Lobelia_canbyi

Thread-leaved sundew (Drosera filiformis) can also be found in the open savannas and was nearing the end of its flowering period.

Drosera_filiformis_flower

The ten-angled pipewort (Eriocaulon decangulare) is another familiar sight in the savannas. It often grows on higher ground than other pipewort species and has thicker leaves.

Eriocaulon_decangulare

The last time I visited the bog huckleberry (Gaylussacia bigeloviana) was in flower. This time it was in fruit.

Gaylussacia_bigeloviana_fruit

Some species prefer to grow in the wetter parts of the savanna including in the shallow drainage channels. The comb-leaf mermaidweed (Proserpinaca pectinata) was in fruit.

Proserpinaca_pectinata

Several species of yellow-eyed grass (Xyris spp.) were blooming as well. Not sure which one this is, as they all tend to have similar flowers. This is one of the species that have twisted leaves.

Xyris

The savannas are often separated by white cedar swamps. As we moved from one savanna to the next we came across a small colony of netted chainfern (Woodwardia areolata) in one of the swamps.

Woodwardia_areolata

In the open parts of the swamps and along the edge of the savannas we found lots of Virginia meadow beauties (Rhexia virginica) in bloom.

Rhexia_virginica

There were also a few Turk’s-cap lilies (Lilium superbum) flowering in some of the shrub thickets.

Turks

The thickets and swamps were also full of club-spur orchids (Platanthera clavellata). This pair of plants were about twice as large as the others. While we were photographing these we saw a hummingbird nectaring on white fringed orchids (Plantanthera blephariglottis). Unfortunately it was moving too fast for us to get a picture.

Platanthera_clavellata

We also saw crested yellow orchids (Platanthera cristata) along the edge of one savanna.

Platanthera_cristata

Yellow fringeless orchids (Platanthera integra) were still in bud. One of the larger plants may have flowered but unfortunately a deer had eaten the inflorescence. Maybe next year.

Platanthera_integra

One of the last plants we found was growing next to the river in the flood zone. This is pink bogbutton (Sclerolepis uniflora). It is a member of the aster family (Asteraceae) that reaches the northern limit of its range here.

Sclerolepis_uniflora

June 25, 2016

Creating a native meadow with plugs

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 18:03

Some pictures of a project that I’ve been working on at SUNY Cortland for about the last year and a half. This is part of a much larger area that has proven to be a challenge in that the original installation was overrun by invasive weeds in the first growing season.

Plants were grown in 38 cell deep star plug trays in a greenhouse in 2015 from seeds collected locally and some donated by the Finger Lakes Native Plant Society. Species include Agastache foeniculum, Allium cernuum, Asclepias sullivantii, Asclepias incarnata, Asclepias speciosa, Andropogon gerardii, Aquilegia canadensis, Geum triflorum, Monarda fistulosa, Monarda puctata, Heliopsis helianthoides, Penstemon hirsutus, Penstemon digitalis, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, Schizachyrium scoparium, Sisyrinchium angustifolium, Viola sororia, and Ratibida pinnata. Most were about 4 months old at the time of planting though a few were added later.

Plugs in the greenhouse, April 2015

Greenhouse

The site was sprayed with Roundup in June of 2015 and planted soon after. The after photos are from June of this year after hand weeding and mulching.

June 21, 2015

Bioswale1before

June 24, 2016

Bioswale1

June 21, 2015

Bioswale2before

August 4, 2016

Bioswale2

June 21, 2015

Bioswale3before

Aug 4, 2016

Bioswale3

June 21, 2016

Mountain Woodsorrel

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 23:52

Mountain Woodsorrel (Oxalis montana) is now blooming in northern hardwood forests of Central NY. Colonies of this plant may not flower in a given year but they are very attractive when they do.

Oxalis_montana

June 16, 2016

Pine Barrens in June

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 10:56

Made another visit to the NJ pine barrens yesterday. Two orchids were in abundance in the peatlands. All but one of our native orchids have flowers that are resupinate, which means that the pedicel of the flower twists 180 degrees as the flower opens. Grass pink orchid (Calopogon tuberosus) is not resupinate and therefore the lip petal, which on other orchids is on the bottom, is on the top. The lip of grass pink is also crested.

Grass_pink

Rose pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides) usually bears a single flower but I found one large plant that had an extra flower bud above the open flower.

Rose_pogonia

The recent warm weather seems to have made up for a cool spring, so some plants that I did not expect to see flowering were in full bloom including the globally rare bog asphodel (Narthecium americanum).

Narthecium

Some goldencrest (Lophiola aurea) was also in bloom.

Goldencrest

A number of carnivorous plants can be found in open peatlands of the pine barrens. This is likely the flower of striped bladderwort (Utricularia striata) as they were rather large, however humped bladderwort (U. gibba) is similar and occasionally has large flowers as well.

Utricularia_striata

Slender blue iris (Iris prismatica) was occasional on the margins of streams. It resembles northern blue flag (I. versicolor) but has much narrower leaves.

Iris_prismatica

Dwarf huckleberry (Gaylussacia bigeloviana) is apparently secure in NJ but rare in most other states. This one was found growing on an open sphagnum mat.

Dwarf_huckleberry

Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) was just coming into bloom. The flowers are very fragrant.

Swamp_azalea

I normally wouldn’t take a picture of a common ribbon snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). On the way out of the swamp I found this one sunning in a shrub. Presumably it was doing this to get off the cold substrate of wet sphagnum.

Garter

Back on dry land we saw many Eastern turkeybeard (Xerophyllum asphodeloides) plants in bloom. The lower flowers of the inflorescence open first. Most plants were nearly done blooming and I was only able to find a few that still had unopened flowers at the top of the inflorescence.

Turkeybeard

Pine barrens stitchwort (Minuartia caroliniana) was abundant in the few open sandy areas but absent everywhere else.

Pinebarren_stitchwort

While many people regard greenbriers as a nuisance, I was excited to find round-leaved greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia) in full bloom.

Smilax_rotundifolia1

Some plants also had fruits of them.

Smilax_rotundifolia2

June 11, 2016

Van Brunt’s Jacob’s Ladder

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 16:18

Polemonium vanbruntiae is just starting to bloom in Central NY. This northeastern U.S. endemic occupies a rather limited range that extends from Quebec in Canada (historic in New Brunswick) south through ME, VT, NY, PA, WV, and MD. One population, now extirpated, was known from NJ. The majority of populations are found in NY. The long protruding stamens (botanists would say they are exserted, i.e. surpassing the lobes of the corolla) and relatively tall flowering stems distinguish this species from other Polemonium spp.

Polemonium1

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