Botany Blog Plants of the Northeastern U.S.

July 15, 2020

Geum aleppicum × canadense

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:03

This rare hybrid has been reported in the literature a few times but has never been given a formal name. To see for myself what it looks like, a couple years ago I manually deposited pollen from Geum canadense onto several flowers of Geum aleppicum at a site where both occur. I marked the flowers that had been pollinated and returned later in the season to collect seeds.

I was able to grow out about 30 plants from the seeds and at the end of June of this year they finally bloomed. While the majority of plants appear to be straight G. aleppicum, one plant is an obvious hybrid. Success!

Overall the plants are most similar to G. aleppicum but with paler flowers that begin flowering around the same time as G. canadense (G. aleppicum starts flowering slightly earlier). Also notice that the petals are a bit more slender than is typical of G. aleppicum.

The following image shows the fertile fruit of G. aleppicum (left) and the sterile fruit of G. aleppicum × canadense (right). Geum hybrids are typically sterile, one exception being the hybrid of G. rivale and G. urbanum (G. × intermedium).

The foliage of the hybrid is similar to Geum aleppicum but the upper leaves are less divided. They are also not as dark green. It remains to be seen if they will darken when dried, a characteristic typical of G. aleppicum.

This last image shows the flower of the hybrid (middle) with flowers of the two parents, G. aleppicum (left) and G. canadense (right).

September 9, 2019


Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 20:54

Several years ago I started unknown Hibiscus from seed assuming it would be H. moscheutos. Each year the plants would grow about 5 feet tall but never flowered. One finally flowered this year and something seemed a bit odd about it. I believe it Hibiscus laevis, a related species with narrower, often hastate leaves that are smooth on the lower surface, and flowers with darker red centers. Would include a picture of the leaves but they have been badly eaten by caterpillars.

Just happened to pass a large population of Hibiscus moscheutos a couple days ago so I made a run out to get photos of the real thing. This species has more solid pink flowers, wider leaves, and the leaves tend to have a fuzzy pubescence on the lower surface. Otherwise it is very similar and has a range that extends further into the Northeast.

August 20, 2018

More Geum hybrids in NY

Filed under: Naturalized Plants,North American Native Plants — admin @ 22:10

Two years ago I found Geum ×catlingii in Cortland, New York. Since then I have seen this hybrid is several other counties including Cayuga, Chemung, Onondaga, Tompkins, and Tioga. It is a hybrid of Geum canadense and G. urbanum. It is fairly easy to identify for its pale yellow flowers and large stipules. It otherwise looks like G. canadense but is mostly sterile.

Overall habit of G. ×catlingii

Lower leaves showing large stipules and rather hairy stem.

Flowers of Geum canadense (left), G. ×catlingii (middle), and G. urbanum (right)

Earlier this year I found another Geum urbanum hybrid. At the time I knew G. rivale was one of the parents but it took a second visit to the site and closer examination of the plants to determine the other parent as G. urbanum. This hybrid is named G. ×intermedium and until now was only reported from Europe.

Nodding flowers with erect or ascending yellow petals and ascending to spreading sepals

Sepals are green suffused with purple

Leaves with rather rounded lobes and large stipules similar to G. urbanum

There was one other Geum hybrid that I was interested in finding this summer, G. ×macneillii which is the hybrid of G. laciniatum and G. urbanum. It was only known from Quebec, Canada and was described by the same authors who described G. ×catlingii. I set out to find a large population of G. laciniatum where G. urbanum was also common. A village park along a river floodplain turned out to the the perfect spot. There were three plants total, two rather small in stature similar to G. urbanum and one larger plant closely resembling G. laciniatum. Both forms had a combination of features separating it from the parents. These included yellow flowers with petals shorter than the sepals, stiff deflexed hairs on the stem, relatively large stipules, and flowers with numerous carpels that were consistently sterile in all of the plants found.

Overall habit of G. ×macneillii. This is one of the smaller plants found.

Stout, stiffly hairy stems and relatively large stipules

Yellow petals shorter than the sepals (paler than G. urbanum but not as pale as G. ×catlingii)

On a return visit to the site I found a plant growing among G. laciniatum that had the general characteristics of that species but the foliage more closely resembling that of G. canadense. Most of the G. laciniatum had finished flowering and were setting fruit but this plant was still flowering and had some flowers with normally developing fruit and others that appeared sterile. The petals were also a bit wider and lacked the creamy color typical of G. laciniatum. I took some back to the lab and noticed the achenes were fewer in number than G. laciniatum but more than G. canadense, and the receptacle they attach to had more hairs on it than G. laciniatum. Over the next few weeks I found two more populations, one in the same county and another several counties away. I eventually decided to name this hybrid G. ×cortlandicum and published this along with reports of the other hybrids in Phytoneuron. The full citation is

Hough, M. 2018. Geum ×cortlandicum (Rosaceae), a new natural hybrid plus three Geum urbanum hybrids new to the flora of New York. Phytoneuron 2018-59: 1–9.

This is the original plant of Geum ×cortlandicum that I found earlier this year

Stiff hairs of the stem

This is one of the more robust plants that I found at another site in Seneca County, NY

Closeup of the flower. Plants in this population had more carpels than plants at other sites but the number of stigmas is still fewer than is typical of G. laciniatum

Head of achenes under the dissecting scope. Notice glands on the body of the achenes which occurs in some forms of G. canadense (typical of that species where these plants were found). There are also some hairs on the achenes. While there is a variety of G. laciniatum that has some hairs on the achenes (var. trichocarpum), G. laciniatum growing with these plants all had glabrous achenes.

The fruiting receptacle with the achenes removed. In G. laciniatum all but the tip and very base would be glabrous or have a few very short hairs. The hairs on this specimen are like those of G. canadense but are less dense. This is an important feature of the hybrid but should be considered together with the other features described.


June 5, 2018

Geum rivale hybrid?

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 12:02

Found what appears to be a hybrid of G. rivale and either G. allepicum (G. ×aurantiacum) or G. urbanum (G. ×intermedium).

The flowers were nodding and the petals erect and yellow when I first found the plant. Sepals suffused with purple but only at the base.

Two days later sepals more purple and petals looking more orange.

At this point past anthesis and sepals still spreading and petals still somewhat erect. Flowers still somewhat nodding.

Basal leaves.

May need to wait until fruit matures to get a definitive ID. Though I’ve considered revisiting the site to see what species grow nearby, it is quite possible that G. allepicum and G. urbanum both occur at the site. The hybrid G. ×intermedium is fairly well documented in Europe but apparently has not been collected in North America, while G. ×aurantiacum has only been collected at one site in NY (Adirondacks, locality unknown) and a few places in Canada.


June 1, 2018

Yellow Lady’s Slippers

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 16:32

Late May is the best time to see yellow lady’s slippers in central NY. The large yellow (Cyperipedium parviflorum var. pubescens) is the most common and has a lip about the size of an egg.

Less common and considerably smaller is C. parviflorum var. makasin. This one has flowers not much bigger than a quarter and darker maroon lateral sepals. It is said to be less tolerant of dry areas and is also fragrant.

May 8, 2018

Great-spurred Violet

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 13:53

Got a really nice picture of Viola selkirkii today. This species is apparently rare throughout most of its range except for in NY and Ontario, and even in NY populations are quite small and local.

August 12, 2017

Southern NJ in August

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 11:41

First stop on August 9th was a dry woodland of pine, oak, and hickory. Several stems of cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor) were in full bloom. The slightly asymmetrical flowers are pollinated by moths.

Northern Adder’s-tongue (Ophioglossum pusillum) was scattered in richer soil among a large population of lily-leaved twayblade (Liparis liliifolia). This is a eusporangiate fern (sporangia developing from several epidermal cells), while most ferns are leptosporangiate (sporangia developing from a single cell).

On the way out spotted a nice patch of pine sap. The pink stems and relatively late flowering time suggest this may be Hypopitys lanuginosa rather than Hypopitys monotropa, though mid-August is when flowering of the two species typically overlap.

I then visited a powerline right-of-way that cuts through a nearby Wildlife Management Area. Flowering along the roadway was lots of slender aster (Eurybia compacta).

Orange milkwort (Polygala lutea) was fairly abundant in wet sand along the access road. These plants have been blooming for over a month.

Engelmann’s arrowhead (Sagittaria engelmanniana) growing in standing water in the deep ruts of the access road. This species prefers acid water and has leaves typically narrower than the common arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), however examination of the achenes is best for positive identification. The latter has none or at most one facial wing on the achene whereas S. engelmanniana has 1-3 facial wings.

Golden hedge-hyssop (Gratiola aurea) was also abundant in the wet muck of the access road.

A rare species that was common here on dry sand was elliptic-leaved rushfoil (Crotonopsis elliptica). This species is quite small and easy to overlook.

The next day I visited a savanna that had formed on a former bog iron mining site. Here I found three flowering plants of the globally vulnerable yellow fringeless orchid (Platanthera integra). This site is threatened by encroachment of cedars and would probably benefit from additional disturbance in the areas where the canopy is beginning to close.

On the way out I stopped by a few disturbed areas closer to civilization. A nice patch of climbing hempvine (Mikania scandens) was flowering on the bank of a river.

Seems I find a new species of thoroughwort every time I visit southern NJ. This one is round-leaved thoroughwort (Eupatorium rotundifolium) and was growing along the edge of some woods.

July 13, 2017


Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 13:47

Five Pyrola spp. occur in New York. These plants are commonly known as wintergreen or shinleaf. I was able to photograph all but one of these in the last two days. The one that still alludes me is Pyrola chlorantha which, unlike the other species, has greenish flowers. It is not uncommon so I may still find it before the end of July.

The most common species is elliptic-leaved shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica). This one was found under a young gray birch on an old iron mining site. The leaves are often a darker green.

Two days ago I found a large patch of American shinleaf (Pyrola americana) growing in moist sand along the edge of a bog. I’ve also found this species in swamps. This is one of the largest species with round leaves and relatively large white-petaled flowers. It is probably the most common species in New York other than Pyrola elliptica (and possibly P. chlorantha which I have ironically yet to find).

Back at the old iron mine site there was a good population of the state threatened pink wintergreen (Pyrola asarifolia) growing primarily in the shade of willows, tamarack, and black spruce. While the leaves resemble those of P. americana to some extent, this is the only species with consistently pink or pink-purple flowers. The petals of P. elliptica can sometimes have a faint pink hue but are mostly white and the thin (rather than shiny and leathery) leaves are quite different.

Shiny, leathery, rather round leaves of P. asarifolia.

The rarest species in New York is the state endangered little shinleaf (Pyrola minor), known from just below the alpine zone of one high peak and one other nearby location. There are probably less than 100 known plants in the state, though careful searches in the area might turn up more. This species is primarily a boreal species that inhabits subalpine coniferous forests in New York. It is smaller than the other species and also differs in having a short and straight style. All other species in NY have an elongate and strongly curving style (not counting the segregate genera Moneses, with solitary flowers, and Orthilia with flowers all on one side of the raceme).

July 2, 2017

July Orchids

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 15:20

Lots of orchids in bloom now in Central NY. The first batch are from a poor fen. The pink orchids are rose pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides) growing with northern pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), spoon-leaf sundrew (Drosera intermedia), and mud sedge (Carex limosa).

Scattered on the floating mat were grass pinks (Calopogon tuberosus). It was raining most of the day and this skipper was probably just seeking shelter on the petals.

Some of the grass pinks were impressively large and exhibited considerable color variation.

The sun came out just long enough for bog coppers (Lycaena epixanthe) to become active. The larvae feed exclusively on large and small cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon and V. oxycoccos, respectively) and adults are usually found when these plants are flowering.

We also visited a wet meadow with a large population of northern tubercled rein orchids (Platanthera flava). This species can be distinguished from similar ‘green’ orchids by the tubercle (bump) on the labellum (lip petal).

On a roadside nearby we found some ragged fringed orchids (Platanthera lacera). This species likes open, moist to wet fields and benefits from mowing early in the year to reduce competition.

Greater purple fringed orchids (Platanthera grandiflora) are in full bloom now. This one was found in a swampy partly shaded edge of a rich fen. The similar lesser purple fringed orchid (Platanthera psycodes) usually blooms a couple weeks later and can be found in similar habitats.

June 24, 2017

Tug Hill

Filed under: North American Native Plants — admin @ 21:59

Some interesting plants seen today on the Tug Hill in Lewis County, NY.

The first is bog Jacob’s-ladder (Polemonium vanbruntiae), a globally rare species found primarily in NY.

This was the first time that I have seen Michaux’s sedge (Carex michauxiana).

Shiny lanceolate leaves and reddish spotted stems help distinguish wild sweet-william (Phlox maculata) from other Phlox spp.

Broad-lipped Twayblade (Neottia convallarioides, formerly Listera convallarioides) occurs in northern white cedar swamps in NY. Though once known from several locations in upstate NY, the plant pictured here is from the only known extant population in the state.

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