Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.

Last May when the mayapples bloomed...

...they produced mayapple apples in June. Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) grow in large clonal colonies and only produce apples if the flowers are cross-pollinated from a different colony. Where those thimbleweeds were planted that were chomped and stomped by a visiting turtle and where I accidentally uncovered those snake or turtle eggs, and where I met that baby stick insect, that is where apparently two mayapple colonies intermingled to produce a lot of mayapple apples. I didn't think that much happened up there in the woods but that one small area has had a lot of stuff going on this past spring and summer.

This pretty little thing is a sycamore seed ball which still has half its seeds attached. I found it lying on a large rock in the creek around the same time as the mayapples were in bloom.

In June the elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) bloomed.

And later produced berries...

...which were quickly gobbled up by somebody.

This pretty delicate flower is Starry Campion (Silene stellata). I found it growing at the creek's edge...

...and in two different spots on a trail in the woods. I didn't see the flowers on the plants in the woods but because the leaf arrangement is so unusual, it was easy to identify them.

Milkweed flowers? I just like them and so to me, they're pretty. This one was photographed next to the railroad tracks where milkweed grows with lots and lots of elderberries. The bonus in photographing anything near railroad tracks is that when the trains go by, you can wave at the train and the engineer waves back. Sometimes I catch those guys waving before I can fully turn around to wave first. I just love trains... and by association, milkweed too. :-)

Back at my creek in July, hidden behind the ragweed was a small patch of phlox. Although Phlox paniculata is native to the U.S., I think these flowers are probably the cultivated variety "David." I'm trying hard to be a native plant purist but it's just not realistic...especially when cultivars are so darn pretty.

The phlox are growing in an area where a garden used to be. They are now sharing space with non-native "wildflowers" I'm not too crazy about...such as hedge parsley which made its appearance this year. I hate that plant. Just hate it. Hedge parsley looks like a half-ass version of Queen Anne's Lace, which, even though it's not a native, I do like very much. I'm having a hard time reconciling growing only native plants to this area and then having to confess that I really like some of the non-natives. Hedge parsley will not be one of them though....ever. It's such an awful plant, I did not even photograph it.

In late July, I found this plant in flower growing in the creek. Ditch Stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides) is a rough looking thing but the flowers were kind of interesting.

I read that they turn red in the fall...

...and in September they started to get reddish.

And later in the month, even more so.

And by the end of October, their color was spectacular.

This plant may or may not be a native to North America...I haven't quite figured that out yet. However, I like just about all plants in the Polygonum family and so regardless of its origin, I think Pale Smartweed (Polygonum lapathifolium) is one of the prettiest flowers I discovered this summer. The flowers were tucked in so tight, they looked like beadwork.

Even giant ragweed's flowers are kind of pretty...although I was happy to see a lot less of it this year.

And this little example of pretty is pretty as in "pretty" suspicious. I found him maybe 100 feet from where my thimbleweed was chopped and dropped but he was on the trail and as I know from experience, those trails are used by every animal, bird and insect in the forest to get to something. And if you have a good habitat for box turtles, you can expect to find about ten turtles per acre. Ten turtles times twenty acres on one trail equals...

Oh, I really don't want to think about that. Two hundred Terrapene iwilltakedownallyourplantsis?

I find that pretty unnerving.


Leenie said...

It's fun to see all those plants with identification. When I know a name they seem more friendly. I'm glad you appreciate them for their individuality and don't just consider them weeds to be done away with.

But that turtle looks pretty angry or even evil with those red squinty eyes.

Maria said...

Leenie-That post got longer than I wanted but I needed to list some of the new plants I discovered this past summer before I forgot them. You're right. Once you've been introduced to a plant and know its name, they do become more friendly. :-) And then you start seeing their relatives everywhere! I'm still surprised about the wahoos. How did I miss seeing them last year?

And isn't that turtle something? He was full of vinegar, that one. He had a twisted up face and could not wait to get away from me. All turtles can 't wait to get away but this one was driven. D r i v e n!

Pix at Under the Oaks said...

You had some pretty blooming things on that land this year! Man you know your plants Maria!! Turtles. Wish they could talk. I sucked on milkweed when I was a kid and my Mom and Dad told me I was going to get sick and die. Nice huh?

Maria said...

Pix-I'm learning as I go. I thought that Master Naturalist program would help me to identify things faster but they really didn't spend that much time on that kind of thing. So my next idea is to join the Kansas Wildflower Society and go on some field trips. Also, the Dept. of Conservation needs people to help collect seeds at some of their sites, so maybe that might help. Maybe a real botany course..... I just feel like I'm missing the most important piece of info on how to get started identifying things. Oh well, at least I have patience. I eventually figure out what is what.

By the way, your fire-on-the-mountain you gave me is still going strong (I"m treating it as a houseplant). The ones you have growing on the eastern side of the state are much prettier than the ones growing on the eastern side of Kansas. The leaves are just a half inch wide over here. Same plant though. Curious, isn't it? :-)

Regarding turtles, I'm glad that they CAN'T talk.

And nice parents...hahaha. They don't make them like that anymore. Hahahaha.