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Rose sedge, Carex rosea (Cyperaceae, the sedge family) is a common woodland plant, seen here in a rich forest adjacent to the Scioto River in Delaware County, Ohio. Distinctive features include the widely spaced groups of fruits (spikelets), the broad-based, biconvex shape of the individual fruits (actually, its the shape of the "perigynia," i.e., the bag-like envelopes surrounding each single-seeded fruit), and the roughness of the perigynium-beak.
Rose sedge. Delaware County, Ohio. May 20, 2010.
A month earlier when this sedge was in flower, I took a flash photograph, and today I snapped a companion flash picture. (Note the dreaded black background.) Individual Carex flowers are unisexual. The manner in which thay are arranged relative to one another is a useful identification feature. Here, the spikelets contain both types of flowers, with the pistillate (female) ones at the base of each spikelet and a few staminate (male) ones at the tip.
Rose sedge in flower and fruit, one month apart. Delaware County, Ohio.
A rich woods along the Scioto River in Delaware County, Ohio is home to a pair of waterleaf species, genus Hydrophyllum in the Boraginaceae (borage family). (Note: waterleafs and a few other genera lacking the very deeply 4-lobed ovaries that characterize most members of the borage family, were formerly placed in their own family, Hydrophyllaceae.) These are bristly perennial woodland herbs with lobed leaves and coiled cymes of white or blue flowers that have 5 fused sepals and 5 fused petals. Waterleafs are named for their mottled leaves, giving the appearance of having water spots. Here's a picture of a waterleaf leaf taken a few years ago in Marion County, Ohio.
Waterleaf leaf showing "water spots." April 20, 2006. Marion, Ohio.
We have four Hydrophyllum species in eastern North America, all of which occur in Ohio. The species are distinguished by their leaves (pinnately divided versus palmately divided) and their peduncles and pedicels (glabrous versus pubescent). One of the wateleafs flowering here today is "appendaged waterleaf," H. appendiculatum, which combines palmately lobed leaves with densely pubescent peduncles and pedicels.
Appendaged waterleaf. May 19, 2010. Delaware County, Ohio.
Waterleaf flowers are folded (imbricate) in the bud. The corolla-lobes wide-spreading; the stamens are long-exsert.
Appendaged waterleaf flowers. May 19, 2010. Delaware County, Ohio.
Here a bee and a flower longhorn beetle occupy adjacent flowers of appendaged waterleaf. Flower longhorn beetles are day-active insects that feed on pollen. They have a distinctive shape, being broad-"shouldered" and tapered toward both the head and the rear.
Bee and beetle on waterleaf flowers in Delaware County, Ohio. May 19, 2010.
Large-leaved waterleaf, H.macrophyllum also occurs here. This species is a bit shorter and coarser than appendaged waterleaf, and its flowers are white, and more deeply lobed. The blossom on the right displays clearly its single style, shortly bifid at the summit, positioned at the same level as the stamens.
Large-leaved waterleaf flowers. May 19, 2010. Delaware County, Ohio.
Yuck. There's a Fly on my Salad!
(Corn Salad, Valerianella umbilicata)
Delaware County, Ohio. May 19, 2010.
The plant called "beaked corn salad" (a.k.a., "lamb's lettuce, and it yes, it actually is edible), Valerianella umbilicata (Valerienaceae, the valerian family) is a very abundant native annual that occurs in open spots in woods, along streambanks, in moist meadows, and roadsides. One of only two Ohio genera in its family (the other is Valeriana, described below at Deep Woods), Valerianella is distinguished by its leaves: simple and unlobed.
Roadside riot of corn-salad. May 19. Delaware County, Ohio.
Corn-salad flowers are small, displayed in flat-topped compound clusters called "cymes." They are radially symmetric, small, and funnel-shaped, with 5 fussed petals and three (!) stamens.
Beaked corn-salad. May 19, 2010. Delaware County, Ohio.
Corn-salad is edible; just snap it off and munch. But not this one, yuck! There's a fly on it! Looking on the bright side, however, it appears as though the fly could be a pollinator. The fly's body is indeed dusted with white pollen grains, and the sexual parts of the flowers seem very well oriented to have the fly transfer the grains; note the anther pressed against the abdomen, and see elsewhere each flower's single style at about the same height.
A fly visits beaked corn-salad. May 19, 2010. Delaware County, Ohio.
Here's the motion picture.
Fly, possible pollinator, visits beaked corn-salad in Delaware County, Ohio.
Sedges are found mainly in moist to wet natural areas, but a few intrepid species manage to occur in the city. Pale sedge, Carex blanda is one such sedge. It's in section Laxiflorae, the "loose-flowered woodland sedges." Their flowers are borne in short cylindric unisexual spikes; the terminal one is wholly staminate. Their flowers bear 3 stigmas and develop into trigonous achenes. They have fairly wide leaves with a somewhat loose-fitting sheath. The perigynia are beakless, or very short-beaked. Pale sedge spikes are more densely-flowerd that many members of the section. The perigynia are very plump. Carex blanda is the most common member of sect. laxiflorae, often locally abundant, and capable of being somewhat weedy.
Pale sedge. Columbus, Ohio. May 16, 2010.
The owners of Deep Woods, a private nature preserve in Hocking County, Ohio, held a well-attended and enjoyable work weekend to perform some important maintenance: putting up an interpretive sign, framing a doorway, replacing bridge slats, etc., etc. Here are some of the workers making improvements to a wildlife observation shelter. One of the workers is me, who, immediately after this picture was taken, snuck off to take pictures of plants, and was never seen again holding a hammer or a saw.
Deep Woods work day workers. May 15, 2010. Hocking County, Ohio.
It was the call of the sedge that drew me away. There's a lot of interest in sedges nowadays. Sedges are members of the family Cyperaceae. With 243 species in Ohio, it's our biggest family, and, with its 163 Ohio species, the genus Carex is especially prominent. Many carices (yes, that's the word for more than one Carex) are evident today.
A particularly handsome sedge is eastern narrow-leaved sedge, Carex amphibola. This sedge bears separate male (staminate) and female (pistillate) spikes. The terminal spike is entirely staminate.
Carex amphibola at Deep Woods Preserve, Hockoing County, Ohio. May 15, 2010.
The distingushing feature of Carex is the "perigynium." This is a bag-like envelope surrounding each miniscule female flower through which the styles protrude. It persists, surrounding the fruit, a one-seeded "achene." Here's a studio shot of C. amphibola, showing its obtusely triangular in cross-section perigynia, one of which with is sliced open to expose the achene. Note also the little leaf-like appendage beneath each perigynium, the "pistillate scale," which is useful in distinguishing species. For instance, here the midevein of each scale is prolonged, forming a rough narrow awn that extends far beyond the body of the scale.
Carex amphibola from Deep Woods. May 15, 2010.
Growing nearby is a similar, and closely related plant, narrow-leaved sedge, Carex grisea. It is distinguished from C. amphibola by the proportion of its perigynia --smaller, more pointed, and circular (not triangular) in cross-section.
Carex grisea at Deep Woods. May 15, 2010.
Graceful sedge, Carex gracillima, bears long narrow spikes on slender peduncles. Male flowers are located at the base of the terminal spike, which also bears fruit.
Carex gracillima. Deep Woods Preserve. Hocking County, Ohio. May 15, 2010.
All of the sedges shown so far have a feature in common: the female flowers have three stigmas, and the resultant achene is correspondingly 3-angled. A whole bunch of other Carex sedges have two stigmas, and bear more or less flattened 2-sided achenes. Fox sedge, Carex vulpinoidea, produces a complex inflorescence consisiting of several bundles of short spikes, each of which is mostly pistillate, but tipped with a few staminate flowers. The perigynia are about 1/3 filles with spongy tissue surrounding the lower portion of the achene.
Carex vulpinoidea at Deep Woods, Hocking County, Ohio. May 15, 2010.
Another 2-styled, flattened achene sedge is crested sedge, Carex cristatella. With its widely spreading perigynia and globose spikes, this is perhaps the only easily recognized member of a very confusing group, the section Ovales.
Carex cristatella at Deep Woods, Hocking County, Ohio. May 15, 2010.
Thare are some other plants flowering besides sedges. Here's one, literally beside a sedge (see Carex gracillima in the fuzzy background); it's large-flowered valerian, Valeriana pauciflora (Valerianaceae). The valerian family is a fairly small one represented in Ohio by only two genera. (The other is Valerianella, corn-salad.) They are opposite-leaved herbs with radially symmetric flowers with 5 fused petals, and an inferior ovary. Valerian bears compound leaves.
Large-flowered valerian at Deep Woods, Hocking County, Ohio. May 15, 2010.
Valerian flowers are funnel-shaped, with three stamens (that's peculiar!) attached to the corolla-tube.
Large-flowered valerian. Deep Woods, Hocking County, Ohio. May 15, 2010.
Although great rhodendron, Rhododendron maximum (Ericaceae, the heath family) is native to Hocking County (and a few other counties in soutern Ohio), this specimen is probably a cultivated one, planted a long time ago.
Ornamantal great rhododendron. Deep Woods. May 15, 2010.
The Ericaceae is a mainly artic and temperate family consisting primarily of trees and shrubs, often associated with acid soil. This Rhododendron, and also Kalmia (mountain-laurel, also in the Ericaceae) are unique members of our flora, our only native broad-leaved evergreen shrubs. An intriguing detail of the flowers are the anthers --they open by terminal pores.
Rhododendron anthers open by terminal pores.
Side-by-side in an open meadow, common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale (Asteraceae) in flower and in fruit. In typical Asteraceae fashion, what seems like an indvidual blossom is actually a tight head-like cluster of very small flowers called a "capitulum." It develops into a head like cluster of individual one-seeded fruits called "achenes," each tipped by a highly modified sepal-derived parachute-like structure, the "pappus," that facilitates dispersal.
Common dandelion at Deep Woods. May 15, 2010.
The pink family, Caryophyllaceae, consists of opposite-leaved herbs with swollen nodes, radially symmetric flowers with 5 sepals, 5 separate petals, and an ovary that develops into a many-seeed capsule opening by teeth or valves. We have 6 species in the chickweed/stitchwort genus Stellaria, four of which are alien. This is one of them, common stitchwort, S. graminea. Note the petals, each deeply 2-cleft, giving the appearance of a 10-petaled flower.
Common stitchwort at Deep Woods Preserve. Hocking County, Ohio. May 15, 2010.
In the development of evolutionary theory, French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck was one of the first to set forth a mechanism to account for change in the form of organisms over time. Lamarck's "inheritance of acquired characteristics" posited that over an organism's lifetime, depending upon what that organism did, certain body parts would become strengthened or increased, and, moreover, that this increase in size, strength, etc., would be passed along to its offspring. The only thing wrong with Lamarck's theory was that it was wrong! We now know that genes, not what an organism does during its lifetime, determine the traits of offspring. Evolution is best explained by Darwin's theory of natural selection, which recognizes that individuals differ in heritable traits that influence survival and reproduction, and that those organisms best adapted to the environment will pass their genes for those traits on to their offspring.
Perhaps the distinction between the two views is best depicted graphically. [Note: the "Professor Klips" (a.k.a. "Dr. Bob") referred to in the cartoon occasionally uses those whatever they're called grabber/snapper/puppet thingeys to illustrate scientific concepts in his introductory biology classes.]
Hickories (genus Carya in the family Juglandaceae, the walnut family), like many forest trees, are monoecious, i.e., having unisexual (separate male and female) flowers, but with both types together on each tree. Being wind-pollinated, hickories produce inconspicuous flowers lacking the showy petals needed by some plants to attract pollinators. The male flowers are both very tiny and very numerous, arranged in drooping spikes called catkins, while the female flowers are few in number and much larger than the male ones.
Here's a branch of bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) just beginning to flower. Note the staminate (male) catkins are slender, borne in stalked clusters of 3 at the ends of last year's branch. The pistillate flowers are in a short spike of 2 or 3 flowers, terminating the branch.
Bitternut hickory flowering branch. May 10, 2010. Terradise Nature Preserve, Marion County, Ohio.
The pistillate flowers in this image are disposed in a spike of three flowers, although the terminal flower doesn't seem to have developed fully. The ovary is closely surrounded by four bracts destined to comprise part of the husk surrounded the nut. Two huge plumose stigmas are perched atop the flowers, effective recipients of wind-borne pollen.
Bitternut hickory female flowers. May 10, 2010. Terradise Nature Preserve. Marion County, Ohio.
Members of the parsely family are abundant in many central Ohio woodlands, flourishing after the flush of spring wildflowers. Among them are two species of sweet-cicely, the only members of the genus Osmorhiza that occur in Ohio. These are lacy-leaved, anise-secented forest-floor wildflowers. One is smooth sweet-cicely, O. longistylis, seen at the Terradise Nature Preserve in Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio.
The parsely family is distinctive. Their flowers are small, radially symmetric, with pale-colored separate petals, and sepals so tiny they often seem to be lacking altogether. Apiaceae flowers have an inferior ovary, with styles (upper part of the pistil) swollen at the tip into an expanded "stylopodium" occupying a large area in the center of the flower.
Smooth sweet-cicely. Terradise Nature Preserve, Marion County, Ohio. May 10, 2010.
In typical Apiaceae fashion, the flowers of sweet-cicely are individually long-stalked, arranged in compound umbels, wherein several flowers are attached at a single point forming an "umbellet." The umbellets, similarly bundled, constitute the umbel. The photo below features one umbellet, and it displays an interesting feature of the breeeding system of Osmorhiza. The flowers are of two types, about equally represented within each umbellet: (1) slender-stalked "sterile" ones that are male (staminate), and (2) female (pistillate) "fertile" flowers having a prominent ovary and associated structures. I don't know whether the fertile flowers also bore stamens that have since fallen off along with the petals, or they are unisexual. Note as well the diagnostic feature for O. longistylis: the styles are long --about 2mm during anthesis (flowering), extending to 3.5 mm in fruit!
Smooth sweet-cicely umbellet. May 10, 2010. Marion County, Ohio.
The Apiaceae fruit is a special type called a "schizocarp" (translation: "split-fruit"). In flower, they have an ovary that is 2-chambered, each with a single ovule (future seed) inside. When the fruit is mature, ready to disperse its seeds, it splits apart into two single-seeded units called "mericarps" (happy fish) that mimic the bona fide 1-seeded dry fruit, called an achene. Several popular spices are apiaceous mericarps, for example dill "seed." Here's what wooly sweet-cicely fruits looked like during midsummer, 2004, on the verge of falling off the plant, as separate one-seeded units.
Wooly sweet-cicely. July 21, 2004. Marion County, Ohio.
Less than a week later, in a rich woodland flanking the Scioto River in Delaware County, the very similar wooly sweet-cicely, Osmorhiza claytoni is in bloom.
Wooly sweet-cicely. May 15, 2010. Delaware County, Ohio.
The styles of this species, even in fruit, are not more than 1.5 mm long. The picture below shows flowers and young fruit.
Wooly sweet-cicely. May 15, 2010. Delaware County, Ohio.
...and here at a slightly later stage of development, note the staminate flowers have been shed, leaving only bare remnant pedicels.
Wooly sweet-cicely young fruit. May 15, 2010. Delaware County, Ohio.
Hooded Rosette Lichen at Thew Cemetery
Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio. May 7, 2010
One beautiful morning in May I went on a botanical excursion with a friend, the prominent Marion County conservationist and history expert, Trella Romine. One of our stops was a little rural cemetery in Caledonia called Thew Cemetery, where a few days earlier I had noticed an intriguing lichen on a headstone (the one seen on the left side of the photo below --the short-obelisk one with the corrugated-looking base).
Bob and Trella at Thew Cemetery, Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio.
Cemetery headstones and bases are especially lichen-rich substrates. In their excellent identifcation manual, Macrolichens of Ohio, Ray Showman and Don Flenniken report that the following species are associated with this habitat: Physcia adscendens, P. millegrana, Phaeophyscia spp., Physconia detersa, and Xanthoria spp. It's possible that all of them are present on that headstone, but since I only had the following old (1917) and somewhat general field guide with me, it was hard to tell with certainty.
The definitive field guide.
How to Tell the Birds from the Flowers by Robert Wood (1917)
This is hooded rosette lichen, Physcia adscendens.
Cemetery headstone and base. May 7, 2010. Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio.
Hooded rosette lichen is a medium-sized gray foliose lichen.
Hooded rosette lichen. May 7, 2010. Caledonia, Marion County, Ohio.
This species stands out because its thallus tips are rounded, giving them a paw-shaped aspect. The long white cilia are distinctive as well.
Ciliate, paw-shaped, thallus tips of hooded rosette lichen.
Hocking County, Ohio. May 1, 2010
At this year's annual excellent as usual Columbus Audubon Society's "Eco-Weekend" at Camp Oti-Okwa in Hocking County, Ohio, it was a thrill to see perfolate bellwort, Uvularia perfoliata (traditionally placed in the Liliaceae, but now considered by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group to be a member of the Colchicacaeae). A few weeks previously I encountered the more wide-ranging bellwort having perfoliate leaves --large-flowered bellwort, U. grandiflora --and thus was on the lookout for this one.
Pefoliate bellwort. May 1, 2010. Hocking County, Ohio.
Compared with large-flowered bellwort, perfoliate bellwort is smaller, fewer-flowered, and later-blooming. Moreover, the perianth-segments (i.e., sepals and petals, sometimes called "tepals" in lilies and related plants because they are all colorfully petal-like) are glandular-roughened within.
Perfoliate bellwort tepals are glandular-roughened within. May 1, 2010. Hocking County, Ohio.
Ulota crispa: That Curly-leaved Moss Up a Tree
Hocking County, Ohio. May 1, 2010.
It was fun to do a workshop on moss identification and ecology at Eco-weekend this year. The rain was great! It moistened the mosses, then it stopped, enabling them to be comfortably seen and photographed. A fairly common and distinctive high-bark dwelling species is "curled bristle moss," Ulota crispa (family Orthotrichaceae). It has an upright "acrocarpous" growth form, i.e., consisting of separate stems that are tipped with sporophytes.
In the photo below, several Ulota features stand out. The leaves, even though they are moist (the effect is much more pronounced when dry) are curled and twisted. Note also how the sporophytes have a ruffled hair-do! That's the calyptra --a protective covering (actually part of the maternal gametophyte to which the sporophyte is attached). Moreover, the stalk (seta) of the sporophyte is fairly short, but nonetheless evident.
Curled bristle moss (Ulota crispa) ca. 6 ft. high on bark. May 1, 2010.
To correctly identify Ulota, it is important to distinguish it from another tufted high-bark epiphyte genus, Orthotrichum. For comparison, here's an Orthotrichum seen mid-March on a hardwood tree in Delaware County, Ohio. Note the Orthotrichum leaves are straight (not curled). also, the sporophyte stalks (setae) are short (concealed by the leaves), and their calyptrae are smooth, not hairy.