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09/14/11 12:21 PM
Bigleaf Periwinkle Vinca major
Family: Apocynaceae, Dogbane view all from this family
Description Introduced. A common garden ground cover with evergreen leaves and purple flowers.Flowers: 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) wide; purple to blue, 5 petals.Leaves: opposite; lower leaves heart-shaped, upper leaves elliptical; shiny, dark green, mottled with white or yellow in some cultivars.Height: 8-18" (20-45 cm); trails along ground.
Habitat Shady, damp woods, woodland edges, roadsides, disturbed sites.
Range Europe native; naturalized in the United States, from Massachusetts to Texas and several of the western states.
Discussion Bigleaf Periwinkle is a popular evergreen ground cover that tolerates shady situations, and as such has been heavily planted. It spreads easily into natural and disturbed habitats and is considered an invasive or noxious plant in many states.
09/15/11 12:57 PM
Periwinkle Vinca minor
Alternate name: Running Myrtle, Vinca, Lesser Periwinkle
Description Introduced. Low, evergreen, trailing plant with purplish-blue flowers borne singly in the leaf axils.Flowers: to 1" (2.5 cm) wide; corolla funnel-shaped, 5-lobed, with whitish star in center.Leaves: 1 1/2" (4 cm) long, shiny, dark green, opposite.Height: 6-8" (15-20 cm).
Habitat Borders of woods, roadsides, abandoned sites.
Range Ontario east to Nova Scotia, south to Georgia, west to Texas, and north to Nebraska and Minnesota; sparingly escaped in West.
Discussion This introduced plant, now escaped from cultivation, frequently forms extensive patches in woods. These invasive qualities make it a threat to native flora. Gardeners who plant this alien species are encouraged to keep an eye out to be sure it doesn't spread. Its Latin name, pervinca (from the root "to bind"), is the source for both the present genus and common names. In the southern United States the erect Old Maid (Vinca rosea), with either pink or white flowers, often becomes well established.
09/16/11 11:58 AM
American Spikenard Aralia racemosa
Family: Araliaceae, Ginseng view all from this family
Description The large, tapered flower clusters of this 2-5 ft. perennial are made up of many tiny white flowers, each with a tinge of yellow or green. They grow upright above large compound foliage on heavy, leafy stems. Purple-red berries are showy in fall.
Flower June - July
Habitat Rich woods and thickets.
Range New Brunswick to Manitoba, south to Georgia, north Arkansas and n.e. Kansas.
09/17/11 1:27 PM
Wild Ginseng Panax quinquefolius
Alternate name: American Ginseng
Description An umbel of small, greenish-white or yellow-green, fragrant flowers rising from a whorl of 3 large, palmately compound leaves.Flowers: About 1/16" (2 mm) wide; petals 5.Leaves: 5-12" (12.5-30 cm) long, each with 5 pointed, toothed leaflets.Fruit: Red, clustered berries.Height: 8-24" (20-60 cm).Flowering: May-August.
Habitat Cool moist woods.
Range Ontario east to Quebec, south to Georgia, west to Louisiana and Oklahoma, and north to South Dakota and Minnesota.
Discussion The flowers of this species smell like those of Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis). Its root is highly prized by the Chinese as an alleged aphrodisiac and heart stimulant. It is also in demand as a tonic, which has resulted in overcollection, so that the plant is now considered rare. It is classified as a threatened species in 31 eastern states. The genus name is from the Greek panakeia (“panacea” or “cure-all”). The common name, a corruption of the Chinese Jin-chen (“man-like”), refers to the resemblance of the roots to a human body.
09/18/11 4:08 PM
California Dutchman's Pipe Aristolochia californica
Alternate name: California Pipevine
Family: Aristolochiaceae, Birthwort view all from this family
Description A sprawling deciduous vine with pipe- or S-shaped, purplish-brown flowers on a short stalk.Flowers: 1.5" (4 cm) long; calyx flared into 3 short lobes.Leaves: 1.5-4" (4-10 cm) long, moderately pilose, untoothed, heart-shaped, undersurface green.Fruit: Six winged capsule, 1-2.5" (2.5-6 cm) long.Height: Vine; usually low among other vegetation, seldom over 6' (2m).
Habitat Usually in shaded situations, forest understory or among shrubs in more open situations. Very often found in association with Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversiloba).
Range Northern California, mainly in north Coast Range. Also occurs in Sierra foothills and in parts of the south Coast Range.
Discussion The unusual flowers of this plant are composed of sepals that continue to grow as they mature; the smaller flowers closely resemble an old-fashioned curved pipe. When fully developed, the flowers emit a foul smell that attracts small flies. These flies enter the flower and cause it to close for a few hours. This traps the insects inside and increases the chance that they will pollinate the flower. The plant is not insectivorous -- the flies escape and carry the pollen to adjacent plants.
09/19/11 1:41 PM
Long-tailed Wild Ginger Asarum caudatum
Description A bizarre brown-purplish to yellowish or greenish flower is hidden by heart-shaped leaves growing in pairs from trailing, rooting stems that form dense patches.Flowers: 1 1/2-5" (3.8-12.5 cm) wide; 1 in each leaf axil, with 3 petal-like lobes 3/4-3" (2-7.5 cm) long, tapering out from the bowl-like base to slender tips; stamens 12, tipped with scale-like appendages shorter than pollen sacs.Leaves: 3/4-4" (2-10 cm) long.Height: creeper, with leaf stalks 6" (15 cm) high.
Habitat Moist shaded woods below 5,000' (1,500 m) elevation.
Range From British Columbia and western Montana to northeastern Oregon; south on the western side of the Cascade Mountains and the Sierra Nevada to near the coast of central California.
Discussion The aromatic stems and roots were used by early settlers as a substitute for the tropical ginger. There are 2 other western species: Hartweg's Wild Ginger (A. hartwegii), found in southern Oregon, northern California, and southward along the Sierra Nevada, usually has mottled leaves, and appendages on anthers longer than the pollen sacs; and Lemmon's Wild Ginger (A. lemmonii), from the Sierra Nevada, with calyx lobes 1/2" (1.3 cm) long or less.
09/20/11 1:35 PM
Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca
Family: Asclepiadaceae, Milkweed view all from this family
Description A tall, downy plant with slightly drooping purplish to pink flower clusters.Flowers: 1/2" (1.3 cm) wide, with 5 downward-pointing petals and a conspicuous 5-part central crown; in clusters 2" (5 cm) wide.Leaves: 4-10" (10-25 cm) long, opposite, broad-oblong, light green with gray down beneath, exude a milky juice when bruised.Fruit: rough-textured pod that splits open on one side, filled with many overlapping seeds, each covered with tuft of silky hairs.Height: 2-6' (60-180 cm).
Warning All plants in the genus Asclepias are probably somewhat toxic, some fatally so, to both humans and animals. The sap of some causes skin irritation in humans. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plant’s different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Habitat Old fields, roadsides, and waste places.
Range Saskatchewan to New Brunswick; south to Georgia; west through Tennessee to Kansas and Iowa.
Discussion This plant differs from Showy Milkweed (A. speciosa), in having an unbranched stem. The plant contains cardiac glycosides, allied to digitalins used in treating some heart disease. These glycosides, when absorbed by monarch butterfly larvae whose sole source of food is milkweed foliage, make the larvae and adult butterflies toxic to birds and other predators.
09/21/11 2:08 PM
Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa
Alternate name: Pleurisy Root, Butterfly Milkweed
Description Small bright orange clustered flowers crown the leafy, hairy stem.Flowers: 3/8" (9 mm) wide, with 5 curved-back petals and a central crown, in clusters about 2" (5 cm) wide.Leaves: alternate, oblong, narrow, 2-6" (5-15 cm) long, with juice that is watery, not milky.Height: 1-2 1/2' (30-75 cm).
Habitat Dry open soil, roadsides, and fields.
Range Ontario to Newfoundland; New England south to Florida; west to Texas; north through Colorado to Minnesota.
Discussion This showy plant is frequently grown from seed in home gardens. Its brilliant flowers attract butterflies. Because its tough root was chewed by the Indians as a cure for pleurisy and other pulmonary ailments, Butterfly Weed was given its other common name, Pleurisy Root. Although it is sometimes called Orange Milkweed, this species has no milky sap.
09/22/11 12:17 PM
Climbing Milkweed Funastrum cynanchoides
Alternate name: Fringed Twinevine
Description A smooth vine with umbels of pale white, star-like flowers and long twining stems often clambering over tops of bushes; sap milky.Flowers: Umbel to 4" (10 cm) wide; each flower about 1/2" (1.5 cm) wide; sepals 5; petals 5, white, purplish, or pink, pointed, spreading; 5 white, spherical hoods near center.Leaves: To 2 1/2" (6.5 cm) long, opposite; blades narrow, lanceolate, or narrowly triangular, with at least 1 gland on midrib near base.Fruit: Plump downy pod, to 3" (7.5 cm) long, containing many seeds with silky hairs.Height: Vine; stems to 10' (3 m) long.
Habitat Sandy or rocky soil, mostly in deserts but also on dry plains and in brush near coast.
Range Southern California east through southern Utah to Oklahoma and Texas, and south to Mexico.
Discussion There are several similar species in the Southwest, all hairy or downy and with foliage that smells somewhat like hot rubber.
09/23/11 2:10 PM
Yarrow Achillea millefolium (Achillea lanulosa)
Alternate name: Common Yarrow
Family: Asteraceae, Aster view all from this family
Description Flat-topped clusters of small, whitish flowers grow at the top of a gray-green, leafy, usually hair, stem.Flowers: heads about 1/4" (6 mm) across, composed of 4-6 ray flowers surrounding tiny central disk flowers.Leaves: 6" (15 cm) long, very finely dissected, gray-green, fern-like, aromatic; lanceolate in outline, stalkless. Basal leaves longer.Height: 1-3' (30-90 cm).
Habitat Old fields, roadsides.
Range Most of temperate North America.
Discussion There are both native and introduced populations of this wildflower throughout North America; it is impossible to distinguish the two. Yarrow was formerly used for medicinal purposes: to break a fever by increasing perspiration, to treat hemorrhaging and as a poultice for rashes. A tea used by Native Americans to cure stomach disorders was made by steeping the leaves. The foliage has a pleasant smell when crushed.
09/24/11 12:30 PM
Orange Agoseris Agoseris aurantiaca
Alternate name: Orange-flower Goat-chicory, Orange Mountain Dandelion
Description From a basal cluster of leaves grow several leafless stalks with milky sap, topped by coppery-orange flower heads.Flowers: head about 1" (2.5 cm) wide; flowers of all ray type, those in center of head very short.Leaves: 2-14" (5-35 cm) long, narrow, broadest above middle, often with a few large teeth.Fruit: seed-like, with a stalk at tip about as long as the body, topped by fine silvery bristles.Height: 4-24" (10-60 cm).
Habitat Meadows and grassy openings in coniferous forests in the mountains.
Range Western Canada to California and New Mexico.
Discussion This plant is easily recognized. It is the only orange-flowered Agoseris.
09/25/11 1:27 PM
Pale Mountain Dandelion Agoseris glauca
Alternate name: Pale Goat-chicory
Description Several leafless stalks, each with a yellow flower head at the top, grown from a basal cluster of leaves. Sap milky.Flowers: head 1/2-1 1/4" (1.3-3.1 cm) wide; flowers all of ray type, those in middle very short.Leaves: 2-14" (5-35 cm) long, very narrow to broadly lanceolate, broader above middle, without teeth, with a few teeth, or sometimes deeply pinnately divided.Fruit: seed-like, with fine ridges at tip and fine white hairs on tip of the stalk.Height: 4-28" (10-70 cm).
Habitat Open areas in coniferous forests and in sagebrush.
Range Western Canada; south through the California mountains; east across the West to New Mexico, South Dakota, and Minnesota.
Discussion Several other yellow-flowered species of Agoseris, called False Dandelion or Mountain Dandelion, are distinguished from this one by technical features of the fruit. The true Dandelion (Taraxacum) is also similar, but has minute pegs all over the top of the fruit and usually has bracts curved back beneath the involucre.
09/26/11 12:15 PM
Huisache-daisy Amblyolepis setigera
Alternate name: Honey Daisy
Description This cool-season annual grows from a winter rosette, becoming slightly branched and reaching a height of 6-18 in. Oblong, blue-green leaves are abundant on the lower part of the plant. Leaves become more oval by mid-stem. Stems are bare above the oval leaves and are tipped with a fragrant, solitary flower head. Both the lobed ray flowers and the disk flowers are yellow.
Flower March - May
Habitat Dry, open hillsides and slopes.
Range S. and c. Texas.
Discussion Huisache-daisy often forms thick stands along roads and on hillsides where it provides lavish color when in bloom.
09/27/11 11:46 AM
Climbing Aster Ampelaster carolinianus (Aster carolinianus)
Description A woody-based sprawling shrub or vine bearing masses of large pinkish flowers in late fall.Flowers: head to 1 1/2" (4 cm) wide; rays pink to lavender, surrounding yellow or reddish-yellow central disk; bracts whitish-green. Leaves: alternate, elliptical, clasping. Height: varies; climbs 6-12' (1.8-3.6 m) or more.
Habitat Swamps, thickets, marshes, and streamsides to open, sandy woods.
Range Atlantic coastal plain and piedmont, from South Carolina to Florida.
Discussion With its unusual rambling habit and abundance of blooms, this aster is a good choice for a southeastern native plant garden. It is a caterpillar food plant for the American Painted Lady butterfly and provides nectar for adult butterflies of many species.
09/28/11 11:50 AM
Pearly Everlasting Anaphalis margaritacea
Description Several evenly leafy woolly stems in a small patch are topped by a crowded, roundish cluster of flower heads with pearly-white bracts, sometimes with a dark spot at base of each outer bracts.Flowers: heads about 1/4" (6 mm) long; flowers minute, on some plants with stamens only, on others only with pistils.Leaves: to 5" (12.5 cm) long, narrowly lanceolate, underside densely hairy, top less so or even smooth and dark green.Height: 8-36" (20-90 cm).
Habitat Commonly in forest openings but also along roadsides and in fields, from lowlands to high in the mountains.
Range Most of North America; south to New Mexico, southern California, Arizona, Kansas, and eastern United States.
Discussion The dried stalks with their pearly-white heads are attractive in floral arrangements.
09/29/11 11:16 AM
Mayweed Anthemis cotula
Alternate name: Stinking Dog Fennel, Stinking Chamomile
Description Daisy-like plant with white ray flowers surrounding a dome-shaped yellow disk.Flowers: heads to 1" (2.5 cm) wide.Leaves: 1-2 1/2" (2.5-6.3 cm) long, finely dissected, fern-like, with unpleasant odor, and acrid taste.Height: 1-2' (30-60 cm).
Warning The foliage that may cause skin irritation if handled.
Habitat Waste places and roadsides.
Range Throughout North America, except the Arctic.
Discussion An introduced bushy annual, Mayweed resembles a plant from which chamomile tea is made; hence its alternate name Stinking Chamomile. The similar Corn Chamomile (A. arvensis) has flower heads up to 1 1/2" (3.8 cm) wide and grayish, hairy stems, but is scentless. Yellow Chamomile (A. tinctoria) is the only yellow ray-flowered species, occurring sporadically from Quebec south to New Jersey and westward to Minnesota.
09/30/11 12:18 PM
Woolly Daisy Antheropeas wallacei (Eriophyllum wallacei)
Alternate name: Woolly Easter-bonnets
Description A tiny, gray, woolly tufted plant with small golden-yellow flower heads.Flowers: heads about 1/4" (6 mm) wide, with 5-10 oval rays, each about 1/8" (3 mm) long, around a few disk flowers.Leaves: to 3/4" (2 cm) long, ovate, tapering to short stalks.Fruit: seed-like, narrow, black, topped by a few short scales.Height: 1/2-4" (1.3-10 cm).
Habitat Sandy desert soil.
Range Se. California to sw. Utah and nw. Arizona.
Discussion In desert annuals, such as Woolly Daisy, seed production is vital for yearly survival. During drought plants often grow only about 1/4" (6 mm) before producing one head, ensuring at least some seeds. Under moister conditions plants repeatedly branch near the base, producing taller stems, many heads, and abundant seed.
11/12/12 11:19 PM
Family: Hydrophyllaceae, Waterleaf view all from this family
Description Large-flower Baby-blue-eyes is an upright to straggling, hairy annual, 6-12 in. high. Its showy, pale-blue, bowl-shaped blossoms are frosted or whitish in the center and occur from leaf axils or in clusters at stem tips. Leaves are blue-green and lobed or divided into 9-11 broad segments.
Flower March - May.
Habitat Open woodlands; stream banks.
Range Arkansas and Oklahoma to s.e. Texas and Louisiana.
Discussion This plant blooms early and dies by summer.
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