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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wildflower Trip Part One

Here is a story that I have not yet had time to tell.  In May I went to visit a wonderful road for viewing wildflowers with my friend, Kitty and our husbands.  
Rough avens (Geum Lacintatum Murr.)
Some of the plants I am familiar with but others I have seen but have never learned the names.  I've worked pretty hard to identify them for you but if you disagree, please let me know and I'll check again.  While not a fun, pretty book, the best book for plant identification in my area is Flora of West Virginia by P.D. Strausbaugh and Earl L. Core. It is very scholarly, full of latin and scientific words, only line drawings and very precise in its description of plants with all the variations. Flora of West Virginia is 1079 pages, counting the index and large glossary so this definitely is not a pocket field guide.  It is one you should have in the trunk to make sure of your identification if there is any question. (By-the-way, it's available at my Amazon Store at the top of the page.  I try to put any books I talk about up there. Some are just books I like.)
Below is a probably a Jacob's ladder (Polemonium vanbruniae) Though its sighting almost always produces an argument of Jacob's ladder vs Greek valerian.   Both are in the Phlox family and are very similar. Greek valerian (Polemonium reptans) may have fewer leaflets  but the numbers overlap a lot.  In Jacob's Ladder the stamens protrude below the flower as can be seen in the flower at the top right of the photo below.  Other marks made me think it might be a Greek valerian since it doesn't have as many leaflets as some plants.  I really don't know for sure but I am going with Jacob's ladder for now.  One year I went with a group of experienced wildflower people who all had field guides and Flora of West Virginia.  We never reached a consensus after spending 1/2 hour with this one plant alone.  Feel free to add your own identification theory. 
Polemonium - either vanbruniae or reptans 
This white one below is Spring Cress (Cardamine bulbosa)
Right beside it was this Large-flowered trillium. (Trillium grandiflorum) While the petals are bright white when it first blooms,
they fade to a lavender-gray or pink as the bloom matures
Mixed in with them all were Painted trilliums (Trillium undulatum) in the photo below.  Notice the Jacob's ladder or Greek valerian around it. Trilliums are in the Lily family.  All have 3 leaves on the plant and 3 showy petals on the flower.  Though they usually bloom early, before the overhead canopy is too thick, the flowers petals take a long time to fall off and the leaves persist well into summer storing valuable energy for next spring's show.
All these plants were within a 20-25 foot area along the road. Kitty and I didn't even have to get our shoes dirty to find them though John's shoe did get pretty muddy when he sacrificed it to a wet ditch in order to check out a plant a little more closely.
I'll have several more days to show you this fruitful wildflower trip so come back tomorrow. 


sis said...

Sounds like fun! What a nice travel idea!

Out on the prairie said...

Very nice blooms. It sounds like you found a good book.I always like to use the area specific books.

Leigh said...

Good for you for being so careful to learn all these. A good ID book is an excellent tool.

Andrea said...

In the tropics, we have lots of plants with beautiful but small flowers. Because they are so plenty, and sometimes become problems of farmers, they are called weeds. Posts like yours sometimes inspire me to document them myself, however i am sure i might not be able to locate their names. That deter me from doing so, as i dont have ready reference for weeds in the tropics. Moreover, a macro lens will be very useful, which i don't have either!

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Nellie, you recently visited me and asked about the forms we used for our stepping stones. I answered you, but I'll tell you here, too. We used the "drip trays" that go under flower pots. 10" is a good size. Spray them first with cheap vegetable spray. I use Quickcrete -spelling of brand? Mortar Mix. It's a sand mix that makes up very smoothly. :-)