Wednesday, December 31, 2014

White Bergamot

White Bergamot
Monarda clinopodia
Well, this is it, my final post. It's hard to know what to say. It's been a real journey.

As you've certainly figured out, I didn't take a picture of exactly one plant per day and then post it the next day. That would be next to impossible. I actually had about a half year's worth of pictures before I started. That was the total accumulation of plant pictures that I had in my files from about five years of picture taking. I planned to shoot the rest during the year. Before the year started, I had about two months worth of posts written up. I knew that it would be time consuming to actually carry out this project, but I didn't really know what the experience would feel like.

The first step was finding the plants and getting out to shoot them. That was the funnest part of the whole thing. I found myself in a rhythm of going out before work while the wind was down with a goal of shooting one plant as well as I could and then finding another subject for the next day. This actually worked pretty well. I also hiked with friends to different nature preserves and found lots of subjects that I could return to in the future. Not many folks are willing to stand around while you actually shoot a plant, but one friend in particular; Darci, was interested in the process and helped me shoot several of the flowers. I really enjoyed this aspect of the project and will either miss doing it, or just continue with it and accumulate more pictures.

The next step was processing the pictures. This was the most tedious. I had to look over all of the pictures, choose the ones to keep, photoshop them for color and sharpness, label them and copy them to the appropriate locations. Mostly this involved sitting at my computer in the evenings poring over the pictures till my eyes started to bleed.

The final step of course was to write the posts. As some of you have noted, some days this was short and sweet, and some days it was well researched. It depended on how busy I was and how interested I was. I also fell into a rhythm for this step, always trying to do two a day when I did them, knowing that I would miss about half  the days. I actually do other things in my life, but this project sucked up a lot of time this year.

I've never really thought of myself as obsessive, but now I'm pretty sure that I am. :-) I don't see any other way that this could be done. Before I started this blog I searched around for other types of plant a day things and never found anything even close to this. There are a lot of great plant blogs and plant picture blogs. There are a lot of great photographers out there who have put up lots of pictures, but most of them are normal people who put them up when they have them for all to enjoy.

This was a very educational project! I've had botany classes in college and have spent a lot of time identifying and working with plants, although not as a botanist or other profession, but I probably learned more about plants this year than I had learned in my whole life before. It was a sort of forced learning. It's one thing to read about plants and enjoy them, but another to have to write about them every day. I learned not just how to identify them, but also the nuances of the different plants, the edibility of certain plants, the source of their common and scientific names, medicinal uses, poetry and lots of other things.

The main thing is that this was just a fun and enjoyable project. I'm not sure what I'll do next year with all of this time on my hands. :-)

Have a great new year!

The flowerhead looks like fireworks!

The leaves can be brewed into tea

This  is a woodland bergamot

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Yellow Pond-lily

Yellow Pond-lily
Nuphar lutea
Everyone has seen Yellow Pond-lily's on lakes and slow moving streams and called them anything from Bullhead Lily to Spatterdock to Water Lily and who knows what else.  It seems that the taxonomists can't agree on this plant at all, some saying that there is only one Nuphar species in the whole world, this one, Nuphar lutea, while others split it into a bunch of separate species.

So this one could be called Nuphar lutea (L.) Sm. ssp. advena (Aiton) Kartesz & Gandhi, or it could simply be called Nuphar advena.

I tend to be more of a lumper than a splitter, so I'm happy with calling them all the same thing and then enjoying the rest of my canoe trip.

Sometimes the flowers grow under water
The leaves tend to stick up out of the water, rather than floating on the water like White Waterlily

Seed pod with the petals fallen off

Monday, December 29, 2014

American White Waterlily

American White Waterlily Nymphaea odorata
American White Waterlily
Nymphaea odorata

The American White Waterlily is a delightful plant of the lakes of northeast Indiana.  Its genus and family name (Nymphaeaceae) refer to the nymphs of Greek mythology.  Nymphs were supernatural feminine beings associated with springs; typically depicted as young attractive girls dressed in white. So, it's easy to see how taxonomists were able to associate them with the waterlilies.

Waterlilies are pretty and fun to photograph.

The leaves float on the surface of the water.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Red Pine

Red Pine
Pinus resinosa
Red Pine is not really native to Indiana, but there have been a couple of supposed native trees found here, although those must have been an anomaly. This is a more northern tree and the southern edge of its historic range is about halfway down the mitt of Michigan.

On the other hand, this tree has been planted extensively in Indiana and can be quite commonly found all over the place, although I've never seen any young trees that were offspring of planted trees.

It's a nice tree for wildlife, especially in the winter. They provide good shelter for owls. One year I had a long-eared owl spend the winter in some red pines on my property.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Scots Pine

Scots Pine
Pinus sylvestris
Scots Pine is not native to North America, but has been planted widely and can be found all over the place. It was commonly used for Christmas trees, although not so much anymore. You might find stands of older trees that weren't harvested.

It is the only pine native to northern Europe. In Great Britain, it is currently only naturally found in Scotland.

These easiest way to identify this tree is to look at the upper trunk. It will appear reddish with flaky bark. The needles can vary in length with two in a cluster that have a bit of a twist. The cones are small and round.

Note the different lengths of the needles. They come two in a cluster and twist around each other about 180 degrees.


Male flowers
Another male flower

Friday, December 26, 2014

Eastern White Pine

Eastern White Pine
Pinus strobus
I think it's always good to learn about wild edibles, never knowing when you'll have to fend for yourself. White Pine trees have been planted all over the place and so when someone told me they were edible, I thought I'd give it a try.  Basically all you do is boil the needles to make some tea.  It didn't really fill me up, but it was a pleasant tasting tea packed full of vitamins A and C.  Feeling healthy and proud of myself, I cooked up a bacon-wrapped pork loin to go with it. :-)

Eastern White Pine is only native to the very northwest part of the state and was not too common. However, it has been planted extensively all over the state, pushed by the Soil Conservation Service and then the Soil & Water Conservation Districts in the state as great trees for wind breaks and re-foresting areas.  There are jillions of them all over the place now.

They're not hard to identify, the needles in groups of five, softer feeling to the grasp than other pine species.

Needles in whorls of five
Some of the needles turn yellow and fall off every year

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Fern

Christmas Fern
Polystichum acrostichoides
Christmas fern is easy to identify.  Each leaflet looks like Santa's sleigh!

This is a fairly common fern in Indiana, typically found on slopes in nicer woodlands.

The leaves stay green all winter, another reason to name it Christmas Fern

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tree of Heaven

Tree of Heaven
Ailanthus altissima
The name for this plant seems appropriate for Christmas Eve, however it has a very bad name in our area, being non-native and somewhat invasive. I've not seen it in nature preserves or nicer areas, mostly in the city, vacant lots, cracks between cement and buildings or fences, and other places that only harbor alien, invasive species. There are a number of larger specimens along the Rivergreenway in Fort Wayne, but they don't seem to crowd out other trees and could be easily removed if necessary.

Tree of Heaven is native to China and is a well behaved and welcome plant there. There it is used for wood, medicine, and as a host plant for silkworms. I guess it just depends on your point of view.

Note that the leaflets have a couple of pairs of teeth near the base. These teeth have little glands which have no apparent purpose.
The seed samaras are pretty, colored in greens, pinks and reds. They have a little twirl at the tip, probably an aid to cause it to flutter farther away from the tree as it floats to the ground.
The twig is very stout. The leaf scars are shield shaped
Note the numerous vein scars, the little dots around the inside edge of the leaf scar
The brown pith is more than half the diameter of the twig

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Black Oak

Black Oak
Quercus velutina
You know you've gone over the edge when you keep a copy of "Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast" in your car.  This is about the best book on tree bark that I've been able to find, but I'll tell you, not everyone is interested in that. It's hard to convince people that bark is interesting and a great way to id trees. Foresters understand this, even taking it to the extreme where they think they can id every tree by its bark, but most folks think I'm a little crazy. If you like trees and want to know how to identify them, get this book.

According to the bark book, young black oaks have smooth gray bark with raised lenticels.
As they get older, the bark gets darker and breaks into irregular blocks.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Bur Oak

Bur Oak
Quercus macrocarpa
The typical Bur Oak is easy to identify by its leaf. They have a deep lobe about halfway up the leaf. Unfortunately Bur Oaks tend to hybridize with other oaks, White and Swamp White particularly, and the leaves aren't always typical. In my experience most of the oaks are like that. They look so simple to ID when you look at the books, but real life is a lot different. I need to get a DNA kit and take that with me in the field.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

River Birch

River Birch
Betula nigra
River Birch is found natively along streams and other wet places in northwest and southwest Indiana, but it's planted all over the place because of its cool bark, so you might find it anywhere, particularly as landscaping in lawns.

In fact, it is considered such a great landscaping tree that it was named the urban Tree Of the Year (TOY) in 2002 by the Society of Municipal Arborists! That's a pretty high honor for a tree that has limited lumber value.