Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fireweed and St. John's-worts

BRIEF NOTE: I know that at least a few people who read this blog have been trying to contact me via the phone, and I am not answering. That's because the battery in my Palm Centro went kaput. I've been to four Sprint stores in the past two days, and not a one has been able to produce a battery. Plenty of pressure to get a new phone, but the battery would take a few days to get. So, I have tossed Sprint into the abyss. At best, this provider was mediocre and their customer service is generally terrible. I took the plunge, switched to AT&T, and ordered a new Droid Incredible. This is a very cool device, and I have no doubt that AT&T will be much more consumer-friendly than Sprint. Cheaper, too. But the Droid won't arrive until next Tuesday, and I am just going to be blissfully phoneless until then.

On my recent trip to West Virginia's Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, deep in the mountains of the Monongahela National Forest, I saw many interesting plants. Including the above, which was a "lifer" for me to see in bloom. It is the very showy shrub, Bushy St. John's-wort, Hypericum densiflorum.

An eye-catcher by any measure, this species is a southerner, extending northward through the Appalachians.

On another note, I was amazed at how good the birding was at Cranberry Glades for late July. I saw and/or heard, among many others, the following: Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco, Alder Flycatcher, and the following warblers: Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Canada, and Northern Waterthrush. And I just missed a flock of the resident breeding Red Crossbills, apparently!

Mid-summer is a really great time to visit Cranberry Glades and the surrounding mountains, and I might see about organizing a small foray here next summer.

While not as magnificently robust as the Bushy St. John's-wort, I was more excited to stumble into this one. It is, I believe, the Blue Ridge St. John's-wort, Hypericum mitchellianum. Quite limited in its range, this one is only known from four states, and is considered endangered in West Virginia.

It looks a lot like a much more common and widespread St. John's-wort species, but it caught my eye right away. The flowers were larger and a clearer yellow than the other, and it was growing in a very odd habitat. I certainly wasn't going to collect any material, because of where I found it, but the photos aren't bad and if anyone can correct my identification, please do.

This is the common look-alike - Dotted St. John's-wort, H. punctatum. It has smaller flowers, and the petals are dotted with black spots.

Not far down the road from Cranberry Glades, I noticed these stately purple spires jutting from the roadbank.

Needless to say, I shut the car down and got out to inspect the Fireweed, Chamerion angustifolium. This plant becomes very abundant in the far north - it is without doubt one of the most photographed plants in Alaska - but becomes much more spotty and local in its southern reaches.

I've never seen Fireweed in my home state. It is listed as endangered in Ohio, and rarely turns up.

As expected, Cranberry Glades didn't disappoint, and I look forward to a repeat visit next year.

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5 comments:

Kelly said...

Matty and I were cell phone-less the week we spent at Shawnee State Forest with Jenny. It was weird at first, but by the end of the week, we were digging it! Have fun while no one can contact you!

Jana said...

The bushy St. John's-wort is gorgeous. Thanks for posting the photos.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Some of the greatest getaways are those which are imposed upon us--
enjoy!

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks for the comments, all. So far, no missing the phone. But, still looking forward to the Droid!

Jim

Anonymous said...

You have to set a fire and then throw down fireweed seed to get good growth in Ohio. The burn area can be covered also, and the cover removed as a steady downward rain falls. If plants were turgid and greeny, this was sometimes done without rain and the presence of certain quick burning grasses. The "English - meaning anyone who spoke English" were generally stupid and set fires in 90 degree heat - full sun and drought conditions. Amerindians set fires around these settler's habitation as well. After skunk oil was made in the kiln area, Amerindians set a fire and planted fireweed, which is an edible. Then started the kiln process all over again. This was done in burned out cities during WWII.