Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Some flashy natives

The Midwest Native Plant Conference is only a month away, and if you like plants I think you'll like this event. It is a blend of great speakers, interesting field trips, and vendors of native flora. This year, the venue is the scenic 200-acre Marianist Environmental Education Center in Dayton, and all manner of flora and fauna abound right outside the doors. Registration info and other conference info is RIGHT HERE.

To possibly whet your appetite, following are some snaps of native plants that I observed this weekend in southern Ohio...

Not many trees flower in mid-summer but this one does. It is Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum, Ohio's only member of the heath family that is a tree.

Like many heaths, Sourwood has urceolate, or urn-shaped flowers which are quite showy upon inspection. Close looks are often impossible though, as the flowers are well aloft.

Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, our most common milkweed and a very important native plant. A fresh one is aromatic enough that the sickly-sweet fragrance can be detected many feet away.

A number of small critters have evolved their way into immunity from the toxic cardiac glycosides that infuse milkweeds, such as these Red Milkweed Beetles, Tetraopes tetrapthalmus. This pair is busy making replacements.

A riot of color bursts from this luxuriant patch of Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta.

The odd Leather-flower, Clematis viorna, a vining member of the buttercup family.

A Silver-spotted Skipper investigates a Leather-flower for nectar. The petals are thick and fleshy, and remind me of a purplish canteloupe that is bursting open.

Elegant and rare, a spire of Tall Larkspur, Delphinium exaltatum, arches skyward. Spotty and local in distribution, it occurs in only a handful of Ohio counties. Like the Leather-flower, this larkspur belongs to the buttercup family - an illustration of the tremendous diversity in that tribe.

All phlox are eye-catchers, and Spotted Phlox, Phlox maculata, ranks high in the pagentry of summer wildflowers. The long corolla tubes are often serviced by moths, with their incredibly long "tongues".

Here's why the "spotted" got in the name. The stem is heavily dappled with purplish dots.

Our most conspicuous gentian: Rose-pink Gentian, Sabatia angularis. In favorable sites, it mists roadsides and fields with its pale magenta hues. This is certainly a good candidate for native plant gardening!

Finally, the "conference plant" of the 2010 Midwest Native Plant Conference, Rattlesnake-master, Eryngium yuccifolium. Odd and alien-looking, it sports thick fleshy leaves that suggest an aloe, and this plant will add oodles of character to any yardscape. Believe it or not, Rattlesnake-master belongs to the parsley family, although it certainly doesn't resemble most of its kin.

I hope you can make the conference, and if so, i'll look forward to seeing you there.


1 comment:

JSK said...

I saw my first ever Sabatia angularis blooms last weekend in north Georgia (Gilmer Co). Truly beautiful!