Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fall Botany in Norfolk

I recently took a trip down to Norfolk County for a day of botanizing.  Every time I set foot in a woodlot down there I tell myself I need to get there more often; so many neat and interesting plants to be found.

White Goldenrod (Solidago bicolor), also known as Silver-rod due to it's spike of white (not yellow) flowers is somewhat restricted in Ontario to sandy forests along the north shore of Lake Erie and Ontario.  I found a new population near Pembroke a few years back but a map produced by Semple shows an arm reaching up from New York, so not that surprising.  Unlike some of our other more common goldenrods, this species 'behaves' with plants occurring more or less individually throughout the forest floor.

Exploring some sand blowout areas I found plenty of Round-headed Bush-clover (Lespedeza capitata).

Orange-fruited Horse Gentian (Triosteum aurantiacum) has seeds which look just like coffee beans.

They don't make common plant names short...this is Fern-leaved False Foxglove (Aureolaria pedicularia).  A species of sandy woodlands and savannahs.  This species, along with 2 other species in the genus which occur in Ontario, is currently being evaluated by COSEWIC and will likely become listed as Threatened or Endangered.
Intermediate Pinweed (Lechea intermedia)
 May is always a great time to spot patches of Birdfoot Violet (Viola pedata) in bloom, but the distinct leaves can still be found come fall.

Other rarities like Virginia Goats-rue (Tephrosia virginiana) can be found in high quality woodland and savannah.  Some recent trips to Wisconsin and Illinois have shown that this species is much more common to the southwest, but is still rare throughout much of it's range.

Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)
 I had never seen Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata) and was happy to put it together that I had stumbled upon some poking up through the leaf litter.  This plant has been adopted by the horticultural industry with various colour variations.  Nature does it best.
A good way to end the day!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wide Open Spaces in Alberta

Last week I did a whirlwind trip to Alberta for work.  The task involved evaluating prairie vegetation, something I quite enjoy doing!  Although brief, I made the most of my short time in the shortgrass.  A couple of public-owned rangelands provided some fun post work exploring options.

The views were gorgeous, a rolling landscape with prairie potholes full of ducks, canola where the land is flat and prairie on many of the hillsides and anywhere else crops weren't an option.  

Smooth Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) was widespread, one of my favourites this time of year.

I walked away from this dragonfly perched atop a Tall Cinquefoil (Drymocallis arguta) stem still a bit unsure as to whether it was alive or not.

Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida) is rather rare in Ontario.  It was fairly common there, albeit this was the single flowering plant I could locate.

Another neat goldenrod, Missouri Goldenrod (Solidago missouriensis).  I'm not sure how to describe the difference, it has traits of several of our more common Ontario goldenrods.  This S2-ranked species is known from the Kenora, Thunder Bay and Rainy River Districts of Ontario.
Flodman's Thistle (Cirsium flodmanii)
 Silverleaf Psoralea (Pediomelum argophyllum), also known as Indian Breadroot is one of the first prairie plants I learned years ago in South Saskatchewan.  It can be locally fairly common but similar to the sage species that grow in the western prairies it's bluish-green leaves are eye-catching.

Wild Licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota), the species I was looking to relocate from an old record in Waterloo Region.

One of many prairie pothole formations.