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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Watercress-Nasturtium officinale

There are a lot of Mustard Family (Brassicaceae) nonnatives, and today we're going to add another one, watercress (Nasturtium officinale). Watercress grows on water, and  in fact requires it--the presence of watercress shows that the water is present year-round. Most of the year only the leaves are present, but right now it is producing some four-petaled flowers.

Watercress is a common food for ducks and deer. It can even be eaten by humans, although due to parasites, you should either disinfect it or eat the watercress you can buy at the grocery store.

For more information about watercress, click here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hoary Groundsel-Packera werneriifolia

This is a high elevation plant, hoary groundsel (Packera werneriifolia). It's a member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). I took this photo early in the season (June 2009), so the ray flowers still hadn't emerged. The plant doesn't grow particularly tall due to the harsher alpine climate conditions.

For more information about hoary groundsel, click here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Prickly Lettuce-Lactuca serriola

Another common weed around my house is prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola), a member of the Aster Family. It is native to Europe but now found through much of North America. It reproduces by seeds.

The flowers are yellow, with indentations on the ray flowers.

Each plant can have many flowers and even more seeds.

For more information about prickly lettuce, click here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Field Bindweed-Convolvulus arvensis

Continuing with the theme of weeds around my yard, today we've got field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), also called morning glory. It's a member of the Morning Glory Family (Convolvulaceae), and although it's common throughout North America, it is not native and many states consider it a noxious weed. The pretty flowers that open daily grow along a vine that quickly entangles itself around other vegetation, fences, and whatever gets in its way.

For more information about field bindweed, click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Curly Dock-Rumex crispus

Standing erect with seed pods that become more obvious during the summer as they turn browner is curly dock (Rumex crispus), a member of the Buckwheat Family (Polygonaceae). It's native to Eurasia, but is now common throughout North America.

The leaves of curly dock can be used as a remedy if you get into stinging nettle, and both conveniently grow often in the same moist habitats.

As the seed pods age, they turn from green to pink.

And then to an orangish-brown.

For more information about curly dock, click here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Common Mallow-Malva neglecta

One of the weeds that I find all too frequently in my garden is common mallow (Malva neglecta), a member of the Mallow Family (Malvaceae). It has deep roots, so I have to pull hard to remove it.

Each stem supports multiple leaves and some rather pretty flowers. It is native to Europe but has become a weed in most of North America.

For more information about common mallow, click here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Time Out

Desert Boy and I are off for a few days to visit some family, and somehow I just didn't get the Plant a Day posts ready for when we're gone. It's funny how it gets so busy this time of year! Anyway, we'll be back soon, and in the meantime I encourage you to try some of the links in the sidebar.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Flatbud Pricklypoppy-Argemone munita

This long-blooming white flower with the papery thin flower petals and the prickly stems and leaves is flatbud pricklypoppy (Argemone munita), the only member of the Poppy Family (Papaveraceae) in this area. It is native to the western United States and grows often in disturbed areas, such as along roadsides.
Nestled among the white petals is a yellow clump of 150-200 stamens, with a maroon stigma appearing right in the middle. 

The flower buds are also prickly.

Here's a closeup of some of those prickles on the stems and leaves. They deter animals from eating this plant.

For more information about flatbud pricklypoppy, click here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Parry's Primrose-Primula parryi

This striking magenta flower found at higher elevations and often near water is Parry's primrose (Primula parryi), a member of the Primrose Family (Primulaceae). 

Most of them have finished flowering for this year, leaving the leafy vegetation behind.

But I looked all around and managed to find a few flowers still hanging on. This flower lends so much color to the sub-alpine and alpine scenery. It also stands out because it is so large compared to much of the higher elevation vegetation, much of which has shrunken in size to deal with the harsher growing conditions.

For more information about Parry's primrose, click here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Spiny Milkvetch-Astragalus kentrophyta

This dainty Pea Family (Fabaceae) flower is spiny milkvetch (Astragalus kentrophyta). It grows above 10,000 feet in elevation, and is native to western North America. It has pointy leaves that somewhat resemble spikes.

For more information about spiny milkvetch, click here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Desert Sweet-Chamaebatiaria millefolium

This beautiful bush growing in limestone areas is desert sweet (Chamaebatiaria millefolium), more commonly called fern bush. It's a member of the Rose Family (Rosaceae) and is native to the western United States.

The flowers look like most other rose-family flowers, with five petals. The leaves are quite fern looking, with many leaflets (hence the species name millefolium).

For more information about desert sweet, click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Threenerve Goldenrod-Solidago velutina

Seeing goldenrod in flower is bittersweet--it's one of those flowers that appears at the end of summer, and you know that it won't be too long until the cold creeps in. This species grows in dry areas and is Threenerve Goldenrod (Solidago velutina), a member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). It's native to the western United States.

For more information about threenerve goldenrod, click here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eaton's Aster-Symphyotrichum eatonii

This showy aster growing in moist places is Eaton's aster (Symphyotrichum eatonii), formerly Aster eatonii. It's a member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). It is native to western North America.

The disk flowers are yellow, while the ray flowers are pinkish-whitish.
For more information about Eaton's aster, click here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Brook Saxifrage-Saxifraga odontoloma

Growing next to a stream I noticed leaves that were a notched semi-circle with even dentations all around the edge. Rising from these leaves was a slender stalk and delicate, small flowers. This was brook saxifrage (Saxifraga odontoloma), also called streamside saxifrage. It is native to western North America.

The flowers have five petals with a two-beaked pistil and ten reddish anthers.

For more information about brook saxifrage, click here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Largeleaf Avens-Geum macrophyllum

This large plant growing next to a stream was a little bit of a mystery at first, because it had already flowered and only had strange looking fruits on it. The leaves were large and split in three leaflets. A little searching showed it was a member of the Rose Family (Rosaceae) called largeleaf avens (Geum macrophyllum). It's native to western and northern North America.

Flowers appear in June and July, but by August only the seed is left.

Unless you get lucky and catch a few petals still clinging on!
For more information about largeleaf avens, click here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Redroot Buckwheat-Eriogonum racemosum

The flowers on this two-foot tall plant are small, so they might not attract your attention at first, but they are one of the few pink flowers blooming this time of year. They arise from a basal rosette of leaves that help identify this plant as a member of the Buckwheat Family (Polygonaceae). This is redroot buckwheat (Eriogonum racemosum), with many other common names, such as wild buckwheat. It's found in the desert southwest.

The flowers have six petals and are close to the stem.

For more information about redroot buckwheat, click here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Columbian Monkshood-Aconitum columbianum

Growing up to six feet tall in moist area and producing dark purple flowers is Columbian monkshood (Aconitum columbianum). It's a member of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae), although the lower leaves on the plant look almost maple-like.
The flowers supposedly resemble monk's hoods, hence the common name.

The petals of the plant are actually inside the protective covering formed by the sepals, along with the reproductive parts. A bee pollinates this highly specialized flower.

I saw buds, flowers, and seed pods all in the same area, showing the different stages all at one time.

Only one species of Aconitum grows in this area, making it fairly easy to identify. It also can form short vines, making it more distinctive.

For more information about Columbian monkshood, click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rocky Mountain Beeplant-Cleome serrulata

The tall, purplish colored flowers that decorate roadsides and other disturbed locations late in summer is Rocky Mountain beeplant (Cleome serrulata). Despite its common name, this plant is found throughout most of North America, although in some areas it's considered weedy or invasive. It's a member of the Caper Family (Capparaceae), and also goes by the name bee spiderflower. 

Clusters of flowers with four petals and six stamens are found at the end of the stalk. Seed pods are elongated. 

Intermixed with the purplish flowers were a few white ones. I'm not sure what causes the color change.

The flowers look exactly the same except for a different color.
For more information about Rocky Mountain beeplant, click here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shrubby Cinquefoil-Dasiphora fruticosa

This pretty yellow flower growing on a small shrub immediately appears to be part of the Rose Family (Rosaceae) with its flower parts in fives. It is called shrubby cinquefoil or bush cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa), previously called Potentilla fruticosa and Pentaphylloides fruticosa. It is easy to distinguish from other potentillas because it is the only woody one.

The colorful shrub usually grows above 6,000 feet in moist places.
For more information about shrubby cinquefoil, click here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Snake Range Buckwheat-Eriogonum holmgrenii

This cute flower with the powder-puff flowers is not easy to find--in fact, it is endemic to just one mountain range in the world. It's called the Snake Range Buckwheat or Holmgrem's Buckwheat (Eriogonum holmgrenii), and is only found in eastern Nevada. It's a member of the Buckwheat Family (Polygonaceae). 

Pink flowers are pistillate (female) while white flowers are staminate (male). 

The flowers generally bloom in July and August and grow above 9,500 feet.

They are found on limestone and metamorphic rock, and often grow in colorful patches. For more information about Snake Range buckwheat, click here.