I suddenly found some time to post topics I wanted up long ago. It's January, but why not wallow away the winter weather with a thought of warmer times. The Get Your Botany On blog does this all the time, so why not a little plant quiz...
Highbush Cranberry= Viburnum opulus
Hops= Humulus lupulus
False Solomon's Seal= Smilacina racemosa
Horse-balm= Collinsonia canadensis
Small-flowered Leafcup= Polymnia canadensis
Giant Ragweed= Ambrosia trifida
unknown= Krigia maybe?
Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.
Friday, January 20, 2012
On their rear is a smaller black tube. This is where they excrete excess sugar water, sometimes called honeydew. Bees, Ants, and Wasps love the sweet taste and will seek out aphids and feed on this liquid. Ants will actually take the time to protect them from predators in order to keep getting that 'sugar high'. In the animated movies Ants and A Bugs Life, the main characters are always shown drinking from aphid butts at the bar. This explains the joke so many didn't get watching those films.
Please visit Lisa Sells at her blog Zen Through A Lens to see a detailed post on this aphid species.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Many people initially separate the Goldenrods by whether or not they have small compact flower heads, or widely branching flowers like these above. I don't start that way, but prefer to use habitat. Rather than open fields, we'll look at the Goldenrods that tend to occupy forest areas first.
Moving to drier habitats, this is a common species of poor soils. The Gray Goldenrod, Solidao nemoralis. Gray Goldenrod is one of the smaller species reaching only 1-3 feet.
Key features include the leaves and stem being covered with very fine hairs. This often gives the plant a grayish-blue look. Leaves are widest near the tip and taper down at the base. On most plants I've seen, the leaves also get smaller as you go up the plant. Gray also has a habit of sending out little leafy shoots between the main leaves. Some say they also recognize it by how the top of the flower head doesn't stay erect, but bends over slightly.
If it's Sweet Goldenrod Solidago odora, the lower leaves will have shriveled up and turned brown, or disappeared completely. Of course there is one easier way to tell. If you crush the leaves and get a pleasant anise or licorice odor, you have Sweet Goldenrod.
Well that's only half the species in the state. Perhaps I can find many of the others next year. Of course being in the field with an expert might help!