Spring Brings ANPS “Mini Meetings” Throughout the State!

Dear ANPS Member,

Earlier this year, when ANPS board members were having yet another discussion about whether we should resume in-person meetings, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was running rampant through Arkansas and the future still seemed uncertain. So, we made the decision to cancel our traditional, three-day spring meeting once again. However, we all agreed that we should begin trying to return to normal by planning some type of in-person, all-outdoor meeting as a way to ease into getting together again. We are trying something new this spring, and we hope you will be on board with this idea!

We are planning a series of spring mini-meetings, one in a different region of the state on several Saturdays this spring. Each event will include a morning plant walk to a botanical area of interest, a potluck picnic, and an afternoon plant walk to another botanical area of interest.

Please keep reading for all the details of each mini meeting. We are excited to get together again and hope you will be able to join us at an event in your area next month!


The ANPS Board


NOTES FOR ALL WALKS: Wear sturdy boots and bring a hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and water. Waterproof boots are recommended for the April 30 and May 14 meetings.

NOTES FOR THE POTLUCK: Bring your own drink and a camp chair if you have one. If you contribute a potluck dish to share, please also bring a serving utensil. Plates, forks, & napkins will be provided.

RSVP IS NOT REQUIRED. Please contact the leader of each meeting if you have questions.


Meeting & Trips Leader: Eric Hunt (ANPS); ericinlr@gmail.com or text/call 415-225-6561

9:30 – 11:30 am: Fourche Bottoms Flatwoods. Directions: There is no parking at the flatwoods site; meet at Interstate Park (3900 S. Arch Street, Little Rock, AR 72206) to carpool to the site.Habitat: Mesic hardwood flatwoods with a diverse herbaceous understory. Dominant trees of shagbark and water hickory with an understory of hawthorn, false indigo and red buckeye. Copper iris, spring spider lily, swamp leatherflower, green dragon, white wild indigo are some of the showy spring bloomers we expect to see. Level of difficulty: moderate; no trails but the ground is flat with some downed wood. Waterproof hiking boots are strongly recommended.
12:00 – 1:00 pm: Potluck picnic at Vista Park. Directions: head west on Cantrell/Highway 10 from Little Rock, and the park is on the north side of Cantrell/Highway 10 right before you cross over the last bridge over Lake Maumelle. GPS for the entrance is 34.8721, -92.6533.
1:00 – 2:30 pm: Maumelle River WMA.
 Directions: There is no parking at the site; meet at Vista Park (see above) and carpool to the WMA. Habitat: Mesic mixed oak-pine forest with the highly fragrant bigleaf snowbell dominating the understory. We hope to catch it in full bloom. There are also white fringetree that should be in bloom. Level of difficulty: Moderate to strenuous; no trails and ground is gently rolling with some rocks and downed wood.

Meeting & Trips Leader: Travis Marsico (STAR Herbarium); 
tmarsico@astate.edu or text/call 870-253-1410

Address: 201 Co. Rd. 754, Wynne, AR 72396
Directions: From Wynne, take AR-284 East to CR 754 (6.9 miles), then take a slight left on CR 754 and follow for 1.1 miles. Enter the park by taking a left on CR 756. Follow CR 756 to the Lake Austell pavilion and picnic area. Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/L3H9JH9xHAMp3aXP7.

All activities will start from the Austell Trail pavilion and picnic area. Please meet there no later than 10 minutes before the start times of each walk.

Habitat: Highlights of both walks will include wildflowers associated with rich, mesic forests including Beech and Maple. We may see some of the western extent of natural Tulip-tree populations.

9:00 am: Lake Austell Trail. Level of difficulty: moderate with a few strenuous parts, but we’ll take it slow.
12:00 pm: Potluck picnic at the Lake Austell picnic area
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Lake Austell Trail (a different section). Level of difficulty: moderate with a few strenuous parts, but we’ll take it slow.


Meeting & Trips Leader: Richard Abbott (UAM Herbarium); abbottjr@uamont.edu or text/call 217-549-9625

9:00 – 11:30 am: Part of the AGFC Cane Creek Lake Trail, north of Cane Creek State Park. Location: Meet at the Star City baseball fields and we will carpool/caravan to the site. The ball field parking lot is on E. Arkansas Street, just west of the Southeast Arkansas Behavioral Healthcare System at 505 E. Arkansas. Directions: From Hwy 425 in Star City, head east on Hwy 114/E. Arkansas St. 0.4 miles. The parking lot is on the right. Level of difficulty: moderate – partly off-trail and potentially wet and muddy, with minor elevation changes. We will see beautiful bottomland hardwoods and upland woods off the beaten path, with the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere.
12:00 – 1:00 pm: Potluck picnic at Bayou Bartholomew River Trail (5401 S Olive St, Pine Bluff). Directions: From I-530, take exit 43 to 63 N (S. Olive St). Turn right at the stoplight, just north of Relyance Bank, take the second left toward Payless and then take the gravel road to the right.
1:00 – 4:00 pm: Byrd Lake Natural Area. Because parking is limited, we will meet at the lunch stop (see above) and carpool/caravan to the site. Level of difficulty: easy to moderate – much on ADA compliant trails. Habitat: We will see an oxbow lake with bald cypress surrounded by rich, alluvial bottomlands on the very edge of the Gulf Coastal Plain.


Meeting Leader: Virginia McDaniel (US Forest Service); virginiamcd31@yahoo.com or text/call 828-545-2062

Address: 1523 Hwy 270E, Mount Ida, AR 71957
Directions: From Mt. Ida at the intersection of Hwy 27S and Hwy 270, take Hwy 270 E 1.2 miles and turn right into the office parking area.

All activities will start at the Caddo/Womble Ranger District office. Please meet there no later than 10 minutes before the start times of each trip.

9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Virginia McDaniel and Susan Hooks (USFS, retired) will give a tour of the USFS’s Mt. Ida Seed Orchard, which features grasslands and open woodlands. They will also discuss the interesting history of one of the USFS’s living seedbanks for Shortleaf Pine. Virginia will also demonstrate how to properly collect and press a plant to make a herbarium voucher specimen.
12:15 – 1:30: Potluck picnic
 at the Caddo/Womble Ranger District office picnic area.
1:30 – 4:30 pm: Glade Restoration Project 
in the Caddo/Womble district, led by Virginia and Susan. Expect to see winecup, pale purple coneflower, fameflower, widow’s-cross, and Carolina larkspur in flower, to name just a few!


Meeting Leader: Jennifer Ogle (UARK Herbarium); jogle@uark.edu or text/call 479-957-6859

Address: 15930 E Hwy 62, Garfield, AR 72732
Directions: From the intersection of Hwy 94 and Hwy 62 in Rogers, take Hwy 62 East for 7.8 miles then turn left on Pea Ridge Park Entrance and continue to the Visitor Center parking area.

All activities will start at the PRNMP Visitor Center. Please meet there no later than 10 minutes before the start times for each walk/trip.

9:00 am – 12:15 pm: A driving and walking tour of habitat restoration projects at the park. Trip Leaders: Nate Weston (ANPS President) and Nolan Moore (PRNMP Biologist). Level of difficulty: easy to moderate. We will be driving to each site and then walking off trail in flat to gently/moderately sloping grasslands and woodlands.
12:30 – 1:45pm: Potluck picnic. We’ll meet at the Visitor Center parking area and caravan to the picnic area in the park.
2:00 – 5:00 pm: Black Maple Tour. 
We will visit one of two known sites of the rare black maple in Arkansas, a mesic riparian forest in a scenic, narrow valley with several rock outcrops. We will meet at Visitor Center and carpool/caravan to the site. Along the way we’ll stop to see wildflowers growing in a dry-mesic woodland and we will also stop to see Bowman’s-root (Gillenia trifoliata), another rare species in Arkansas. Trip leaders: Jennifer Ogle and Nolan Moore. Level of difficulty: moderate; at the black maple site, we will be off trail and there is a short but steep slope to get into the site.

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Cherokee Prairie Wildflower Walk for 6/25/2022 – CANCELED


The heat is going to be too much tomorrow to hold the Cherokee Prairie Wildflower walk on June 25, 2022. We are going to cancel. Stay cool!

-Arkansas Native Plant Society

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Know Your Natives – Pale Purple Coneflower

Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) of the Aster or Composite (Asteraceae) family is a heavily pubescent herbaceous perennial with long lanceolate leaves and large, spectacular flowerheads. The genus name is derived from a Greek word for “hedgehog” in reference to the spiny bracts covering the head. The specific epithet is Latin for “pale” in reference to the color of the showy ray florets. In the U.S., the species occurs primarily from western Louisiana and eastern Oklahoma, east and north to Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois. Additionally, it is widely scattered in nearby states as well as farther to the east, possibly from introductions. In Arkansas, except for eastern portion of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, plants grow statewide. Habitat preference is sunny sites with well drained soil: prairies, open woodlands, and rights-of-way.

Photo 1: Long, pubescent, lanceolate leaves are characteristic of the species. Photo – April 28.
Photo 2: These plants are on a well-drained, south-facing slope of a highway right-of-way. Blue flowers in background are Carolina Larkspur. Photo – May 14.

Plants have a stout vertical rootstock with one or more, near-surface, lateral to ascending “root stubs” that develop leafy crowns. Stubs are encircled by thin scars of dropped leaves. A rootstock may produce a half-dozen or more compact flowering stems. Mature plants, with rootstocks to 2+ feet long, are drought tolerant.

Photo 3: Vertical rootstocks develop near-surface “root stubs.” Crowns produce a rosette of leaves which may include a central flowering stem. Plant at right also shown in Photo 1 (after being replanted). The growing root stubs are encircled by leaf scars. Photo – June 30.
Photo 4: This plant grew on an unstable shale slope (see Photo 7) so that this 9½-inch rootstock (asterisk to asterisk) became curved, and its single stub trended upslope. Photo – May 15.

Basal and cauline (stem) leaves are oblong-lanceolate, to 10+ inches long and to ⅜+ inch wide, the basal longer than the cauline, and the cauline gradually shortening distally. They are shiny above and dull below, folded along the midrib, their margins entire (without teeth). Venation is parallel, with a pair of distinct secondary veins on either side of the midvein. Tertiary veins are obscure. The stem leaves are alternate.

Plants have erect rigid flowering stems, 3-4 feet tall, that terminate in a flowerhead. They may bear lateral branches, the longer ones terminating in a flowerhead of reduced size. The upper one-third to one-half of the stems are leafless or bear only a leaf or two. Dead stems and heads persist into the new growth-year.

Photo 5: Each rosette of leaves, with or without a central stem, grows from a separate root crown. Flowerheads are terminal on main stems and axillary branches. Plant at upper right is American Ipecac. Photo – April 14.

Conspicuous bristly white pubescence occurs on all surfaces, sparse to moderate along the stems, somewhat denser on the leaves. Pustular based hairs, to 1/16 inch long, are stiff and spreading. Surfaces feel rough.

Photo 6: Stems and leaves have bristly hairs. Short axillary branch, at center of photo, has several leaves. Photo – May 14.

The inflorescence, in May into June, consists of single terminal flower heads that are to 6¾ inches across with a central dome, the disk, to 1¼ inches wide and ¾ inch tall. Heads comprise closely packed fertile disk florets surrounded by up to 20+ infertile ray florets. Heads are subtended by a saucer-shaped involucre of 3 series of lanceolate bracts with acute tips. Bracts, to ½ inch long and ⅛ wide, are bristly pubescent on their outer surface. Bloom sequence of the disk florets, as with all composites, is centripetal––from the flowerheads’ perimeter toward the center. Flowers have a faint, pleasant scent.

Photo 7: This plant shows the characteristic erect stems with single terminal flowerheads and the lack of leaves along its upper-stem. Tallest stem is 41 inches. Plant at left-center is Downy Ragged Goldenrod. Photo – May 6.

Ray florets have long, drooping, strap-like, spectacular ligules attached to infertile ovaries. Initially erect, they become descending to fully drooped at anthesis. They are pink to pale purple (occasionally white), to 3 inches long and ¼ inch wide, with parallel sides and fringed tips. The outer surface has long, scattered hairs.

Photo 8: Slightly ridged stems are noticeably fluted below the inflorescence. Ligules, to 3 inches long and ¼ inch wide, have fringed tips. Photo – May 22.

Disk florets have tubular corollas about 1/4 inch long, with 5 triangular lobes, 5 stamens (filaments + anthers), and a single pistil (an inferior ovary + style + stigma). Each disk floret is subtended by a stout, hardened, spiny bract longer than the floret, so that the dome of the disk is prickly. The elongate, dark anthers are fused into a ring surrounding the style. With the anther ring exserted above the corolla and bract, the style elongates through the ring moving the pollen from the anthers to above the corolla for ready access by pollinators. With pollen dispersed, anthers wither back into the corolla and the now-exserted style bifurcates and recurves to expose linear stigmatic surfaces. Pollen is white.

Photo 9: The white pollen of the outer disk florets has been moved out of the anther rings and above the spiny subtending bracts by the emerging styles. Lower surfaces of ligules have scattered hairs. Photo – May 17.
Photo 10: The dark exserted anther rings wither back into the corollas as styles become exserted and then recurve to expose stigmatic surfaces. Closed buds of the disk florets can be seen on flowerhead on left and open flowers can be seen on head on right. Photo – June 2.
Photo 11: Same flowerheads as in previous photo. Flowerhead on right shows its saucer-shaped, 3-series, pubescent involucre. Photo – June 2.
Photo 12: Tubular disk florets with inferior ovaries and “chaffy” spine-tipped bracts are closely packed. Disk floret ovaries are fertile, those of ray florets sterile. Stems become hollow and fluted near the flowerheads. Photo – May 14.

In mid-summer, with florets dried, the spiny heads become brown to black and persist on erect hardened stems into the next growing season. Achenes, lacking hairs for wind dispersal, are dispersed by birds, small mammals, and surface water flow. The flattened, shield-shaped achenes are mostly glabrous. Once bracts and achenes have dropped, the conical shape of the receptacle becomes apparent.

Photo 13: The tan, four-sided, shield-shaped achenes are somewhat flattened. The receptacle has a conical shape: thus, “cone flower.” Photo – August 20.

In a garden, Pale Purple Coneflower can serve as a tall, airy, accent plant or be intermixed with other plants in a naturalistic setting. Plants are not aggressive self-seeders and remain compact over the years. Once established, plants do well in sunny, rocky areas in various well drained mesic to dry soils. Great for butterflies, bees, and birds. Long lasting as cut flowers; fall stems can last for years in dried arrangements.

Photo 14: American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) feeding on Pale Purple Coneflower. The final florets to reach anthesis are at center of flowerhead. Photo – May 26.

Four other species of the genus occur in Arkansas: Yellow Coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa var. paradoxa), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Sanguine Purple Coneflower (Echinacea sanguinea), and Glade Coneflower (Echinacea simulata). Of these, Sanguine Purple Coneflower and Glade Coneflower have flowerheads of similar shape and color as Pale Purple Coneflower. Sanguine Purple Coneflower, as compared to Pale Purple Coneflower, has shorter, wider leaves and stems and its involucral bracts tend to have purplish stalks and tips. Its pollen is yellow (instead of white). Sanguine Purple Coneflower is known in Arkansas only from sandhills in Miller County in the southwestern corner of the state. Visually, Glade Coneflower and Pale Purple Coneflower have the same appearance, except ligules of Glade Coneflower droop less and are usually deeper pink in color and its pollen is bright yellow (instead of white). Glade Coneflower occurs in Arkansas in dolomite glades of the Ozark Highlands.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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ANPS/OCANPS Hike at Ninestone

Ninestone is hosting an ANPS/OCANPS Hike on Sunday, June 5 at 11:00 am.

We will gather with members, friends, contributors to recent fund-raising for habitat restoration, and it is Ninestone’s policy to require that the participants in our field trips have been vaccinated and boosted against covid.

Judy Griffith will lead the hike to the Sandstone Bluff Glade to view Barbara’s Buttons, Tall Pink Glade Onions, and Fame Flowers that do not open until afternoon, along with Little Bluestem, native forbs, lichens and mosses.

We’ll return to the cabin, enjoy a sack lunch on the deck with a view of the waterfall, and if the water isn’t too high we can cross the creek to the falls that cascade through sandstone pools in the West Glade.
There is a native plant demonstration garden originally created for ANPS, and a savanna with native grasses and locally sourced forbs.

Both sandstone glades and the savanna are being restored with removal of invasives and Rx burns by Ninestone with the help of Ozark Ecological Restoration, Inc.

Bring a sack lunch, whatever you use for ticks, for sun, and footwear appropriate for hiking and possibly crossing Piney Creek.

It is also possible that prior to the June 5th field trip we will have re-introduced Eastern Collared Lizards to the bluff glade with the assistance of Dr. Casey Brewster. https://www1.usgs.gov/…/project/192960845824/bdegregorio

Directions to Ninestone:

Coming from Fayetteville or south:
Take hwy 412 east to hwy 21 north. Turn LEFT onto hwy 21 north and go a little over 7 miles. You will go past the Metalton sign and across the Piney Creek Bridge and the Cedar Creek bridge. IMMEDIATELY after crossing the Cedar Creek bridge turn LEFT onto CR 512. On CR 512 travel for almost one mile always staying to the LEFT at any forks or driveways. Near the end of the mile take the LEFT fork. Go past a big blue mailbox and a yellow “watch for dogs” sign. This is our driveway. Come on down the drive to our house, park on the right of the drive. See you there!

Coming from north:
Take hwy 62 east of Berryville. Turn RIGHT/south onto hwy 21 south. Go about 10 miles south on hwy 21 and look for a CR 512 sign on right. Turn RIGHT onto CR 512, a gravel road, just past dog kennels, and just before Cedar Creek bridge. DO NOT CROSS the Cedar Creek bridge. On CR 512 travel for almost one mile always staying to the LEFT at any forks or driveways. Near the end of the mile take the LEFT fork. Go past a big blue mailbox and a yellow “watch for dogs” sign. This is our driveway. Come on down the drive to our house, park on the right of the drive. See you there!

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Know Your Natives – Showy Evening Primrose

Showy Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) of the Evening-Primrose family (Onagraceae) is a colonial perennial with large pink to white flowers. The etymology of the genus name, used by Linnaeus, is ambiguous: It is apparently from a Greek word for wine seeker or sleep inducer or, quite on the other hand, for ass catcher; originally, it was the name of a species of Epilobium or willow-herb, a related plant in the Onagraceae. The specific epithet is from the Latin for beautiful or showy. In the US, Showy Evening-Primrose occurs, as a native element, from south Texas (extending into Mexico) north into Nebraska and Missouri, east to Mississippi, and west to portions of Arizona and New Mexico. Additionally, naturalized populations are found eastward to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, as well as in southern California and a few sites in central California and Utah. In Arkansas, it now occurs statewide but likely was originally native principally to the Blackland Prairie region of the southwestern portion of the state and perhaps to the glades and prairies of western and northern Arkansas. It has since been spread by extensive cultivation and roadside plantings. Sunny habitats include sandy to rocky, dry to well-drained upland prairies, woodland glades, disturbed areas, and rights-of-way. Other common names include Pinkladies, Mexican Evening Primrose, and Pink Buttercups.

Plants have twisty tough taproots and, at various depths, wide-spreading lateral roots from which clonal shoots emerge. In favorable sites and where competition is not intense, a clonal plant may cover an area of several square feet.

Photo 1: Plant on left has a clonal stem (at center of photo). Root-runner at right (not connected to plant on left) has produced 5 stems. All stems bore flowers. Photo – April 23.

Plants have green basal leaves in late winter. New stem growth becomes evident in early spring. Branches develop from axillary buds along the lower half of the stems, while distal buds, especially on sunny sites, develop into flowers. Stems are weakly erect and, without support, tend to sprawl as they mature to a length of 2+ feet. They are covered with a dense, appressed, minute pubescence. With new shoots growing annually from crowns and runners, individual plants may have 100+ stems that may be tightly clustered or well-spread, depending on the presence of competing plants.

Photo 2: On this south-facing slope of a road right-of-way, new stems began to develop in late winter. Cold weather caused some leaves to be red. Photo – March 10.
Photo 3: New erect stems grow quickly. Photo shows the same colony as in in Photo 2. Photo – April 3.
Photo 4: This leafy group of stems has grown from a single root crown. A previous year’s dead stem is still attached on left (dead stems are typically absent).

Alternate stem leaves, to 2-3 inches long and ¾ inch wide, are elliptic to oblanceolate below, grading to lanceolate––and decreasing in length––above. Blades of the lower leaves tend to be pinnately lobed proximally, unlobed distally. Petiole length, like leaf blade outline, varies with leaf position: to 1 inch long below, while the upper leaves subtending the flowers may be sessile. With a hand lens, appressed pubescence can be seen on the upper surface.

Photo 5: Lower leaves (shown individually and on stem) are elliptical to oblanceolate in outline. Lower surface of 3 leaves shown on right. Lower leaf on left is 2½ inches long. Photo – March 13.
Photo 6: Lower leaves of this stem mostly lack lobes. Smaller, toothed, lanceolate leaves can be seen at top of photo. These lanceolate leaves are subtending seed capsules. Photo – May 18

Primary bloom-period is April into May with occasional flowers later during the growing season, as allowed by weather conditions. Single flowers, with a prominent inferior ovary, grow directly from the upper leaf axils. In Arkansas, flowers open in the morning for one day* as the previous day’s flowers drop off. With a single flower in bloom per stem on a nodding stem apex, flowers give the false appearance of being terminal. The inflorescence, to about a dozen flowers, is racemose. Flower pedicels grow to about the same length as the inferior ovaries.

Photo 7: Each blooming flower is on a separate stem. As a flower opens around sunrise, the previous day’s flower on the same stem quickly wilts. Photo – April 25.
Photo 8: Flowers of this multi-stemmed plant are nearly white. Flower color is plant specific.

Pale green flower buds consist of tightly rolled petals, enclosed by a tight-fitting calyx, above a floral tube attached at the apex of an inferior ovary. The spindle-shaped, 8-ribbed ovary, measuring ½ inch long and about ⅛ inch wide, tapers to a stalklike (pedicellate) base. Ovaries may be highlighted with red between their ribs.

Photo 9: In this early morning scene, some flowers have opened as the previous day’s flowers wilt. Two buds at right are poised to open. Flower at upper right is 2⅝ inches wide.
Photo 10: Stems, stalked ovaries, floral tube, and exterior of calyx are minutely pubescent. Note ovary ribs and, on right, inverted calyx and lack of reddish color along margins of sepals.

The cylindrical floral tube––requiring a pollinator with a relatively long proboscis––has a diameter of about ⅛ inch. With anthesis, sepals separate along one or more of their fused margins, and their bases invert to fully expose the rolled-up corolla. The overlapping broadly rounded petals, to 1½ inches long and 2 inches wide, have slightly indented tips and wide-cuneate bases. They may be white to pale pink between dark pink primary veins. The pink coloration tends to become more intense toward the petal’s apical margin. Near the floral tube, petals are colored with bands of vibrant yellow and green. Each plant or colony has the same flower color.

Flowers have 8 stamens (filaments + anthers) and 1 pistil (ovary + style + stigma). Slender stamens (¾ inch long) have long delicate filaments to which slender anthers (⅜ inch long) are attached in see-saw fashion. Stamens are about half as long as the petals. The style (1 inch long), extends from the floral tube, disposing the 4 stigmatic lobes (each to 5/16 inch long) well beyond the anthers. Anthers split longitudinally to release pale yellow pollen.

Photo 11: The stigma (above, left of center) of this 3-inch pink flower has not yet divided. Anthers are releasing pale yellow pollen. Knobbed bases of filaments form a ring around entrance to floral tube.
Photo 12: Abaxial side of same flower as shown in Photo 11. Margins of sepals may be reddish. Growing stem extends off lower side of photo.
Photo 13: This split flower retains the pistil, 5 stamens, and 2 petals. Style extends from the summit of the inferior ovary, through the floral tube, to well beyond the long-exerted anthers. Note the manner in which the calyx has become inverted.
Photo 14: These stems, at or near the end of the blooming period, show the racemose character of the inflorescence. Branched stem at center is 26 inches long. Photo – May 18.

With fertilization, the corolla quickly drops off as ovaries enlarge into fruiting capsules. Initially, capsules may be totally green or may be highlighted with red between the ribs. Mature capsules to ¾ inch long (including the short stalks) become dark brown and dehisce along the angles. Capsules produce numerous ovoid brown seeds. Placentation is axile.

Photo 15: Stalked capsules are axillary to lanceolate leaves. On this plant, the zone between the 4 angles is red. Photo – May 16.
Photo 16: Capsule has been split to show tightly packed developing seeds. Placentation is axile, i.e., seeds attached to a central placenta. The longest appressed minute hairs of the plant are on the stalked ovary/capsule.
Photo 17: Capsules, containing numerous seeds, split along seams and gradually disintegrate. Some leaves have already dropped. (Squares equal ¼ inch.) Photo – June 19.

Showy Evening Primrose has a showy floral display and is fairly easy to establish from root cuttings or seed. It will grow in almost any soil that is not too wet or too dry. Where competition is limited, it may develop into a dense colony with numerous spreading root-runners. Plants may form a leafy groundcover overwinter and into spring. A sunny site is necessary for flowering. Best use may be in a sunny confined space or a prairie-like setting.

At least seventeen species or subspecies of the genus Oenothera (as traditionally and narrowly circumscribed––excluding members traditionally treated in the genera Gaura and Stenosiphon) are reported to occur in Arkansas. The large white to pink flowers of Showy Evening Primrose are the species’ most distinguishing characteristic; all other Oenothera species in the state (excluding the Gaura and Stenosiphon species, which are also white to pinkish, but smaller) have yellow flowers. One member of the genus that has been previously addressed in this series of articles is Sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa).

*Farther north, flowers open in the evening and fade the next morning. In Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri, author George Yatskievych states that plants with pink corollas open in the morning, those with white corollas at dusk.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Spring 2022 Claytonia

Hello ANPS Members,

We are pleased to announce the Spring Claytonia is now available online:

A huge shout out to Jennifer Ogle for taking on the Editor duties when Brian Lockhart had to resign his position. Thank you, Jennifer, for ensuring our members continue to get an informative and colorful Claytonia!

Nate Weston

ANPS President

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Know Your Natives – Violet Blue-Eyed Mary

Violet Blue-Eyed Mary (Collinsia violacea) of the Plantain (Plantaginaceae) family, formerly of the Figwort (Scrophulariaceae) family, is an annual forb with attractive bi-colored flowers. The genus name honors Zaccheus Collins (1764–1831), a Philadelphia botanist. The specific epithet is Latin for “purple.” The species has a restricted range in the central U.S. comprising northeast Texas, eastern Oklahoma, southeast Kansas, southern Missouri, and Arkansas. In Arkansas, plants occur primarily in the Interior Highlands in the northwestern half of the state. Habitats are mostly sunny with sandy to rocky soils, such as prairies, open woods, glades, and roadsides. It is also called Violet Collinsia and Narrow-Leaf Collinsia.

Plants are winter annuals, germinating over winter, flowering in early spring, and producing fruit soon after. They die by the end of May. Growing to 1 foot tall with long fibrous roots, robust plants have an erect main stem with several opposite leaf pairs in their lower portion and 1-4 sets of whorled leaves above. Single flowers, borne on long, ascending, rather wispy pedicels, develop from the axils of the upper leaves. Stems, branches, and pedicels are typically reddish with dense, short, white pubescence. Being herbaceous, dead stems disappear over summer. In favorable habitats, large seeded colonies may develop.

Photo 1: Seeds germinate over winter. These 2-inch-tall plants are developing branches and inflorescences. Photo – March 16.

The somewhat succulent, simple leaves vary from ovate-oblong to broad-lanceolate below, becoming narrower above. Lower leaves are apically blunt and rounded at the base; they grow to 1½+ inches long and ½+ inch wide, with smooth to shallowly serrate margins. Lowermost leaves have short petioles; more distal leaves become sessile to clasping. Other than the midvein, venation is obscure. The dull upper leaf surface is densely short pubescent, the lower surface slightly shiny and glabrous.

Photo 2: Leaves are somewhat glaucous and often have shallow serrations. A petiolate basal leaf is shown at bottom-center and a terminal cluster of flower buds at upper-center. Flowers of leaf pair (2 inches long) and the three whorled sets have been removed. Lower surface of two leaves shown on right. Photo – April 12.

The inflorescence of a robust plant consists of single axillary flowers from both the opposite leaves of the lower and mid-stem and the 1-4 sets of whorled leaves above. Each whorl may have 3-6 flowers. Ascending, rather wispy, reddish pedicels reach 1+ inch long. Flowers bloom sequentially from lowermost to uppermost, with all flowers in a whorl blooming about the same time. The blooming period extends for about 3 weeks in late March into April. Individual flowers, depending on weather conditions, may remain in bloom for six or more days.

Photo 3: A robust, branching plant produces flowers from both opposite and whorled leaf axils. Differences in leaf shapes can also be seen. Photo March 25.

Flowers have a calyx with 5 green, triangular teeth borne on a strikingly violet tube. The corolla, about ½ inch wide and ⅝ inch long, is tubular, with an upper lip of two notched, reflexed white lobes and a lower lip of three violet lobes, of which the outer two are notched and the smaller central lobe is folded and keel-like. The upper lip, at the throat, has a pair of yellow to orange “humps.” The outer lobes of the lower lip have a white band extending from the notch into the throat. Four stamens and a style are hidden within the central keel-like lobe of the lower lip. Stamens, pubescent along their lower potions, have white filaments and brown anthers that bear bright yellow pollen.

Photo 4: Leaves are somewhat succulent. Reddish stems and ascending pedicels have dense, minute, white pubescence. Calyxes, with five triangular teeth, have an inverted-pyramid shape. Flower buds are seen at the plant’s growing apex. Photo – March 25.
Photo 5: Lobes of upper lip and the outer pair of the lower lip are notched. The keel-like central lobe of the lower lip can be seen on flower at right, angling below the outer pair. This stem appears to have three sets of whorled leaves. Photo – April 13.
Photo 6: The throat is swollen so that the flower trends downward, but the corolla faces upward. Purple bulge below the lower lip is the lower lip’s central lobe.
Photo 7: A side view (left) and a bottom view (right) are shown. Central lower lobe of both flowers can be seen. Inset (at a different scale) shows the interior of a flattened central lobe from a lower lip.
Photo 8: The two parts of the lower violet lip (left) are separated through the central lobe with the pistil displayed between. Four stamens, with pubescence along their lower portions, are fused below to the corolla tube. Upper corolla lip, upper right. Calyx lower right.

Ovaries of fertilized flowers develop into ovoid to spherical capsules. When dry, the light-tan capsules split along partitions to release dark brown, finely wrinkled, oblong to ovoid seeds about 1/16 inch long. Calyxes, with reflexed teeth extending beyond the capsules, are persistent. Plants propagate by seed only.

Photo 9: Plants’ stems, branches, and pedicels continue to lengthen until capsules near maturity. Stems remain erect and pubescent to the end of a plant’s life cycle. Photo – May 17.
Photo 10: The ovoid to spherical capsules in this whorl are at varying stages of maturity. The dark brown seeds are oblong to ovoid with a finely wrinkled surface. Photo – May 18.

Violet Blue-Eyed Mary is a small winter annual with elegant structure and showy, distinctive, bi-colored flowers. To establish in a sunny garden, seeds would need to be spread by late fall in a site where soil would not be disturbed into late spring. Plants do not seem to spread aggressively, however fairly large seeded colonies may form over time. A naturalistic garden or a restored prairie may be an ideal setting for a colony, but plants would be lost in tall grass.

An additional species of the genus occurs in Arkansas: Blue-Eyed Mary (Collinsia verna). Violet Blue Eyed-Mary can be distinguished from Blue-Eyed Mary by: 1) preference for sunny drier sites, 2) reddish stems, branches, and pedicels, 3) violet (not blue) lower lip, 4) distinct v-notched corolla lobes, and 5) upper lips that are significantly smaller than lower lips. Blue-Eyed Mary is rare in Arkansas and known from only a handful of counties in the Ozark Highlands.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Trumpet Honeysuckle

Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) of the Honeysuckle (Caprifoliaceae) family is a twining vine with spectacular, red and orange, trumpet-shaped flowers. The genus name honors Adam Lonicer,* a German botanist and herbalist. The specific epithet from the Latin for “always” and “green,” denotes the plant’s evergreen foliage in warmer climates. Occurrence in the U.S. extends from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to Florida and New York, with scattered populations from Iowa to Maine. The precise natural boundaries of its range, particularly to the north, are a bit uncertain––the species is widely cultivated and often jumps the fence. In Arkansas, where it may be deciduous to semi-evergreen, trumpet honeysuckle grows statewide except in portions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. In addition, populations in the Ozark Highlands are perhaps introduced. Plants favor a variety of dry to mesic habitats with full to partial sun, such as thickets, successional woodlands, and woodland borders. The species is also known as Coral Honeysuckle.

Photo 1: Growing in a shady fencerow, this plant shares its space with other vines. Photo – April 21.

Trumpet Honeysuckle, with support, can reach 20 feet high. Plants have long, glabrous, vining stems with opposite leaves and lateral, often flowering branches, on which a terminal leaf pair, subtending an inflorescence, is fused together across the leaf bases to form a single shield-like blade. New unbranched stems, growing to 6+ feet long in their first season, emerge reddish to pale green but soon become woody with light gray, smooth bark. In subsequent years, the thin bark becomes fibrous and, especially near the ground, develops long, gray to brown, papery shreds. Stems are round and hollow. Plants often have one or few dominant stems from the rootstock from which a large loose viny mass develops within and above the supporting structure.

Photo 2: The gray to brown bark is thin and exfoliating, the oldest stems with loose long papery shreds. Supporting tree is Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa). Photo – February 6.
Photo 3: These new stems emerge directly from the bark rather than from lateral buds. They are located 9⅓ feet above ground. New stem and immature leaf growth at left is ¾ inch long. Photo – February 18.
Photo 4: These stems are developing on nodes that had developed axillary stems or branches the previous year (arrow points to dead stub). Photo – February 25.
Photo 5: New stems, whether near ground level or 20 feet into a tree’s canopy, are initially erect and reddish with lanceolate leaves. Many new stems die at the end of their growth year, especially if they do not find support or become over-shaded. Photo – March 20.

New branches from year-old stems produce 2-5 leaf pairs. With sufficient sunlight, these non-twining branches terminate with an inflorescence. Some stem nodes, even those well above ground, develop stubby aerial root-like projections.

Photo 6: These axillary branches are developing from scaly axillary buds on a second-year stem. The more advanced branch on right terminates with flowers (not shown). Photo – February 18.

As in all of our honeysuckles, the leaves are simple and opposite. Like the stems, they are glabrous. Margins are entire; petioles are short (to ⅓ inch long) on the lower leaves to absent above. Early-season leaves are linear to lanceolate, broadening to elliptic or oblanceolate with maturity. Overall, lower leaves of any particular stem or branch tend to be narrower, more distal leaves broader, from 1-3 inches long and 1-1¾ inches wide. Leaf surfaces, initially a dull reddish green, mature shiny and dark green above and lighter greenish gray beneath. Mature leaves are semi-leathery and may have a waxy coating (glaucous) especially beneath. As noted above, leaves directly below the inflorescence are fused into a single blade, a character the botanists term connate-perfoliate.

The inflorescence, on new growth, consists of whorls of long trumpet-shaped flowers along the terminal portion of the stem. New branches, appearing by mid-February, already show well-developed flower buds. Peak bloom time is April into May with profuse flowering on sunny sites. Each of 1-4 whorls of flowers bear several to 8 sessile tubular flowers, blooming whorl-by-whorl in sequence from lowermost to the stem tip. Flowers orient toward sunlight.

Photo 7: This mid-winter pubescent flower cluster is 3/16 inch wide. The reddish leaves below it are the subtending, connate-perfoliate leaf pair. Damage to the new green leaves was caused by cold temperatures. Photo – February 18.
Photo 8: Leaves are disposed in opposite, decussate pairs––each pair rotated 90 degrees from the pair above and below it. These early leaves are mostly lanceolate to elliptic and petiolate while the uppermost leaf pair is connate-perfoliate. Photo – April 5.

The trumpet-shaped flowers (1½-2 inches long) have a red-orange (coral) exterior and an interior that is initially orange-yellow before also becoming red-orange. The width of the tube increases uniformly from a 1/16 inch base to a flared corolla throat, with 5 short, rounded, spreading lobes. Four lobes are positioned at the upper side of the throat and a single lobe is at the base. All lobes are gently reflexed and lack insect guides. Flowers have 5 stamens (filament + anther) and 1 pistil (ovary + style + stigma). The slender filaments, attached to the lower portion of the corolla tube, are tipped with long yellow anthers, center-balanced at the filaments’ tips. Pollen is bright yellow. Filaments and styles are slightly exserted from the corolla throat. The exposed portion of the filaments is pale reddish; the entire style is white. The globose stigma is positioned slightly beyond the anthers. Nectar glands are at the base of the corolla tube. The pale green, glabrous, sessile, inferior ovary has a water-drop shape with a flattened top where the corolla tube attaches. Corolla, stamens, and style/stigma drop-off cleanly after anthesis, leaving a corona-like scar atop the enlarging, pale green ovary.

Photo 9: Inflorescence consists of 1-4 whorls of flowers at the end of branch, including a terminal whorl. Red-orange exterior and initially yellow-orange interior are typical. Note the atypical leaf pair at lower left that is not connate-perfoliate. Photo – April 13.
Photo 10: Lowermost whorls bloom first. As flowers mature, yellowish orange interior becomes the same red-orange as the exterior. While older woody stems (see at lower right) twine tightly about their support, new stems are initially loose. Reproductive branches do not twine. Photo – April 23.
Photo 11: The loose viny upper-mass of this plant is mostly from a single dominant stem (same plant in Photo 2). Support tree is Mockernut Hickory. Photo – April 13.
Photo 12: The globose stigma is positioned slightly beyond the elongate center-balanced anthers. Note the inferior ovaries (below the corolla tubes) and corona-like rims, remains of the calyx, atop the ovaries. Squares = ¼ inch. Photo – May 18.
Photo 13: Upper section of tube removed to expose pubescent interior. Stamens are attached below to the corolla tube, not, like the tube itself, to the summit of the ovary. Stigma partially hidden at left. Photo – May 18.

Fertilized flowers, with expansion of the ovary, produce spherical berries that become shiny red in mid- to late summer. Tops of the fleshy berries are marked by a small scar which remains from the perianth (calyx and corolla). Berries have up to three ovoid seeds, pressed together. The ⅛+ inch, round-edged, tan to golden seeds have a rounded side and two flattened sides. The entire seed surface is slightly pocked. Fruits not eaten by birds become blackened and shriveled, and may remain on the plant over winter.

Photo 14: Tops of the red spherical berries bear remains of the calyx and a scar where the corolla tube detached. As indicated by the blackened branch to the left, terminal portion or entire branch dies after fruit maturity. Photo – August 26.
Photo 15: Dried fruits with up to 3 viable seeds may remain on branches over winter. The slightly pocked ovoid seeds have a tan to golden color. Squares = ¼ inch. Photo – April 19.

When Trumpet Honeysuckle is in flower, it can be a very showy vine in a garden or natural area. It is also showy when in fruit. It provides nectar, pollen and berries to many insects, birds and small mammals, including hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies. It is easy to establish and can flourish in fairly sunny, well-drained sites. Planted at the base of a small to medium-size deciduous tree, stems can grow naturally into the tree’s canopy with practically no maintenance. For a more tidy appearance during winter months, lower dead stems and branches can be removed. Plants can also be supported by an arbor or trellis, but shaping by removal of living stems may reduce flowering. This honeysuckle is not an aggressive spreader by root or seed. It is easily propagated by layering.

In addition to Trumpet Honeysuckle, three additional vines (2 native and 1 non-native) and three shrubs (all non-native) of the genus Lonicera occur in Arkansas. The vines are: 1) the native Yellow Honeysuckle (L. flava), 2) the native Grape Honeysuckle (L. reticulata), and 3) the non-native, highly invasive Japanese Honeysuckle (L. japonica). The four vines are readily distinguishable during flowering. Japanese Honeysuckle bears lobed leaves at the base near the ground and lacks connate-perfoliate leaf pairs at the stem tips; its tubular white (aging to yellow) flowers are not terminal but occur in pairs in the leaf axils; in addition, it has pubescent leaves and young stems. Grape Honeysuckle, with connate-perfoliate leaf pairs, has tight clusters of whorled, shorter, pale yellow flowers and red berries. Yellow Honeysuckle, too, has connate-perfoliate leaf pairs, but its whorled darker yellow to yellow-orange flowers are shorter and not trumpet-shaped. When Trumpet Honeysuckle occurs in its yellow form (uncommon natural form or cultivars), its longer trumpet-shaped flowers distinguish it from both Yellow Honeysuckle and Grape Honeysuckle. When eradicating Japanese Honeysuckle, special care must be taken to distinguish it from our three native honeysuckle vines if plants are in sterile condition: stems of the alien invasive are pubescent; those of the natives are hairless.

* Also known as Adam Lonitzer and Adamus Lonicerus (1528-1586). His first major work, the Kräuterbuch (the Herbal Book), was published in 1557.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Southern Woolly Violet

Southern Woolly Violet (Viola villosa) of the Violet (Violaceae) family is a small perennial herb with evergreen leaves and early flowers. The genus name is the classical Latin name for violets. The specific epithet is Latin for “hairy,” emphasizing the plant’s dense pubescence. Scattered populations occur across the southeastern U.S. from central Oklahoma and eastern Texas to the Atlantic Coast of the Carolinas and north-central Florida. In Arkansas, the species occurs primarily in the southern half of the state, in the West Gulf Coastal Plain, Ouachita Mountains, and Arkansas River Valley, with a few scattered occurrences in the central Ozark Highlands. Habitats are well-drained sandy soils in open woodlands and clearings where the leaf litter and/or grasses are thin. Plants are easily hidden by leaf litter and other vegetation. Other common names are Southern Wood Violet and Carolina Violet (the species first collected in South Carolina).

Photo 1: This self-seeded colony is on a rocky, south slope in a wooded area. Photo – March 1.

Plants consist of a vertical, underground stem (no aboveground stem) that produces long-descending roots (to ca 6 inches) along its lower portion and new leaves and flowers from the crown. Stems of mature plants may divide, producing several crowns. Stems lengthen over the years––a large plant might have a stem 2 inches deep and ¼ inch wide, with numerous, bumpy leaf scars from dropped-leaves. Down-pull of the roots maintains the stem’s vertical orientation with the crown at the soil surface.

Photo 2: Vertical underground stems, with bumpy leaf scars, may branch (see plant at center of photo). White roots are mostly along lower portion of the stem. Photo – January 26.

New leaves, first appearing in mid-winter, are rolled-up along their midrib. Initially ascending, they spread wide in summer and hug the ground in winter. Leaves are largest and most numerous during flowering when plants may be 2 inches tall and 4 inches wide. Plants may have up to 10 leaves per crown. A pair of short-lived, well-hidden lanceolate stipules, with fimbriate margins, occurs at the base of new leaves.

Photo 3: New leaves, initially rolled-up along their midribs (see at center of photo and to left), have a basal pair of lanceolate stipules with fimbriate margins. This plant has two developing flowers (pink) which are protected by a pair of lanceolate bracts (also pink). Photo – January 26.
Photo 4: The underground stem of this plant divided, producing two crowns. Leaves and flowers originate from the crowns. Basal fimbriate stipules can be seen at the base of several leaves. Photo – January 26.

Leaf blades are extremely variable, especially as the growing season progresses: in outline, from reniform to orbiculate to ovate-elliptic, and in size to 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, narrowly decurrent on petioles to 4 inches long. Blade color on the upper surface varies from medium green to bluish green; the lower surface is lighter. Venation also varies in color from green to purplish. Leaf pubescence is distinctive: blades are villous, with dense, short hairs on both surfaces, the hairs longer on the upper surface and along the margins. Leaves feel slightly soft and have a sheen in certain lighting. Margins may be entire (uncut), but are typically minutely serrate to crenate from petiole to apex. Leaves that survive through winter die as spring leaves develop.

Photo 5: Upper and lower surfaces of leaf blades and petioles (except for petiole grooves) are densely villous. Photo – January 12.
Photo 6: Veins are purplish and highlighted by dark green borders. Margins are serrate to crenate. A pubescent sheen can be seen on several leaves. Larger leaves are ovate. Photo – March 31.

The inflorescence of solitary, showy, cross-pollinated flowers appears in March and April. The calyx comprises 5 lanceolate, pubescent sepals with earlike auricles at their base. The corollas measure to ⅝ inch wide and ¾ inch long and are similar in structure to all of Arkansas’ Viola species, comprising 5 lavender to violet-blue petals: an upper pair of back-flared petals, 2 down-tilted lateral petals, and a projecting lower lip petal that serves as a landing pad for bumble bees and other pollinators. The upper four petals are oblanceolate while the lip is elongate-oval, all with rounded apex and attenuate base. The main veins of the lower three petals are dark violet into the throat, prominently so on the lip. In addition, the lower three petals are bearded at the throat with a tangle of long hairs concentrated on the lip. At its junction with the flower stalk, the lip petal forms a bulbous nectar pouch or spur that projects backward––a hallmark of the distinctive Viola flower.

Photo 7: Orientation of the upper and lateral petals seen in side view (lip mostly hidden). The white nectar pouch of the lip petal projects behind the flower stalk. Leaves at lower right are those of Violet Wood Sorrel.

Five stamens with short filaments, pale flattened anthers, and prominent orange anther appendages tightly encircle the style below the knobby stigma. The lowermost pair of filaments bear blade-like nectaries that are inserted into the nectar pouch. The pistil comprises 3 carpels united to form an ovary with a single chamber and 3 parietal placentas––the ovules are attached to the ovary wall rather than to a central axis.

Photo 8: The densely pubescent flower stalks are bent to position flowers downward. Main veins of the lower three petals are highlighted in dark violet. With new leaves maturing, overwintered leaves soon die. Photo – March 7.
Photo 9: As seen from top of flower, the style with a knobby stigma is exserted from the encircling orange anther appendages. Lower three petals are bearded. Photo – March 29.
Photo 10: With upper four petals and a sepal removed, pale yellow anthers with prominent orange appendages can be seen. The nectar pocket (white) is an extension of the lip at its junction with the flower stalk. Photo – March 29.

Like many Viola species, Southern Wooly Violet produces self-pollinated (or “cleistogamous”) flowers later in the season. These flowers are fully fertile, but small and without petals, resembling flower buds––the calyx remains closed over the stamens and ovary. Capsules of cleistogamous flowers mature on shorter stalks.

Fertilized ovaries of both cross- and self-pollinated flowers develop into ovoid-ellipsoid capsules about ⅜ inch long. The 50 or so seeds of a capsule are ejected a short distance when capsules split along the midribs of their 3 carpels. With attached gel packets, seeds may be further dispersed by ants. The smooth-looking pear-shaped seeds, about 1/16 inch long, have a minutely pocked surface.

Photo 11: As indicated by stalk length, the stalk extending off top of photo is apparently that of a cross-pollinated flower, while the shorter, lower stalk bears a cleistogamously developed capsule. Both stalks have a pair of elongate-lanceolate bracts. Photo – April 20.
Photo 12: Capsule valves bear parietal placentas. Ants may assist with seed dispersal as they feed on attached gel packet. Squares = ¼ inch. Photo – May 4.

Southern Woolly Violet is an attractive plant for a shady to partially sunny garden with dryish to mesic soil. A seeded colony may form an interesting ground cover. The plant’s small size probably would not detract or interfere with companion plants. Another evergreen violet that should be considered for a garden is Birds-Foot Violet with its showier flowers (all cross-pollinated) and distinctive leaves.

In addition to Southern Woolly Violet, at least 14 other species of Viola occur in Arkansas*. Of these, at least seven can have blue to violet flowers. Characteristics of Southern Woolly Violet, taken as a suite, that distinguish it from other species include 1) Vertical underground stems (no above-ground stems), 2) Reniform to orbiculate to ovate-elliptic leaves with cordate bases and without lobes, 3) Dense pubescence on upper and lower leaf surfaces and flower stalks, 4) Purplish veins, and 5) Colonies formed by seeding only (not stoloniferous). The rare Walter’s Violet (Viola walteri) may be the most easily confused with Southern Woolly Violet. It has similarly shaped leaves with purple veins and similar flowers. However, Walter’s Violet has creeping, prostrate stems and more notably toothed stipules.

*The taxonomy of violets––especially that of the “stemless” blue violets––is unsettled. Some authorities recognize a number of additional species which may also be present in Arkansas.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Northern Maidenhair Fern

Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) of the Brake Fern (Pteridaceae) family, formerly of the Polypody (Polypodiaceae) family, is a beautiful, shade-loving fern with broad, circular fronds. The genus name is from a Greek word for “unwetted” in reference to the leaves’ ability to shed raindrops. The specific epithet refers to the foot-like shape of the larger pinnules (secondary leaflets). In the U.S., the species is of common occurrence across the eastern half of the country from the Canadian border southward, absent only from Florida and rare in much of the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains. In Arkansas, it occurs across most of the state except for the Mississippi Alluvial and West Gulf Coastal Plains. Favored habitats are rich, deciduous woodlands with well-drained soils.

Photo 1: Fronds are distinctive. Plants prefer shady areas with well-drained mesic soil. Photo – April 19.

Northern Maidenhair, like most Temperate Zone ferns, is deciduous and perennial. Leaves arise from shallow, short-branched, dark brown rhizomes ¼+ inch in diameter––these mostly concealed by a dense tangle of dark brown, wiry roots. In April, pink to reddish fronds (leaves) emerge as coiled “fiddleheads.” Fiddlehead stipes (stalks) are reddish brown, lustrous, and smooth, with scattered, long, light brown, translucent scales. As fronds mature, stipes and rachises become black. Spiky old stipes persist for a year or more. Colonies are slow growing.

Photo 2: Rhizomes are largely concealed by dense wiry roots. Green “spots” at far left and to right, are dormant frond buds on the tips of rhizomes. In this late-in-year photo, only a few fronds remain viable. Photo – December 30.
Photo 3: Coiled fiddleheads––the embryonic form of the developing frond––are shiny and smooth with scattered scales along the stipe. Previous year’s stipes are black and spiky. Photo – May 5.

Mature fronds vary considerably in size, depending on habitat, with a large frond being 2 feet long (including a 15-inch stipe) and a foot wide. The erect stipes divide into a pair of curved, widely divergent rachises that bear 4-6 pinnate pinnae (the primary leaflets), along their convex side. Proximal pinnae may be 8 inches long, gradually shortening to 2 inches distally. Viewed from above, fronds have an attractive, circular shape. Larger ferns may grow to a height of 1½ feet. Fronds are glabrous, except for scales along the lower portion of the stipes.

Photo 4: Stipes divide into a pair of rachises which bear pinnae along their convex side. As shown, solitary pinnules grow directly from the rachis at a point just below the pinnae. Photo – May 8.
Photo 5: Fronds have a circular outline. While the paired rachises recurve in one direction, their distal pinnae recurve in the opposite direction.

The green, photosynthetic unit of Northern Maidenhair Fern is the pinnule, the secondary leaflet. Up to about 20 pinnules are borne on a pinna. Larger pinnules have an inverted-wing shape––the lower margins are entire (uncut) and curved upward while the upper margins are lobed. Pinnules are to ¾+ inch long and ⅜ inch wide, widest near the base. Smaller pinnules, at both ends of the pinna, are stubby to rounded. Solitary pinnules occur on the rachis a short distance below the pinna (see Photo 4). These may be ¼+ inch long and ½+ inch wide with a cuneate base and a fanned apex that is variously divided. Pinnules have thin, wiry, ⅛-inch-long stalks. With winter-kill, light tan crumpled pinnules are retained on the rachis for several months while stipes persist for a year or two.

Photo 6: In winter, dormant plants retain dead fronds. Stipes persist for a year or more. Photo – March 26.

Pinnule venation (see photo 9) is of uniform size and character. In wing-shaped pinnules, a single vein originates at the stalk and, extending along the uncut, lower (proximal) margin, gives rise to further veins that extend, typically forking, into the lobe tips and sori of the upper margin. With solitary fan-shaped pinnules, all veins radiate from the stalk.

Northern Maidenhair Fern has separate fertile and sterile fronds, both with a very similar upper surface. On the lower surface of the fertile fronds, the upper (distal) margin of the pinnules bears 1-8 small, pocket-like clusters of sporangia called sori (singular, sorus). Sori are covered and protected by a narrow strip of the pinnule margin (called a false indusium) that folds back over the sporangia. Indusia are initially pale yellow-green, darkening as sori mature. With sorus maturity in September, indusia dry and loosen, allowing sporangia to discharge minute spores into the air, to be dispersed on breezes.

Photo 7: Above: fertile pinna (lower surface, apex to right) bears sori covered by false indusia (pale green). Below: fertile pinna (upper surface, apex to left) with flattened pinnule lobes––sori are present on the surface underneath. Photo – May 2.
Photo 8: Lower surface of a pinna of a fertile frond, apex to right. Margins of lobes fold over the sori. Lobes are separated by narrow clefts.
Photo 9: When sori have matured, the false indusia shrink away, allowing sporangia to disperse spores. Photo – September 15.

With dispersal of spores, the reproductive activity of the “sporophyte” phase of a fern’s life cycle concludes. In the soil, spores germinate to produce a tiny plant called a prothallus, the “gametophyte” phase. The prothallus, which looks more like an alga than a fern, produces gametes: sperm and egg. Sperm swim through ground moisture to fertilize eggs that remain attached to the prothallus. Fertilization produces a zygote that, in turn, develops into a new sporophyte plant––the plant we recognize as a “fern.”

Northern Maidenhair Fern is a lovely, graceful fern for a shaded mesic site in a naturalistic garden, woodland garden, or even a rock garden. It is suitable for mass-planting or as a specimen plant. It mixes well with other plants of modest height with similar habitat requirements or tolerance. It is slow to spread. Dead fronds provide winter interest with their shiny black wiry stalks and dangling light tan leaves. By spring, except for the stipes, fronds have disintegrated so that springtime clean-up may not be needed.

Photo 10: In this garden site, plants receive only early morning and late evening summer-time sunlight. Other plants shown include Hairy Lip Fern, Texas Dutchman’s Pipe, Cardinal Flower, Tall Anemone, and Silver wormwood – Artemisia ludoviciana subsp. mexicana. Photo – May 8.

An additional species of Adiantum occurs in Arkansas, Southern Maidenhair Fern (A. capillus-veneris). Southern Maidenhair Fern (aka Venus’ Hair Fern) can be distinguished by: 1) preferred habitat being wet vertical cliffs and rock faces but can even establish on masonry walls with lime mortar, 2) stipe undivided, 3) pinnae occurring on both sides of rachises, and 4) pinnules fan-shaped and pendant.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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