Most regrettably, due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation the ANPS Board has voted to cancel the Fall meeting slated for Stuttgart Sept. 18-20.
Scheduled field trips are also cancelled until Dec. 31, 2020.
We’re all quite sad that we have to miss another meeting with our native plant friends, but hopefully, come time for the spring meeting maybe we’ll all be pumped-up with Covid—19 antibodies from our Covid-19 vaccinations! How we’re hoping.
And other news is that the two students who had applied for the Delzie Demaree Research Grants were both approved by the membership, so hooray for them and we’re very proud of these students.
Other emails will be coming to you periodically, so know that we’re not signing off at all for the the next six months for there’s always something going on with ANPS, and you’re the biggest part of it!
Thanks for your understanding, and let’s all continue to remain vigilant.
Sundrops* (Oenothera fruticosa) of the Evening Primrose (Onagraceae) family has bright yellow flowers open during the day. The genus name may be from Latin (oenothera) for a sleep inducing plant or from Greek (onothera) a hypnotic plant added to wine. The specific epithet is based on Latin for “bushy”. In the U.S., the species occurs from eastern Oklahoma east to Florida and north to Michigan and New England. In Arkansas, it is primarily a species of the Interior Highlands. It is also known as narrow-leaf sundrops and southern sundrops. Habitats include dry to moist but well-drained, partially shady to sunny areas, such as open woodlands, woodland borders, and country road rights-of-way.
Plants, with shallow, fibrous, somewhat thickened roots, develop a flat-lying basal rosette of leaves over winter, followed by one to over a half dozen erect slender stems that grow 1-2 feet tall. Young stems and branches are reddish and pilose, with dense, soft, white pubescence. Older stems become tan, harden, and may lose their pubescence.
Stem leaves are mostly alternate, but may be opposite at the ends of branches and tightly clustered at and within the terminal inflorescence. Leaves have a blunt, rounded apex and a gradually tapering (acuminate) sessile base. Leaves are oblanceolate, those of the basal rosette to about 4 inches long and ¾ inch wide, the larger stem leaves to about 3½ inches long and ½ inch wide. Leaves are pilose on both surfaces, with hairs of the upper surface short, dense, and evenly spread, while hairs of the lower surface are concentrated along the midrib and leaf margins. Margins of smaller leaves are entire; those of larger leaves are obscurely wavy. Margins are revolute (turned under), especially on larger leaves.
The inflorescence consists of single flowers growing from leaf axils, each blooming for one day. More vigorous plants tend to have a tight, terminal cluster of leaves, producing a large and showy flower cluster. Below the terminal flowers, upper leaves may subtend a flowering branch. With inflorescences blooming sequentially, the flowering period, primarily in May, may extend for a month.
Flowers develop from cylindrical buds comprising 4 sepals, 4 petals, and 8 stamens attached atop a long, narrow, terete floral tube. The yellowish floral tube is attached to the summit of a pale green, thickened, “inferior” ovary (i.e., the ovary is below the insertion of the other flower parts). Here the club-shaped ovary is lined with eight ribs and tapers into a slender floral stalk, the pedicel. Sepals, floral tube, ovary, and pedicel are covered with long, soft, white hairs.
Sepals are partially fused to each other and retract from the petals, as the bud opens, either asymmetrically as a unit of four to one side of the flower or opposite each other in two pairs. Flowers have 4 large bright yellow petals, 8 yellow stamens, and a long yellow style. Petals are broadly rounded with an indented apex and translucent veins that serve as insect guides. Stamens have long delicate filaments to which slender anthers are attached in see-saw fashion, the better to accommodate contact with the pollinator, typically a lepidopteran. The slender style, extending from the ovary through and well beyond the floral tube, elevates the stigma above the anthers, where it divides into four widely spread receptive lobes. These showy, spectacular flowers may be to 2 inches across with a ¾ inch long floral tube and a ¾ inch long ovary.
After anthesis, flowers quickly drop from the ovary. With fertilization, the ovary matures to a hardened capsule about ¼ inch long with a stalk of similar length. When dry, capsules split along four seams from the top downward. The numerous seeds are tannish, smooth, and lopsided.
In a garden or natural area, this plant would be mostly unnoticed when not bloom. In bloom, it has striking yellow flowers. It is adaptable to various well drained soils and can do well in partial shade. In favorable sites, it may need to be managed to prevent excessive spreading by seed. It is eaten by deer.
Seventeen total species and/or subspecies of the genus Oenothera are known to occur in Arkansas. All except one of these have yellow flowers. The species most similar to O. fruticosa is O. pilosella (prairie sundrops), with two subspecies represented in the state. Oenothera pilosella differs from O. fruticosa by having shorter pedicels and thus nearly sessile capsules.
Day-blooming species of the genus are referred to as “sundrops”. Night-blooming species are referred to as “evening primroses.”
Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl
Forest pea or bushy vetch (Lathyrus venosus) of the Bean or Legume (Fabaceae) family is a perennial deciduous vine with pea-like flowers. The genus name is based on the Greek Lathyros, the ancient name for a leguminous plant. The specific epithet is from the Latin for “conspicuously veined,” in reference to the banner, the large, uppermost petal of the legume flower. In the U.S., forest pea occurs primarily in three areas: 1) an area from far-east Texas and northwestern Louisiana to southern Missouri, 2) an area from the central Great Lakes region that extends westward into the eastern Dakotas northward to the Canadian border, and 3) an area along the Appalachian Mountains with a concentration in central Virginia and West Virginia. In Arkansas, the species occurs primarily in the Arkansas Valley, Ouachita Mountains, and higher elevations of the West Gulf Coastal Plain. Preferred habitat is moist to dry slopes in open deciduous woodlands.
Forest pea has shallow ropy rhizomes terminating with a knobby vegetative bud that produces new growth the following year. Fibrous roots are mostly limited to year-old rhizomes. Like most legumes, forest peas have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria which “fix” atmospheric nitrogen in root nodules, converting it to a form the plant can use.
Stems, to 2-3 feet long, are fairly stout and ascending; however, unless anchored by tendrils at the leaf tips, they lack the strength to remain upright and tend to sprawl. They are prominently angled and glabrous to finely pubescent. New stems appear in mid-winter.
Ovate to elliptic leaflets, to 2 inches long and ⅞ inch wide, are rounded at the base and narrowed to a blunt, sometimes mucronate (pin-point) tip. Margins are entire.
The inflorescence, in late March to early May, consists of a single erect raceme to 6 ½ inches long with 10-20+ closely spaced, pea-like flowers along the upper third of a slender peduncle. Racemes arise at the swollen leaf bases of several upper leaves. Flowers are about ⅝ inch long and ⅜ wide with a short pedicel.
The dangling flowers bear colorful, tubular calyxes (to ¼ inch long) with three larger acutely pointed lobes on the lower side and two smaller in-turned, pointed lobes on the upper side. The corolla exhibits the typical structure of the so-called papilionaceous flower of the legumes, comprising a large banner petal (flared laterally and apically), a free (unattached) pair of smaller wing petals, and a fused pair of keel petals. The projecting wing petals (opening downward) form a hood which encloses the beaked keel (opening upward). The keel encloses 10 stamens and a pistil, all well hidden. Nine of the staminal filaments are fused most of their length into a tube that encloses the pistil. One filament––the uppermost––is usually free from the staminal tube. The pistil (of a single carpel) comprises a greenish, elongate, straight, flattened ovary tipped by a sharply up-turned style which tapers to an elongate stigma. Flower color is a blending of pink and white with the banner more strongly colored and prominently veined.
With fertilization, long, flat, yellowish green pods develop to a mature length of about 3 inches. When mature and dry, pods dehisce and the smooth sides (valves) twist back to expose the seeds. The brown globoid seeds, up to a dozen per pod, are smooth with a lighter hilum. Seed dispersal by small mammals and birds.
Forest pea would be a good choice for a woodland garden or natural area, with its loose growing habit and leafy character. Flowers and fruits are interesting, but not especially showy. It is not aggressive by rhizomes or seed. It is also apparently not eaten by deer.
In Arkansas, other species of the genus are non-native yellow vetchling (L. aphaca), non-native singletary pea (L. hirsutus), non-native everlasting pea (L. latifolius), and the native yet uncommon low vetchling (L. pusillus). Forest pea is readily distinguishable from these species based on its large compound leaves which have five to seven pairs of leaflets and terminal tendrils. The prominent veins of the banner also distinguish the species.
Forest pea may be confused with species in the vetch (Vicia) genus (nine of which occur in the state). Flowers of Lathyrus species have free wing petals whereas wing petals of Vicia species are adnate (fused) to keel petals. Also, leaflets of Lathyrus species are larger than those of Vicia species.
Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl
Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)* of the Rose (Rosaceae) family is a large shrub which bears tight clusters of small white flowers. The genus name, from Greek words for “bladder” and “fruit,” refers to the inflated carpels of the fruit. The specific epithet, from Latin, compares the leaves to those of Viburnum opulus. Ninebark is widespread in the eastern U.S., occurring principally from Minnesota to Maine, south to Arkansas, Alabama, and the Carolinas. (A disjunct population occurs in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.) The only species of the genus in Arkansas, it grows in our Interior Highlands. Habitat preference is dry to moist, rocky to clayey soils of stream banks, bases of bluffs, and bog margins, in full to partial sunlight. Other common names include Atlantic ninebark and Eastern ninebark.
Ninebarks are rounded to upright, deciduous shrubs, reaching heights of 8+ feet and often equally as broad. The shrubs have a multitude of closely spaced, long, slender stems from their base which arch and recurve over the top of the shrub, typically bearing short, fertile branches from the leaf axils. Shrubs are typically glabrous, except for minute pubescence in the inflorescence. Stems begin to exhibit exfoliation in their second growth year, and older stems have several layers of thin, light brown bark loosened from underlying darker brown to reddish brown bark, especially nearer the base of the shrub.
The inflorescence, in May, consists of hemispherical corymbs (closely spaced flowers on a short axis). Small white flowers terminate newly developed, short (3-6 inches long), fertile branches, growing from axillary buds of the previous year. Corymbs are aligned along the upper side of the stems, often, in sunny sites, in an impressively long, continuous series. Corymbs measure 1½ inches wide and 1 inch tall, with 20-40 flowers on straight pedicels that decrease in length toward the top of the corymb. Individual flowers, about 3/8 inch across, bloom from the outside in, i.e., from the corymb’s perimeter to its center. Clusters bloom for up to two weeks.
Flowers are white overall, however, buds may be highlighted with pink and petals may be faintly pink. Flower parts arise, like those of a rose, from a basal, bowl-like structure called a hypanthium. Five sepals, five rounded petals, and 22 to 30+ stamens are attached at the hypanthium rim; 3-5 tightly appressed, erect ovaries somewhat fused at the base are attached at the bottom of the bowl. When first appearing, anthers are burgundy, but become dark brown as they split to disperse light yellow pollen. At anthesis, anthers are positioned well above the corolla and stigmas tend to be slightly higher. Sepals are persistent through fruiting.
With fertilization, the 3-5 tightly appressed ovaries of the flower quickly enlarge and inflate to form pale-green to reddish follicles. Follicles have a papery, minutely pubescent outer surface. Dry follicles become dark brown and split along the inner seam. They produce one to several smooth, light tan, pear-shaped seeds, each with a hilum (umbilical scar) toward the smaller end. Follicles are to ½ inch long and ⅛ inch wide. Seeds are slightly less than ⅛ inch long. With fruiting in August to October, the previously ascending corymbs become dangling. As well as dispersal of seeds by small mammals and birds, seeds remaining in follicles that fall into water may be dispersed by water flow.
For a larger garden or natural area, ninebark is a leafy, dense shrub which may produce cascades of flowers in sunnier sites. It may also be a nice shrub for a more shaded site, but may not bear flowers. Ninebark breaks dormancy in early spring, with flower clusters quickly developing. It does not produce suckers and self-seeding does not seem to be a problem. “Extra” young plants can be easily pulled or transplanted. New plants can be established from soft cuttings or by layering. Along with the spring flower clusters, the compound follicles provide visual interest in late summer into fall. Fall color is not showy.
* Some authorities recognize as either a variety of Physocarpus opulifolius or as a separate species the entity Physocarpus intermedius. It has a more western distribution, occupying the central U.S., and is reportedly the primary, if not only, ninebark in Arkansas. It differs in having carpels/follicles densely stellate-hairy, sometimes only on the sutures. Variety opulifolius has mostly glabrous or glabrescent carpels/follicles and is more eastern and northern in distribution.
Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl
Yellow pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima) of the Parsley or Carrot (Apiaceae) family is an elegant and attractive herbaceous perennial with twice-compound leaves and compound umbels of tiny yellow flowers. The genus name comes from the Greek taenidion, “a small band,” referring to the scarcely prominent ribs of the fruit. The specific epithet, from Latin for “most entire,” refers to the smooth margins of the leaflets (unusual in the family). In the U.S., pimpernel occurs principally from Iowa and southeast Minnesota, south to eastern Oklahoma, and then east to New York and the Carolinas, excluding the Mississippi Embayment and most of the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains. In Arkansas, it occurs within the Interior Highlands across the northwestern half of the state, along with two southeastern counties. Preferred habitat includes partially sunny to sunny, dry to moist, rocky to clayey soils of open woodlands and prairies. Taenidia is a small genus comprising only two North American species, of which only T. integerrima occurs in Arkansas.
Mature plants have multiple stems to 3 feet tall which grow from a “crown” atop a carrot-like white taproot. The glabrous (hairless) and glaucous (whitish from a thin layer of wax) main stems typically have several lateral stems, often somewhat swollen at the nodes. In spring, plants are reddish, becoming greenish by the time of flowering, with the stems retaining a reddish hue. The root and other parts of the plant, when cut or crushed, have a pleasant celery scent.
Stems have several to a half-dozen widely spaced leaves that grow from rounded nodes. Along with the leaf, nodes bear lateral stems from leaf axils as well as floral stems directly from the node but opposite to the leaf base. Leaves are large, to 6-9 inches long and 6 inches broad, and 2 or 3 times compound. They are petiolate with clasping bases.
Ultimate leaflets, to 1¾ inches long and 1 inch wide, are oval to elliptic and often lobed. Leaflet margins are smooth; tips are narrowed to a blunt or sharp point. Leaves are glabrous.
Glabrous inflorescences comprise open, loose, compound umbels (3 to 6 inches wide) terminating the floral stems. Floral stems bear 8 to 18 rays (to 3 inches long) which, in turn, bear the secondary umbels or umbellets. All flowers of a compound umbel bloom at the same time. With several umbels at the upper portion of stems, a plant is in flower for a month or more.
The bright yellow flowers, less than 1/16 inch across, have five broadly oval inturned petals and five stamens. Sepals are absent. Flowers at the perimeter of umbellets are perfect (with stamens and pistils) while interior flowers are staminate (stamens only). Stamens, with knobby anthers, extend between and well above petals. Ovaries are inferior, each topped with a tiny pair of styles. Pedicels of fertilized perfect flowers continue to grow as fruits mature and staminate flowers fade away. A fertilized flower produces a 3/16 inch long fruit that separates into two halves, each with five longitudinal ribs.
In a garden setting, the leafy yellow pimpernel would be an attractive plant with reddish foliage and bright yellow compound umbels. However, it readily self-seeds and can re-grow from decapitated taproots. Also, fruiting umbels are not positioned for quick removal. The plant would be suitable for a partially shady, fertile natural area. It provides pollen and nectar to a wide variety of small insects and is host plant for the Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes ssp. asterius) and Ozark Swallowtail (Papilio joanae).
Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl
Wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) of the Aster, Sunflower or Composite (Asteraceae) family is an herbaceous perennial with frosty composite flowerheads. The genus name is from the Greek word parthenos, for virgin––only the pistillate ray florets are fertile. The specific epithet, from Latin, means “entire-leaved,” meaning undivided, although the leaf margins are crenate to serrate-dentate. The common name is based on use of the plant as a substitute for quinine (derived from Cinchona trees of South America) to treat malaria during World War I. It is also called American feverfew. In the U.S., wild quinine occurs from northeast Texas to southern Minnesota, east to the Atlantic Coast. In Arkansas, plants occur primarily throughout in the Interior Highlands and Arkansas River Valley, with localized occurrences in areas of the West Gulf Coastal Plain and Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Habitat is widely varied, with a preference for mesic to dry, sunny sites with well drained soils, found in prairies, glades and woodland edges.
Plants are taprooted with fibrous rootlets, along with rhizomes, that produce off-set plants. The root crown of mature plants has several growth points which produce single stems surrounded by basal leaves. Mature stems are erect and stout, typically unbranched below the inflorescence. Plants continue to grow to the time of fruiting with a final height of 2 to 3 feet. Leaves disintegrate over winter, but dead stems may still remain in spring.
Wild quinine is a leafy plant, both with numerous basal leaves and with widely spaced cauline leaves (to 10+ inches apart). Leaves are steeply ascending, dark green above and lighter beneath. Leaf margins are boldly toothed (crenate-dentate to serrate) and crinkly. The blades are covered above and below by very short hispid pubescence and feel slightly fuzzy to the touch.
The inflorescence, visible after stems emerge in late winter and blooming from mid-spring to mid-summer, consists of flat-topped corymbose groups of heads (to 8 inches across) which terminate the stems. Flowerheads are ¼ to 1/3 inch broad.
Flowerheads first appear fuzzy and greenish white from an expanding, pale green, cup-shaped involucre. Involucres comprise five to six densely pubescent, broadly triangular, clasping, stubby phyllaries (bracts). Heads have 20 to 35 closely spaced, staminate disk florets and five (occasionally six) well-spaced, pistillate ray florets, separated by several disk florets. Whitish, tubular, finely pubescent disk florets, in bud, have a flattened, frosty-looking apex. As disk corollas open, five very short triangular lobes flare widely and a column of black connate anthers emerges. The whitish, pistillate (no stamens) ray florets have a stubby, two-lobed ligule with a short tubular base, attached to an inferior ovary. Ray florets reach anthesis before the staminate disk florets disperse their white pollen. Involucres remain clasping through fruiting.
In mid to late summer, flowerheads become brown and slowly disintegrate. Each ray floret produces a single black, shield-shaped, one-seeded achene topped with two or three slender awns.
For a garden area, wild quinine would add strong structure and seasonal interest from spring into late summer. It has attractive leaves and a long blooming period. Due to its potential to form colonies in some habitats, it may be better suited for a sunny natural area. Degree of spread by seed is not known, but seed heads can be easily removed. It provides nectar and pollen to various bees, flies and wasps.
Wild quinine in Arkansas is sometimes recognized as consisting of two varieties, or even two species by some authorities. Variety hispidum is strongly rhizomatous and has a denser stem and leaf pubescence of short, stiff (hispid) hairs than variety integrifolium. The only other species of the genus in Arkansas is the non-native Santa Maria feverfew (Parthenium hysterophorus) which has been documented in a few scattered counties. This species is annual, has smaller flowerheads, and has large leaves that are highly dissected.
Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl
Round-leaf ragwort (Packera obovata, formerly Senecio obovata), of the Aster, Sunflower, or Composite (Asteraceae) family, is an herbaceous clonal species that bears bright yellow daisy-type flowerheads in early spring. The genus name honors John G. Packer, author of Flora of Alberta. The specific epithet, from Latin, means obovate (egg-shaped, but broader distally), in reference to the basal leaves. Other common names include round-leaf groundsel and spoon-leaf ragwort or spoon-leaf groundsel. In the U.S., the species occurs in a broad region from southeast Texas and southeast Kansas east to the Florida panhandle and New England states, excluding portions of the Mississippi Embayment. In Arkansas, round-leaf ragwort occurs primarily across the northwestern highlands half of the state, plus Crowley’s Ridge, in a wide variety of shaded to partially sunny habitats: mesic, wooded slopes and bottomlands, stream banks and terraces, bluffs, and ledges.
Round-leaf ragwort, from 1 to 2 feet tall, has white roots and slender shallow rhizomes. Each new rhizome produces a terminal clone. The density of a clonal colony varies from dense to scattered depending on habitat. In drier shaded woods, plants remain shorter and more scattered, while in sunny wetter sites, denser colonies form. Early in the growing season, leaf undersides, stems and flower buds are partly or totally purple, but become mostly light green by flowering time.
Non-reproductive plants have basal rosettes of ground-hugging (winter) to ascending (spring) leaves, while flowering plants have a single stem growing from the center of the rosette. Basal and cauline leaves have very different shapes, with the simple basal leaves quickly transitioning to the complex and variously shaped pinnate leaves of the stem. Cauline leaves, depending on stem height, are few in number (several to six) and spaced to 4 inches apart.
Glabrous basal leaves (to 4 inches long, including 2-inch petioles) have rounded, obovate blades (1 to 1¼ inches wide) with a truncate to tapering base and serrate-dentate margins. The leaf blade extends onto the petiole as a pair of narrow wings. Basal leaves remain through the winter months when new leaves and stems bearing the buds of flower heads first appear.
Cauline or stem leaves are sessile or nearly so, elongate, and pinnately shallowly to deeply, often irregularly divided. They are gradually reduced in length upward, the largest to 3 inches long and 7/8 inch wide. They tend to have long, cobwebby, appressed white pubescence on their upper surface near the base.
Flowerheads are loosely clustered in a flat-topped, typically compound corymb. Flowering begins with the terminal flowerhead and moves quickly outward, continuing for over a month or so. The full inflorescence of a stem may have 40+ flowerheads.
Buds of the flowerheads are round and knob-like, with prominent cup-shaped involucres (to ¼ inch long and ⅜ inch wide) with a single series of 12 to 20 linear, appressed phyllaries (bracts). While phyllaries are initially completely purple, with anthesis approaching, they become green from base to apex with the very tips still purple at anthesis.
Flowerheads bear both ray and disk florets. They are ¾ to 1 inch in diameter. A central disk of 40 to 60+ yellow florets is surrounded by 8 to 14 bright yellow ray florets. Both ray and disk florets are fertile, with a pappus (modified sepals) of capillary bristles that encircles the top of the ovary. The pistillate (no stamens) ray florets are tubular below, with prominent ligules which flatten and become widely spread as the yellow styles divide (bifurcate) to expose two elongate stigmatic surfaces.
The perfect disk florets (with stamens and pistil) are tubular, to ⅛ inch long, with five short triangular corolla lobes, five stamens and a pistil. Stamens, also yellow, form an elongate central anther ring. The style, exserted through the anther ring, presents the floret’s pollen (to be carried away by pollinating insects), after which its apex divides to expose two long, now receptive stigmatic surfaces. The stigmatic surfaces quickly become covered with yellow pollen from other florets, other heads, and other plants, so that the disk appears powdery.
Fertilized ovaries of the ray and disk florets produce elongate ( ⅛ inch long) achenes (called cypselae in the aster family) topped with radiating bristles. When dry, the bristles give the inflorescence a white fluffy appearance. With light breezes, the achenes are wafted aloft for dispersal.
In a native plant garden or natural area, round-leaf ragwort gradually extends away from the parent plant as clonal plants appear. Should a plant become too aggressive in a more formal setting, it may require repeated attempts for total removal. With continued moisture, its basal leaves can form a semi-evergreen groundcover. Plants thrive in partially sunny to shady areas. Beginning in late winter, it has lush green leaves and erect stems topped with showy purple flowerhead buds. Heads in bloom as well as fluffy seed heads are also showy. Self-seeding seems to be limited; however, if desired, stems can be removed before seed set. This species is listed in the Pollinator Series of “Grow Native!”.
Six additional species of Packera occur in Arkansas: golden ragwort (P. aurea), cress-leaf groundsel (P. glabella), balsam ragwort (P. paupercula), prairie ragwort ( P. plattensis), Great Plains ragwort (P. tampicana), and woolly ragwort (P. tomentosa)––all with a similar growth habit and yellow flowers. Round-leaf ragwort can be distinguished by a combination of its obovate and short-petiolate basal leaves, rounded tips of the lower cauline leaves, generally glabrous stems, and woolly tomentose pubescence only at leaf bases and on the small leaves (bracts) within the inflorescence. Round-leaf ragwort most closely resembles P. aurea, except P. aurea has indented (cordate) basal leaves on long petioles.
Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl
Crow poison (Nothoscordum bivalve) of the Onion (Alliaceae) family (formerly of the Lily (Liliaceae) family) resembles a wild onion and is often called “false garlic,” but the species has neither garlic nor onion scent or taste. The genus name is actually derived from Greek words for “false” and “garlic.” The specific epithet means “two sides” or “two valves” in reference to a pair of bracts on flowering stems. Crow poison occurs primarily in a large area from Arizona, through Texas to Kansas, through Illinois, Ohio, to Virginia, and south to the Atlantic and Gulf Coast. The species also occurs in Central and South America. The only native Nothoscordum species in Arkansas, N. bivalve occurs statewide. Habitats are quite variable and include dry to mesic rocky to sandy to silty areas with partial to full sun, such as, prairies, woodlands, glades and barrens, and even in domestic lawns.
Crow poison is an herbaceous perennial growing from a globose bulb about ½ inch long and wide. Along with annual production of new fleshy roots, leaves, and inflorescence, plants also produce small, basal bulblets, which separate from the parent bulb before producing independent roots and leaves. Clonal clumps tend to develop. In a favorable site, due to self-seeding, a large colony of various-sized clumps may develop.
New leaves consist of an above-ground blade and a fleshy tubular base. As additional new leaves grow within the tubular base of the previous leaf, older leaf bases are pushed outward. While leaf blades die at the end of the growing season, thickened leaf bases persist for water and nutrient storage, resulting in bulbs. Outermost leaf bases become thin and brown and form a protective tunic before they disintegrate.
Each year, a mature bulb produces a few to a half-dozen fleshy, rather succulent, rather grass-like, slightly twisted, linear leaves, in-folded along most their length, but flattened toward the tip. Larger blades may be 10 inches long and ⅛+ inch wide. Bulbs also produce one or two pale green flowering stems (scapes) in early spring and often again in the fall. These rise to 10+ inches long and gradually taper to the inflorescence.
The inflorescence, umbels to 1½ inches wide, consists of three to ten well-spaced flowers on long pedicels. Umbels are initially encased in two translucent (hyaline) membranes that ultimately dry and persist as subtending scarious bracts (the “bivalves” of the specific epithet). Flowers bloom sequentially over several days. Pedicels lengthen until fruit has set, the final length about 2 inches.
Flowers of crow poison open on warm sunny days and remain for several days, depending on weather (closing on cloudy days). The ½- to ¾-inch-wide flowers have 6 tepals (3 each nearly identical sepals and petals), six anthers and a pistil. Tepals are white with a yellowish glow on their interior base, ⅜+ inch long and ⅛ inch wide, elliptic to oblong, and apically acute, with an occasional notch at the apex, and a light greenish midvein. Tepals remain ascending (perianth does not become flattened). Stamens have tapered, translucent, light yellow filaments and bright yellow anthers with bright yellow pollen. Anthers are hinged in see-saw fashion at the filament tips. Stamens are adnate (joined) to the base of the tepals. The erect post-like style terminates with a flat, round stigma. The style attaches to the top of an ovoid, superior, 3-chambered ovary.
The glabrous, green ovaries develop into smooth, 3-lobed, light tan capsules. The upper portion of dry (mature) capsules open along seams, and seeds drop out when stems are shaken or capsules disintegrate. Black, hard, globular seeds are about 1/16 inch wide.
Crow poison may be appropriate for a native plant garden or, more so, for a natural area. While individual clumps stay “tidy,” self-seeding may extend a colony further than desired. The plant is an early spring food source for small butterflies, bees and flies. Its grass-like leaves add textural variety to a garden. One non-native species of Nothoscordum, N. gracile (slender false garlic), has now been documented naturalizing in Arkansas. It has wider leaves (to 1/2 inch wide) and tepals that are connate (united) in their lower third. Like crow poison, slender false garlic does not have an onion or garlic scent.
Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl
Given the current situation with COVID-19 we are cancelling the ANPS Spring Meeting scheduled for May 15-17, 2020 in northwest Arkansas. While we will miss the gathering together of botany minded people across the state, we do not feel it is worth the risk.
Additionally, all field trips through June 1st are cancelled.
That said, Betty Owen is working diligently on Claytonia and hopes to get it out to you all in the next couple weeks.
Everyone stay safe and don’t go out anymore than you need to.
Becky and Susan Hardin Co Presidents, Arkansas Native Plant Society
Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum) of the Heath (Ericaceae) family is a medium-sized deciduous shrub that has small bell-shaped flowers with flared corolla lobes. The species occurs from east Texas and Oklahoma, northeast to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In Arkansas, it occurs statewide except for some portions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The genus name is obscure but presumably derives from the Latin vaccinus, of cows. The specific epithet is a reference to the plant’s distinctive, prominent stamens. Preferred habitat is sunny to partly shaded sites that have well-drained, sandy to rocky, acidic soils, such as dry ridges, glade margins, and upland woods.
Deerberry is a leafy deciduous shrub that may be 1 to 6+ feet tall and wide. Plants, especially in response to injury or fire, produce branching runners that bear roots and support new sprouts (ramets). Shrubs may have several trunks and many ramets of varying age, forming clonal thickets. Shrubs in more sunlight tend to be rounded and densely branched, while those in more shade can become upright and loosely branched.
In winter, year-old reddish twigs bear small, dormant, terminal and lateral buds that are protected by a few imbricated (overlapping) scales. In late winter, scales are pushed aside as each developing bud yields a single unbranched leaf-bearing or flower-bearing twig. Leaf-bearing twigs occur at or near the exterior of the shrub; early in growth, they are zigzagged, leaf-to-leaf. Flower-bearing twigs are not persistent into the next growing season.
Leaves are simple, cyclically alternate, and smooth-margined. New leaves are yellowish-green, becoming medium green later in the growing season and yellowish to reddish late in the season. Elliptic to oblong-elliptic, leaves are 1 to 3 inches long and ¼ to 1 inch wide, becoming progressively larger toward the twig tip, with rounded to wedge-shaped (cuneate) bases and acuminate to acute apexes. Texture varies from papery (chartaceous) to leathery (coriaceous) in response to available sunlight. Twigs, new leaves, and petioles may be densely pilose early but lose their pubescence with age.
The inflorescence (on flower-bearing twigs), in mid to late April, is a raceme of up to 10 alternate dangling flowers. Each flower, subtended by a small, leafy bract, is borne on a slender pedicel to ⅜ inch long. The raceme axis tends to be densely pilose; the pedicels are mostly glabrous. Bracts drop off in summer as fruits mature.
Flowers, about ¼ inch long and wide, have a yellowish green, bell-shaped (campanulate) calyx with five broadly triangular, recurved lobes and a white, campanulate corolla with five broadly rounded lobes. Ten stamens are strongly exserted from the corolla. Each elaborate stamen comprises a short stubby white filament, two yellow spurs at the filament-anther junction, and an anther whose sacs taper into slender tubes. (Pollen typically accumulates in these tubes and is vibrated out by visiting insects.) The ovary is inferior. The style is exserted well beyond the stamens, the stigma becoming receptive only after pollen from the same flower is dispersed––an adaptation that promotes cross-pollination.
The inferior ovaries have five chambers with axile placentation. With fertilization, corolla and stamens drop off the developing fruit; the calyx persists. Fruits, ovoid “blueberries,” to about ⅜ inch wide, can be greenish, yellowish, blue or purplish at maturity. They ripen by late summer.
Deerberry is a compact leafy shrub that has visual appeal year-round and may be an excellent choice in a natural area, as a specimen plant, a grouping, or an informal hedge-row. The species is not noted to be an aggressive self-seeder. Clumps may develop, but should not be detrimental in a natural setting. Deerberry does well in well-drained rocky soils and is drought tolerant, when established. Plants are an important food source for insects, birds, and small mammals. They provide nectar for bees and butterflies and are host plants for red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) and other butterflies and moths. They are subject to deer “damage.” Palatability for humans is variable depending on the particular source-shrub and personal taste.
Other species of the genus that occur in Arkansas are sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), Elliott’s blueberry (Vaccinium elliottii), black highbush blueberry (Vaccinium fuscatum), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum), and highbush or common blueberry (Vaccinium virgatum). Distinguishing characteristics that make deerberry comparatively easy to identify include 1) bracteate inflorescences, 2) flowers with flared, bell-shaped corollas and exserted styles and stamens, and 3) mature mostly green fruit that drop off in late summer.
Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl