Know Your Natives – Downy Ragged Goldenrod

Downy Ragged Goldenrod* (Solidago petiolaris**) of the Aster, Sunflower, or Composite (Asteraceae) family has stiff lanceolate leaves on unbranched stems that are topped by an unusually large array of golden-yellow flower heads. The genus name is based on the Latin solidus, meaning “whole,” in reference to purported health benefits of some species. The specific epithet is from the Latin for “with petiole.” In the U.S., the species occurs primarily from southern Nebraska and Texas, east to the Carolinas and northern Florida. In Arkansas, it occurs statewide except for portions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and Crowley’s Ridge. Preferred habitats include more or less sunny, mesic to dry, sandy to rocky areas, such as open woodlands, glades, and blufftops. It is also known as Woodland Goldenrod.

This herbaceous perennial develops a central rootstock of weakly connected segments with numerous fibrous roots. Each knobby segment bears one to several stems. Buds for the next year’s stems develop at the base of the current year’s stems. Dead stems persist into the new growth-year. Erect, fleshy springtime stems tend to be pubescent and reddish, while mature stems become reddish brown to brown below as they stiffen. Stem growth above in the inflorescence tends to be bright green before also becoming reddish to brown.

Photo 1: This rootstock, composed of five weakly connected segments and numerous fibrous roots, bears a dozen living stems while retaining dead stems. Round scars (at front) are remnants of three-year-old stems. Buds for next year’s stems can be seen at far right. Photo – August 20.

Stems, with slight longitudinal ridges, grow to unequal heights, often reaching 4+ feet tall and, at base, 3/16 inch in diameter. They are unbranched unless the growing tip has been damaged. Lower portion of stems typically loses leaves by mid-growth-year, becoming smooth except for projecting petiole bases. Depending on the site, they may be erect, ascending or sprawled.

Photo 2: Springtime leaves and stems bear short pubescence, becoming glabrate as plants mature, except for leaf margins. Photo – April 8.

Plants have alternate, simple stem leaves, narrowly elliptic, spreading to ascending, and stiff, at midstem to 4 inches long and ½ inch wide, gradually decreasing to as little as ⅛ inch long in the terminal inflorescence. They are sessile to short-petiolate, with margins entire (smooth) to shallowly serrate distally, the teeth mucronate. Upper leaf surface is green with a satin sheen, the lower surface with a dull sheen. Venation is pinnate with a single strong midvein and secondary veins that curve forward to parallel the margins. Mature leaves feel slightly rough from microscopic hispid pubescence, with hairs more prominent on the main veins beneath. Margins are ciliate with the hairs angled toward the apex. As soil dries during summer, leaf-drop proceeds up-stem.

Photo 3: Stems have closely spaced narrowly elliptic, simple leaves that extend from stem base into the inflorescence. Dead stems persist into the new growth year. Photo – March 4.
Photo 4: Upper surface of a 2½ inch leaf shown above, the lower surface below. Ciliate pubescence of upper leaf can be better seen in its shadow. Secondary veins curve and parallel the margins. Tertiary veins are reticulate. Photo – August 28.
Photo 5: Set of three leaves at top, left and right are from different plants. Left leaves are serrate while top and right leaves are entire. Margins are narrowly downturned, as can be seen on lower left leaf. The lower stem segment is 3⅛ inches long and 3/16 inch wide. Pubescence is not visible on leaves or stem. Photo – August 31.

Composite flower heads, with ray and disk florets, bloom in September and October. The axillary inflorescence, along the upper portion of the stem, consists of individual flower heads and tightly branching clusters of 3 to 7 flower heads, forming columnar or spikelike panicles. An inflorescence may be 4 to 10 inches long with up to 150+ heads, the flowering proceeding from apex to base. Individual heads or clusters are subtended by a small leaflike bract. While pedicels of single flower heads are consistently short, peduncles of clusters may be a bit longer (to ½+ inch). When plants are erect, flower heads are arranged equally around the stem; when sprawled, heads twist toward sunlight so that the inflorescence is secund (heads all on upper side). Pedicels and peduncles bear closely spaced linear-oblong bracts that transition to the linear-lanceolate phyllaries of the involucre (to ¼ inch long). Heads are about ¼ inch long and ⅛+ inch wide. Pedicels, peduncles, bracts, and phyllaries are light green with short hooked pubescence, that of the phyllaries being glandular.

Photo 6: Developing inflorescence of two stems at left consists of individual flower heads. Tip of stem at right was apparently damaged, so that lateral branches developed. Stem leaves may continue into the inflorescence (right stem) or transition to bracts (left stems). Photo – August 26.
Photo 7: Flowerheads on spreading to sprawled stems twist sunward so that the inflorescence is secund, but leaves remain arrayed about the stem. Plant at lower right is Goat’s Rue. Shrubs are Sparkleberry. Photo – October 25.
Photo 8: Flowers of this inflorescence (a panicle) are in tightly branched clusters, the distal heads blooming first. Blooming sequence of inflorescences begins at the apex. Photo – September 7.

The golden yellow flower heads comprise 5-10 pistillate (with pistils only) ray florets that surround 8-18 perfect (with pistils and stamens) disk florets subtended by an elongate cuplike involucre. The involucral bracts (termed phyllaries in the composites) are disposed in 3-4 series, with spreading to sharply recurved, triangular tips that give the heads a bristly appearance. Inner and outer surface of phyllaries bear minute glandular pubescence which may cause them to feel viscid. Heads bloom centripetally, from the ray florets inward to the center. Ray florets have a single linear to oblong ligule (the exposed portion of the corolla), ¼+ inch long, that has several longitudinal pleats, a rounded apex and tapered base.

Disk florets have tubular corollas, 5 stamens (filaments + anthers) and 1 pistil (ovary + style + stigma). The corollas, about 3/16 inch long, are topped with five narrow, erect, triangular lobes. Anthers of the free staminal filaments are fused together into a ring surrounding the style. As the style elongates through the anther ring, it carries the pollen above the corolla, where it is available to be dispersed by pollinators. With pollen released, anthers wither and the exserted style narrowly bifurcates to expose linear stigmatic surfaces for pollen capture. Corollas of disk florets are surrounded by a pappus of straight hairs, attached to the summit of the inferior ovary.

Photo 9: Clusters of flower heads seen from below and above. Pedicels and peduncles bear bracts that transition to the overlapping phyllaries. Bifurcated styles of two ray flowers can be seen in lowermost flower head. A number of slightly bifurcated styles of disk florets can also be seen. Photo – October 3.
Photo 10: Flower head shows: 1) flowering sequence moving from ray florets toward center of head, 2) 5 lobes of the tubular disk florets, 3) raised margin of disk corolla lobes, 4) slender filaments and anther rings, and 5) extruded pollen (far right). Elsewhere: 1) hooked ciliate pubescence on leaf (lower left) and 2) glandular pubescence on recurved phyllaries (upper left). Photo – October 18.

Fertilized ray and disk florets produce flattened elongate achenes (referred to as cypselae in Aster family) topped by pappus. The ⅛ inch long achenes are longitudinally ribbed. Dry pappus radiates from the apex of the achene where it provides lift for wind dispersal.

Photo 11: As flower heads dry, the enlarging ovaries/cypselae bulge upward as the exposed pappus dries and radiates from summit of the elongate cypselae. Photo – November 11.

Downy Ragged Goldenrod, with its large and decorative, late-summer and fall inflorescence, is an excellent choice for a wildflower garden. As with other goldenrods, its flowers provide nectar and pollen for a wide variety of insects, and seeds are consumed by small song birds. The long graceful stems can be somewhat “disorganized” so that staking may be needed. Plants do not spread by rhizomes. When soil dries, this species seems to be more prone to leaf drop.

Downy Ragged Goldenrod is one of some 30 or more species, subspecies, and varieties in the Solidago genus recognized in Arkansas. Of all these species, it most closely resembles Buckley’s Goldenrod (Solidago buckleyi) which has a similar inflorescence and spreading to recurved phyllaries. Buckley’s Goldenrod has fewer and significantly larger and thinner leaves that consistently have prominent marginal teeth.

*“Downy” may be a reference to early pubescence of stems and leaves which is mostly lost with plant maturity. “Ragged” may be based on the plant’s overall appearance at bloom-time: its long unbranched stems of varying lengths; its firmly positioned, often sprawling and twisty stems; and leaves that drop as available moisture declines.

** Leaf and phyllary shape and pubescence are variable across its range. Some authorities recognize varieties that are not addressed here. Arkansas plants are in need of further study.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Late Boneset

Late Boneset (Eupatorium serotinum) of the Aster, Sunflower, or Composite (Asteraceae) family is a tall herbaceous perennial with small, clustered, whitish flowerheads that lack ray florets. The genus name recognizes Mithridates Eupator who invented a “universal antidote” against poisoning and is said to have used a species of the genus in medicine. The specific epithet translates as “developing late” in reference to the time of flowering. The species is wide-ranging, from the Big Bend area of Texas to Illinois, east to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and including most of Florida. In Arkansas, it occurs statewide. The common name “boneset” originates from past use of some species of the genus to relieve pain. Plants are common in a variety of open to partly shaded habitats––prairies, woodlands, rights-of-way, roadsides and fallow fields––on mesic to dry soils.

Young single-stem plants have a stubby central rootstock with long near-surface spreading fibrous roots. At the end of the growing year, stems die with new stems developing the following spring from bases of the old stems. Over time, this short-lived perennial develops a gnarly central rootstock supported by a mass of wide-spreading fibrous to ropy light-tan roots. As new stems develop, the older central portion of the rootstock decays.

Photo 1: New stems grow from base of dead stems as the central portion of the rootstock decays. Width of that portion of the root mat shown is 7 inches. Photo – August 14.

Plants, lacking basal leaves, have one to several stems that may be 2-6+ feet tall, those in mesic soils being taller. Early in the growing season, stems tend to be purple, but later become medium green with faint, reddish ridges. Main stems are straight and erect, with their upper half to two-thirds bearing opposite pairs of spreading to ascending, axillary (primary) branches that decrease distally in length. More robust plants branch more profusely. All branches typically terminate in an inflorescence. Near the branch tips, leaves and branches may become sub-opposite or even alternate. Stems and branches are uniformly puberulent.

Photo 2: As an herbaceous perennial, new spring growth originates directly from the rootstock. Plants do not have basal leaves. Photo – March 28.
Photo 3: Leaves are in matched decussate pairs, except that those near the tips of branches may be sub-opposite or even alternate. Photo – May 10.
Photo 4: Stems are erect throughout the growth-year. As shown, branches have begun to grow along the stem’s upper portions. Stems, early in the growth year, are a solid purple. Photo – June 3.

Leaves are decussate, petiolate, and broadly lanceolate to lanceolate, becoming narrower above. A typical larger lower stem leaf may be 9½ inches long (including a 2½-inch petiole) and 2½ inches wide. An upper leaf, at the base of the inflorescence, may be 1⅝ inches long (including a ¼-inch petiole) and ¼ inch wide, while the uppermost leaves (subtending the final floral branches) become tiny and almost linear. Margins of larger leaves are boldly serrate while those of smaller leaves become entire. Margins taper gently to acute apexes. Upper leaf surface is glabrous, lower surface and underside of petioles puberulent. Upper surface is a shiny green, lower surface a dull pale green with the main veins yellowish green. Venation, recessed above and expressed below, is longitudinal with 2-4 secondary veins parallel to the midrib. Petioles are swollen and clasping at the base. Lower stem leaves that do not subtend a branch, tend to subtend a rudimentary branch or tuft of leaves. With drying conditions, lower leaves drop off.

Photo 5: Paired decussate branches are subtended by paired decussate leaves. Note stem puberulence and somewhat clasping bases of petioles. Photo – July 12.
Photo 6: Lower stem leaves, mid-stem leaves, and upper-branch leaves, the upper surfaces shown on left, lower surfaces on right. Larger blades are widest just above base. Venation is longitudinal. Leaf at left is 7¼ inches long, including a 1⅞ inch petiole.

Plants flower from mid-August into October. Spreading clusters of small flowerheads arranged in corymbs at the branch tips produce a broad, flat-topped inflorescence. Corymbs, with 6-10 closely spaced flowerheads, bloom outward from the base. Each head comprises 8-15 disk florets; ray florets are absent. Inflorescence branches, peduncles and pedicels are clothed in a fine white puberulence.

Photo 7: Display of parts of a 5½ foot stem. The ¾-inch-diameter stem at left, lower leaves having dropped off, was at ground level. Paired branching (lower right) is consistently repeated into the inflorescence (upper center). Photo – August 8.
Photo 8: The overall inflorescence tends to be flat-topped. The inflorescence is an insect magnet and provides a hunting ground for this White Banded Crab Spider (Misumenoides formosipes). Photo – September 24.
Photo 9: Terminal clusters are composed of several corymbs, each having 6-10 flowerheads, each composed of 8-15 disk florets. All parts of the inflorescence below the corolla are densely puberulent. Photo – September 6.

Disk florets, with whitish, 5-lobed, tubular corollas, are set in a cylindrical involucre of up to a dozen imbricate, elliptical phyllaries, about ⅛ inch long, in 1-2 series. Purplish stamens remain hidden within the corolla throat. The white style pushes upward through the ring of fused anthers, at first displaying the pollen, and ultimately dividing and spreading to receive pollen from other florets.

Photo 10: Disk florets, with white, 5-lobed, tubular corollas, are packed in a cylindrical involucre. Stamens and bristly pappus are hidden at this stage of floral development. The divided style arms extend well beyond the corollas. Photo – September 6.

After fertilization, corolla, stamens and style are shed from the inferior ovary as the pappus of 20+ white hairs or bristles dries and radiates from its apex. Ovaries mature into dark brown, cylindrical, slightly ribbed achenes, less than 1/16 inch long, dispersed by wind.

Photo 11: As the stem dies, the pappus radiates from the top of the achenes, providing lift and wind dispersal. Photo – November 13.

In considering Late Boneset for a garden, there is a good chance that volunteer plants are already there. Multiple plants may create a weedy appearance, but individual plants can be attractive as specimens, especially where associated with other native plants of differing texture, structure and color. Bonesets, mostly avoided by deer, are attractive to many insects. Removal of the dying stems from this short-lived perennial before seed dispersal would help control self-seeding.

Photo 12: In this garden setting Late Boneset grows with False Aloe, Dittany, Rose Vervain, Hairy Blazing Star, and Hairy Skullcap. Photo – July 18.

Late Boneset is one of some 20 species and recognized hybrids in the genus Eupatorium that occur in Arkansas. Many of these other species have white flower heads that are similar to those of Late Boneset. The leaf characteristics of Late Boneset––the undivided blades, long petioles and marginal serrations––separate it from most of those other species.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Mexican Hat

Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera) of the Aster, Sunflower, or Composite (Asteraceae) family is a perennial species that has flowerheads with a columnar central receptacle (disk). The origin of the genus name, coined by the eccentric naturalist Constantine Rafinesque-Schmaltz, is not entirely clear, although it may be a modification of a first century name for an aster-like plant from an area that is now in Romania. The specific epithet translates to “in the shape of a column,” a reference to the central disk. The primary natural range of the species is believed to be a broad swath from northern and eastern Mexico to south-central Canada, that includes the Great Plains of the U.S., with additional widely scattered occurrences both eastward and westward to the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. Some of these populations, especially nearer the core range, may be natural, but the species is widely cultivated as an ornamental, particularly in wildflower seed mixes, so the precise natural limits are obscured. In Arkansas, it is widely scattered across the state with the greatest concentrations in the Ozark Highlands and the southwest Blackland Prairie region. It may be indigenous to native grasslands in those areas, but is also often found along roadsides and other rights-of-way. Alternative common names include Long-Head Coneflower and Prairie Coneflower.

New spring growth arises from a smooth, yellow-tan, minimally branched taproot with numerous small secondary roots. Growth begins with one to several, early-deciduous, basal rosettes of leaves, that produce one to several, erect, sparsely branched stems, growing to 3 feet tall. Larger stems are ridged, becoming 4-5-sided. Minute strigose pubescence (short appressed hairs) gives them a rough feel. Plants have an open appearance due to leaf size decreasing distally. Dead stems persist well into the next year.

Photo 1: Rosettes of spring-time basal leaves surround developing stems. Photo – Mar 11.
Photo 2: Basal leaves transition to cauline leaves. Basal leaves are early-deciduous. Dead stems persist from the previous growth-year. Photo – April 13.
Photo 3: This plant has two stems (and a dead stem behind) growing directly from the rootstock. The smooth yellow-tan taproot has a few branches and numerous small ropy roots. Note that basal leaves have been lost. Photo June 30.

Basal and stem leaves are deeply pinnately incised with up to 15 mostly opposite, linear to linear-oblong lobes. A larger stem leaf may be 5 inches long and 3 inches wide with individual lobes to 2 inches long and 3/16 inch wide. Leaf number, size and lobing decrease distally––upper stems are leafless and uppermost leaves may consist of a single “lobe.” Lobes are apically rounded. Leaves are medium green on both surfaces with the proximal portion of the rachis trending to white. Other than midribs, venation is obscure. Like the stems, leaves are covered above and below with fine strigose pubescence and feel rough. Narrow wings extend along the rachis from the base of the lobes. While basal leaves have relatively long petioles, stem leaves become short-stalked to sessile.

Photo 4: Stem leaves are deeply incised so that linear lobes are formed. Sessile leaf at right (showing abaxial side) is 3⅞ inches long and 3 inches wide. Petiolate leaf at left attaches to a square stem. (For shape of basal leaves, see Photo 1.) Photo – July 19.

The inflorescence, from late May into late July, consists of composite flowerheads at the tips of tough erect peduncles that may be several inches to a foot long. Heads consist of a central columnar disk to 2 inches long and ⅜ inch wide, with numerous disk florets, surrounded by 4 to 12 sterile ray florets (lacking stamens and pistils). The disk, before opening of its florets, has a patterned surface that is pale green to gray-green. Ray florets consist of round to ovate ligules with a notched apex and clawed base. They may be well-spaced to overlapping, becoming ruffled to misshapen when crowded. Plant-specific petal coloration varies from rich brownish reds with yellow borders to solid brownish red or solid yellow*. Heads have a variable number of tough lanceolate phyllaries (usually five) of various sizes that are ascending while the head is in bud, but become spreading at anthesis. Minute strigose pubescence that covers peduncles and phyllaries extends onto the central disk.

Photo 5: Developing buds of disk florets roughen surface of the columnar disks. Phyllaries shift from ascending to perpendicular to the head’s axis. Note ray petals on heads at right. (Leaf on stem/peduncle on left partially removed.) Photo – July 19.
Photo 6: Composite flowerheads, terminating stems, have central columnar disks to 2 inches long and ⅜ inch wide. With crowding, ligules become misshapen. Photo site – Cove Lake spillway (Logan County). Photo – June 8.

The several hundred closely spaced, spirally arranged disk florets reach anthesis in longitudinal “bands” from the disk base upwards. Calyxes (< 1/16 inch long), with a minute pedicel, comprise 5 pale green elongate sepals with knobbed apexes. A tight staminal column of five purple filaments (twice as long as the sepals) extend from each disk flower. Pollen-bearing anthers face inward. As the reddish purple style develops, it pushes through the staminal column and releases the pollen. After the pollen is displayed, the style branches and recurves to expose reddish purple, linear stigmatic surfaces.

Photo 7: Disk florets bloom in longitudinal bands, beginning at disk base. Ligule color, consisting of rich brownish reds and yellows, is plant-specific.
Photo 8: The lowest band of disk florets has partially exserted styles. Florets in the above band are topped by pollen pushed-out by near-exserted styles. Minute strigose pubescence occurs on peduncle, phyllaries and receptacle.
Photo 9: Florets below the uppermost, open, pollen-topped florets have their elongate stigmatic surfaces exposed. Star pattern of extruded pollen reflects the 5 anthers.
Photo 10: Disk floret calyxes have five elongate sepals with knobby apexes set on a slim base. Receptacle, between florets, is covered with minute pubescence. Photo – July 20.

Most disk florets do not seem to produce viable fruit. When fertilized, florets produce a flattened chevron-shaped achene to ⅛ inch long and half as wide. These elongate brown fruits have a rounded base and a flat apex which may have a pappus of 2 weak awns. Dispersal of seeds is probably by birds, gusty wind and surface-water flow.

Photo 11: Central disk divided to show internal structure and ovules. Upper (left) and lower (right) surfaces of ray corollas shown. Clawed bases of ray corollas mostly still attached to head.
Photo 12: Flowerheads and peduncles dry quickly after flowering. The flattened 1-seeded achenes (the “sunflower seeds”) have a chevron shape. Head on left did not produce viable fruits. Photo – July 19

With its colorful flowerheads and compact structure, Mexican Hat is commonly included in gardens, including native plant gardens. The plant prefers sunny sites with well drained soils, but will survive in partially shady sites and short-term dry conditions. Apparently it is not an aggressive self-seeder.

In addition to Mexican Hat, one additional member of the genus occurs in Arkansas, Gray-Head Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata). Gray-Head Coneflower is a taller plant with fibrous roots, leaves with broader lanceolate lobes, solid yellow ray flowers, and shorter, more rounded central disks.

*Some authorities identify plants with yellow ligules as R. columnifera forma columnifera and those with reddish brown ligules with yellow edges as R. columnifera forma pulcherrima.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Betony-Leaf Noseburn

Betony-Leaf Noseburn (Tragia betonicifolia) of the Spurge (Euphorbiaceae) family is a perennial monoecious forb that is well-clad in stinging hairs. The genus name honors Hieronymus Tragus (aka Hieronymus Bock, a 16th-century German botanist). The species epithet is Latin for “betony leaved” and associates the appearance of leaves of this species to the Eurasian Betony (Betonica officinalis). The species occurs in the south-central U.S. from Texas and Louisiana north to Kansas and Missouri, with disjunct occurrences in Tennessee. In Arkansas, it occurs in well-drained areas of the western West Gulf Coastal Plain but primarily throughout large sections of the Interior Highlands. Preferred habitats include dry sandy to rocky soils in prairies, woodland openings, and glades, in both acidic and basic soils.

Betony-Leaf Noseburn, with long-ropy descending and spreading branched roots and stout caudex, is inconspicuous when growing with other species of similar height. It is a lanky, multi-stemmed plant. Early stems are erect but become leaning with growth, unless supported. Depending on environment and degree of support and shading, stems, grow to 2½ feet tall and have a near-ground diameter of about 1/16 inch. They are terete in cross-section, medium green, unbranched or sparsely branched, with closely spaced, slight longitudinal ridges. Branches, mostly about mid-stem, are axillary to alternate leaves. The stems and branches may twine. The entire plant, to varying degrees, has a fine translucent pubescence with stinging hairs. Hairs on stems align with the longitudinal ridges. Winter-killed stems persist well into the next growth year(s) so that the caudex is spiky.

yPhoto 1: The branched ropy roots of this plant grew in a rock-free, fine-sandy soil. Dead stems of the previous year persist, along with stumps of earlier years. Photo July 12.
Photo 2: Spring growth is heavily pubescent. This same plant is shown in Photo 1. Photo – May 14.
Photo 3: These two stems, growing with support, developed long axillary branches. Left stem is 30 inches long with 21 inches shown. Photo – July 13.

The lanceolate to broadly lanceolate alternate leaves, to 2½ inches long and 1 inch wide (including petioles to ¾ inch), have acuminate apexes and, typically, cordate bases. Pinnate venation is recessed above and strongly expressed below. Lateral margins have prominent round-triangular serrations with tiny pin-tips––the termination of secondary veins. Straight slender petioles (1/32 inch wide) are ascending at 45⁰, but the blade midribs arch downward so that the entire leaf blade is angled downward. Upper and lower leaf surfaces are a medium green with the lower surface duller. Pubescence of upper blade surface is very short, sparse and appressed while that of the lower surface is significantly longer and dense along major veins. Leaves are well spaced at ½ to 2 inches apart. A pair of lanceolate stipules, less than ⅛ inch long, occurs at the base of leaves, but dry and wither during the growing season.

Photo 4: Leaves typically have cordate bases. Prominent pinnate venation is recessed above and strongly expressed below. Stems, along with other parts of the plant, are densely pubescent with stinging hairs. Photo – May 30.
Photo 5: Right leaf pair are from low on stem while left pair is from mid-stem. A terminal stem segment is shown above. Stipules at base of petioles have dried. Photo – July 14.

With indeterminate plant growth, flowering may continue at the ends of stems from spring into summer. Whereas branches are axillary, the inflorescence is borne on short leafless stems (floral stems) growing opposite leaf-bases. Floral stems, to about ¾ inch long, develop along with leaves at the elongating tips of stems and branches. Near the base of floral stems, a “limb,” with several linear bracts, diverges from the main stem to a pedicel (marked by a joint) that supports a pistillate flower (see Photo 7). From the base of the limb, the floral stem continues as a raceme bearing 10 to 30 staminate flowers. Staminate flowers on stubby pedicels are subtended by linear bracts. Floral stems, limbs, pedicels and bracts are a medium green with dense straight to twisty stinging pubescence.

Photo 6: Floral stems, growing opposite leaf bases, develop when leaves appear at tips of elongating stems. Several floral stems, about ¾ inch long, can be seen on which staminate flowers have dropped as fruits mature. Photo – July 14.

The ovary of a pistillate flower comprises 3 large spherical, joined carpels which have a dense covering of large, translucent, stinging hairs. Pistillate flowers, set on a calyx composed of about five elongate-triangular sepals, lack petals and have a central set of three fused stubby styles; each topped with a spreading stigma.

Photo 7: Floral stems bear a pistillate flower and a raceme of staminate flowers. Red arrow indicates pedicel of the pistillate flower. Yellow arrow indicates pedicel of a discarded staminate flower. Note bracts subtending staminate flowers and bracts on “limb” below pistillate flower. Photo – June 30.

Photo 8: Pistillate flowers have 3 fused styles, each topped with an outward-spreading stigma. Longest hairs occur on fruit. Photo – June 30.

Staminate flowers bloom sequentially from raceme base to apex and may complete flowering before the pistillate flower reaches anthesis. The less than 1/16-inch-wide greenish yellow staminate flowers have 3 sepals, no petals, and 3 paddle-shaped pale yellow filaments topped with pale yellow anthers with the shape of a vertically oriented knob. Sepals, flared and petal-like, join to form a tube attached to a very stubby pedicel. With the passing of anthesis, staminate flowers drop off, leaving short, stubby pedicels and subtending dark green lanceolate bracts. The pedicels of Betony-Leaf Noseburn are considerably shorter than the bracts, a helpful trait for identifying the species. The empty raceme persists as the fruits dry.

Photo 9: The greenish yellow staminate flowers, less than 1/16 inch wide, have 3 sepals and stamens. Once the pale yellow pollen is released, flowers quickly drop off. Photo – June 30.

With fertilization, a 3-chambered, green, 1/4-inch seed capsule develops, becoming tan as it dries and matures. Capsules kinetically dehisce, resulting in a partial separation of the two sections of each chamber and a small “blow-out” of the lower portion of each chamber. Each chamber produces a single seed. With seeds dispersed, the “damaged” chambers drop to the ground, still intact. The black spherical seeds (⅛+ inch in diameter) are hard with a thin, elongate hilum.

Photo 10: On left, floral stem grows opposite a leaf that has a pair of stipules at its base. Staminate flowers have dropped off the raceme as fruit matures. Central scar of the styles can be seen on fruit at right. Photo – August 17.
Photo 11: When dry, simultaneously, chambers kinetically dehisce with seams widening slightly as seeds are ejected through the chambers’ bases. The black spherical seeds are hard with a thin, elongate hilum. Squares = ¼ inch. Photo – July 14.

For gardening purposes, this interesting plant should probably be relegated to a naturalistic garden where it would not likely come in contact with people. A slight touch of its stinging hairs to wrists, ankles, etc. can cause irritation for 10 to 15 minutes. Another species with stinging hairs addressed by this series of articles is Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis).

Four other species of Noseburn occur in Arkansas: Heart-Leaf Noseburn (T. cordata), Branched Noseburn (T. ramosa), Small’s Noseburn (T. smallii), and Nettle-Leaf Noseburn (T. urticifolia). Heart-Leaf Noseburn has large, heart-shaped leaves with long acuminate tips and numerous teeth per side. It grows in moist forests in several areas of the state. Branched Noseburn has linear leaves. It is found primarily in calcareous glades in the Ozark Highlands. Small’s Noseburn has rounded leaves with few, broad teeth. In Arkansas, it is found only in the sandhills of Miller County and is a state species of conservation concern. Nettle-Leaf Noseburn is the most similar to and easily confused with Betony-Leaf Noseburn. The primary character that distinguishes it is that the staminate flower pedicels of Nettle-Leaf Noseburn are about equal to or slightly exceed the bracts. Nettle-Leaf Noseburn is found primarily in better drained areas of the West Gulf Coastal Plain and southern Ouachita Mountains, in primarily acidic soils.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) of the Parsley or Carrot (Apiaceae) family is a tall perennial with distinctive ovoid flower heads. The genus name is based on the ancient Greek name used by Theophrastus for a prickly plant of the Mediterranean region. The specific epithet is Latin for “yucca-leaved”––morphologically true, although the two groups are unrelated: despite its strap-shaped, parallel-veined, monocot-looking leaves, Rattlesnake Master is a dicot. The common name is based on use of the plant by Native Americans to treat snakebites, for protection from being bitten, or for controlling snakes during ceremonies. In the U.S., the species grows principally from eastern Texas north into Iowa and east to Indiana, North Carolina, and Florida. In Arkansas, it occurs statewide. Habitats vary from sunny to partially shaded prairies, savannas and open woodlands, to stream banks and roadsides, in a broad variety of dry to wet soils. It is also known as Button Eryngo.

Photo 1: These four-year-old plants are in a restored prairie that has deep, well-drained sandy soil. The plant second from left, 5¾ feet tall, was excavated to expose roots (see Photo 2). Photo – June 28.

The glabrous (hairless) plants may have ropy roots only (observed in well-drained sandy soils) or corms and ropy roots (observed in wet soils). With ropy roots only, at shallow depth, roots radiate from the base of the stem, lacking a taproot. Corms, when present, grow to 2 inches long and ¾ inch wide, typically decaying after several years. These near-surface tan to brown corms have descending ropy roots attached to the base of stems or along the lower side of the corms. Individual corms bear a stem or two. At the end of the growth year, stems die and drop off, leaving round scars on the corm’s upper surface with rough end scars marking where the older corm rotted away. With clonal corms increasing in number over the years, a dense cluster of plants may develop.

Photo 2: This plant, along with a second plant from the same area (see Photo 1), has ropy roots only. Stem base is 1¼ inches wide. Photo – June 28.
Photo 3: Rootstock of this two-year old plant consists of a corm and ropy roots. The dead base of the previous year’s stem and a bud for the next-year stem can be seen. Inset shows corms separated from a tight clump of 20+ corms. Photo – June 30.

Leaves and stems decline at the end of the growing season (August) as new basal rosettes appear and persist over winter. In late winter, stems begin to grow from the basal rosettes. In more favorable sites, stems may grow to 5+ feet tall. The round, pale green stems have alternate, cyclically arranged leaves separated by ½ inch near the base to 12 inches distally. Stems are straight, stout, smooth, and hollow between the nodes (fistulose).

Photo 4: After surviving over winter, basal rosettes rise alongside the previous year’s dead stems. Photo – March 12.

Leathery, strap-like basal and stem leaves are pale green to bluish green, usually with a waxy, white coating (glaucous) on both surfaces. Venation is parallel, without a notable midrib. Larger leaves have widely spaced, weak marginal spines with fine tips, ½ to ¾ inch long near the leaf base. Stem leaves, arranged cyclically, with broad, clasping bases grow to 3 feet long and 1 to 1¾ inches wide. Basal leaves tend to decline as the stem continues to grow.

Photo 5: The alternate stem leaves, clasping to sheathing, are arranged in a cyclic pattern. Leaves, with weak marginal and apical spines, tend to be glaucous. Photo – May 26.

The stem terminates in a flower head. Along the upper portion of the stem, 1-5 lateral branches bear additional terminal heads, with some stems containing as many as 20+ heads on stout, straight peduncles.

Photo 6: This 5½-foot tall plant with five stems is growing in a sandy, rocky site. The longer stem leaves droop toward the ground. Longest leaves are 29 inches. Photo – June 30.

Flowering occurs in late June into August. The primary inflorescence consists of heads with 90± tiny (3/16 inch long, 2/16 inch wide) densely packed flowers (morphologically, the heads are condensed umbels) in which the sessile flowers are attached to a spongy core (the receptacle). Each flower is subtended by a triangular pointed bract (floral bract). The upright heads, ¾ to 1 inch wide and high, are subtended by elongate-triangular overlapping basal bracts. Floral bracts and basal bracts have firm pointed tips so that the heads feel prickly.

Photo 7: Floral branches may be alternate, opposite or whored. Each branch is subtended by a leaf-like bract with a cupping base and multiple apical spines. Photo – June 24.

The perfect flowers (with pistils and stamens) have 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens (filaments + anthers), and 1 compound pistil (ovary + styles + stigmas) of 2 carpels. Greenish white sepals and white petals are attached at the top of the ovary––the ovary is “inferior,” the flowers “epigynous.” The white styles (obscurely tipped with stigmas) appear several days to a week before the stamens. The white hair-like filaments, twice as long as the styles, hold the relatively large, tan, 2-lobed anthers well above the corolla.

Photo 8: Each tiny flower is subtended by a pointed pale green bract. Pairs of styles appear before stamens. Several tan anthers can be seen around the head’s perimeter. Photo – July 5.
Photo 9: Upper portions of the white petals are notched.  Styles stand-out in lower portion of photo.  The greenish sepals surround the petals.  Photo – July 11.
Photo 10: Heads are subtended by overlapping bracts. Note paired styles and several anthers. Photo – July 5.
Photo 11: Sessile flowers connect directly to a spongy receptacle. Morphologically, flower heads are condensed umbels. Persistent sepals and petals become bract-like around the developing fruit. Photo – August 23.

With fertilization, flowers produce a schizocarp-type fruit which splits into 2 dry, indehiscent, 1-seeded mericarps (a diagnostic feature of the parsley family). The obovate mericarps have a flattened interior side and two exterior sides which are densely scaly with persistent sepals and petals. This scaly texture may help mericarps disperse by wind, water and animals. With the scales removed, mericarps are ⅛ inch long and half as wide.

Photo 12: Dry fruits of the head on left have been removed to expose a pineapple-looking receptacle. Separated mericarps are shown, along with three dislodged seeds on left. Photo – October 14.

For a garden, Rattlesnake Master would be an excellent specimen plant where its color and distinct structure would provide strong contrast with other plants. It is a stand-out plant throughout the growing season into winter. It has a high germination rate so that extra plants may be gifted to other native plant gardeners. It is not eaten by deer.

Four other native species of the genus are found in Arkansas: Hooker’s Eryngo (Eryngium hookeri), Blue-Flower Eryngo (Eryngium integrifolium), Leavenworth’s Eryngo (Eryngium leavenworthii), and Creeping Eryngo (Eryngium prostratum). The first three are rare in the southern part of the state and of conservation concern. They are smaller plants, often with bluish or purplish inflorescences. Creeping Eryngo, a very small, sprawling plant also with bluish flower heads, is known throughout most of the state. Rattlesnake Master is easily distinguished by its large size and consistently white heads. 

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Ouachita Hedge-Nettle

Ouachita Hedge-Nettle (Stachys iltisii*) of the Mint (Lamiaceae) family is a clonal herbaceous perennial with a spike-like inflorescence of two-lipped, white flowers with prominent purple blotches. The genus name is from the Greek for “an ear of wheat” in reference to the spike-like inflorescence. The specific epithet honors botanist Hugh Iltis. In the U.S., Ouachita Hedge-Nettle occurs in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma along with scattered sites in the Arkansas Valley and Boston Mountains. Habitat preference is mesic deciduous woodlands.

Photo 1:  A low-lying woodland provides a preferred habitat for an expanding colony of Ouachita Hedge-Nettle. Photo – June 8.

Plants initially consist of a single stem, rhizomes (underground stems, here typically branching), and fibrous roots. During the growing season, a plant produces one to several rhizomes to a foot long. Young rhizomes are slender and round, but they become four-sided and ultimately develop an enlarged distal end from which, in spring, a single new upright stem rises.  At the end of the growing season, the initial plant dies, leaving one to a half dozen new rhizomes to produce a “disjointed” clonal colony. Rhizomes are white while the fibrous roots are white to tan. The four-sided stems may be hollow or filled with pith (a soft tissue), thus easily disintegrating before the next growing season.

Photo 2:  In display:  1) a dead stem from the previous year, 2) current-year stem with an ⅛ inch base, 3) the cut-off end of a four-sided, hollow parent rhizome, 4) a second current-year stem from the same parent rhizome (gap in rhizome), and 5) two disconnected growing rhizomes (tips to left)––rhizomes twisty due to rocky soil.  Photo June 13.  

Undamaged stems grow erect and unbranched to 3+ feet tall, clothed in spreading to reflexed long white hairs. Spring-time stems look and feel fuzzy while stems at the time of bloom are coarse and feel bristly. Non-flowering stems terminate with a pair of opposite leaves; flowering stems have a terminal spike-like inflorescence. Plants do not have basal leaves.

Photo 3:  Single new stems grow from the “tip” of a rhizome. The petiolate leaves and the four-sided stems have dense pubescence. Photo – March 30.

The simple leaves, in opposite, short-petiolate, decussate pairs (rotated 90⁰), are broadly lanceolate-elliptic with a rounded to truncate or lobed base and an acuminate tip. Largest leaves occur at about mid-stem to 7 inches long, 2½ inches wide, with up to a ¼ inch petiole. Uppermost leaves may be 1¼ inch long and ¼ inch wide with rounded, subsessile bases. Margins are serrate. Prominent pinnate venation is strongly recessed on the upper surface and strongly expressed on the lower surface. The reticulate pattern of tertiary veins is also prominent. The dull upper blade surface is densely pubescent with long reflexed hairs throughout. Hairs of the lower blade surface are significantly shorter. Both surfaces feel fuzzy. Except for the structural support provided by the veins, leaf blades are thin and flimsy.

Photo 4:  The opposite decussate leaf pairs are widely spaced and held nearly horizontal. Leaves are broadly lanceolate-elliptic with short petioles to subsessile. Photo – May 25.
Photo 5:  Display shows lower, mid, and uppermost leaves (upper and lower sides alternating). Leaves of lower pair are 6 inches long and 2½ inches wide, on a stem < 1/16 inch wide (in this case, hollow stems filled with pith). Leaves have pinnate venation and uniformly serrated leaf margins. Photo – June 5.

The spike-like inflorescence comprises a vertical series of densely packed whorls of cymose flower clusters (cymules), with 10-16 flowers per cluster**. The lowermost whorl tends to be subtended by the uppermost pair of stem leaves, the more distil whorls by pairs of greatly reduced bracts. Separation of whorls along the square-stemmed rachis varies from ¾ inch to ¼ inch, the greatest separation being between two lowermost whorls and gradually decreasing upwards. An inflorescence may have 10-16 whorls, to ½ inch wide and ¼ inch tall. Flowering sequence is typically from base to apex and, within each cymule, from the central flower to the laterals.

Photo 6:  Upper surfaces of leaves are convex and densely pubescent. Lower surfaces are less pubescent. Leaves extend into the inflorescence as subtending bracts that are pressed tightly against the whorls of cymules. Photo – May 10.
Photo 7:  Flowers are arranged in tight clusters comprising very stubby cymules. Central flower of a cymule blooms first, followed by lateral flowers. Flowers are favored by small bees and other insects. Photo –  May 25.

Flower corollas are two-lipped or bilabiate. The ascending upper lip is hooded, often with a central notch. The lower lip, extending downward, has a broad central lobe and a pair of  smaller rounded lateral lobes. Corollas are ⅜ inch long, base to tip. In bee’s eye view, they are ⅜ inch high with a landing pad, the lower lip, 3/16 inch wide, in color, white to pale lavender with prominent purple splotches on the lower lobe. Short glandular hairs cover the exterior of the flower. The ¼ inch long pubescent calyx has 5 triangular 1/16-inch-long pointed lobes.

Photo 8:  Whorl at lower right is positioned to show the top while the other three are positioned to show the bottom and their opposite pairs of bracts (see arrows). The pubescent campanulate calyxes have 5 triangular lobes. Photo – June 12.

Flowers have 4 stamens (filament + anther) and a single pistil (4-lobed ovary + style + stigma). Stamens are epipetalous––fused below to the corolla tube––with filaments bent so that the anthers are firmly fixed just below the hooded upper lip. The dark brown-purple anthers bear white pollen. The straight white style, tipped with a tiny 2-forked pointed stigma, arises from a deep notch between the ovary lobes. Filaments and style are about 7/16 inch long. Upper portion of filaments is covered with short glandular hairs. 

Photo 9:  Flower shown out of position with lower lobe on right, upper lobe on left. At their upper end, filaments bend sharply to direct the two-celled anthers (dark color) down onto entering insects. Forked stigma can be seen below anthers.  

With fertilization, the lobes of the ovary quickly develop into 4 one-seeded nutlets. These become 1/16 inch long and dark brown at maturity with minute irregular protrusions (tuberculate). They drop free with calyx movement.

Photo 10:  This post-bloom 6-inch long inflorescence segment has 15 whorls, each with two cymules bearing 5 to 8 calyxes. The 1/8-inch-long nutlets, at right, are tuberculate. Photo – July 27.  

For an informal garden or natural area, Ouachita Hedge-Nettle, with its well-spaced matching leaf pairs and spiky inflorescence, is structurally pleasing, probably best in a dedicated space with room to roam. In some settings, it may become aggressive. When deer nip off spring-time stems, a replacement pair of axillary stems tends to grow. Plants do not seem to be eaten by deer later in season. Like many 2-lipped-flowered mints, Ouachita Hedge-Nettle is a favorite nectar source for small bees and other insects.

In addition to Ouachita Hedge-Nettle, three other species of the genus are known to occur in Arkansas: Shade Betony (Stachys crenata), perhaps native to extreme southwest Arkansas, the non-native Florida Betony (S. floridana), and Smooth Hedge-Nettle (S. tenuifolia). Of these, Smooth Hedge-Nettle is the most similar, but it is a smaller, mostly glabrous plant with narrower, longer-petiolate leaves and calyxes with longer and reflexing lobes. It tends to grow in wetter sites and throughout the state. American Germander (Teucrium canadense), with similar habit and spike-like inflorescence, may be confused with Ouachita Hedge-Nettle (see Photo 11), however the corollas, with no upper hooded lip, distinguish it at once.

Photo 11:  Ouachita Hedge-Nettle (left), as compared to American Germander (right), generally does not branch, blooms earlier, and has short petiolate fuzzy leaves. Photo – June 5. Inset: inflorescence of American Germander, showing with corollas lacking a hooded upper lip.

*  Before being described as a new species in 2008, Ouachita Hedge-Nettle was known as Epling’s Hedge-Nettle (Stachys eplingii). As now understood, Epling’s Hedge-Nettle occurs in widely scattered sites between Alabama and Virginia.

** Plants with fewer than expected flowers per cymule are found scattered throughout Ouachita Hedge-Nettle’s range. These plants are are in need of further taxonomic study.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Arkansas Beardtongue

Arkansas Beardtongue (Penstemon arkansanus) of the Plantain (Plantaginaceae) family, formerly of the Figwort (Scrophulariaceae) family, has showy white tubular flowers with a fifth stamen that is sterile, typically bearded (pubescent), and tonguelike in form, a hallmark of this large genus. The name Penstemon derives from the Greek words “penta” (five) and “stemon”(stamen). The specific epithet notes the species’ principal range in the Interior Highlands of Arkansas. It is also found in eastern Oklahoma, far-south Missouri, and far-south Indiana. Habitats include well-drained soils on sandstones and shales in open woodlands.

This herbaceous perennial has several to many stems in a tight clump growing from a tough, coarse rootstock. Springtime stems emerge from beneath previous years’ dead stems as well as from new basal plants that arise both from the center and the periphery of the rootstock. Stem bases that contact soil take root. Stems are unbranched except within the inflorescence. They have a grayish sheen due to a minute pubescence.

Photo 1: These three root/plant segments are from a plant that had a dozen such segments in a tight clump. New stems growing from base of dead stems can be seen on right.

Arkansas Beardtongue plants have slender stems to 24+ inches tall and ascending lanceolate leaves to 3+ inches long and ⅝+ inch wide. Leaves are dark green above and yellowish green below, and occur in opposite, decussate pairs (rotated 90⁰ degrees). Leaves are glabrous to minutely pubescent (particularly on the veins), slightly coriaceous (leathery), broadest at mid-leaf with a gentle taper to a rounded clasping base and a blunt-tipped apex. Distal margins have short, well-spaced, prickly teeth. Upper midribs are narrowly channeled while lower yellowish midribs are prominent. Leaves of new offset plants are elongate-spatulate, to 5½ inches long and 1 inch wide, with a broadly lanceolate blade tapering to a 2½ inch, partially winged petiole.

Photo 2: Stems of this spring-time plant, in a sunny site, are purple with a sheen of microscopic white pubescence. Clasping cauline leaves are in opposite pairs. Photo – April 5.
Photo 3: The new basal plant, growing from center of the rootstock, has spatulate leaves with partially winged petioles. The leaves are slightly leathery. Photo – May 18.
Photo 4: This two foot plant has multiple stems that branch only in the inflorescence. Photo – May 10.

Arkansas Beardtongue bears flowers for about a month in late April to early June––among the first of several species of Arkansas’ native penstemons to bloom. The inflorescence, a terminal, open panicle, consists of a stem bearing 6-14 cymes with 3-16 flowers per cyme. Cymes are 1¼-3½ inches long, the panicles to 6+ inches long. The panicle consists of several to a half dozen opposite pairs of ascending floral branches, subtended by small to tiny leaflike bracts. Flowers occur mostly in pairs between the bases of paired branches. Branches within a mature inflorescence tend to become entangled. Pubescence of the stems extends onto the inflorescence branches.

Photo 5: Display shows: 1) leaves of a basal plant with upper surface shown on left and lower surface on right, 2) upper surface of a stem leaf pair, 3) lower surface of a stem leaf pair, 4) upper surface of leaf pair at base of inflorescence (in inverted position), and 5) a segment of a floral branch with bracts.
Photo 6: The open panicles of these two stems comprise multiple cymes. Flowers between the bases of axillary branches have produced fruits while flowers on lateral branches are in bloom. Photo – May 15.

The white tubular flowers, with purple nectar guides, are to ¾ inch long with a 2-lobed upper lip and a 3-lobed lower lip. All lobes are rounded, the upper lobes smaller. The upper lip is recurved; the lower lip projects forward, a landing platform for insects. The 5 lobes terminate a gaping inflated throat that abruptly decreases in diameter to the tube. The nectar guides, extending from the center of lobes down the throat, are also evident on the exterior of the flowers. A pale green cup-shaped calyx, with a length and width of ⅛ inch (at flowering), bears 5 spreading triangular lobes.

Photo 7: A cyme with the main stem terminating with a flower pair (past anthesis), as growth continues via lateral branching. Pubescence becomes more noticeable toward and onto the flowers.

Flowers have 1 pistil (ovary + style + stigma), 4 fertile stamens (filaments + anthers), and 1 staminode, the “beardtongue.” The glabrous ovary, 1/16-inch-long and half as wide, has a raindrop shape. The straight thread-like 1/2-inch style, white with purple shading, bears a flat round stigma. The style is mostly hidden by the stamens. The white staminode (⅝ inch long), curving down from the upper side of the throat and positioned on the lower lip, faces upwards with spiky light-yellow hairs along the upper surface of its wider and flatter distal half. Style and filaments are hairless. Dense short glandular pubescence covers the exterior of corollas, calyxes, and pedicels.

The four fertile stamens (twice as thick as the style) occur as a longer pair (½ inch) and a shorter pair (⅜ inch). The staminal filaments are fused below to the floral tube. Their somewhat contorted positioning works to facilitate contact with pollinating insects that enter the flower. The white filaments of each stamen-pair curve away from each other in the throat and then recurve so that anthers face each other at the mouth of the tube, with the shorter pair positioned just below the longer pair, and all remaining beneath the upper lip. The dark purple anthers each consists of a pair of elongate lobes connected to the tip of the filament. At anthesis, anther lobes spread wide to expose a white surface of pollen.

Photo 8: Pedicels, calyxes, and exterior of flowers have glandular pubescence. Straight light-yellow hairs are on the distal half of the staminode. Anthers of the longer pair of stamens can be seen. Photo – May 28.
Photo 9: With corolla lips pulled back, the staminode projects beyond the anthers. Filaments attach to the purple side of the 2-lobed anthers. Lower anthers have yellowed. Purplish style is centered among the anthers.

Ovaries of fertilized flowers develop into teardrop-shaped hardened capsules. Capsules may be pale green to purple before drying to a bronzy brown in mid-summer. Sepals and style are persistent––the pointed tip of the glabrous capsule is a remnant of the style. Dry capsules, about ¼ inch long, split into two chambers from tip to base to release numerous tiny black seeds. The black seeds are irregularly shaped and about 1/16 inch wide.

Photo 10: This leaning stem, with entangled cymes, bears green to purple developing fruits. Inset photo shows dry infructescence on a grid of ¼-inch squares. Photo dates: main – May 15, inset – July 24.

For a garden, Arkansas Beardtongue is not as showy as other native beardtongues. Mature plants produce hundreds of flowers with nectar and pollen over a month-long period for small bees and other insects. Compact clumps expand slowly from year to year. If new seeded plants are not wanted, drying panicles are fairly easy to remove but may become lost in other vegetation. For a more tidy springtime appearance, removal of the upper portion of old stems may be needed (retain old bases for new stem growth).

In addition to Arkansas Beardtongue, seven other beardtongues occur in Arkansas, of which four have white flowers: Foxglove Beardtongue (P. digitalis), Nodding Beardtongue (P. laxiflorus), Pale Beardtongue (P. pallidus), and White Wand Beardtongue (P. tubiflorus). In Photo 11, P. digitalis and P. tubiflorus are shown with P. arkansanus, where differences in flower and sepal size and shape can be seen. Of the two remaining white-flowered species, P. laxiflorus can be distinguished by its persistent basal leaves, hanging inch-long pale lavender flowers with throats 2 times as long as the tubes, and orange staminode hairs on staminodes that are more exserted from the throat. Penstemon laxiflorus occurs primarily in the West Gulf Coastal Plain. The other species, P. pallidus, can be distinguished by its less complex branching habit with clustered flowers, dark-yellow staminode hairs, and densely pubescent stems and leaves with slightly longer pilose hairs. Penstemon pallidus occurs primarily in the Ozark Highlands and northern Crowley’s Ridge.

Photo 11: Display showing cymes of P. tubiflorus (left), P. digitalis (center), and P. arkansanus (right). As well as differences among flowers and calyxes, hairs of the staminodes are also distinctive.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Glades of Arkansas Webinar

Good Afternoon!

If you enjoyed the webinar series offered by the Arkansas Native Plant Society in May, then you may be excited to find out that we will be continuing these webinars monthly for the remainder of the year, and hopefully beyond.

The first webinar in our monthly webinar series will be Glades of Arkansas with Brent Baker, scheduled for this Saturday, June 5th, 10-11am.

Program Description: In this webinar Brent will discuss what glades are, as well as the different types found in Arkansas and where they occur. He’ll also highlight glade plant species in general and discuss some species that are unique to certain types of glades.

Speaker Bio: Brent Baker is a botanist with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, an agency of the Division of Arkansas Heritage within the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, where he has worked for nearly twelve years to monitor and discover new populations of rare plants in the state and to conduct botanical inventories of the state’s System of Natural Areas and other ecologically significant lands. He is also the collections manager for the Commission’s Herbarium, a collection of preserved and labeled plant specimens for documentation, reference, and scientific study. Brent holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in biology with an emphasis in botany, both from the University of Central Arkansas. He was a member of the Arkansas Vascular Flora Committee and was one of the editors of the Committee’s Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas, published in 2013. Brent is an eighteen-year member and former president of ANPS. In his free time, Brent enjoys native plant gardening and working on habitat restoration on his property outside of Dardanelle.

Just a friendly reminder that you will need to have the Zoom software/app installed on your computer, tablet, or smartphone in order to use this link and view the webinar.

Once you have a Zoom account set up you can click here to join:

We hope to see you on Saturday!

Kind Regards,
Eric Fuselier, President
Arkansas Native Plant Society

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Know Your Natives – Long-Flower Cornsalad

Long-Flower Cornsalad (Valerianella longiflora) of the Cornsalad (Valerianaceae) family is an intruigingly branched, herbaceous annual with white flowers with long purple floral tubes. The genus name is the diminutive of Valeriana, the type genus of the Valerianaceae, a name honoring the Roman emperor Valerianus. The specific epithet refers to the flowers’ long floral tubes. In the U.S., the species is endemic to east-central Oklahoma and west-central Arkansas. In Arkansas, more specifically, it occurs in the western Ozark Plateaus, Arkansas River Valley and Ouachita Mountains. The common name “Cornsalad” highlights the use of young plants of some of the species in salads, primarily the non-native Valerianella locusta. Habitat preference is well-drained rocky to sandy soils in full to mostly sunny sites, such as short-grass areas of prairies and glades, woodland openings, and mowed areas of fields and highways.

Taprooted plants first appear as low-growing rosettes of simple spatulate leaves, much like those of other species of Cornsalad. They will reach a height of about 16 inches. A single erect stem divides into paired opposite branches (dichotomous branching) with the final division terminating in the inflorescence. The 2-6 pairs of branches are each subtended by an opposite pair of leaves. The angle between paired branches is fairly constant at about 30⁰ with pairs being rotated by up to 90⁰ from one pair to the next. Stems are hollow, glabrous, and yellowish green, with purplish shading where exposed to more sunlight. They are slightly ridged making them hexagonal in cross-section. Colonies of the plants tend to be about the same height with branches intertwining with other forbs and grasses.

Photo 1: Plants, with a taproot bearing fibrous lateral roots, have dichotomous branching and matched pairs of opposite leaves. This 8½-inch-long plant has four pairs of matched branches. Photo – May 4.

Opposite, clasping leaves fully encircle the stem at their base. Leaves below the lowest pair of branches (“lower leaves”) tend to be of similar size, to 2½ inches long and ⅜ inch wide. Leaf pairs above the lowest pair of branches (“upper leaves”) decrease quickly in size to the point that those subtending the peduncles (stalks of the inflorescence) may be ⅛ inch long and 1/16 inch wide. While shape of lower leaves changes from spatulate to oblong, upper leaves are mostly oblong, grading to lanceolate. The soft yellowish green leaves have entire (uncut) margins and mostly rounded apexes. Pinnate venation is obscure except for the lighter colored and slightly recessed upper midvein and expressed lower midvein.

The Cornsalads have cymose inflorescences that are extremely structurally complex. The following guided tour of the Long-Flower Cornsalad inflorescence is probably best understood by examination under the bright light of a dissecting microscope: A plant with four stem/branch divisions would have 16 peduncles (see Photo 2), growing to ½ -1 inch long, subtended by the uppermost pair of leaves. Each peduncle terminates with a flat-topped floral cluster (“primary cluster”) with a mature base that is from ½ inch long and ¼ inch wide, with that size expanded by the flower cluster. Primary clusters bear about 16 flowers divided into two adjoining clusters (“secondary clusters”). Secondary clusters are subtended by a matched pair of small broadly lanceolate (⅛ inch by 1/16 inch) “basal bracts” along with similarly shaped and sized “floral bracts”. Floral bracts, which subtend flowers at the exterior of clusters, are immediately above and in contact with the basal bracts. In addition to the bracteate flowers, single un-bracteate flowers also occur: 1) between the peduncles at the tip of the branch and 2) between paired secondary clusters. Basal and floral bracts are oval with a sharp tip and spiky ciliate margins (see Photo 3). Peduncles and bracts are a pale green with bracts, especially their tip and margins, highlighted in purple. A plant’s overall inflorescence may be to 10 inches wide, depending on habitat and plant crowding.

Photo 2: At top of photo, 8 pairs of peduncles (with flower clusters removed) are subtended by pairs of small leaves. “Buds” between peduncles are developing fruits of bractless flowers (see Photo 3). Leaves displayed below first branch show upper sides (left) and lower sides (right).
Photo 3: Uppermost leaf pair (white arrow) subtends two primary flower clusters. A developing fruit of a bractless flower is positioned between two still-short peduncles (red arrow on one). Secondary clusters are subtended by a pair of basal bracts (black arrow on one) with floral bracts subtending exterior flowers.
Photo 4: Of the two primary clusters of the branch on right, the one to the right is separated into secondary clusters. At this stage of development, peduncles (arrow on one) are short. (Secondary cluster at lower right also shown in Photo 5.)

Flowering, over a month in April-May, begins with the bractless flower and continues with the bracteate flowers. In bud, the corolla has a white spherical shape atop a long purple tube. Fully open flowers have five widely flared (to 1/4 inch wide), obovate, white corolla lobes and a 3/8 inch long and less than 1/64 inch wide corolla tube. The gynoecium comprises a single pistil (stigma, style and ovary), the androecium 3 stamens, inserted on the corolla tube. Flowers are epigynous––the ovary is inferior, with the corolla attached at its summit. When flowers initially open, the elongate white anthers, center-balanced on the extremely slim filaments, are held directly above the half-hair-sized style. Once pollen has been shed, filaments reflex tightly between the corolla lobes (becoming purple). With stamens in this position, the extremely tiny stigma trifurcates to expose stigmatic surfaces.

Photo 5: A bractless flower between the two halves of a secondary cluster is at anthesis while other flowers remain in bud. Stamens of the flower are at their reflexed position with stigma not yet trifurcated. Ovary can be seen at base of corolla tube.
Photo 6: Corolla lobes are disposed at right angles to the corolla tube. As seen at right, initially, white anthers are positioned above the stigma. Western Daisy (Astranthium ciliatum) in background. Another cornsalad (V. radiata) is also shown.
Photo 7: After pollen release, stamens reflex between the corolla lobes (becoming purple) and the stigma trifurcates.

With fertilization, 1 of a flower’s 3 carpels develops a viable seed (the other 2 are infertile) as the plant dies. The almost round and somewhat flattened, chubby fruits (less than ⅛ inch across) have a smoothly rounded side and a side with a longitudinal groove. The unusual fruit shape is the product of the fertile middle carpel being bounded by compressed, parallel infertile carpels. The tawny brown seeds are glabrous.

Photo 8: With the plant dying, the loose fruits drop free of the clusters. Fruits have a rounded side and a grooved side (fruits are shown with grooved-side facing up). Photo – June 2.

For a garden or natural area, Long-Flower Cornsalad would be a welcome, showy annual plant, often seeding to a lovely colony. If self-seeding becomes a problem, spreading may be controlled by removal of excess plants before fruits mature. However, it would be ideal for a prairie setting where it can feely mix with other spring-blooming annuals and grasses. It provides nectar and pollen for small bees and flies. It is not favored by deer.

Photo 9: A Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) feeds on nectar of Long-Flower Cornsalad.

Six other species of the genus occur in Arkansas. Of the other six, Ozark Cornsalad (Valerianella ozarkana) has the most similar flowers, with long purplish tubes. Ozark Cornsalad may be distinguished primarily by its usually longer, three-angled, oblong fruits with three lines of pubescence (a form with smaller, rounded, glabrous fruits may sometimes be encountered). Ozark Cornsalad is found primarily in the Ozark Highlands, with scattered occurrences in the Boston Mountains and Arkansas Valley.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Prairie Ragwort

Prairie Ragwort (Packera plattensis, formerly Senecio plattensis) of the Aster, Sunflower, or Composite (Asteraceae) family is an herbaceous perennial with felty, white stem hairs and attractive, yellow, radiate flower heads. The genus name honors Canadian John G. Packer, author of Flora of Alberta. The epithet refers to the range from which the species was first described: “of the Platte River region.” Prairie Ragwort is widespread within central U.S. from north-central Louisiana and central Texas north to Indiana and eastern Montana. Widely scattered populations also occur in the eastern U.S. In Arkansas, it is reported from throughout much of the state but appears to be more common in the Ozark Plateaus and the Arkansas River Valley. Habitats include various dry to mesic sandy to limy soils in prairies, fields and open woodlands. The species is also known as Prairie Groundsel.

Prairie Ragwort has erect flowering stems to 2 feet tall which are unbranched, except within the inflorescence. Stems grow from short, vertically oriented, perennial rootstocks which extend deeper into the soil with age and become roughened by encircling leaf scars. One to several slender taproots may be present along with string-like fibrous roots, all growing from the rootstock’s tapered distal end. String-like, near-surface, white stolons (same appearance as the roots) extend off the rootstock and give rise to clonal plantlets. These may be as far as a half-dozen inches from the parent. Apparently, rootstocks survive for only several years, but, with continual production of new plantlets, the plant is perennial.

The rootstock may produce 1-3 closely spaced, light green to basally purple, hollow stems, clothed in woolly pubescence. As they age, stems may become more or less glabrous above, except for patches of woolly hair in the leaf axils.

Photo 1: This several-year plant with three growing stems has only string-like fibrous roots. The clonal off-set plant connects to the parent rootstock by a string-like stolon. Photo – April 24.

Plants have simple basal leaves. Early new leaves are oval to elliptic with later leaves becoming broadly lanceolate. Basal leaves, with long slender petioles, are dark green above and light green beneath. Early in the growing season, they have a dense mat of short appressed hairs (floccose pubescence). Oval leaves may be 6 inches long (including a 3½ inch petiole) and 1¼ inches wide, while lanceolate leaves may be 10 inches long (including a 5½ inch petiole) and 2 inches wide. Basal and stem leaves are shown in Photo 4. Leaves are firm to slightly leathery with the blade ascending along both sides of the midrib. Petioles are light green and grooved above, with the groove continuing along the leaf midvein. Basal leaves that grow later in the growing season are ascending to erect with the final leaves of the growing season being ground-hugging for surviving over winter months.

Photo 2: Early basal leaves of clonal plantlets are oval to elliptic with dentate margins and appressed floccose pubescence. Several additional plantlets can be seen. Photo – April 2.

Mid-stem to upper-stem leaves are sessile and alternate, measuring 6 inches long and 2 inches wide, but quickly reduced in size distally into the inflorescence. The blades are deeply, pinnately cut into a half dozen or more lobes, with midribs between lobes slightly winged. Larger basal lobes clasp the stem. Blades are mostly glabrous with sparse hairs beneath.

Photo 3: A plant at early stage of stem growth. It has oval to elliptic basal leaves and “transitional leaves,” lobed near the base, resembling soon-to-appear, mid- to upper stem leaves. Photo – February 20.
Photo 4: Display of basal to lower stem leaves (four on left) and mid- to upper stem leaves (four on right) with wing-like lobes and sessile/clasping bases. Upper and lower surfaces are shown alternately. Photo – May 2.

The inflorescence consists of “radiate” flowerheads––comprising both ray and disc flowers––arranged in corymbs that are further aggregated to form a compound corymb with all the heads at about the same height. As in virtually all composites, disk flowers of a head bloom centripetally––the outer, peripheral florets bloom first. In contrast, the central head of the corymb (as well as the central corymb of the compound corymb) initiates blooming––i.e., the heads bloom centrifugally. With each corymb having up to about 10 flowerheads, the entire cluster may have 40+ flowerheads. Flowering continues for about a month (April-May) before plants are overshadowed by later competitors, including prairie grasses.

Photo 5: This portion of a colony includes several plantlets and 20-inch-tall flowering stems. The clasping pinnate stem leaves decrease in size distally to the base of the inflorescence branches, transforming to tiny lanceolate bracts within the corymbs. Photo – April 4.

Flowerheads, to ¾ inch wide, are subtended by a rounded-elongate 1/4-inch-long involucre of a single series of 16± appressed, green, lanceolate, tomentose bracts (phyllaries). Heads comprise 80± central yellow disk florets and a dozen or so outer yellow ray florets. The perfect tubular disk florets (with pistil and stamens) have five short triangular flared corolla lobes. The pistillate ray florets (no stamens) bear ¼ inch long, strap-like ligules above their short tubes. Ovaries are surmounted by a pappus of erect hair-like bristles that later will aid in fruit dispersal. Disk florets have 5 stamens, the anthers of which form a ring around the developing style. As the style elongates through the anther ring, it plunges the pollen out of the anthers, transporting it to the surface of the head where it is available to pollinating insects. Thereafter, the style bifurcates and recurves to expose two elongate stigmas which capture pollen on their sticky surfaces from other florets.

Photo 6: As shown, peripheral disk florets of the central flowerhead are starting to open. Phyllaries, in a single series, remain edge-to-edge and appressed. Photo – March 31.
Photo 7: Stems, peduncles and involucres are pubescent, with the stem/peduncle junction having arachnoid pubescence. Bifurcated stigmas of flowerhead on right are covered with pollen. Photo – April 3.

Ovaries of fertilized florets quickly develop into single-seeded, non-dehiscing fruits (achenes). The elongate brown achenes, with ribbed sides, are about ⅛ inch long with a spreading “parachute” of many ascending straight white bristles (the pappus). Wind dispersal continues over a month or so.

Photo 8: As fruit matures, the base of the involucre enlarges. At maturity (on right) the bristle-topped achenes await dispersal by wind. Photo May 2.

For a shady or sunny garden, Prairie Ragwort has a nice height, interesting leaves, and showy flowers that reach peak bloom when many springtime flowers have faded. Plants provide nectar and pollen to visiting insects. On the other hand, with plants being stoloniferous, containment of a colony may become a challenge. Disposal of stems before seed dispersal would limit establishment of new colonies. It may be more appropriate for a prairie garden where it may be controlled by competitive grasses. The foliage is toxic to mammals (pyrrolizidine alkaloids).

Six additional species of ragwort are known to occur in Arkansas. Butterweed (Packera glabella) and Great Plains Ragwort (Packera tampicana) are annual species. Round Leaf Ragwort (Packera obovata) has glabrous stems and obovate basal leaves often with purple undersides. It usually is found in shaded, moister woods and can form large colonies. Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) has glabrous stems and large heart-shaped basal leaves on long petioles. It grows in wetter areas, often associated with seeps, springs, or banks of spring-fed streams. Woolly Ragwort (Packera tomentosa) has tomentose pubescence covering leaves and the entire stems. Balsam Ragwort (Packera paupercula) may be the most similar species. This species is described as being highly variable both morphologically and ecologically and is still relatively little understood in Arkansas, so a comparison is difficult. It seems to have narrower, more elongate basal leaves and apparently flowers later than most of the other ragworts, including Prairie ragwort. More study of these species is needed.

Photo 9: Stem display of Round Leaf Ragwort (left), Prairie Ragwort (center), and Woolly Ragwort (right). Prairie Ragwort has pinnate cauline leaves with lobes extending to a narrow blunt apex.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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