Know Your Natives – American Germander

American germander (Teucrium canadense var. canadense) of the Mint (Lamiaceae) family occurs across the eastern half of the U.S.  In Arkansas, it is found statewide.  Also known as wood sage and Canada germander, this is the only species of the genus known in Arkansas.  The genus is believed named in honor of the first king of Troy (Teucer) for species found in the Mediterranean area.  The specific epithet is in reference to this species being originally described from Canada.  It is native to moist soils in low areas of woods, thickets, marshes and prairies with full or partial sunlight.

This herbaceous perennial, with erect stems that grow from rhizomes, has hollow square stems.  Main stems, which may have small axillary branches on the upper portion of the plant and undeveloped branches lower, grow to 3 feet tall.  Colonies readily form from the rhizomes.

Simple, opposite leaves, with a blade up to 4 inches long and 1¾ inches wide on a petiole up to ½ inch long, are broadly lanceolate with toothed margins.  The upper (adaxial) leaf surface is a slightly glossy dark green while the lower (abaxial) surface is a lighter dull green.  Leaf pairs are decussate (rotated 90 degrees from one pair to the next).  Pinnate leaf veins are recessed on upper surface and raised on lower surface.  Primary veins arc toward the leaf apex, with extremities becoming parallel to the leaf margin.  Leaves, from mid-leaf, are gently tapered to the tip while the taper to the rounded leaf base is more abrupt.  Leaf-blade tissue extends a short distance onto the petiole.

American germander - Teucrium canadense var canadensePhoto 1:  New growth of American germander from rhizome.

American germander - Teucrium canadense var canadensePhoto 2:  Axillary branches occur along upper portion of stem.  Note also the glossy dark green upper leaf surfaces and recessed veins.

The inflorescences, with a month-long bloom beginning about mid-June, consist of terminal racemes to 8 inches long with flowers crowded together.  Axillary branches, near top of main stem, may also produce short racemes.  Single, persistent leaves (bracts) subtend each flower, with bract size decreasing to the apex of raceme.  Blooming may be interrupted and plants wilt if soil becomes dry, but plants revive and blooming continues with better moisture.

Flowers, when viewed from the side, are about ½ inch long (including the calyx) and ½ inch tall with green, bell-shaped calyxes on short pedicels.  Calyxes, horizontal to ascending along the rachis, have three small, broadly triangular upper teeth and two small, broader triangular lower teeth.

American germander - Teucrium canadense var canadensePhoto 3:  Note size of leafy bracts subtending each flower and axillary branch at base of raceme to left.  Photo: Mid-June.

Flowers open from the base of a raceme to the apex in sequential fashion.  The corolla is white to light lavender with purple striations and spots on the lower lobe.  The trough-shaped descending corolla seems to have “rolled” out of the calyx.  The corolla has five lobes: an upper pair of pointed lateral lobes, a middle pair of rounded lateral lobes, and a single significantly larger spoon-shaped lower lobe.  In side profile, the lower margin of the corolla arches smoothly downward from the calyx to the beginning of the lower lobe from which point the lower lobe drops directly down and backward.  In side profile, the upper margin’s downward trend is interrupted by the up-pointing upper lobes, followed by the out-pointing middle lobes and the downcast lower lobe.  Flowers have two pairs of stamens of unequal length with reddish anthers and a pistil with a split stigma.  Stamens and the style and stigma are of equal length and arch above the corolla to terminate well above the lower lobe.  Filaments of the stamens and the style and stigma have a greenish-white color.

American germander - Teucrium canadense var canadensePhoto 4:  Lower lobes of flowers are marked by purple striations and spots.

American germander - Teucrium canadense var canadensePhoto 5:  Display showing a flower in bud (See #1), three flowers at anthesis (See #2), a flower in decline (See #3) and a calyx bearing developing seed (See #4).

With pollination and fertilization, flowers produce four round, tawny, one-seeded nutlets.  Nutlets are held within the persistent calyx until, with drying, they are loosed and dispersed.

American germander may be confused with some of the superficially similar hedge-nettles (genus Stachys), also of the Mint (Lamiaceae) family.  Ouachita hedge-nettle (Stachys iltisii) can be especially confusing.  This hedge-nettle occurs primarily in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma, with a few scattered occurrences also in the Arkansas Valley and Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.  Like germander, it forms rhizomatous colonies, sometimes in similar habitats.  However, Ouachita hedge-nettle can be distinguished by the following: 1) very dense short hairs on upper and lower leaf surfaces as well as on stems, 2) a tapered leaf base, 3) flowers that are arranged in tiers, 4) generally blooming a month earlier, 4) a hood-like upper corolla-lobe and 5) straight lavender to purple filaments and style and stigma that do not project beyond the upper lobe.

American germander - Teucrium canadense var canadense and Ouachita Hedgenettle - Stachy iltissiPhoto 6:  Comparative display of leaves and stems; Ouachita hedge-nettle on left and American germander on right.

Ouachita hedgenettle - Stachys iltisiiPhoto 7:  Flowers of Ouachita hedge-nettle, arranged in tiers, are more strongly colored.  Upper lobe projects over stamens and pistil. (Note: Pair of leaves below flowers is not Ouachita hedge-nettle.)

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Net-leaf Leather-flower

Net-leaf leather-flower (Clematis reticulata*) of the Buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family is a perennial herbaceous vine found in portions of the Southeastern U.S from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to South Carolina and Florida.  In Arkansas, the species is recorded from north-central and southwestern parts of the state.  It is found in mesic to dry, sandy to rocky soils of open upland woodlands and thickets.  Nomenclaturally, Clematis derives from the Greek word for climbing or vining plants.  The specific epithet is from the Latin word meaning “netted,” and relates to the pattern of the plant’s prominent leaf veins.

A mature net-leaf leather-flower plant produces one to several fast growing vines (stems) from a deeply set, fleshy, stubby root.  Stems grow upright for several feet.  Fascinating (unique?) tendril-like stalks of the leaves and especially the leaflets coil around and latch onto surrounding twigs as the vines grow more or less upward depending on support.  When support is lacking, stems ramble over and through themselves and other vegetation so that the plant becomes well anchored.  Stems, glabrous and round with minor ridges and up to 12+ feet long, become reddish and somewhat woody early on.  Dead stems often remain into the next growing season but new growth arises from the roots.

Leaves are opposite and vary from simple to mostly compound.  The lowest leaf pairs of young plants are simple, followed by pairs of three-lobed leaves, followed by pairs of odd-pinnate compound leaves with simple leaflets.

Principal leaves are odd-pinnate to a foot or more long and equally wide, with leaflets typically bearing secondary leaflets to become twice compound.  Distal rachises and petiolules (leaflet stalks) become long and twisted and can become especially tendril-like by abortion of their leaflet blades.  Shape of leaflets varies, with smaller leaflets being ovate to elliptic while larger leaflets are two-lobed (mitten-shaped) or three-lobed with the central lobe largest.  Reticulate (net-like) veins are incised on the adaxial (upper) side and raised on the abaxial (lower) side.  Leaflets, a dull medium green adaxially and light green abaxially, are leathery.  Larger leaflets may be 3+ inches long and 2+ inches wide.  Leaf and leaflet size decrease toward the extremities of the plant.

Netleaf leatherflower - Clematis reticulataPhoto 1:  Lowest leaves of this young plant are simple (arrow), leaves of the next higher pair are three-lobed, and upper leaves are odd-pinnate with simple leaflets.  Photo taken April 21st.

Netleaf leatherflower - Clematis reticulataPhoto 2:  Display of a typical twisted leaf from a mature plant (cut and flattened).  Note variation of leaflet shape and coiled leaflet stalk (see arrow).  Leaf about 1 foot long.

Early (lower) inflorescences consist of single flowers on long ascending pedicels growing directly from leaf axils of main stems.  Higher on plants, short axillary branches may produce clusters of flowers on short ascending pedicels.  Typically, pedicels have a pair of small simple leaves in their lower third.  Almost all leaf axils, regardless of leaf size or position on plant, produce rudimentary flower buds, but many buds do not develop fully.

Netleaf leatherflower - Clematis reticulataPhoto 3:  Flower buds growing on pedicels from leaf axils of the somewhat woody primary stem.  In photo, stem is hanging downward so that secondary stems with flower buds twist up from “below” leaf axils.

Ascending pedicels bend sharply downward at their upper end so that the plant’s bell-shaped (campanulate) flowers point downward.  Flowers have four thick, straight-edged sepals (no petals) which are widest at the pedicels then narrow sharply to an acute tip–thus buds are sharply pointed.  Sepals have a central rib, especially prominent near the pedicel, that extends to the tip.  Lesser ribs align with the sepals’ edges which are tightly pressed together.  Sepal color near the pedicel is a dark purple to pale lavender which fades into white and then light green at the tip.  Sepals are whitish to greenish on the inside.  As flowers reach anthesis, tips of sepals recurve to expose the ends of tightly clustered stamens that tightly surround styles and stigmas of a tight cluster of pistils.  Stamens, narrowly linear, have white filaments covered with minute white hairs with elongate, similarly colored hairy anthers.

Netleaf leatherflower - Clematis reticulataPhoto 4:  A flower, lower on plant, held high by long pedicel (arrow).  Note ridged sepals, reddish stems and reticulated leaf veins.

Netleaf leatherflower - Clematis reticulataPhoto 5:  Display showing a flower with sepals removed (lower left) and a flower with sepals and stamens removed (left center).  Removed stamens positioned at right and style and stigma of a single pistil (ovary removed) is to the left (arrow).  Note hairs on pistil.

With flower maturity, sepals and stamens are discarded so that previously mostly hidden white pistils with their white ovaries become prominent on a naked receptacle.  Styles enlarge as the ovaries mature and white hairs found along one side of the styles elongate so that, with maturity of the seed-like fruits (1-seeded achenes), each flattened, rounded, beaked achene has a persistent plumose “tail.”  Achenes and tails form a round, airy “seed”- or fruiting-cluster, several inches in diameter, that is persistent into spring, unless dispersed by wind or wildlife.

Netleaf leatherflower - Clematis reticulataPhoto 6:  Fruiting clusters: Achenes are now fully plumed with persistent styles.  Photo taken November 25th.

Net-leaf leather-flower is a well-behaved vine that should find favor in a garden setting.  It will do well in most upland soils in partial shade with average moisture.  Once established, it is drought resistant.  With persistent seed clusters, it is a year-round attraction.  Beware though, stems growing along the ground are tough enough to trip a person.

Five other species of leather-flower have been reported from Arkansas; namely, swamp leather-flower (C. crispa), white-leaf leather-flower (C. glaucophylla), Pitcher’s leather-flower (C. pitcher), pale leather-flower (C. versicolor), and vase-vine (C. viorna).  Characteristics of C. reticulata that help in its identification include habitat, reticulated leaf veins, flower color and flower shape.  Three additional species of Clematis are also known from Arkansas (two native [C. catesbyana and C. virginiana] and one introduced [C. terniflora]), but these are true woody vines that have abundant clusters of small white flowers, bloom in late summer/fall, and are generally referred to by the common name “virgin’s-bower.”

*The Clematis reticulata “complex” is currently under revision by Dwayne Estes (Austin Peay State University & Botanical Research Institute of Texas) and collaborators, including Theo Witsell (Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission).  In Arkansas, the complex is expected to be split into at least several additional species.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Fall 2016 Meeting Information

Arkansas Native Plant Society
2016 Fall Meeting
September 23-25

Rich Mountain Community College
Ouachita Center
Mena, Arkansas

Meeting registration is only $5 with no pre-registration required. Registration will begin at 5:00PM on Friday, September 23. The meeting site is the Ouachita Center located on the campus of Rich Mountain Community College.

We have reserved a block of rooms at the Sun Country Inn ($84.95 + tax per night). All rooms reserved under “Arkansas Native Plant Society”. Reservations must be made before August 23th to guarantee room availability at this rate.

Several field trips to local areas of top botanical interest will be scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. We will offer something for everybody, whether you want to take it slow and easy or something more vigorous. You must sign up for field trips on Friday evening to allow for adequate logistical planning.

Current plans for field trips include the dwarf forests along Skyline/Talimena Drive on Rich Mountain and to Cossatot River State Park/Natural Area.

Some field trips will be repeated on Sunday morning to accommodate those who could not work them into their schedule for Saturday.

The annual native plant auction on Friday night is an event not to be missed. It’s not too early to be thinking about and preparing the plants you want to contribute to the auction.

Our speaker Saturday evening is Dwayne Estes, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of the Herbarium at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN.

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Know Your Natives – Carolina Rose

Carolina rose (Rosa carolina) of the Rose (Rosaceae) family occurs in the U.S. from Texas to Nebraska to Minnesota thence east and south to the borders.  In Arkansas it occurs throughout the state.  The genus name is Latin for “rose.”  The specific epithet refers to the type location for the species–i.e., the specimen based on which this species was first described and named was collected in the Carolinas.  Other common names include “pasture rose” or “low rose.”  Habitats include woods and thickets as well as prairies and glades with various dry to mesic soils.  It does well in partial shade or full sun.

This perennial, low-growing deciduous shrub has a tap root and shallow horizontal rhizomes.  Plants, 1 to 3 feet tall, have erect woody stems and branches.  New branches, from several to 6 inches long, are a light green the first year, become reddish brown the second year, and dark tan in following years.  All stems and branches are covered with many fine to slender straight prickles intermixed with a few significantly larger and stouter prickles which occur mostly near leaf nodes.  The numerous prickles, set perpendicular to stems and branches, are persistent with the larger ones reaching ½ inch.

Alternate leaves are odd-pinnate-compound generally with five elliptic leaflets; however, three and seven leaflets also occur.  Leaflets taper toward their apices and bases.  The upper three-fourths of leaflet margins are serrated, with serrations becoming smaller toward the base where they are absent.  The hairless (glabrous) leaflets are glossy dark green above and non-glossy lighter green below.  Leaves up to 5 inches long, including an inch-long petiole (stalk of leaf), have terminal leaflets up to 1½ inches long, including a ¾ inch petiolule (stalk of leaflet).  Lateral leaflets are on very short petiolules.  The upper leaflet pair is of similar size as the terminal leaflet while lower pairs decrease in size toward leaf base.  Leaf rachis, when viewed from the side, has a smooth arch from the base of petiole to the base of petiolule of the terminal leaflet where a “knee” flexes the terminal leaflet upward.  The lower side of rachis is covered with small prickles which continue along lower side of leaflets’ mid-ribs.  The upper side of the rachis is grooved.  Narrow, elongate stipules, which terminate with acute spreading tips, are attached along the bases of petioles.  A single “extra” leaflet may occur at the upper end of a stipule.  Margins of stipules are entire or have minute prickles.

The inflorescences occur at the ends of current year’s branches, and typically consist of a single flower, but two flowers may also occur.  A calyx consists of five light green, strap-like to narrowly triangular sepals which terminate with long, narrow to leafy tips.  Pedicels (flower stalks) are covered by glandular hairs which extend onto the sepals.  A prominent ball-shaped, smooth hypanthium (which will be the hip in fruit) is located at the base of the calyx.

Carolina rose - Rosa carolinaPhoto 1:  Characteristic leaves, stipules and sepals (with elongated tips) are shown along with a flower bud above and a flower past bloom below.

Carolina rose - Rosa carolinaPhoto 2:  At bloom, calyx and petals become flattened so that pollen and pistils are well exposed to insects.  Terminal leaflets are flexed upward by a “knee” in the rachis.

Inflorescence occurs in May.  Flowers normally are in bloom for only one day, with the blooming period of a colony extending over several weeks.  Flowers are two or more inches across with five light to dark pink petals and a wide mass of pistils.  Petals are wide, slightly overlapped with a broad gently notched tip.  Numerous stamens with white filaments radiate from the base of the pistils so that the showy yellow anthers are spaced a distance out from the pistils.  Anthers become brown as flowers mature.

Carolina rose - Rosa carolinaPhoto 3:  Display of stem, front and back of leaves, and flowers.  Note “extra” leaflet at upper end of stipules.  (Catkin of hickory flowers caught on prickles of stem.)

After bloom, the hypanthium develops into a bright red, smooth, fleshy berry-like fruit (hip) that contains about 10 hard achenes (technically the true fruits, each with a single seed within) around a central axis.  Hips remain on the shrub into the following spring, unless eaten by wildlife.  In spring, remaining hips become dry, eventually deteriorating to release achenes.  Mature achenes are somewhat elongated, shiny, smooth and chestnut-brown with two flattened sides and one curved side.  Upper ends of achenes are covered with short hairs.

Carolina rose - Rosa carolinaPhoto 4:  Berry-like rose hips and 1-seeded achenes in spring from previous year’s flowers.

Carolina rose would do well in a garden or naturalized area in loose, dry to moist soils where the plant’s tendency to form colonies may be welcomed.  It’s a good choice where soil erosion is an issue.  Flowers have a very pleasant rose scent.  Once established it will do well in sun and will be drought tolerant.  Flowers produce pollen for bees, but do not produce nectar.  Spiny Rose Gall Wasps (Diplolepis bicolor) can deposit eggs at base of new branches sometimes causing the plant to produce half-inch galls with several larvae at the center.

Carolina rose - Rosa carolinaPhoto 5:  Spiny galls provide protection for larvae of Spiny Rose Gall Wasps.

Three other native rose species are found in Arkansas; namely, white prairie rose (Rosa foliolosa), uncommon and known only from a couple localities in the Ouachita Mountains; swamp rose (Rosa palustris), which grows in wetlands and is known only from the northeastern corner of the state; and climbing rose (Rosa setigera), which occurs throughout much of the state but less frequently in the West Gulf Coastal and Mississippi Alluvial Plains.  At least six non-native species also occur as naturalized in Arkansas.  The most widespread and invasive non-native is multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), which spreads by tip-rooting of stems and by freely seeding from its many white flowers.  Carolina rose can be identified by a combination of its short stature, straight prickles, colonial nature, and wide mass of pistils.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Red-Ring Milkweed

Red-ring milkweed (Asclepias variegata) of the Dogbane (Apocynaceae) family, formerly of the Milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family, occurs in the U.S. from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to Illinois and east and south to the borders.  It occurs throughout much of Arkansas except for small areas in northwest and east-central parts of the state.  The genus name commemorates Asklepios, Greek god of healing and medicine.  The specific epithet denotes the variegated flowers, specifically, a white flower that typically has a reddish ring.  Another common name for this plant is “white milkweed”.  Thirteen additional species in the Asclepias genus occur in Arkansas.

This perennial plant thrives in dry to moist, loamy to rocky open woodlands and edges of woodlands as well as sunny glades.  Plant numbers in an area are generally low, with each plant typically isolated from others.  All leaves and a terminal flower cluster are apparent soon after a stem appears in early spring.  The 3-foot tall, smooth and unbranched stems bear 5 to 7 opposite, widely spaced large upper leaves as well as several pairs of smaller lower leaves which drop early.  Stems, petioles and main leaf veins are reddish in spring but become more green during the growing season.  As typical for most species of milkweeds, stems and leaves of red-ring milkweed, which are mostly glabrous (hairless), contain white sap.

Red Wing Milkweed - Asclepias variegataPhoto 1:  New stems appear in early spring with the developing inflorescence already visible at top.  Photo taken in mid-April.

Oval to oblong leaves, large relative to plant height, are up to 6 inches long and 3 inches wide with smooth margins and 1-inch petioles.  Leaf margins are slightly wavy with a broadly rounded apex with an abrupt short tip.  Leaves have a broadly rounded to gently tapered base, and leaf blades are mostly flat, facing sunlight.  Leaves, which appear slightly waxy and feel leathery, are medium green above and lighter green below.  Principal veins off midrib, almost perpendicular to the midrib, are prominent and widely spaced.

The inflorescence, in the form of several umbels along the growing stem, begins immediately above the upper pair of large leaves.  Umbels, tightly clustered at first, become separated as the plant grows.  The first umbel is produced at a node bearing a pair of large leaves. From this point, the stem continues with several additional umbels from nodes with greatly reduced leaves.  Small linear bracts occur at the base of umbels which fade as flowers open.

Umbels, with 15 to 30 flowers on light green, short pedicels, are round-topped and held upright.  Flowers may be loosely to tightly spaced depending on plant’s age and habitat.  When umbels first become discernible, a loose calyx composed of five light green lobes can be seen surrounding tiny light green flower buds.  As flower buds enlarge, they change from light green to white and the calyx becomes hidden.  Tops of flower buds are pinkish with a star pattern where petals meet.  At bloom, umbels may be up to 3 inches across on peduncles up to 1 inch long.  Flowers are up to ½ inch wide and on pedicels about ½ inch long.

Red Wing Milkweed - Asclepias variegataPhoto 2:  Four umbels are shown with the least developed one being sited at the end of the growing stem.   Calyxes, especially noticeable on the least developed cluster, become hidden as flower buds enlarge.

Red Wing Milkweed - Asclepias variegataPhoto 3:  Elevated hoods and horns cause foraging insects to inadvertently place their feet into stigmatic slits.  Photo taken in mid-May.

Milkweeds have unusual flower morphology and a complex pollination process.  A red-ring milkweed flower has a corolla composed of five reflexed white lobes, a corona composed of five white elevated hoods (nectar chambers) with exserted, inward-pointing white horns and a short, unique central structure, the gynostegium.  The gynostegium consists of the staminate and pistillate parts of the flower fused together. It bears five stigmatic grooves or slits through which pollen can come into contact with receptive areas of the true stigma. Fused stamen filaments form a tube, the column, that surrounds the lower portion of the gynostegium.  The upper portion of the gynostegium contains five anthers, each with two chambers, in which the pollen grains are cemented into masses called pollinia.  Adjacent pollinia (from adjacent anthers rather than from the same anther) are connected to a “clip” via wiry connecting arms (translator arms).  Five clips are positioned at the tops of the five stigmatic slits, between the hoods.  Two ovaries are found within the column at the base of the gynostegium.  For successful pollination to occur, a clip with its attached pair of pollinia is accidentally jerked out by a foraging insect.  Subsequently, the insect inadvertently inserts one of the two pollinia into the stigmatic slit of a second flower.  The pollen grains in the pollinium then grow tubes to the 100 or so ovules in one ovary whereby seeds are produced.*  A typical red-wing milkweed can produce a hundred or more flowers in several umbels, but generally few pods develop on a plant.

Red Wing Milkweed - Asclepias variegataPhoto 4:  The last umbel is in bloom on this stem.  Note that flowers of lower umbels have fallen to expose stubby peduncle tips.  Seed pods have not developed on the exposed peduncles.  Photo taken in early June.

Seed pods are slender and erect with a length of 4 to 5 inches and width of ¾ inch.  When mature and dry, pods split along a seam which exposes enclosed flat, circular and overlapping seeds.  Seeds have white, silky, filament-like hairs that fill the remainder of the pod.  Exposed hairs become fluffy in drying wind and sun.  The wind pulls the seeds out of pods one-by-one for nearby or long-range dispersal.

Red Wing Milkweed - Asclepias variegataPhoto 5:  These immature seed pods show the characteristic shape of red-ring milkweed pods.  Photo taken in mid-August.

In partially shaded gardens, red-ring milkweed would be a “stand-out” plant that is well-behaved.  With its large simple leaves with highlighted veins and showy flowers, it has pronounced structure.  The writer has observed that red-ring milkweed, in comparison to some other native species, is not a favored host plant of monarch butterfly caterpillars, and also that it does not appear to be heavily preferred by deer.

  • *Pollen tubes grow out of pollen grains from the convex edge of a pollinium.  A flower cannot self-pollinate.  An insect must accidentally insert a pollinium into a narrow but empty stigmatic groove.  The translator arms are critical in getting the pollinium properly oriented for insertion: they rotate 90 degrees as they dry, bringing the sharp, convex edge of the pollinium (rather than the broad flat surface) to a position that allows “easy” insertion into the groove.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – American Ipecac

American ipecac (Gillenia stipulata; previously Porteranthus stipulatus), of the Rose (Rosaceae) family occurs in the U.S. from northeast Texas to southeast Kansas, to Michigan, New York and south to Georgia.  In Arkansas, this species is found mostly statewide except for portions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain.  The genus name honors a German physician and botanist, Arnold Gillenius.  The specific epithet means “with stipules”.  The common name “American ipecac” relates to its roots having been used by Native Americans as an emetic and laxative.  Another common name is Indian physic.

This species, a clumping perennial, grows in moist to dry, partially shaded rocky woods and thickets of uplands.  In spring, robust leafy reddish stems emerge from shallow branched rhizomes.  Mature plants are erect and leafy with terete, straight, slender stems that reach 3+ feet tall.  Petioles and undersides of leaves are reddish in spring.  With rapid spring growth, upper leaves are a lighter green, but the plant overall becomes medium green in summer.  Fall leaves are yellowish-red.  In winter, erect leafless, reddish stems persist.

American ipecac - Gillenia stipulataPhoto 1:  Four major stems of American ipecac growing from a shallow rhizome.  Previous year’s stem indicated by arrow.

American ipecac - Gillenia stipulataPhoto 2:  In late winter, lower leaves unfold to show deeply lobed, serrated trifoliate leaves.

Leaves, trifoliate with short petioles, are uniformly spaced along the main stem, with leaf size gradually decreasing but remaining large toward the inflorescence.  Each higher leaf is positioned about 115 degrees clockwise above the leaf below.  Largest leaves are about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.  Central leaflets are longer and broader than lateral leaflets.  Lateral leaflets are angled away from the central leaflet at about 45 degrees.  Leaflets have a soft, thin feel with firm raised midribs and principal veins on the underside.  Upper and lower surfaces of leaves and stipules are the same color.

Leaflets of lower stem leaves are deeply cut to form up to six offset pairs of lanceolate lobes lower on leaflets.  Higher up the stem, lobing decreases such that the uppermost trifoliate leaves are not further lobed.  Leaves along main stem remain fairly large toward top of plant.  Leaves on branches are sharply smaller than stem leaves.  Margins of all leaves have prominent double serrations.  Leaflets and lobes are slightly up-folded along midribs.  The base and apex of leaflets gradually taper to tips.  At the base of leaflets, blade tissue extends to the junction of the three leaflets.

All stem leaves (and some leaves on branches) have pairs of fan-shaped, leafy stipules.  These sessile stipules have a central vein positioned well off-center of the fan-shape to create a narrow and wide side, with the narrow side being toward leaf petiole.  Stipules are serrated in similar fashion as leaves, with the longest serration at the central vein.  Stipules are the same color and texture as leaves so that leaves may seem to have five lobes.  Stipules are positioned horizontally in consonance with the leaves.  Stipules persist with leaves.

American ipecac - Gillenia stipulataPhoto 3:  Trifoliate leaves higher up-stem have a less complicated shape.

American ipecac - Gillenia stipulataPhoto 4:  Display showing reddish base of a stem and three stem leaves.  Leaves from lower portion of stem positioned on right.  Leaf on left subtends a secondary branch that would have produced flowers.  Not pair of large, fan-shaped stipules at base of each leaf.

The inflorescence is found on the upper portion of the main stem where several to a dozen wiry, ascending branches grow from axils of stem leaves.  The longest of these branches (to about 10 inches) are lower on the stem and bear one or several well-spaced, small, stipulate serrated trifoliate leaves.  Farther up these lowest branches, leaves transition to simple serrated leaves (which may have stipules) to tiny simple leaves without stipules.  Branches higher up the stem are significantly shorter and the first leaf may subtend a flower.  Flowers over the entire plant are generally each subtended by a leaf, but at the farthest extent of branches, flowers may or may not be subtended by a minute leaf.   Individual branches bear from several to about 10 flowers, all on separate pedicels.

Flowers, before anthesis, have a reddish-green, tubular calyx with five triangular teeth from which pointed, white to light pink, tightly bound buds jut out.  The calyx is truncated at its base.  Inch-wide flowers have five widely spaced, flared petals that loosely surround about 20 stamens and five pistils.  Petals, broadly lanceolate with narrow base and acuminate tip, are rather flimsy.

American ipecac - Gillenia stipulataPhoto 5:  Elongated white buds unfurl to show five widely spaced, broadly lanceolate petals surrounding stamens and pistils.  Photo from mid-May.

Fertilized ovaries develop into woody, five-compartmented, pointed capsules with two seeds per compartment.  Seeds are rounded and slightly elongated with a flattened side.  Capsules and seeds are a reddish brown when dry.

American ipecac - Gillenia stipulataPhoto 6:  Display of pressed upper stem leaves with stipules (front and back), seed capsules and seeds.  Photo from end of August.

For a garden or natural area, American ipecac is a dependable plant suitable for well drained, rocky soils in a partially sunny site.  This leafy, erect plant has many small wispy white flowers which may serve well as a border or background plant.  It has nice color in fall and persistent reddish winter stems.  The plant forms clumps over time.

A second species in the genus occurs in Arkansas, namely, Bowman’s root or false ipecac (Gillenia trifoliata), found in northwest and northcentral Arkansas.  Bowman’s root has larger flowers, unlobed leaves, and narrow untoothed stipules that drop off the plant before inflorescence occurs.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Large-Flower Baby-Blue-Eyes

Large-flower baby-blue-eyes (Nemophila phacelioides) of the Borage (Boraginaceae) family, formerly of the Waterleaf (Hydrophyllaceae) family, is a showy native wildflower endemic to the south-central U.S. that has been recorded in only four states; namely Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.  In Arkansas it is known from throughout the Ouachita Mountains and the southwestern portion of the Ozark Mountains and adjoining Arkansas Valley.  The genus name, from Latin and Greek, translates “woodland loving”.  The specific epithet alludes to the resemblance of the plant and its flowers to species of the related genus Phacelia, for example, hairy phacelia (Phacelia hirsuta).

Large-flower baby-blue-eyes, is found in shady to partially sunny, moist areas of woodlands, thickets and prairies.  It is a short-lived annual with late winter basal leaves and one to several weak stems up to 10 inches long in mid-spring.  Stems, covered with various lengths of soft hairs, may be erect or straggling.  Each stem typically has several branches rising from above leaf axils.  The plant’s color is an overall dull green with purplish coloration near nodes.

Large-flower baby blue eyes - Nemophila phacelioidesPhoto 1:  Late winter and early spring basal leaves.

Basal and cauline leaves are odd-pinnately compound (with an unpaired terminal leaflet).  Leaflets are typically opposite, but those lower on rachis may be alternate.   Orientation of leaflets varies, with the lowest reflexed downward, middle leaflets set at 90 degrees and upper leaflets angled toward leaf apex.  Leaflets are densely hairy with longer hairs at leaf edges (ciliate).  Petioles (leaf stalks) are smooth with a central groove.  Late winter basal leaves have about seven small oval leaflets.

Cauline leaves have up to 13 leaflets, with lower leaflets either sessile or on very short petiolules (leaflet stalks), while upper leaflets are attached by narrow to broad sections of blade tissue.  Lower leaflets are generally broadly elongate while, especially for healthier plants, mid to upper leaflets have two (mitten shape) to three broad angular lobes.  At the upper portion of leaves, bases increasingly combine with each other so that the upper pair of leaflets and the terminal leaflet all seemingly merge into one multi-lobed leaflet.  Lobes of all leaflets are bluntly pointed.

Inflorescences, at mid-spring, occur along and at the end of axillary branches off main stems.  An axillary branch may support just one terminal flower or the stem may have several branches growing from additional leaf axils that also produce inflorescences.  A branch, terminating with flower(s) typically has two leaves, similar to cauline leaves, immediately below the inflorescence.  The inflorescence has the structure of a raceme that is composed of several to a half-dozen bowl-shaped flowers on long weak pedicels (flower stalks).  Pedicels and peduncles have the same color and hairiness as stems.

Large-flower baby blue eyes - Nemophila phacelioidesPhoto 2:  Cauline leaves are more complex than basal leaves.  Flower buds at upper center show ciliate hairs.

Flowers, 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide, have five lobes, five stamens and a pistil.  Lobes are joined about two-thirds down from their broadly rounded and shallowly indented tips.  The unmarked blue to lavender outer portion of the corollas (petals) fades to white at the center.  Whiteness of corolla center along with white filaments highlights prominent dark anthers.  The white pistil is not readily noticeable.  The calyx is composed of five up-pointing, acutely triangular sepals, separated one from another by a prominent space.   Reflexed, broadly linear bracts, located between sepals, are about one-third their size.  Margins of sepals and bracts are ciliate.  Even at the earliest stage of development, flower buds are loosely enveloped by prominent sepals with bracts positioned in the opposite direction.

Large-flower baby blue eyes - Nemophila phacelioidesPhoto 3:  Flowers have a deeply lobed, blue to lavender corolla that fades to a white center.

Large-flower baby blue eyes - Nemophila phacelioidesPhoto 4:  A display of stem, cauline leaves and flowering racemes.

Flowers bloom from the bottom of a raceme to the top.  With pollination, slightly elongate-spherical, green, two-part capsules form, and turn light brown with maturity.  Before summer’s heat, the capsules split open and small rough, brown seeds are released.

Large-flower baby blue eyes - Nemophila phacelioidesPhoto 5:  A display of flower bud, flowers and seed capsules.  Note opposing orientation of sepals and bracts.

Two additional species in the genus are found in Arkansas: the native species “small-flower baby-blue-eyes” (Nemophila aphylla) and “fivespot” (Nemophila maculate), a species introduced from California.  Nemophila aphylla is a much smaller plant with leaves having three to five irregularly shaped lobes and white to pale blue flowers less than ¼ inch wide.  It is native to the southeastern U.S., and in Arkansas is found primarily in the central and southeastern parts of the state.  Nemophila maculata has leaves that are uniformly odd-pinnately lobed but not divided into distinct leaflets.  Flowers of N. maculata are mostly white with purplish veins and prominent blue to purple spots on the apexes of the five corolla lobes (hence the common name).  It is planted as an annual ornamental and occasionally self-seeds and persists or escapes.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Update on Possum Trot Hike


Don Mills has decided to lead the hike on Sunday morning May 1 at 10 a.m.

Meet at 10 a.m. at the store at Nail on Arkansas 16. From there, people can carpool or follow each other to the USFS site.

More rain is forecast for tonight and likely tomorrow, so this way, perhaps things will have dried up a bit. Again, wear good foot wear, bring water and a lunch.


This is virtual repeat of last year. We had heavy rain today and there is a 60% chance of rain tomorrow.

Hike leaders will make a decision by 7am tomorrow morning on whether the hike will proceed.

An update will be posted by 7am 4/30/2016 to the website event page and sent to all hike participants who registered with the leaders.

Thank you!

Arkansas Native Plant Society – Ozark Chapter

Posted in Field Trips, Ozark Chapter

Know Your Natives – Cream Wild Indigo

Cream wild indigo (Baptisia bracteata*), of the Pea (Fabaceae) family occurs from the Midwest to Texas and the Southeastern states except for Florida.  It is also reported from Connecticut and New Jersey.  In Arkansas, it occurs mostly statewide except for some portions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain.  Another common name is long-bract wild indigo.  The genus name is derived from Greek for “to dye”, based on some plants of the genus having been used to produce a blue dye similar to that from the true “indigo” plants (Indigofera spp.).  The specific epithet, from Latin, relates to the large bracts subtending the flowers.

Cream wild indigo is a long lived herbaceous perennial that is found in various mesic to dry soils in the full sun of prairies to partial shade of open woods and savannahs.  Reaching a height of about 2 feet with a wider width, it has one or multiple stems from an impressively large rootstock.  Being a legume, the plant pulls nitrogen from the air into its roots with the aid of bacteria.

In spring, terete (round) stems have a heavy pubescence of uniformly short, white hairs.  These hairs cast a grey tinge to purple stems and create a white halo at stem edges.  Bracts along stems and branches occur singly or in pairs.  (Paired bracts occurring with the leaves are technically stipules.)  The lowest single bract at or below ground level is sessile and tightly clasps the stem.  Next up-stem, the upper portion of a single clasping sessile bract flares outward.  Thereafter up-stem, outward growing pairs of bracts subtend two straight branches that diverge one from the other at 45 or more degrees with one branch noticeably smaller than the other.  The larger branch emerges from the center of the bract pair while the smaller branch emerges to one side between the bracts.  Up-stem, smaller and larger branches switch from one side to the other, resulting in zigzag stems.  For those branches that terminate with a leaf (instead of an inflorescence–see below), only one “branch” is present near the top of the plant, but each leaf is still subtended by a pair of stipules.  Bracts and stipules are a greyish-green color.  Bracts are broadly lanceolate with the lower single bracts being more broad to triangular.  Paired stipules are longer and more widely spaced lower on the plant with length and spacing decreasing up-stem.  On branches that produce inflorescences, the inflorescence itself is subtended by a pair of bracts which also subtends a smaller branch.

Cream Wild Indigo - Baptisia bracteataPhoto 1:  Single bracts occur lower on pubescent stems.  Pairs of bracts subtend a smaller branch and larger branch.  Imbricated floral bracts can be seen at top.

Leaves, greyish-green on upper and lower surfaces, are pubescent on upper surfaces and less so on lower surfaces.  Leaves are trifoliate with leaflets that are 1 to 3 inches long and 1/2 to 1 inch wide.  Leaves have a terminal leaflet and two lateral leaflets typically set almost perpendicular to the terminal leaflet.  Leaflets are oblanceolate and smooth margined (entire) with the central leaflet typically being broader.  With stipules varying from 1/4 to 1-1/2 inches long, some leaves may appear to have five leaflets.   Leaf size decreases up-stem.  Leaflets do not have petiolules (individual leaflet stalks).  Leaves are typically sessile, although some plants have petioles over an inch long.  Leaflets, with pinnate venation, have gradually tapered bases and tapered, more rounded tips.

The inflorescence becomes evident on tips of branches shortly after new spring growth appears.   Inflorescences first appear as stubby, elongated and rounded clusters covered with imbricated (overlapping) floral bracts.  As the inflorescence lengthens, its raceme-type structure (each flower on separate pedicel) becomes more apparent and its pea-type flower buds emerge.  Flowers are subtended by single, broadly lanceolate and entire floral bracts (which had previously overlapped each other).   Floral bracts, pedicels and peduncles have coloration and pubescence similar to stems and branches.  At full bloom, racemes may be twelve or more inches long with flowers in loose or dense formation.  Overall stem structure of plant along with weight of flowers causes racemes to be oriented horizontally, close to or on the ground.

Cream Wild Indigo - Baptisia bracteataPhoto 2:   With growth of raceme, previously imbricated floral bracts spread outward and calyxes open.  Inflorescence grows on the larger of branch pairs.

With anthesis (full bloom) in mid-April, buds positioned to the side or below the level of the peduncle (stalk of raceme) shift to face upward, and calyx tubes become green and less pubescent.  Up to 30 or more inch-long flowers are borne on inch-long pedicels.  Calyx tubes (formed by fused sepals) have four triangular tips.  Flowers are pea-like with a flared upright petal (banner or standard) with a cleft at mid-petal and a pair of forward projecting petals (wings) which enclose a pair of smaller petals (keel).  The keel, visible when flower is viewed from below, encloses ten separated stamens with white filaments and brown anthers as well as  a pistil with a white style and yellow stigma.  A greenish elongate ovary is located at the base of the white style (superior ovary).  Exposed surface of all petals is a similar light yellow or “cream” color.  Bracts, calyxes, peduncles and pedicels have color and pubescence  similar to that of  the stems and branches.

Cream Wild Indigo - Baptisia bracteataPhoto 3:  Only one raceme was produced on this plant with other branches terminating with leaves.  Photo taken in mid-April

Cream Wild Indigo - Baptisia bracteataPhoto 4:  Inner petals (keel) can be seen in mature flowers on right.   Note prescence of single floral bracts and pubescence.

Fertilized flowers are followed by light green seed pods, 1 to 2 inches long, that appear to be inflated.   Pod bases and beaks are greatly constricted in comparison to overall pod.  The pod beak (the remnants of the style) is exaggerated.  Calyxes are persistent.  A row of yellowish-green, bean-like 1/8 inch seeds on both sides of pod’s hinge-line occupies only a small portion of  the space available in pods.   Pods become black with maturity while leaves are still green.  With freezing temperatures, stems/branches become blackened and break-off at ground level.  The dead plant, with pods attached, is blown about tumble-weed fashion so that the eight to twenty seeds per pod are dispersed.

Cream Wild Indigo - Baptisia bracteataPhoto 5:  In late June, pubescence has been reduced.   Entire length of style persists on the seed pod as a “beak”.  Calyxes and floral bracts remain.

Cream Wild Indigo - Baptisia bracteataPhoto 6:  In mid July, seed pods mature.  Leaves shown are on a terminal branch where paired stipules are present, but only one branch continues in zigzag fashion.

In a garden or natural area, cream wild indigo is a long-lasting perennial of modest compact size that is adaptable to various soils and does well in full sun or partial shade.  It has an interesting structure and striking flower clusters followed by showy seed pods.  Stems blow away in winter for a fresh start in spring.   Newly germinated plants require about three years to bloom.  Flowering is better on drier more sunny sites.


*Several varieties of cream wild indigo have been identified. The only variety reported in Arkansas is Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea (which has sometimes been treated at the species level as B. leucophaea).

Other native species of the genus in Arkansas are:

  • white wild indigo (Baptisia alba var. macrophylla)
  • blue wild indigo (Baptisia australis var. minor)
  • Nuttall’s wild indigo (Baptisia nuttalliana)
  • yellow wild indigo (Baptisia sphaerocarpa).

Some natural hybrids of these are also known.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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Know Your Natives – Robin’s-Plantain

Robin’s-plantain (Erigeron pulchellus var. pulchellus) of the Aster (Asteraceae) family has been documented in the U.S. from eastern Texas to southeastern Kansas to Minnesota thence east and south to the nation’s borders (although it is rare in Florida and restricted to the panhandle).*  In Arkansas, it has been documented throughout much of the state except for portions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and the West Gulf Coastal Plain.  This stoloniferous wildflower is found in rich, well-drained, rocky to sandy soils in partial shade, such sites being in open woods, savannahs and thickets or on stream banks and terraces.  The genus name is from Greek words meaning “early” and “old man” which may allude to the early appearance of flowers and to white hairs on mature fruit, and the specific epithet is from Latin for “beautiful”.  Other common names include blue spring daisy, poor Robin’s fleabane and hairy fleabane.

A plant (as used herein: a single cluster of basal leaves along with or without a flowering stem), with long tan fibrous roots, produces white smooth unbranched stolons.  Stolons, growing at or just below soil surface from just below basal leaves, are about one-sixteenth inch in diameter and up to a foot long.  Small white bracts are found at nodes along the stolon and a few long white roots grow from nodes.  Ends of stolons turn upward to produce a single new plant.  With multiple stolons growing from a plant, a dense colony can form.  Plants and stolons are both perennial.

Robin’s Plantain - Erigeron pulchellus var. pulchellusPhoto 1:  Stolons radiating from parent plant each produce a new plant.   Red arrow identifies stolen that produced the plant shown.  Only one stem is usually produced by a plant.

Robin’s-plantain is covered with dense soft hairs (pubescent).  Mature plants produce two types of leaves, basal and cauline (on stem).  For both basal and cauline leaves, the upper leaf blade surfaces are a uniform grayish medium green with a lighter green undersurface.  The upper leaf surface has a broad main vein that is a very light green.

Basal leaves in early spring, about 1¾ inches long and ¾ inch wide, are rough and feel rather coarse.  These oblanceolate to paddle-shaped leaves may have two or three broadly toothed lobes above mid-leaf that are oriented toward the rounded tip or the entire upper margin, including the tip, may be crenulated.  Basal leaves remain on the plant throughout the growing season and may then be 5 inches long and 1½ inches wide.  Old leaves are still present when new leaves appear the next year.

Basal leaves transition into clasping cauline leaves.  These leaves, larger (about 3 inches long and ¾ inch wide) and more numerous lower on the stem, decrease in size and number toward the top, becoming very small in the inflorescence.  They are densely covered with soft hairs (pubescent), especially on the upper side.  The broadly lanceolate, sessile and twisted cauline leaves deteriorate with the stem after fruit has matured.

Robin’s Plantain - Erigeron pulchellus var. pulchellusPhoto 2:  In this late winter photo, new basal leaves have already grown.  Stems are forming at centers of plants.

The inflorescence begins to form in late winter to early spring with the emergence of a stem at the center of mature plants.  The round, hairy stems have alternating lines of brown and green.  Stems are topped by several to about eight prominent flower head buds arranged in corymb fashion.  The buds, largest at top of stem, are round when viewed from above and bowl-shaped when viewed from the side.  Heads bloom from top of corymb to bottom while stems continue to grow, eventually reaching about 1½ feet tall.

Robin’s Plantain - Erigeron pulchellus var. pulchellusPhoto 3:  Note characteristic hairiness, limited number of flower heads and short stature of plant.

Flower heads (capitulums), 1 to 1½ inches wide, have 50 to 80 or more fertile ray florets and many densely packed fertile disk florets.  Ray florets, with white to pale violet, slender corollas called ligules, surround a flat disk of florets with yellow tubular corollas.  A pappus of silky hairs (morphologically a modified calyx) occurs at the base of corollas.  Florets are attached to a domed, soft receptacle subtended by an involucre of many appressed, imbricate (overlapping) lanceolate bracts called phyllaries. Following anthesis, ray and disk florets produce an elongate achene with a tuft of white hairs (the pappus).  Seed dispersal is by wind.

Robin’s Plantain - Erigeron pulchellus var. pulchellusPhoto 4:  Stems continue to grow as flowers mature.  Background plant is bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).

Robin’s Plantain - Erigeron pulchellus var. pulchellusPhoto 5:  Ray (with white to pale violet ligules) and disk (yellow tubular) florets are fertile. Flowers attract small insects.

In a garden or natural setting, Robin’s-plantain can be an attractive ground-cover year round.  The plant shows best in partially shaded areas where other ground vegetation is sparse.  Its early spring flowering stems with fairly large daisy-like flower heads are showy.  In ideal growing conditions, due to its stoloniferous habit, a colony may need to be restrained by removing excess plants.

Four other fleabanes also occur in Arkansas: daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus), Philadelphia fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus var. philadelphicus), prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus), and slender-leaf fleabane (Erigeron tenuis).  Most are annual to biennial in habit, while Philadelphia fleabane may be a short-lived perennial.  None have prominent stolons, though, and flower heads are both more numerous and smaller than on Robin’s-plantain.

*Two other varieties of Erigeron pulchellus have been identified in the U.S.; namely Erigeron pulchellus var. brauniae (KY, OH, MD and WV) and Erigeron pulchellus var. tolsteadii (MN).   Neither is found in Arkansas.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Sid Vogelpohl

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