St. James Farm is Blooming

by Carl Strang

Spring flowers continue to open at St. James Farm Forest Preserve. Today’s post is a gallery of highlights. On the large scale, I have been delighted to find that black haw is a dominant understory shrub in the central forest.

Black haw is a native Viburnum.

Black haw is a native Viburnum.

Blooming black haws are prominent in the forest area cleared of invasive shrubs this past winter.

Blooming black haws are prominent in the forest area cleared of invasive shrubs this past winter.

Diverse herbaceous plants are blooming at the ground level.

Jacob’s ladders are common in parts of the forest.

Jacob’s ladders are common in parts of the forest.

A few declined trilliums also have appeared. The white trilliums have become rarer in DuPage County thanks to people picking them, which kills them. All plants are legally protected on the preserves.

A few declined trilliums also have appeared. The white trilliums have become rarer in DuPage County thanks to people picking them, which kills them. All plants are legally protected on the preserves.

Butterweed is an uncommon and short-lived member of the ragwort group.

Butterweed is an uncommon and short-lived member of the ragwort group.

This bulbous cress plant is benefitting from last year’s restoration of the stream and its corridor area.

This bulbous cress plant is benefitting from last year’s restoration of the stream and its corridor area.

I look forward to many more botanical discoveries as the season progresses.

Mystery Seedling Grows

by Carl Strang

I paid a quick visit to Culver, Indiana, over the weekend, and had a few minutes to visit my mystery seedling. It has been largely overtopped by skunk cabbages.

Seedling 16MY 1b

You may see it as a tiny plant between the big skunk cabbage leaves in the middle of the photo. Here it is close up.

Seedling 16MY 2b

I continue to think shrub, and took a look at the nearby shrubs, seeking a match. One possibility was this:

Seedling candidate 3b

Though this candidate and the seedling continue to remind me of the bush honeysuckles, these were not flowering, and their bark was not the shredded wheat pattern of the Lonicera I know.

Seedling candidate 5b

The leaves also show more width toward the tip than I am accustomed to seeing in honeysuckles.

On a related point, the cress I mentioned in earlier posts was flowering on May 16, and proved indeed to be bulbous cress as Scott N. suggested.

Bulbous cress b

The late blooming date, white flowers and habitat are conclusive.

Culver Seedling Check

by Carl Strang

 

I was back in Culver, Indiana, over the weekend, and stopped by the little skunk cabbage seep to check on the seedling that appeared there in February. Here is its April 25 appearance.

 

seedling-25apb2

 

It proves different from the herbaceous plants I noticed nearby a month ago. Those are not quite flowering yet, but appear to support Scott’s (of the Handlens and Binoculars blog) suggestion of one of the Cardamine cresses, probably C. bulbosa, the bulbous cress.

 

cardamine-bulbosa-maybe-1b

 

It has smooth stems, the flower buds look like their petal color will be white,

 

cardamine-bulbosa-maybe-4b

 

it will be flowering later in the spring, and this species is listed by Swink & Wilhelm as an associate of skunk cabbage and of marsh marigold, the latter of which was blooming nearby on April 25.

 

marsh-marigold-b

 

As for the mystery seedling, its leaves are different in shape and venation pattern from those of the Cardamine, and had an opposite arrangement along the lengthening stem. Furthermore, the persistent cotyledons, which always have been relatively thick and large, have me thinking shrub, now, rather than herb. Could it even be (gasp of disappointment) a bush honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.)? Some of those were present, and one of the reasons they are so successful at displacing our native plants is their extended growing season. I don’t think it is usual for their seedlings to appear so early, though, if the one I am following should prove to be a Lonicera.

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