Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Opportunistic Forbs or Frankly, These Are Some Tough Plants

Abutilon theophrasti
It's a member of the Mallow family. Velvet Leaf in Field Guides or Velvet Weed as they call it commonly in many places. It's actually rather a sweet looking flower. But being a very successful alien, it's often the first to show up in disturbed soil. Familiarity does breed contempt.

In all today's plants, not so much disturbed soil as what is commonly called a "waste place". They are basically growing in subsoil with gravel on top. Rather happily too, considering there is currently a bit of a drought in Wisconsin.

Why Velvet Weed? Because it is covered with short fibers, rather like the knap of the fabric.

This one reminds me a great deal of Wild Bergamant but somehow the leaves don't seem quite right. I'm still looking.

For the botanically inclined who may recognize it, a better look at the whole plant.

What kids call purple clover--A bovine favorite. Medicago sativa. Good old Alfalfa, another alien. Not far from here is the first field in Wisconsin ever to be planted in alfalfa. And after alfalfa, come the cows, and then the whole place becomes known as "Cheeseland". You never know what you're starting when you put a plant into the ground.

Looking for a good specimen of Queen Anne's lace I came across this. Another umbel shaped cluster (umbrella shaped) which has a tinge of pink in the peripheral florets so something else altogether.

Daucus carota
Here we go, Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot, currently blooming everywhere in grand profusion. So it must be another alien? Correct.
The supposed "drop of blood" on Queen Anne's lace is the single deepest blood red blossom. I've always wondered, and still do, what the evolutionary impetus for that one tiny single bud of red was or is.
Donegal Browne

1 comment:

Katinka Locascio said...

I came across your close up of Wild Carrot. Did you know that this plant is commonly used as contraception? Some suggest the red dot in the center was a signal to women that this plant may bring on menstruation.