Those Damned Irises

On June 29, with my collecting permit about to expire, I went one more time to visit those two stands of irises near the Marsden Tract*, and collected two more seed capsules. Took ’em home, opened ’em up, photographed, measured, examined with hand lens, etc.

And got nowhere. The seeds just weren’t ripe enough.

My gut feeling is that stand 1 is Iris virginica and stand 2 is Iris versicolor, based on the observed characteristics. The former is on the state DNR watchlist (S3), and there are records of it in Montgomery County, so this is not too far-fetched.

But I like proof, and I haven’t proven anything, except that I’m a little nuts, so I am going to conclude that both stands are probably Iris versicolor, because it’s the more common species.

However… this ain’t over yet.

*see posts from mid May into June

 

Føroysk Flora Woes; Potomac Gorge Update

Yes, I’m a book nerd: I bought reference books in a language I don’t read.

You would not believe how much time I’ve spent trying to identify the flowers I found on my trip. In most cases genus is easily determined, but getting the species requires, well, specifics, many of which can be found in the three sources pictured here.

Of course, I don’t read Faroese.

puffin (Fratercula arctica) playing peekaboo on Mykines Island

I assumed I’d be able to use google translate to look for cognates in other Nordic languages, but that hasn’t worked so well. There are a few on-line translation services, but Faroese appears to have many noun cases, and I keep running across what I assume are declined nouns and conjugated verbs. And of course there’s botanical jargon.

Hopefully now that I’m back I can use my English-language book of Icelandic flowers to solve some mysteries. We’ll see. Expect scattered posts about the Faroe Islands in the coming months.

buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) playing peekaboo yesterday morning

In the meantime I’ve gotten out to the Billy Goat C trail twice. I was afraid I’d missed a lot, but nope: lots of great flowers to see if you look in the right places. Now blooming in that area: nodding onion, swamp milkweed, buttonbush, swamp candles, fogfruit, monkeyflower, sea-oats, thin-leaved sunflower, grassleaf mudplantain, wild potato vine, common arrowhead, starry campion, horsenettle, American germander, culver’s root, jumpseed, various St. Johnsworts, St. Andrew’s cross, and water willow. Halberd-leaved rosemallow is budding up, and the joe-pye weeds are, too, and close to opening.

It’s good to be home.

62° North

Greetings from Føroyar! I have just a little time to kill in the airport, so here’s a picture of Armeria maritima (sea thrift), growing on a bluff in the town of Gjógv. In the distance is the island of Kalsoy.

I believe the plant is named mjátt sjógras in Føroyskt (Faroese), but info is hard to find on the internet if you don’t read Faroese. And annoyingly, the two wildflower books I purchased are in my already-checked luggage. Also those books are in Faroese, so gleaning information from them will be a challenge.

More about Faroese flora and natural history in coming days.

Føroyar means “sheep islands”.

Don’t Forget About the Grasses

Grasses are flowering plants, after all, so why not consider them wildflowers? This is the inflorescence of Elymus hystrix, which translates roughly to “covered porcupine”. The common name is eastern bottlebrush grass. It ranges from the eastern Great Plains and northern parts of the South through the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, New England, and into Canada. Look for it in woodlands and woodland edges: unlike many grasses bottlebrush likes some shade.

 

 

And with that, I’m off for two weeks, heading for a high latitude destination. If I find wildflowers I’ll post some pictures. Landscapes, too.  In the meantime, here’s a shot of my beloved Potomac River near Glen Echo, taken a few days ago in the early morning.