Purpurea

Continuing with pretty pictures during this cold season. It’s a thin line between blue and purple. Color is a continuum. Color is in the eye of the beholder. If some of these look more blue or pink than purple, well, c’est la vie.

Triodanis perfoliata (Venus’ looking glass; Campanulaceae)

Look for this annual forb growing in rocky places where there isn’t much competition from other plants. It generally blooms from about mid May into early June here in the Maryland piedmont.

Clinopodium vulgare (wild basil; Lamiaceae)

A perennial forb with circumboreal distribution. Look for the flowers in the height of summer.

 

 

Cunila origanoides (common dittany; Lamiaceae)

A perennial native to North America, and found mostly in the mid West and mid Atlantic. It blooms in late summer.

 

Elephantopus caroliniana (Carolina elephant’s foot; Asteraceae)

A rather weedy-looking plant with a fascinating inflorescence. Click on the picture and look closely; you’ll see that this is actually four disk flowers, each with a five-lobed corolla. The species is native to the southeastern US (Maryland is almost as far north as it goes). It blooms in late summer.

 

Eutrochium purpureum (sweet joe-pye weed; Asteraceae).

The joe-pye weeds (formerly Eupatorium species) are perennials that love wet places, but this particular species tolerates drier soils and is a great native for the home garden, with dramatic heads of colorful flowers towering above most other forbs. And it attracts butterflies. Blooms in late summer.

Mentha arvensis (field mint; Lamiaceae)

Another mint-family plant with circumboreal distribution. Another late-summer bloomer.

 

 

Mimulus alatus (winged monkeyflower; Phrymaceae)

Watch for this wetland plant and its almost identical cousin M. ringens var. ringens (Allegheny monkeyflower) blooming in early to mid summer.

 

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot; Lamiaceae)

The mint family sure is represented well here. Look for it in mid summer, possibly covered in bees and butterflies.

 

Phlox divaricata (woodland phlox, wild blue phlox; Polemoniaceae)

As you can see this flower ranges from almost white through lighter and stronger shades of blue and purple. They bloom at about the same time as Virginia bluebells. Bluebells grow in the floodplain while this phlox grows just upland of the floodplain, in still moist (but not wet) woodland soils.

Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant; Lamiaceae)

Yet another mint family mid summer bloomer. Watch for it on rocky outcrops and gravel bars in the Potomac.

 

 

 

 

Ruellia caroliniensis (hairy wild petunia; Acanthaceae)

In Maryland this species is found mostly in the Coastal Plain; in the piedmont it’s restricted to a few sites near the Potomac River (as far as I know – please leave a comment if you know otherwise). Watch for it in late spring and early summer.

Trichostema dichotomum (forked bluecurls; Lamiaceae)

Blue or purple, or splitting the difference? Whatever. This is a most striking plant, one of those OMG finds. Well it was for me, anyway. What a lurid color. Late summer, dry soils, open areas. Yow.

Verbena hastata (blue vervain, swamp verbena, Verbenaceae)

As one of the common names suggests, you’ll find this in wetlands, blooming anywhere from late June to mid August. This is an extreme closeup; the plants are rather tall but the inflorescences rather small.

 

 

Vernonia noveboracensis (New York ironweed; Asteraceae)

All ray flowers with strongly exserted stigmas, no disk flowers. Very tall plant, wispy appearance. Likes wet soils. Blooms in mid to late summer.

 

Viola palmata (early blue violet, three-loved violet; Violaceae)

Violet taxonomy is in flux, and violet species can be difficult to differentiate. This one is relatively easy because of the unusual leaf shape, although even that can be highly variable. Look for it in mid spring in drier woodlands.

Breezy Monday Morning

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) is just starting to bloom along the river

It’s ten o’clock Monday morning, and although the temperature is only about 82 °F on the Billy Goat B trail, I’m pouring sweat from the high humidity.

Verbena urticifolia (white vervain) deigned to hold still for a split second

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, there’s a nice breeze blowing to keep me cool.

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (narrow-leaved mountain mint) starting to open

 

 

 

 

 

Hiker Elizabeth with her sixteen pound daypack loves it.

Ruellia caroliniensis (hairy wild petunia) peeking through some Chasmanthium latifolium (woodoats)

 

 

 

 

 

Photographer Elizabeth, trying to get nice flower pics, is deeply annoyed.

Circaea lutetiana (enchanter’s nightshade)

 

 

 

 

 

Seemed like I couldn’t get good pictures of anything. I had gone to shoot enchanter’s nightshade, a medium-sized, shade-loving forb with a wispy stem and tiny flowers, easily moved by the breeze.

 

 

 

The flower has an unusual structure, with only two petals, so deeply cleft that they appear to be four, two sepals, two stamens, one style, and an inferior ovary.

an unusually colorful fleabane (probably Erigeron annuus)

 

Other plants currently blooming include:

  • fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)
  • white avens (Geum canadense)
  • trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans)
  • honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis)
  • bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix)
  • water willow (Justicia americana)
  • lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus)
  • blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
  • common cattail (Typha latifolia)
  • and even a few goldenrod! (Solidago species)

Monotropa uniflora (ghost pipes) turn fully upward towards the end of blooming

Variations on a Theme: Vervains

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blue vervain
Verbena hastata

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and

 

white vervain
Verbena urticifolia

Verbenaceae

As you can see from the pictures, these two closely related plants have similar inflorescences.  Both species can grow as much as 5 or 6 feet tall.  Authorities vary on this; I’ve seen white vervain at 5 feet and blue vervain at 4 feet.

20150728-20150728-DSC_0211Blue vervain is a plant of wet places (another common name for it is swamp vervain), and is found in every state of the US except Alaska and Hawaii, and almost every province of Canada.  It’s considered weedy by some authorities.

 

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Its leaves are long and narrow…

 

 

 

 

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…while the leaves of white vervain are more oval.

 

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You’ll find white vervain in drier situations, usually in more shade; this small specimen was right along the Billy Goat C trail.  It was almost done blooming, so you can’t quite see the diminutive flowers*.

White vervain isn’t as widespread as blue; it can be found from the Great Plains eastward, but not in the West.  Kentucky considers it possibly weedy, while Maine considers it possibly extirpated.

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There are almost 40 native species of Verbena in the US, with widely varying distribution, and about 8 alien species.  Of the native species, 7 occur in the mid-Atlantic Piedmont.  One of these, Verbena x engelmannii, appears to be a naturally-occurring cross between V. hastata and V. urticifolia.  It’s described as having bluish-purple flowers with egg-shaped leaves**.

20150730-20150730-_DSC0263(sorry, this is not V. x engelmannii, it’s V. hastata again)

*or as the Illinois Wildflowers site says, “The lanky branches of the inflorescence are rather long, however, and they sprawl in different directions. This makes the inflorescence difficult to photograph in its entirety.”

**Morton Arboretum via swbiodiversity.org

Flowers of the Day: Blue Vervain, White Vervain

Verbena hastata and Verbena urticifolia; Verbenaceae (verbena family)

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Blue vervain, also known as swamp vervain, likes wet soils and full sun, and can be found all across the US in two varieties.  Some authorities consider it weedy in the West.  It grows up to five feet tall, with flower spikes up to half a foot long; the individual flowers are about 1/4″ across.

White vervain grows somewhat larger (up to six feet), with longer flower spikes (up to two feet), but much smaller flowers (1/8″ across).  It prefers slightly drier soils and more shade, though I have seen it growing mere feet away from blue vervain.  There are two varieties of white vervain, too, but neither is found in the West.  Some authorities consider it potentially weedy or invasive.  It is listed as possibly extirpated in Maine.

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