Wildflowers of Carden Plains

Despite me living so close to where I worked in 2010 (i.e., Carden Plains), I did not have the means to revisit the place.  Thanks to the field course I am assisting this month, I am now back to where it all began for me here in Ontario.

View from the Carden Rec Centre looking at Dalrymple Lake.
Where we spent a lot of time using internet and reconnecting with the outside world during our off-days.

I was here, along with the course instructors, to take a workshop on wildflowers of the alvar habitat.

We had to go through juniper and forested areas before we get to the actual alvar habitat.  Heavy thunderstorm actually had the leaders thinking about canceling the workshop, but the weather changed so quickly that it was suddenly sunny by the time we were turned around.

Sunny when we reached the alvar habitat!  Alvar habitat is unique because the ground is mostly limestone with little soil.  Snow and rain during Spring and Autumn are unable to penetrate the rocks and lead to flooding during those seasons, but summer brings intense droughts.  Therefore, this habitat supports rare fauna and flora.

The book that we use for the course is the ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario, so a lot of plant information mentioned here will probably come from that book.  I will be getting my own next week, and so far it is a pretty good book with a relatively-easy key to use.  Although I do wish it includes more plant species.

2013-06-02-P6022759-Field chickweed (Cerastium arvense)
Field chickweed (Cerastium arvense) belongs to the Pink family (Caryophyllaceae).  A few species has the species name arvense, meaning "of fields".

2013-06-02-P6022902-Thyme-leaved sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia)
Thyme-leaved sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia), another species belonging in the Pink family.  It can be distinguished from C. arvense because its petals are not notched.

Another Sandwort plant, but I don't think it's in the ROM field guide.

2013-06-02-P6022767-Viper's-bugloss (Echium vulgare)
Viper's-bugloss (Echium vulgare) belongs to the Borage family (Boraginaceae) and it is a common plant (hence the scientific name vulgare, which is used for several other species too).  From this photo, you can see that the stem is covered in hairs with dark swollen glandular bases.  Its common name refers to its use to treat snakebites (when the plant is dried).

2013-06-02-P6022771-Black medick (Medicago lupulina)
Black medick (Medicago lupulina) belongs to the Pea family (Fabaceae).  The flower cluster is small, and the flowers in each cluster is even tinier.  Other members of Fabaceae that I saw but did not have here include Bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculata), Red clover (Trifolium pratense), and Cow vetch (Vicia cracca).

Some kind of Saxifraga sp. (family Saxifragaceae).  The genus name consists of 'rock' (saxum, Greek) and 'to break' (frango, Greek) - referring to its ability to grow on rocky substrates.

2013-06-02-P6022800-Wild basil (Clinopodium vulgare)
Wild basil (Clinopodium vulgare) with the small flowers occurring on a cluster head.  Members of the mint family (Lamiaceae) usually have square stems, opposite leaves, and lipped irregular flowers.  Note the common species name vulgare again.  Flowers of Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) also occur on a head, but the flowers are larger (> 2 cm).

2013-06-02-P6022819-Bluet (Houstonia)
Bluet flowers (Houstonia sp.) belong to the Madder (Rubiaceae) family, but are not described in the ROM field guide.

2013-06-02-P6022872-Bluet (Houstonia)
Water droplet in the Bluet flower (Houstonia sp.).

In addition to wildflowers, we also talked about other things, such as geography, history, and other plants and animals.

2013-06-02-P6022877-New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

2013-06-02-P6022822-Nodding grass
Nodding grass.  I think that was the name the leader called it, I can't recall the scientific name now.

One of the more glamorous flowering plants is perhaps the lady's-slippers.  The species we saw at Carden Plains was the Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cyripedium parviflorum) (Family Orchidaceae).  There are two forms found here in Ontario: one that has larger and yellow flowers, found on drier sites, and lack a sweet scent, while the other form has smaller flowers with reddish brown colours, found on wetter sites, and has a sweet scent.  The first photo below was taken at a wetter site in a cedar stand, while the latter three photos were taken just along the roadside with no shelter.  I am not certain if they look different though.

Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cyripedium parviflorum)
Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cyripedium parviflorum)

2013-06-02-P6022878-Yellow Lady's-slipper
Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cyripedium parviflorum)

Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cyripedium parviflorum)
Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cyripedium parviflorum)

Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cyripedium parviflorum)
Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cyripedium parviflorum).  One interesting thing about most orchids is that the flower stalk or ovary rotates 180 degrees before the flower opens (termed resupinate).  Therefore, the "lip" (or "slipper") is at the bottom.

2013-06-02-P6022937-Common Mallow (Malva neglecta)
This is a Wild Rose (Rosa blanda, Rose family, Rosaceae) found along the road, hence the dusty petals and leaves.

2013-06-02-P6022770-Hairy beard-tongue (Penstemon hirsutus)
Hairy beard-tongue (Penstemon hirsutus) (Plantain family; Plantaginaceae).  The scientific name comes from the words pente (five, Greek), stemon (stamen, Greek), and hirsutus (hairy, Latin).

Hairy beard-tongue (Penstemon hirsutus)
Hairy beard-tongue (Penstemon hirsutus).  There is a little pollinator in the bottom flower.

2013-06-02-P6022954-Montane blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium montanum)
Took a lot of Montane blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium montanum) photos already.  It belongs to the Iris family (Iridaceae), and should not be too difficult to identify.

If you ask me which three flowering species I associate the most with Carden Plains, it would probably be the following three species.

Wild columbine (Aguilegia canadensis)
Wild columbine (Aguilegia canadensis) in the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae).  Its bright colours attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and even though bumblebees are too big to fit inside the flowers, they cheat by biting holes at the top of the flowers to get at the nactar (as you can see in the above photo).  Apparently, this plant is self-compatible, which raises the question as to why the elaborate reproductive structure then.  Another mystery of nature.

2013-06-02-P6022946-Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea)
The other species is probably the Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) in the Broom-rape family (Orobanchaceae).  Members of this family are hemi- or wholly parasitic on other plants.  Top view of the "flowers".  If you look closely, the top part of the "flower" is just red-tipped petal-like bracts.

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea)
The actual flowers are hidden inside the Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) spike with the stigmas sticking out.

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea)
Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea).  The species name coccinea means 'scarlet'.

Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum)
The most well-known species is probably Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) in the Rose family (Rosaceae) with the fruiting heads dancing in the wind.  Beautiful.

2013-06-02-P6022965-Bastard toadflex (Comandra umbellata)
The last plant species we saw today was the Bastard toadflex (Comandra umbellata) belonging to the Sandalwood family (Santalaceae).  Members of this family is also parasitic on other plants, and C. umbellata has sucker-like apparatus on its roots to attach to other plants.  This photo is interesting because a fly has been caught by a crab spider hiding among the flowers.

Psellidotus sp. (Soldier fly)
The fly, according to BugGuide, is a Psellidotus sp. (Soldier fly, Stratiomyidae).

We didn't find any wild Loggerhead Shrikes but we did see a Bluebird.


Blanding's turtle (Emys blandingii)
And a Blanding's turtle (Emys blandingii) on the road, which we moved after taking its picture.

I am really looking forward to this field course because my plant knowledge has (at least) doubled in the past few days, and there's still more to learn!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...