Tag Archives: wildflowers

Featured Plant of the Week Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum)

Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum) – Very distinctive spathe (hooded floral leaf) being green or purple brown and often striped, it folds over and shelters the spadix. The flowers are very tiny and actually appear at the base of the spadix. The fruit of this species is every bit as striking as the “flower”; it is a cluster of scarlet berries visible above the woodland floor from a long way off. Jack-in-the-pulpits have both male and female parts, but if the plant is young or weak, only the male parts will be fertile. The female parts are fertile only on older, stronger plants.

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The plant resembles a minister in an old fashioned pulpit. Reaches 1 to 3 feet and prefers richly-soiled woods and swamps; found throughout the entire central US and into the east to the Appalachians. It is becoming increasingly rare in some areas. Deer Resistent.

Araceae Family – “Jack-in-the-pulpit, Northern Jack-in-the-pulpit, Small Jack-in-the-pulpit, Swamp Jack-in-the-pulpit, Woodland Jack-in-the-pulpit, Indian Turnip, Green Dragon, Brown Dragon, Dragon Root, Dragonroot, Dragon Plant, Dragon Turnip, March Turnip, Meadow Turnip, Indian Turnip, Wild Turnip, Swamp Turnip, Pepper Turnip, Wild pepper, Starch Plant, Starchwort, Memory Root, American Arum, Thrice-leaved Arum, Devil’s Ear, Priest’s Pintle, Wake-robin, Bog Onion, Cuckoo Plant, Lords and Ladies”.

Arisaema from the Greek aris, a kind of arum and haema, meaning “blood”. Triphyllum is Latin meaning “three leaves”.

Another species that provided a multitude of uses to Native Americans and early settlers, Arisaema triphyllum is probably best remembered as a youthful dare. My first Boy Scout camping trip was highlighted by a challenge to taste the root juice and see if it was sweet or sour. It was, flat out, the hottest, stinging sensation my mouth has ever experienced. In fact, to this day, I still await my revenge on the perpetrator of this “hazing”. (The sensation was caused by the high concentration of calcium oxalate present in the root.)

Some Native Americans used this species to treat sore eyes, others to treat headache with an external application of the powdered root to the temples. It was also used broadly to treat snakebite, ringworm, stomach gas, rheumatism, asthma and many other disorders.

One central Iowa tribe (the Meskwaki) even used it in a form of “guerilla” warfare. Meat would be cooked with the root of Jack-in-the-pulpit, then left along a trail in hopes that their enemies would partake of it. If they did, the high concentration of calcium oxalate would sicken them, with death occasionally resulting.

Edible Uses:
Tuber – it must be thoroughly dried or cooked before being eaten. The roots can be cut into very thin slices and allowed to dry for several months, after which they are eaten like potato chips, crumbled to make a cereal or ground into a cocoa-flavoured powder for making biscuits, cakes etc. They can also be pounded into a powder, this is thern left to dry for several weeks when it becomes safe to use. The root is up to 5cm long and 2cm wide. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other Uses:
“A starch obtained from the roots is used as a stiffener for clothes. It is very harsh to the hands, causing blisters and swellings. The seeds have been used in rattles.”

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Howard Bright “AKA”Earthyman Comments on the Wild Geranium Pollinators & Floral Visitors Article

We always wait until we can see the seeds turning black and before the triggers are set in the seed dispersal mechanism. If the seeds are showing on to of the triggers, it’s too risky to try and collect them as they will be shot off into space by these strong catapults. If you are able to collect them just before this happens, you can also collect the ones that are a bit greenish too. After collecting, spread them out in a dry place and cover with a sheet to keep them from ejecting into the room and spread all around. Take a look at this video on you tube 

Pic1Like many spring-flowering native plants, wild geranium flowers have the ability to self-pollinate when no pollinators are present. However, the flower matures to ensure cross-pollination when insects are present, with the row of outer anthers developing on the first or second day after the flowers open, followed by the inner row on the second or third day. The stigma becomes receptive after the anthers have dehisced on the third or forth day.

Bees, flies and beetles visit the flower for nectar and pollen. Nectar is secreted from five glands located between the stamens and sepals. In a study by Bertin et al, bees visiting for nectar were responsible for depositing more pollen than pollen collecting bees. Larger bees such as bumble bees and mason bees are considered effective pollinators because pollen brushed onto the underside of their abdomen contacts the stigma. Smaller bees are able to circle around the base of the stamens feeding on nectar without coming into contact with pollen from the anthers above.

Wild geranium flowers are over one inch in width and extremely showy. Dark lines on the flowers act as nectar guides, showing pollinators the location of the nectaries at the base of the stamens.

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Small Carpenter Bees, Ceratinaspp.
Smaller bee species circle the base of the flower seeking out nectar without coming in contact with the anthers and stigmas above.

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Cuckoo Bees, Nomada spp. 

Wild geranium is a nectar source for this cuckoo bee in early spring. Female Nomada bees lay their eggs in the nests of ground nesting native bees, especially mining bees (Andrena spp.). The cuckoo bee eggs hatch and the larvae kills the host bee larvae and consumes the provisions provided by the host. Nomada bees are reddish-brown to black with yellow or white markings.

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Mason Bees Osmia spp.
Mason bees visit wild geranium for both pollen and nectar. Females land on top of the anthers gathering them together with her legs. Pollen is brushed onto the pollen-collecting hairs on the underside of the abdomen. Wild geranium is an important source of pollen and nectar for mason bees, it flowers when females are provisioning their nests.

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Sweat Bees Halictus spp.
Sweat bees visit the flowers to feed on nectar.

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Fruitworm Beetles Byturus unicolor
Long, dense hairs cover the elytra of these beetles where pollen grains attach. Adults emerge from the soil in early spring, feed on host plants (raspberries, blackberries and avens), mate, then lay eggs. Larvae burrow into the flower buds and fruit of the host species and buds drop off or decay. Fruit becomes misshapen and ‘wormy’. Look for adult beetles feeding on the pollen of woodland natives in early spring such as Viriginia waterleaf and wild geranium.

References 
Bertin, R. I., & Sholes, O. D. (1993). Weather, pollination and the phenology of Geranium maculatum. American Midland Naturalist, 52-66. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2426435

Willson, M. F., Miller, L. J., & Rathcke, B. J. (1979). Floral display in Phlox and Geranium: adaptive aspects. Evolution, 52-63. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2407365

Article From Restoring The Landscape Website

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Featured Plant of the Week SILENE REGIA | Royal Catchfly

SILENE REGIA | Royal Catchfly

Silene

Royal catchfly can reach 4 feet tall and with brilliant scarlet flowers blooming from June to September it can be spotted from a long way off. Stems are usually unbranched below the flowers and feels hairy and slightly clammy to the touch. Becoming less frequent but locally abundant in some mesic prairies and oak savannas. Very scattered in the southern ranges of the Tallgrass prairie region.

Sun Exposure: Prairie, Savanna
Soil Moisture: Mesic, Dry Mesic
Bloom Time: Summer (July, August)
Bloom Color: Red
Max Height: 4 Feet
Wetland Code: UPL
Germ Code: C(60)
Seeds Per Ounce: 23,000

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Featured Plant of the Week ANEMONE PATENS | Pasque Flower

ANEMONE PATENS | Pasque Flower

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Pasque Flower (Anemone patens) – Found in all prairie regions from the Arctic Circle to the Southern United States. It is the earliest of all prairie flowers blooming in March and April. Grows from 2 inches to 16 inches and sports a single blue, purple or white flower on a long, thin stem. Pasque flowers do not have true petals; instead it is the sepals that give the flower color.

Ranunculaceae Family – From the Greek term anemone, meaning “wind” which probably refers to seed distribution or perhaps because the delicate stems and leaves sometimes appear to tremble in the wind and patens, meaning “spreading”.

Medicinal Uses:
Pasque Flower was one of the native prairie species that was included on the official United States pharmacopoeia catalog from 1882 to 1918 because of its diuretic, expectorant and menstrual-inducing qualities. Native Americans used this species for treating the pain of rheumatism and other painful conditions. It was used as a diaphoretic, a diuretic and as a salve or wash to treat boils, burns and sore eyes. Healing of wounds was often accelerated using the entire plant, dried and ground, applied to the wound. Great caution was used when using this species as a medicine because it contains alkaloids that can cause depression, nervousness and intestinal distress

WARNING:
It should be noted that Pasque flower is poisonous. It is extremely irritating both internally and externally and use of this plant should be avoided.

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Featured Plant of the Week: Bidens Connata | Swamp Purplestem Beggartick

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Product Description

Swamp Purplestem (Bidens Connata) consists of flowers with ray florets absent. Base of flower with a circle of leaflike, elongate bracts. Seeds (achenes) with two barbs. Leaves undivided, elongate, heavily toothed, occurring in opposite pairs along the stem. Plant 1 to 6 feet in height.

Sun Exposure: Prairie
Soil Moisture: Wet, Wet Mesic
Bloom Time: Summer, Fall – August, September, October
Bloom Color: Yellow
Max Height: 4 Feet

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Perennial Plant of the Week – Polygonatum Canaliculatum | Solomans Seal

 

Polygonatum Canaliculatum | Solomon’s Seal


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Product Description
“Solomon’s Seal, Conquer John, Sealwort”

Polygonatum comes from the Greek word meaning “with many knees”. This is most likely in reference to the bulbous, jointed rhizomes. Canaliculatum comes from the Latin for “channeled” or “with a long groove”. Some botanists and taxonomists divide this particular plant into three different species – P. canaliculatum, P. biflora and P. communtatum. The differences are difficult to tell without magnification..

The common name, Solomon’s seal derives from its rootstock that bears flat round scars which resemble the impression of a seal. Biblical King Solomon’s famous seal was a magical signet ring. A transverse cut on the root was once believed to reveal Hebrew characters left by King Solomon’s seal.

Since each year of growth leaves a new “seal” on the rhizome, you can estimate the age of a Solomon’s seal plant by counting the scars.

Even though the stems can easily reach 6 feet in length, the plant itself is generally 3 feet or less in height with the stems making long, sweeping arches. It’s found on rich woodland soils and occasionally in the open areas of cleared woodlands. It prefers cool moist soil but tolerates dry or damp once established. Green-white to white flowers bloom beneath the leaves from May through June. It is a rugged, deer resistant plant largely unbothered by disease.

The roots, berries and young shoots were once used a sources for food. The Iroquois actually cultivated Solomon’s Seal to use the roots for a dietary staple. The Chippewa believed ingesting the roots would aid in curing back pain and/or kidney problems. In order to achieve its full effect, they believed the medicinal rootstock needed to be saved in a pouch made of bear’s paws. The Meskwaki and Potawatami would place a small piece of root on burning coals to create fumes that could revive one from an unconcsious state. Early settlers used preparations of the root to treat hemorrhoids, arthritis, poison ivy, skin rashes and eczema. They also beleived that an extract from the root of P. canaliculatum would make freckles disappear or diminish.

Edible Uses: Unknown

Medicinal Uses: Unknown

Herbal Uses: Unknown

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Why Are Some Wild flowers Highly Scented with Brightly Colored Petals?

Thought You Might Enjoy this Q&A From Ask.com regarding Wildflowers

Question: Why Are Some Wild flowers Highly Scented with Brightly Coloured Petals?

Top Answer: Some wild flowers are highly scented with brightly colored petals so as to attract pollinators like insects and birds. The pollinators feed on the nectar and help in distribution from pollen grains from anthers to stigma of the same plant or another plant. This enables continuation of reproduction.

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