28 January 2011

To Honor a Botanical Legend

A couple of weeks ago, the botanical world lost one of its finest when Fred Case passed away at the age of 83. Fred, a botanist and high school biology and natural science teacher, authored three botanical works: Wildflowers of the Northeastern States, Orchids of the Western Great Lakes Region, and Trilliums (co-authored with wife Roberta, who was also a teacher and field biologist). The latter of these, which has gained acclaim from gardeners and botanists alike, is one of the most treasured books in my collection.

To honor Fred and Roberta, below are photographs of all but one of the species of Trillium that I saw in 2010 (I did not take a photo of Nodding Wakerobin, Trillium flexipes, which I saw in April at Bentley Woods).

Whip-poor-will Flower (Trillium cernuum), June 7, 2010, Pokegama Wetlands, Douglas County, Wisconsin

White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), April 18, 2010, Bentley Woods, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Ozark Wakerobin (Trillium pusillum var. ozarkanum), April 22, 2010, Shannon County, Missouri

Bloody Butcher (Trillium recurvatum forma recurvatum), April 18, 2010, Bentley Woods, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bloody Butcher (Trillium recurvatum forma luteum), April 18, 2010, Bentley Woods, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Toadshade (Trillium sessile), April 21, 2010, Spurgeon Hollow, Shannon County, Missouri

Wood Wakerobin (Trillium viride), April 20, 2010, Victoria Glade, Jefferson County, Missouri

Tapertip Wakerobin (Trillium viridescens), April 25, 2010, Mount Magazine, Logan County, Arkansas

Tapertip Wakerobin (Trillium viridescens), unnamed purple-petaled form, April 25, 2010, Mount Magazine, Logan County, Arkansas

Trillium sp., presumably an unnamed purple petaled and sepaled form of Tapertip Wakerobin (Trillium viridescens) growing in the same colony as plants in the previous two photos, April 25, 2010, Mount Magazine, Logan County, Arkansas

21 January 2011

A Winter Wildflower

Last weekend, Justin Thomas and I took a trip to Rocky Falls near Eminence in Shannon County, Missouri. Although this picturesque winter Ozark scene would have been worth the trip in itself, we had but one goal in mind.

That goal was to find a flowering plant in the depths of winter. In most years, the first flowering plant that I see in the new year is a non-native lawn species, such as a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) or a speedwell (Veronica spp.). Not so this year, thanks to Justin.

This is Ozark Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis), nearly an Ozark endemic shrub, known from but five states in the country with by far most of its occurrences in the Ozarks of Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Unlike the similar Eastern Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), which has a widespread distribution throughout the eastern half of the United States and which flowers from October to December, Ozark Witchhazel blooms from January to April. Whereas Eastern Witchhazel grows in moist woods, on wooded slopes, and in wooded valleys along streams, Ozark Witchhazel is at home in rocky areas along streams and in streambeds.

A nice treat for a January day.

09 January 2011

Love That Lake Effect

A snowy morning here in North Liberty, Indiana...

Over the last two days, Lake Michigan has dumped ~18 inches of snow on our property. Parts of South Bend have reported ~36 inches in the same time. Then there are the nearby locations that were outside of the lake effect band that still can see their lawns.

We aren't expecting much (if any) snow today, but there is another system followed by lake effect on the way later this week!

07 January 2011

A Plug For Bugguide.net

This past June, I was in the field with a coworker at a mitigation site in Lake County, Indiana, and we came across this odd larva moving across a gravel drive between weedy field and emergent marsh.

It may be a bit difficult to get an idea of scale from this photo, but this larva was approximatley 1.5 inches long. I searched online and through all of my references, but I couldn't figure it out, so I put the image aside, stored as an unknown beetle larva. Fast forward to yesterday, when I was going through photos in the project file while working on the report. I decided to try out http://www.bugguide.net/. I have visited the site on numerous occasions, but I had never sent them an unknown photo. After signing up for the webpage, I sent the photograph above, and within the next couple of hours the mystery was solved. This is the larva of a water scavenger beetle in the genus Hydrophilus. Adults are shiny black, shaped a bit like an elongated football, and are approximately 1.5 to 3 inches long. Being that large, they are pretty conspicuous, and can often be found at night near lights.

I was quite impressed with how quickly my unknown was identified. The folks at http://www.bugguide.net/ have a good thing going. Be sure to check out their site when you have a chance, and if you have any photos of unknown insects, submit them and there is a good chance that they won't be unknowns for very long.

01 January 2011

Roadside Raptors and Such

If there is one thing I know for sure, it's that the drive from North Liberty, IN to Painesville, OH should be considered one of the rarest forms of torture. True this drive is a straight-shot on the Indiana and then Ohio toll roads but it offers very little more than corn fields. That's why on Christmas afternoon when we started the trip I was so easily swayed when Scott said "hey, let's play a game." The game.....counting all the roadside raptors we could see with the unaided eye.

And the results were........

Indiana (on the trip to Ohio)
American Kestrel-3
Cooper's Hawk-1
Bald Eagle-2
Rough-Legged Hawk-1
Red-Tailed Hawk-8

Ohio (still on the way there)
American Kestrel-5
Red-Tailed Hawk- 21

Ohio (on the way home)
Red-Tailed Hawk-28
Cooper's Hawk-1
Peregrine Falcon-1
American Kestrel-5
Bald Eagle-2

Indiana (almost home and starting to get dark)
Red-Tailed Hawk- 2
American Kestrel-1
Barred Owl-1

The second part of the game occured when Scott also decided that the blog needed a picture of a Red-Tailed Hawk to go with the post. I mean how hard can it be to get a picture of a roadside hawk? Every time we would see one I would then hear "oh man I should have stopped" or "that would have made a great picture." Needless to say we learned the hard way that it is very difficult to get a good picture of a hawk while traveling 70+ miles an hour on the toll road with traffic. Hmm who would have thought? The above picture is instead taken the day after the trip outside of Potato Creek State Park, but you get the idea.

Although not the highest quality, this is a picture of one of the Bald Eagles that we saw soaring in Ohio not too far from the Sandusky exit. No matter how many I've seen them, there is still something amazing about seeing a Bald Eagle in flight.

The final score: Scott and Lindsay 1, Boredom 0.