Saturday, December 01, 2018

Friday Flowers

            Almost  every Friday of the year, I go out looking for flowers in the Hamilton area. On almost every other day of the year, I just look for flowers wherever I happen to be. The Friday flower walk in Hamilton is due to my having lived in Hamilton for over 30 years and having kept records of blooms that I found there for many of those years. Since I retired, I have been volunteering at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton on Fridays so I continue on those days to update my Hamilton wild flower list. In the last few years, I have added a few of the cultivated flowers that grow outdoors at the RBG. Because I have spent so many hours looking for flowers I have become better adapted at finding obscure ones. It also helps that I have been leading wild flower walks since the fall of 1981 and many eyes see a lot more flowers.

            With all that as a lead up, I would like to report that on November 30 of 2018 I found 8 wild flowers in bloom and 2 cultivated flowers. This in spite of a lot of cloudy days in November this year, a couple of snowfalls, and several days of subfreezing temperatures during the month. Just for the record, as of this year, I have found 224 wild flowers in bloom in November and have recorded 19 cultivated flowers. I know there have been more cultivated flowers in bloom but I have not recorded them for various reasons.

            The first flower photo of the day represents a very small wild flower that is supposed to bloom in early spring. A few years ago I found it blooming in December but this is the first time I have found it in November.

            I put in this first photo just to indicate how small the flower is as it shows the view of the flower from my standing position at the edge of a weedy bit of flower garden at the RBG. I suspect that you, and 99% of the visitors of the garden, would have missed it. I saw it because it is in a location where I had seen the plant in previous years and I also was looking for another very small weed flower that often grows in the same area.

            This second photo shows the flower a bit more clearly and I am sure the arrow that I added will help the finding of the flower.

            The third photo is from my Olympus Tough camera in it's "super close up focus stacking" mode. I was pleased with the result of this little point-and-shoot camera used without the recommended tripod. 
            The flower was native to Great Britain and north-central Europe but arrived in North America with the early colonizers. The name in my wild flower book is Whitlow Grass. The French is Drave printanière; Latin, Draba verna.

           Using the same camera and the same shooting mode I photographed  a flower on the native Witch Hazel / Hamamélis de Virginie / Hamamelis virginiana.

             The last photo is another of the Tall Goldenrod \ Verge d`or haute \ Solidago altissima.

            The other flowers seen yesterday were as follows:

Natives : 

Heath Aster \ Aster éricoïde \ Symphyotrichum ericoides

New England Aster \ Aster de Nouvelle-Angleterre \            Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Panicled Aster \ Aster lancéolé \ Symphyotrichum lanceolatum

Aliens from Europe:

Hairy Bittercress \ Cardamine hérissée \ Cardamine hirsuta 

Common Groundsel \ Séneçon vulgaire \ Senecio vulgaris


'Chaplin's Red' Witch Hazel \ Hamamélis virginiana 'De Champlin Red' \ Hamamelis virginiana ‘Champlin’s Red’

'Winter Dawn' Witch Hazel \ Noisetier de sorcière 'Winter Dawn' \ Hamamelis x intermedia 'Winter Dawn'

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Goldenrod Study

             Here I am looking at the size of the flower head compared to the length of the stem. The stem was broken off about 5 cm from ground level. Yes, there is snow on the ground already this November and all the leaves of this plant are gone.

            Because I started my study late in the season some of the flowers were well past their prime. This is a group of flowers on one stem.

            Looking closer one can see more of the individual flowers. Each flower is made up of 3 to 7 disc florets, 10 to 15 strap florets, and surrounded by 14 to 16 phyllaries.

            The entire flower is only 2.5 to 4.5 mm tall. For comparison, a dime is about 1 mm thick and, if you have saved any, a penny is about 1.25 mm thick.

            Here I used a scalpel to split a flower in two pieces. You can see two disc florets, parts of three strap florets and parts of two phyllaries as well as some of the pappus, i.e. the hair like appendages.

            In this photo one can see some stigmas from the ray florets waiting for pollen to come in to fertilize the pistil hidden below. Ray florets have only female parts. Disc florets have both male parts for producing pollen and female parts for producing seeds. I also just learned that goldenrod plants can not fertilize their own flowers. They have to get pollen from another plant via some insect. Pollen is too heavy to move by air which is why one cannot get "hay fever" from goldenrods.

            Very close up photos from the microscope showing the relative sizes of two disc florets. The numbers are for comparison only and do not stand for any real measurements.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Saturday - Photos from the Week

            On Thursday, Fleur-Ange and I had a walk on the rail trail starting in Harrisburg. Most, but not all, of the leaves were off the trees. The Oaks were still hanging on to their leaves as well as a few shrubs.

             We walked for 2.4 kilometres on the trail and then turned around as Fleur-Ange had a meeting with one of her friends that she needed to go to. Our turnaround point was a pond with a skim of ice and one bright tree on the far side.

            On Friday, we had our first good snowfall of the season. We had about 10 cm on the ground. Sadie and I walked some of the trails on our property.

            I went to the RBG for my volunteer job on Friday and also spent time walking about looking for flowers above the snow. I found 9 species that were not buried.

            Below is the American Witch-hazel from the RBG's Woodland Garden.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Monday Random Thoughts

            We have a small oak on the property and I noticed today how it was changing colour. The two photos are 9 days apart. I was standing at a slightly different place for each photo but I don't think it was that that made the colours different. I do not have a positive ID yet but think it is a Black Oak.

            The Highbush Cranberry bushes have almost no berries on them this year compared to the last several years.

            The needles on the European Larch have gone from golden to beige in colour and many of them have dropped off.

            I found a young English Hawthorn tree that I had not seen before beside one of the trails this morning. It is already just a bit taller than I so it has been there a few years without my being aware of it.

            A large flock of Starlings was in a tree at the west side of the property. They, or another flock just like them, were on the ground under our feeder yesterday.

            I went back to the oak today, Tuesday, and found stellate hairs on the underside of the leaf in the vein axils. That appears to be one of the attributes of the Black Oak / (Quercus velutina).

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Blue Jay & Red-bellied Woodpecker

            Here are two of our regular bird feeder birds as captured by Fleur-Ange. (I did not have the patience to wait for such a good photo.)

   © Fleur-Ange Lamothe