Thursday, March 29, 2012

A few September Missouri plants

More untimely yet chronological posts!

silvery lichen close up
A hike to The Place of Great Moss almost always delivers. Any time after some rain, except in the very hottest months, this one area just glows with soft bright green mosses and silvery lichen.

Lichens are composite organisms of a fungus and an alga or two. They’ve plunked lichen in the fungal kingdom. I have no beef with that.

(Also, I didn’t put that leaf there. I just showed up.)

moss and lichen hill
Special scratch-n-sniff image!
I hope you can feel the soft and moist in this photo, and if you (lightly!) scratch your screen you should be able to smell it—soft air, wet leaves, and damp earth and green. It’s just beautiful! I don’t know why there’s such a big swath of moss growing here…nothing else on this bluff in either direction looks much different…maybe some mysterious mineral deposit makes for prime conditions for this luscious moss neighborhood?

There are many different kinds of moss growing here. I’ve got my hands full with mushrooms, so unless I stumble upon their ID (see below), they’re just “moss.” Nothing personal.

Next is a tiny beauty that I actually revisited with my tripod. Looking down on the whole plant, it was ornate soft sparkles, which I simply could not capture. The texture of the flower heads made them stand out in organized patches, but the colors were too subtle for my camera to differentiate enough to show. Or, it could have been my own ineptitude. I tried! I swore a little!

Still, there was a lot going on in each flower head. Very tiny white-to-pink 4-petaled flowers, maybe 1/16”, and 3-lobed seed pods forming right next to them, green with blushes of rich red.

several toothed spurge flower heads
Euphorbia dentata, “toothed spurge.”  Please view large.

Euphorbia dentata flower head
Above, toothed spurge seedpods.

toothed spurge on fingers-001

TINY flowers.

It's considered a "noxious weed" by the USDA, so that's pretty bad. Another source points out its milky latex, which can cause blisters and dermatitis, and don't get it in your eyes! Yet another says it has 5-lobed flowers, which it clearly does not, and my dumb little "Weeds," a Golden Guide, casually throws out that "All have numerous clusters of tiny male and female flowers that lack both sepals and petals." I dunno, those sure look like petals to me...

I confess I had shrugged and walked away, regarding finding a name for this one. There’s a lot of weedy-looking, small, common native plants that don’t get featured in most field guides. My only “weed” guide is my little 4 x 6 Golden Guide. The only reason I was able to identify this was because there happened to be a photo of it in the March issue of Missouri Conservationist!

I’ll keep trying to get a satisfying overall shot of this one. I thought it was a captivating little plant. Don't tell the Feds!

1 comment:

  1. that is one lovely noxious weed. the top image is wonderful!