Sunday, April 22, 2012

More about Trilliums, with a cameo by Cyclamen repandum

As already mentioned Trillium is among my favorite of all genera.  Although I currently reside in a rental property, my landlord simply does not care what happens to the yard (as evidence by at least a decade of neglect before we moved in).  So, I have turned portions of the yard into "holding" areas for some of the plants I have been collecting and cultivating in pots since becoming a graduate student.  This yard is quite shady and ideal for all of my favorite plants.  I have planted a large part of my Trillium collection here, and in their second season, they are starting to re-attain their stature.

Trillium recurvatum is a very rare plant in Ohio; it occurs only in a few western counties.  As you begin to move into Indiana and Illinois this species becomes quite common.  I first encountered this species in central Indiana, although I did not intend to.  I was invited to the area to give a lecture on new, useful, rare, and unusual plants north of Indianapolis, and when I pulled into the hotel parking to where I was staying, I noticed a remnant woodlot on the grounds with a bit of Dicentra cucullaria growing at the perimeter. Upon entering the woods, several species of choice spring ephemerals could found.  So quite, unexpectedly, I found my first plants of Trillium recurvatum. I enquired with the front desk and they granted me permission to collect a few rhizomes.  They thought it was funny that I was interested in collecting and preserving their local "weeds".

I consider this the typical form of T. recurvatum.  These plants are vigorous and easy to grow.  While not the sexiest of Trilliums, it is a garden stalwart.  What's even better is that the Europeans report difficulty in growing this species.  Since they can grow most other temperate plants to perfection, I am quite pleased to report that this species grows with almost no care other than the occasional watering and fertilization.

In Edgar county, Illinois, a friend took me to see a large remnant woodlot loaded with choice woodland plants.  In this area, there were hundreds of thousands if not millions of T. recurvatum.  I was blown away by the extreme phenotypic variability of this species.  Here pictures from a couple of these forms flowering in my garden (pictures taken on a dark day and not the best quality)

Other Trilliums are looking good in the garden right now

This is a form of Trillium simile that is starting to come into it's own.  This is a form sent to me from a friend in South Carolina.  I have crossed this with a form of Trillium sulcatum from Kentucky.

Trillium discolor is very rare in the wild and in gardens.  These plants are easy to grow, but do prefer a soil that is neutral or slightly acidic.  The slugs seem to love this species more than others (as you can see from the tattered foliage).  

A portrait of Trillium discolor growing in the wild.  One of my favorites.

Obviously this is not  a Trillium.  This is Cyclamen repandum (both ssp. repandum and ssp. peloponnesiacum var. peloponnesiacum mixed together) growing in my front yard in a very protected spot.  I was not expecting these to flower this year but was pleasantly surprised.  Hopefully the exceedingly mild winter helped them get established and they will live for years to come.  The typical form of this species (C. repandum ssp. repandum) seems more vigorous under my conditions.  The metal wire is used to keep marauding chipmunks at bay.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Still Love Spring

One thing I have yet to mention on this blog is my love for carnivorous plants, especially those of the gulf coast and eastern U.S.  The pitcher plants are flowering earlier this year than I can remember, and after acquiring several new species/hybrids in trades with other pitcher plant enthusiasts last year, I am getting to see many flower for the first time.

This was given to me last year as an unnamed clone but I think it is the rare and difficult to obtain cultivar called 'Ares'.  Whatever it it is, it's fantastic and has a very distinctive peachy color with hints of orange sherbet.  I love it.  The pitchers resemble those of S. flava var. cuprea and are a very rich copper color with red striping.

A close-up of the plant that resembles S. 'Ares'

A form of Sarracenia rosea (synonym S. purpurea ssp. venosa var. burkii) from the Florida panhandle

This is an anthocyanin-free form of Sarracenia rubra from the fall line sand hills of Georgia.  In his latest treatise of Sarracenia species, S. McPherson is treating these populations of S. rubra and an undescribed intraspecific taxon.  I am also growing the typical form of this species from the same area

Here are couple of forms of Sarracenia alata from Mississippi and Louisiana

This is the flower of Sarracenia alata x Sarracenia alabamensis ssp. wherryi that I purchased from Meadowview Biological Research Station.  The flowers have great color and form, but are born on short scopes that are obscured by the newly emerging foliage.

My favorite plant this week

My favorite plant this week is Collinsia verna, or blue-eyed mary.  The plants photographed here are found in Warren County, Ohio growing along a rural road.  I used to live in this area, and had seen this plant several springs but never remembered to ID it and collect seed.  I had not seen this spot for years, and on a drive home after a meeting in Cincinnati, I decided to check it out.  I remembered only a small population along the road, but was surprised when I found thousands of plants growing on the terraces above Dry Run.  This member of the Scrophulariaceae/Plantaginaceae is a spring ephemeral with an interesting quirk.  Rather than being a long-lived, slow-growing perennial like many other herbs of the forest floor, this species is an annual.  I can't understand why I haven't seen this in any gardens.  

A close-up of Collinsia verna

The roadside habitat of Collinsia verna

Thousands of plant carpeting the floor of a young woodland and growing with Phlox divaricata

Blue-eyed mary is an indicator of high quality woodlands.  Also found in this area are; Trillium grandiflorum, Trillium sessile, Phlox divaricata, Delphinium tricorne, Polygonatum biflorum, Uvularia grandiflora, and many others.

I Love Spring

There is so much happening in spring that it can become hard to keep up.  After summer temperatures in mid-March, spring finally showed up and cooler, more seasonal conditions have prevailed over the past few weeks.  This mild weather is ideal for helping spring ephemerals to remain in prime condition and allowing for continued study and appreciation.  Thus, my attention to blogging has waned as the parade of spring flowers continues and it makes more sense to look at the live plants than photos of them.  Here are some of the highlights of spring thus far.

A few weeks back during mid-March, my wife and I took a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama.  While the primary objective was to spend some time at the beach, soak up some sun, and and enjoy the ocean, my eyes are always scanning the vegetation, looking for the next rarity.  I love the south.  Alabama is one of my favorite places to botanize.  We weren't there long before stumbling upon some rarities.

Conradina canescans, known in the vernacular as false rosemary, is a federally endangered species and a sand dune specialist.  We found these plants growing near the entrance to a bike trail and found them irregularly scattered along the trail.  Later that night we found plants at the edge of a trashy woods next to our campground facing the Perdido Bay.

Our campsite on the Perdido Bay at daybreak

The real highlight of the trip was the discovery of a large population of Trillium decipiens.  I have seen this species in the wild before, but this population was one of the most variable I have yet found.  These plants were found in a hardwood forest remnant; many thousands of them could be found in a relatively small area.

Some of the plants to be found here were simply incredible and some of the most beautiful Trilliums to seen.  You just never now what you might find when driving the dirt backroads of southern Alabama.

A typical form of T. decipiens

A beautiful form of T. decipiens with with narrow leaves and a slightly different variegation pattern

This is a simply incredible banana-yello flowered version of T. decipiens.  I have wanted to see such a plant since I was a teenager

Much more on spring flowering to come...