Monday, September 17, 2012

Some orchids of late summer

Habenaria Hanson is a hybrid between H. rhodocheila and H. carnea.  There may be a "better" name for this as I cannot find reference to this online.  A remnant from the former Hoosier Nursery, this is one of the most vibrantly colored plants in my collection and an instant favorite of all who see it.  I have had a few different Habenaria species and hybrids over the years and this has been one of the best growers.  The flowers last for weeks

Habenaria Hanson

Habenaria Hanson, photo taken with a different camera setting

One of the most unique and desirable of al orchids must be Aerangis punctata.  I have extolled the virtues of this plant is a past pot, but when it flowers each year, there really is nothing better.  

Another view of Aerangis punctata

Aerangis punctata

This is Bulbophyllum (Cirrhopetalum) biflorum, from tropical Southeast Asia.  This species is easy to grow and flowers sporadically throughout summer

Phragmipedium schlimii is a slow, but steady grower and flowers once every two years or so

One of the true workhorses of my collection is Cattleya maxima.  Now that this specimen is beginning to mature, it produces new growths and flowers throughout the year.  This is not a species to be without and greatly appreciates being mounted, rather than being tortured in a pot

A precious Libyan endemic

Cyclamen rolfsianum has been flowering since late July and appears to have really benefited from the excessive heat, dryness, and numerous sunny days of summer 2012.  This Libyan endemic grows in a narrow strip a log the Mediterranean coast near Benghazi.  I would be surprised if wild-collected material will be available anytime soon.  More info here:

Note the number of flower buds forming near the base of the corm (technically an expanded hypocotyl).  Despite the prolific flowering, I have been unable to induce seed set through hand pollination

The best place to botanize in Ohio is...

There are so many great places to botanize in the state that its hard to pick one particular place or region, but one of my favorite areas is in Wayne National Forest in Gallia Co. Ohio.  Bordering West Virginia, this area boasts an astounding array of species and has a decidedly appalachian affinity.  Near Kenton lake many of these species can be found, and roadsides are a good place to start looking.

I have reported on Gentiana andrewsii from this site in a past post.  This species is widespread in Ohio, but in my experience can be best described as locally abundant.  The plants growing in this roadside ditch are particularly robust and flower for a sold 2-3 months per year.  I have seedlings growing on for study in the garden.

A typical roadside scene for Gallia county and much of southern Ohio.  Asclepias syriaca,   Conoclinium (Eupatorium) coelestinum, Eupatoriadelphus (Eupatorium) fistulosus, Bidens coronata, Vernonia gigantea and many more  

A little further up the road I stumbled upon an uncommon white form of Lobelia siphilitica growing amongst the typical lavender-blue form the lines the low, wet roadsides of Ohio in late summer and fall.

Hiking into the forest for a bit, we came into the habitat of the plant I was most interested in revisiting at this site on the fringes of a Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) swamp near Kenton lake, where  an there is an interesting riparian community dominated by Sedge (Carex) species and other emergent species.

Here is Stenanthium gramineum "var. robustum".  This is a very rare taxon in Ohio and grows only in counties that border the Ohio river.  At this time of year, it can be hard to locate, but once you see one, it becomes infinitely easier to locate others.  I put the name "var. robustum" in quotes because some taxonomists feel that the variation that has been described for this species is clinal (environmental) and does not warrant recognition.  The plants in this population are very tall and robust, and Whatever your taxonomic preference might be, populations like this are exceedingly valuable to horticulturists who can  responsibly propagate this species.  Take it from me, a slow and tedious process!

Detail of the inflorescence of Stenanthium gramineum "var. robustum".  This is about 4 weeks post anthesis.  Note that the female flowers occur only at the top of the inflorescence and the spent male flowers only at the bottom.  The developing seed capsules were still developing; a good sign considering the extreme heat and drought of summer 2012.  Several plants had failed to flower and appear to have aborted the developing inflorescence

Another photo of the inflorescence  with a 2.25 x 3.5 inch coin envelope behind it for reference

The sluggish stream ( I think it is Lick Creek) that feeds the buttonbush wetland.  Parts of the stream are bordered by sandstone outcroppings that support Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) forest

A large, disturbed meadow bordering Lick Creek.  An abundance of wildflowers could be found here.  Helenium autumnalis, sneezeweed, and Eupatorium perfoliatum boneset can be seen

Kenton lake in early September

Sparganium americanum growing in shallow water at the edge of Kenton lake

The spherical fruits of Sparganium americanum are quietly satisfying and fascinating

Growing with the Sparganium was wool grass, Scirpus cyperinus, one of the most distinctive and lovely native grass-like plants.  Here it is flanked by Eupatorium perfoliatum, boneset

In the well-drained, sandy soils bordering the wetland,  hazelnut (Corylus americanus) could be found growing luxuriantly and producing a bumper crop of nuts

It a disturbed area along a path on the shore of Kenton lake I found Chrysopsis mariana, the golden aster.  This is another southern plant that reaches the northern limit of it's distribution in Ohio

Chrysopsis mariana, a close-up of the golden aster.  I am very interested to know how this would perform as a garden plant.  I could see the vibrant yellow flowers from the opposite shore and was taken by the compact nature of the plant at close range.  This was growing in damp, acidic sand, but judging from the conditions it may prove to be adaptable

Perhaps the best find of the day was the last....

Gentiana villosa is a southern plant that has it's northern occurrences in Ohio.  It is very rare here, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon a small population on one of the trails near the lake.  I have never seen this in Ohio before and was quite excited by the find.  I hope to collect some seed from these plants in a couple of months.

The flowers of Gentiana villosa, Sampson's Snakeroot

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Cunning Conandron

I have long been interested in hardy gesneriads, but as a whole they have not been happy with the conditions I have had to offer.  Two species of Haberlea have been long-lived and permanent, but the highly desirable species of Ramonda and Corallodiscus have had only had a fleeting presence in my collection.  When I finally am able to offer the right conditions for these species I will definitely try them again.

Enter Conandron.  Conandron was a plant high on my wish list, but never seemed to be available when I had the money, or more importantly, the interest in purchasing the plant.  So, like many of the best and personal favorite plants in my collection, I acquired a plant of Conandron solely by association and happenstance.  A good friend successfully obtained a small plant at an auction and promptly handed it over to me.  After the a moment of shear terror when the realization hit that this plant might fade away faster than previous members of this family, I read up and gave it my best shot.  The results have been astounding!  Not only did the plant put on new growth, but it produced three flower spikes loaded with dainty purple flowers.

Conandron grows on wet, shady cliffs in its native Japan.  In cultivation I have given it a a moist, but well drained medium consisting of peat, perlite, and turface, fertilized with holly tone, and placed in a aquarium with moist gravel at the bottom to keep the humidity high and constant.  Although I have only had this a few months, the plant is thriving.

The reverse of the flowers

The whole plant in flower

A profile of the entire plant.  The flowers appear as candle snuffers from this view.