Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday - Where Have all the Natives Gone?

Alas, the wildflowers are mere memories.  Displays of flowers are now replaced with seeds and berries.  However, given the opportunity to play in the Wildflower Wednesday sandbox or not, no Sahara of blossoms is going to keep me away from this play date.

I took this photo on the weekend at Joshua Creek.  My usual process, if I don't know what something is, is to do a quick Google image search and then work back.  As a once-a-month newbe naturalist this posed a bit of a challenge this time.  While I found some terrific naturalists and ID websites, more often than not I landed on some dreckian sites that seemed to spawn more sites that served the same information - almost with the same punctuation.

So, here was my first puzzle:

I began looking for woody plants in Ontario with black berries.  Nada.  It was at this point I thought, "I've really got to get myself a good shrubs of Ontario book."  When I Googled that, I found a book aptly titled "Shrubs of Ontario" by James H. Soper and Margaret L. Heimburger.  Nothing like a picture of a front cover of a book to jog my memory that not only did I have a shrubs of Ontario book - I had Shrubs of Ontario.  You can see already how valuable this exercise was.

Although it was lovely to revisit all the wonderful line-drawings and relearn my leaf shapes.  (The leaf I brought home was elliptical!)  Sadly it is not a Shrub of Ontario.  It is a foreign interloper.  It is called Rhamnus cathartic and it is invasive.  Reading many of the sites about the fierce thorns and deadly berries, you almost expect to see little children impaled on the branches, hanging lifeless with a half eaten handful of berries in their mouth.

The common name is Buckthorn and because I couldn't find any thorns in my photos, I still wasn't certain about the I.D.  Fortunately I found a delightful site by a naturalist who has written a thoughtful post about this plant of terror.   Her name is Seabrooke Leckie, and is now a new on-line source for me.  Here is her measured post about this invasive plant.  It turns out that birds do feed on the berries, so I'm hoping that I too will find some Waxwings on this little patch next year.

So continuing on my walk - you can see how the colours have oozed from most of the plants.

The Town had been by to cut the plants close to the pathway.

It was just on the other side of this cross over that I found my next invasive - the skeletal remains of Heracleum or Giant Hogweed.  Again, in our Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid world - I've read that this plant causes dermatitis and blindness.  I have only one thing to say.  If you don't want to go blind, don't jab this plant in your eye.  I used to grow this plant.  It was during my Dinosaur plant period.  I transplanted this plant, I pulled out seedlings, I cut it back - often without gloves.  Obviously now that it is classified as an invasive I'd encourage everyone to be able to recognize it and use gloves to pull it out.  However, don't feel that you need to don a Hazmat suit before you do.

Around the next bend was this lovely Phragmites australis - another invasive.  Certainly is pretty though.

I could almost learn to like beige looking at this shot.  Looks like we've got about 60% native here.  The Solidago go the most lovely fuzzy cream don't they?

So hard to find any colour, I was drawn to these rose hips.  They'll be munched down to nothing by the little creatures in the months ahead - something I'd learned when I put some in some decorative pots by my front door.

And, just to give you a little hope, in between shots I was spitting out bits of fluff and seeds.  They were from these lovely puffs of Asters.  The seeds were everywhere.  With any luck they'll be landing successfully and growing in enough spots to challenge the foreign invaders.


Andrea said...

OMG, it took me a very long time to open the site, from my link, then from the WW link, then copy and paste the URL. After a very long time, at least I was challenged and my usual impatience is not showing yet, I opened it and found the newest post. It took long to open because all photos have to open before we see the post we are interested in! I am glad i had been very persistent waiting, as the wildflowers in your part of the world are beautiful and so plenty. Although maybe they are better seen in photos or else in person they might really stick to you. When i publish the comment it suddenly was gone and another window for comment appeared! OMG, what is happening. So I started writing again, hoping it will not be gone this time. If that happens I am gone!

sweetbay said...

I'm having trouble with your site too.

Hopefully this will go through ~ those asters must be lovely when in bloom. We don't have buckthorn down here but still plenty of invasives...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gail said...

So glad you shared this with us~I do love aster seed heads~so fluffy and sure to spread their progeny everywhere! Like Sweetbay~ Nashville is Invasives Are US! gail

Rose said...

You found some real treasures on your walk--even the invasives look pretty with their dried seeheads and berries. Of course, that just means there will be more of them next year:)

Happy Wildflower Week!