Tuesday, June 13, 2017

2017 Grass Identification and Ecology Workshops to be Offered at The Morton Arboretum

For several years I have led a very popular and relatively inexpensive grass identification and ecology workshop at The Morton Arboretum.  I will be leading that workshop again this summer.  In addition, for anyone who has taken that workshop in the past or who takes the workshop this year, there will also be an advanced grass identification workshop following the first workshop.  Information on the workshops follows.  If you know of someone who may be interested, please spread the word.

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Tired of seeing "unknown grass" and "Dichanthelium sp." on your vegetation sampling datasheets?  Need to know what species that Elymus is to figure out if you're in a wetland or an upland?  Interested in learning vegetative characteristics for some of our more common grasses?  Just want to know more about grass identification and ecology in general?  If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," then the workshops discussed below being held on September 5-6 and 7-8, 2017 at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois may be for you.  If you have any questions about the workshops, email Scott Namestnik at snamestnik@orbisec.com.




Learn to identify the grasses that add beauty and interest to the summer and fall landscape. Grasses allow us to read the landscape: from soils, habitat, disturbance and past land uses. They form a critical component of the biodiversity and with nearly 11,000 species, this is the fourth largest plant family. This workshop consists of an intensive, hands-on approach incorporating both classroom work and field study.  Identify warm season grasses in the field and lab, learn the specialized terminology and distinguishing features, discuss their ecology, and practice identifying species from keys. 
Instructor: Scott Namestnik, senior botanist, Orbis Environmental Consulting
Notes: Held both indoors and outdoors. Please dress for the weather each day. Limit 20
Supplies: Please bring a water bottle, a hand lens, and wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes for walking over uneven terrain. Fee includes all workshop handouts, morning refreshments and a box lunch.
Intended audience: Advanced students and professionals.
Prerequisites: Prior experience with plant identification required
Course number: 
S318
SCHEDULE AND LOCATION: 
Tuesday, September 5, and Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 9:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m.
Thornhill Education Center
FEES AND ADMISSION: 
Nonmembers: Fees include admission to the Arboretum. 
$195.00 members
$230.00 nonmembers
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: 
ONLINE: REGISTER NOW
CALL: 630-719-2468 (or to be wait listed)
IN PERSON: Stop by the Visitor Center during open hours.

Expand your grass identification skills in this expert workshop. You've taken the first step towards learning the specialized terminology used to identify grasses, and you've learned some common woodland, prairie, and wetland grasses. Now it's time to delve even deeper into the complex world of these economically and ecologically essential monocots. This workshop consists of an intensive, hands-on approach incorporating both classroom work and field study.  We will use what we've learned in the introductory grass identification and ecology workshop as we become more comfortable using dichotomous keys to identify several grasses in the lab. We'll then incorporate our learning in the field as we learn key identification characteristics of even more grass species in varied habitats. 
Instructor: Scott Namestnik, senior botanist, Orbis Environmental Consulting
Notes: Held both indoors and outdoors. Please dress for the weather each day. Limit 20
Supplies: Please bring a water bottle, a hand lens, and your Grass Identification and Ecology notebook, and wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes for walking over uneven terrain. Fee includes all workshop handouts, morning refreshments and a box lunch.
Intended audience: Advanced students and professionals.
Prerequisites: Grass Identification and Ecology (S318) or permission of the instructor. Please contact the Registrar’s Office at registrar-ed@mortonarb.org with questions about prerequisites.
Course number: 
S319
SCHEDULE AND LOCATION: 
Thursday, September 7, and Friday, September 8, 2017, 9:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m.
Thornhill Education Center
FEES AND ADMISSION: 
Nonmembers: Fees include admission to the Arboretum. 
$195.00 members
$230.00 nonmembers
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: 
ONLINE: REGISTER NOW
CALL: 630-719-2468 (or to be waitlisted)
IN PERSON: Stop by the Visitor Center during open hours.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Grass Identification and Ecology Workshop to be Offered at The Morton Arboretum

As I've done the past two years, I'll be leading a grass identification and ecology workshop at The Morton Arboretum this summer.  Information on the workshop follows.

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Tired of seeing "unknown grass" and "Dichanthelium sp." on your vegetation sampling datasheets?  Need to know what species that Elymus is to figure out if you're in a wetland or an upland?  Interested in learning vegetative characteristics for some of our more common grasses?  Just want to know more about grass identification and ecology in general?  If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," then the workshop discussed below being held on September 8-9, 2016 at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois may be for you.  If you have any questions about the workshop, email Scott Namestnik at snamestnik@orbisec.com.


Learn to identify the grasses that add beauty and interest to the summer and fall landscape. Grasses allow us to read the landscape: from soils, habitat, disturbance and past land uses. They form a critical component of the biodiversity and with nearly 11,000 species, this is the fourth largest plant family. This workshop consists of an intensive, hands-on approach incorporating both classroom work and field study.  Identify warm season grasses in the field and lab, learn the specialized terminology and distinguishing features, discuss their ecology, and practice identifying species from keys. 

Instructor: Scott Namestnik, senior botanist, Orbis Environmental Consulting
Notes: Held both indoors and outdoors. Please dress for the weather each day. Limit 20
Supplies: Please bring a water bottle, a hand lens, and wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes for walking over uneven terrain. Fee includes all workshop handouts, morning refreshments and a box lunch.
Intended audience: Advanced students and professionals.
Prerequisites: Prior experience with plant identification required
 
Course number: 
S318
SCHEDULE AND LOCATION: 
Thursday, September 8, and Friday, September 9, 2016, 9:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m.
Botany Lab, Research Center
FEES AND ADMISSION: 
Nonmembers: Fees include admission to the Arboretum. 
$195.00 members
$230.00 nonmembers
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: 
CALL: 630-719-2468
IN PERSON: Stop by the Visitor Center during open hours.
ONLINE: REGISTER NOW

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sharp-lobed Hepatica!


Ah spring! Today the sun was shining and the temperature was mild. I took a long walk in the woods and soaked in as much of the beauty as I could carry. I smelled the rich, earthy fragrance of old leaves on the forest floor warming in the sun. The sky was blue, birds were singing, and bees were gathering pollen and nectar. I saw a Mourning Cloak gliding easily on the breeze and a pair of Question Marks racing around in a quick spiral dance. As I sit here this evening, I am savoring the memories of my day in the woods. One of the highlights of the day was a large, spectacular display of Sharp-lobed Hepatica. 


This colorful member of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae) was long known as Hepatica acutiloba. Some are now calling it Hepatica nobilis var. acuta. I am reminded of the words of Gertrude Wister: “The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” Well said, and noted!


Monday, December 28, 2015

Steele Prairie State Preserve Wildflowers

Over the 2014 and 2015 growing seasons, Mary Damm and I conducted a plant inventory at T.H. Steele Prairie State Preserve for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  In addition to the few photos below, I put together a short slideshow that can be viewed here.

Allium stellatum

Liatris pycnostachya

Asclepias sullivantii

Sorghastrum nutans
 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Grass Identification and Ecology Workshop to be Offered at The Morton Arboretum

In 2014, I was asked to lead two sessions of a grass identification and ecology workshop at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.  The workshops both sold out and were very well received, and I've been asked to return to lead the workshop again this summer.  Here is some information for anyone interested.

Tired of seeing "unknown grass" and "Dichanthelium sp." on your vegetation sampling datasheets?  Need to know what species that Elymus is to figure out if you're in a wetland or an upland?  Interested in learning vegetative characteristics for some of our more common grasses?  Just want to know more about grass identification and ecology in general?  If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," then the workshop discussed below being held on September 17-18, 2015 at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois may be for you.  If you have any questions about the workshop, email Scott Namestnik at snamestnik@orbisec.com.


Learn to identify the grasses that add beauty and interest to the summer and fall landscape. Grasses allow us to read the landscape: from soils, habitat, disturbance and past land uses. They form a critical component of the biodiversity and with nearly 11,000 species, this is the fourth largest plant family. This workshop consists of an intensive, hands-on approach incorporating both classroom work and field study.  Identify warm season grasses in the field and lab, learn the specialized terminology and distinguishing features, discuss their ecology, and practice identifying species from keys.
Instructor: Scott Namestnik, senior botanist, Orbis Environmental Consulting
Notes: Held both indoors and outdoors. Please dress for the weather each day. Limit 20
Supplies: Please bring a water bottle, a hand lens, and wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes for walking over uneven terrain. Fee includes all workshop handouts, morning refreshments and a box lunch.
Intended audience: Advanced students and professionals.
Certificate information: Can be used as a Naturalist Certificate, WSP elective (14 hours)
Prerequisites: Prior experience with plant identification required
 
Course number: 
S318
SCHEDULE AND LOCATION: 
Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18, 2015, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Botany Lab, Research Center
FEES AND ADMISSION: 
Nonmembers: Fees include admission to the Arboretum.
$195.00 member
$230.00 nonmember
$65.00 students; call 630-719-2468 or email registrar-ed@mortonarb.org for student rate
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: 
CALL: 630-719-2468
IN PERSON: Stop by the Visitor Center during open hours.
ONLINE: REGISTER NOW

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Wild Columbine

Aquilegia canadensis, Wild Columbine. This attractive member of the Ranunculaceae is beginning to put on a show in the Midwest. 



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Trillium cernuum and Trillium flexipes

Often confused with the similar Trillium flexipes, the first two photos below are Trillium cernuum.  Look closely at the stamens... the anthers and filaments are approximately the same length.  In Trillium flexipes, the anthers are much longer than the filaments.  The ranges of the two species sometimes overlap, but Trillium cernuum is generally a more northern species, whereas Trillium flexipes is generally more southern. 
 


The photos above are from Bog Meadow Nature Trail in Saratoga County, New York, May 21, 2014.

For comparison, here are four photos of Trillium flexipes. The first was taken at Turkey Run State Park, Parke County, Indiana, May 3, 2008.  The next three were taken at Bendix Woods Nature Preserve, St. Joseph County, Indiana - the first two on May 5, 2013 and the last on April 25, 2009.  Again, take a close look at the anther to filament ratio. The anthers are much longer than the filaments in Trillium flexipes





I tend to think that the anther to filament ratio is a better way to distinguish these two similar species than the actual length of the filaments.  Many references use a filament length of up to 2 or 2.5 mm for Trillium flexipes in their keys, but if you dissect the flower you often can find filaments that are longer than 2.5 mm.  In fact, I would be willing to bet that the filaments in the first through third photos of Trillium flexipes above have filaments longer than 2.5 mm (I can see them pretty easily without even dissecting the flowers). 

All of this said, I have seen specimens in northern Indiana that are somewhat intermediate between the two species, so the distinctions are not always as black-and-white as they are in these photos.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A YouTube Slide Show of Spring Wildflowers

It's not too early to be thinking ahead to spring. Some of these ephemerals were photographed on March 11.

A special thanks to fellow blogger Keith Board, botanist, photographer, cabinet maker, carpenter, educator, friend, and field companion, who has been, and continues to be, a rich source of inspiration in my photographic and botanical pursuits.

youtu.be/AFatjjQK7kA

Friday, November 28, 2014

Flax-leaved Aster

Flax-leaved Aster starts to flower pretty early for an aster, usually in late August. The leaves are very narrow and have scratchy-scabrous hairs, giving them an interesting feel. Look for this beautiful native in sandy black oak savannas in northern Indiana. Photographed on September 2, 2014 in Starke County, Indiana.  




Friday, November 14, 2014

A YouTube Video

Depicting all of Indiana's native orchids as accounted for in Orchids of Indiana by Mike Homoya

This video represents more than eight years of orchid hunting and photography of Indiana's native orchids. It includes six species now considered to be extirpated from the state. Three of those were photographed by me in Michigan, Ohio, and Washington. The remaining three by friends in Michigan and Ohio, Aaron Strouse, and Andrew Lane Gibson. Derek Luchik contributed the photo of Spiranthes ochroleuca.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-LbyIDGhoM

 

 

Monday, November 3, 2014

With Botanical Royalty

On Friday before the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society (INPAWS) Annual Conference in Bloomington, Indiana, I made a stop at the Indiana University Herbarium.  I knew that Paul Rothrock and Jerry Wilhelm would be there, and I'd planned on going through some specimens with them for a few hours on Friday afternoon.  That great opportunity was made even better when I arrived and found that Roger Hedge and Lee Casebere were also spending the afternoon in the herbarium!  A bit later, Michael Huft and Charlotte Gyllenhaal showed up.  What a day!
 
At Indiana University Herbarium. Back row from left: Paul Rothrock, Jerry Wilhelm, Roger Hedge, Scott Namestnik; front row from left: Lee Casebere, Michael Huft.  Photo by Charlotte Gyllenhaal.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cyperus odoratus

I recently published a post discussing the differences between two commonly confused species in the genus Cyperus, C. esculentus and C. strigosus.  In that post, I mentioned a third species that can be confused with these, C. odoratus.  After seeing C. odoratus today, I thought it would be useful to include some photos of this species for comparison with the previous two.

Cyperus odoratus inflorescence
The spikelets of C. odoratus are similar in color to those of C. esculentus, often having an orangeish hue, turning brown upon maturation.  The spikelets are often more dense in the inflorescence than in C. esculentus, but not as densely packed as those in C. strigosus.

Three Cyperus odoratus spikelets
As in C. esculentus and C. strigosus, the spikelets of C. odoratus consist of several flowers, each of which is subtended by a scale.  Each scale is similar in length to those of C. esculentus, ranging from approximately 2-3 mm (the scales of C. strigosus are 3-4 mm long).

The spikelets of Cyperus odoratus disarticulate below the scales of individual flowers (Steve Sass hand model)
One of the main morphological differences between C. odoratus and C. esculentus is that, when mature, the spikelets of the former disarticulate below each scale, whereas those of the latter disarticulate at the base of the lowest flower only.  To see this, pull on the end of the spikelet and see if it breaks off somewhere along the spikelet (C. odoratus) or if the entire spikelet breaks off as a unit (C. esculentus).  Be sure to try this with numerous spikelets, not just one.

Base of Cyperus odoratus
Yet another way to distinguish between C. odoratus and C. esculentus is to look at the base of the plant.  In the former, there aren't many leaves coming from the base of the plant, whereas the leaves in the latter are heavily basally disposed.  In addition, C. odoratus does not produce the tubers often produced by C. esculentus.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Two Common (and Commonly Confused) Cyperus

The graminoids (mostly the grasses, sedges, and rushes) have a reputation for being difficult to identify to species, but it really just takes some time and understanding of the parts that the keys are describing.  The families should be easy to distinguish.  Rushes (Juncaceae) have sepals and petals (or collectively tepals) surrounding the pistil and stamens, giving them, on a minute scale, the look of a "typical" regular flower such as a lily.  Grasses (Poaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae) have flowers that are evolutionarily advanced and consist of just the most important parts for reproduction, the pistil and the stamens; the perianth is highly modified in these families and doesn't look like what you would think of as petals and sepals.  In the grasses, the flower is usually subtended by two bracts, known as the lemma and palea, and each floret (as these structures are known collectively) or group of florets is subtended by additional bracts known as glumes (usually two, sometimes one or absent).  In the sedges, the flower is subtended by a single bract, called a scale.  Grasses (nearly all of them, at least) have hollow stems with solid nodes.  Most sedges have solid or pith-filled stems without swollen nodes.  Most grasses have overlapping sheaths; sedges have fused sheaths.  Grass leaves are typically flat or rolled; sedge leaves are usually V- or W-shaped in cross-section.  There are other differences, but understanding these basic differences should at least get you in the right family.

As far as sedges go, Carex is the most diverse genus.  Being able to recognize groups or sections of the genus that have similar characteristics is often a very helpful tool because it allows you to narrow down your species options substantially.  Some of the other more species rich genera in the family Cyperaceae include Scirpus, Eleocharis, and Cyperus.  In the genus Cyperus, the flowers are perfect and there are no perigynia (paper-like sacs surrounding the female flowers) as there are in the genus Carex.  The scales subtending the flowers in Cyperus are folded in half, not flat or rounded as they are in many other genera.  Morphologically, the genus that looks most similar to Cyperus in the United States is Dulichium.  The flowers on plants in the genus Cyperus lack the long persistent styles (the tubercles) that are present in flowers on plants in the genus Dulichium, and Dulichium has axillary inflorescences whereas Cyperus has terminal inflorescences.

Within the genus Cyperus, as within the genus Carex, the species can be organized into several natural groups (subgenera) that share morphological characteristics.  Within subgenus Cyperus, which has flowers with three stigmas (as opposed to two), spikelets along a conspicuous rachis (as opposed to being in digitate or glomerulate heads), and rachilla (the axis to which the flowers are attached) that disconnect from the rachis (the axis to which the spikelets attach) only at the base (as opposed to having rachilla that disconnect beneath each scale), two of the most commonly confused species in the Great Lakes region are Cyperus esculentus and Cyperus strigosusCyperus odoratus is also often confused with these two species, but it is taxonomically placed into subgenus Diclidium because the rachilla disconnect beneath each scale, not at the base of the spikelet.  If you pull on a spikelet of a species in subgenus Diclidium from the end of the spikelet, the spikelet will break somewhere in the middle; pulling on a spikelet of a species in subgenus Cyperus from the end of the spikelet will result in the entire spikelet being removed from the rachis in an intact unit.

Cyperus esculentus inflorescence and leaves
With all of that background information, now we can look at Cyperus esculentus versus Cyperus strigosus to see the differences between these commonly confused sedges.  First take a look at the inflorescences.  Usually, Cyperus esculentus has spikelets that are orangish in color (see photo above), as compared to the yellowish or straw-colored spikelets of Cyperus strigosus (see photo below).  In addition, the spikelets of Cyperus esculentus aren't usually packed into the inflorescence as tightly as those of Cyperus strigosus.

Cyperus strigosus inflorescence
Next, let's look at the scales subtending each flower in the spikelets.  In the two photographs below, the structure in my hand is a  single spikelet, made up of several flowers, each subtended by a scale.

Cyperus esculentus spikelet
Without a ruler for scale, it's a bit difficult to see the difference in the length of the floral scales.  However, you should be able to tell that in the Cyperus esculentus spikelet photo (above), the scales are shorter (approximately 2-3 mm long) than those in Cyperus strigosus (3-4 mm long).  Although this difference isn't much, with some experience, you can begin to notice the short scales of Cyperus esculentus and the "long" scales of Cyperus strigosus on a quick inspection with a hand lens.

Cyperus strigosus spikelet
Yet another difference in the two species can be seen by looking at the base of the plants.

Base and roots of Cyperus esculentus
In Cyperus esculentus, the base of the plant (where the stem meets the roots) is soft and lacks a bulb (see photo above).  Often, at least later in the season, you can find tubers at the ends of some of the roots.  In contrast, Cyperus strigosus has a distinctly bulbous base (see photo below) and lacks any tuberous protrusions on the roots.

Base and roots of Cyperus strigosus
Another difference between the two species that can somewhat be seen in the first set of photos is that Cyperus esculentus is leafy at the base, whereas Cyperus strigosus is not leafy at the base.  In the first two photos, you can see a lot of leaves in the Cyperus esculentus photo, but the leaves are mostly absent in the Cyperus strigosus photo.  The foliage of Cyperus esculentus is also usually shiny and yellow-green, whereas that of Cyperus strigosus are not as shiny.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Plant Quiz - Answer

I recently posted the following plant quiz...
 
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Anyone able to ID this plant from what is shown in this photograph? 


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There were several good guesses, and BOUCUR got the genus correct (Valeriana), but no one figured out the species.  Here is what it would have looked like in flower...


This is Valeriana uliginosa (Marsh Valerian), a species of fens primarily in the Great Lakes region. Because of its rarity, V. uliginosa is a species of conservation concern in most of the states in which it occurs.  In the quiz photo, the "plumose pappus-like" structures are actually the calyx lobes, which are inrolled when the plant is in flower and expanded when it goes to fruit.