We had great weather for our first nature walk of 2015! Nice and warm, not too hot, with a cool, pleasant breeze. Our goal for this walk was to learn how to take photos to help identify plants. Patricia does plant assessments as part of her consulting work, and she told us how it became hard for her to see the tiny details of plants, She came to learn how to take photos of the identifying parts of a plant or flower, to take home and make a more precise identification at home, while relaxing with a cup of tea, according to Patricia. Using photographs is especially helpful, because they can be enlarged.
Just like the last time we were at the Owasippe Scout Reservation, we were not long on the trail (the red trail) before we stopped to check out a few interesting specimens. Many were interested in the prickly pear, and were not aware that it is common in our parts.
After noticing rock rose (or frost weed, as it is sometimes called), hawk weed, Artemisia, and a lonely coreopsis plant, we were on our way again. (With prodding.)
We saw tent caterpillars on an almost totally defoliated small tree. Patricia recited many complicated Latin names flawlessly. Frequent walk participant Marie got out her trusty Newcomb plant guide and helped with identification.
We saw a grouping of one unusual looking plant that many had not seen before, squaw root, technically a parasite, as it lives on the roots of other plants. They look like little ears of corn growing out of the ground.
At about 11:30 a.m., the group reluctantly turned around and headed back, with a long line of slow stragglers. Plant people sure do like their plants!
Photo credits: Jerry Grady, WatershedWildlife.Com, Patricia Pennell, Michigan.gov
Plant identification Internet resources provided by Patricia:
United States Department of Agriculture This site has maps showing regions where plants occur, plus images.
Illinois Wildlflowers Great pictures and descriptions!
Wildflowers and Weeds A nice introduction to the plant families online.
Michigan Wildflowers Really nice, well-organized images of Michigan wildflowers. These are the kinds of pictures to try to achieve.
Michigan Flora Lists of plants with links to illustrations and maps where plants occur.