Sunday, August 21, 2011

Plant of the Week: Blue Vervain (Verbana hastate)

Wild Hyssop
Blue Vervain (Verbana hastae) 
Blue Vervain is another one of those wetland plants that makes a nice addition to a shoreland restoration, rain garden, or other wet spot on your property.  The stems rise out of the snow as if in defiance of winter, and a reminder that summer will come again.  

Also known as common vervain and wild hyssop

More on Blue Vervain

Wild Hyssop closeup
Blue Vervain Closeup 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What is the difference: emergent, submergent floating leaf, and free-floating plants?

Simply, these terms refer to the growth habit of aquatic and wetland plants.  Some plants will have more than one habit.  Updated page on emergent, submergent, aquatic vegetation

Emergents emerge or have a large portion of their shoots, leaves or flowering structures out of the water.  These include the familiar cattails, and also bulrushes, wild rice, sedges, bur-reed and many others.

Emergent Plants: Blue Flag Iris, Tussock Sedge (Carex stricta.), Bluejoint Grass
Submergent plants have most of their structures below water.  Common examples of these would be coontail, milfoils, and many pondweeds.
Submergent Plants: Coontail, Elodea (Canadian Waterweed),
Wild Celery, Water  Strar-grass, Chara

Floating-leaf plants have large floating leaves.  They include the water-lilies, some pondweeds, and American lotus, although the latter often protrude from the water.
Floating-leaf plant - White waterlily (Nymphaea odorata)
Free-floating plants include the duckweeds, common bladderwort and often coontail.  Coontail is sometimes rooted, but it is dislodged easily by wave action and will continue growing in a floating mass, or tangled in with other plants.
Free-floating plant: Least Duckweed (Lemna minor)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Plant of the Week: Common or Giant Bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum)

Common Bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum)
Common bur-reed is an emergent plant of shallow water with sword shaped leaves and mace shaped seed heads.  The corn kernel sized seeds (achenes) are often eaten by waterfowl, and shore birds. Muskrats eat the entire plant, and the tubers are eatable by humans.

More about Bur reed

Common Bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum)
Common Bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum)
Seeds (achenes)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Boom Bay (Loch Ness) Goose

Here is a mysterious barnyard goose swimming with some of its cousins in Boom Bay, Lake Poygan.  The blurry photo is reminiscent of the famous Scottish monster.  Well, maybe it isn't a goose after all.  I bet it really is a immature plesiosaur.  Yes it certainly is, no doubt about it.  I'm starting a new guiding service called "It Came From the Shallows Expeditions."  Space is filling up fast, so book your expedition now and you're guaranteed to be on some terrible cable show.  

Enhanced photo just received from NASA's Jet Repulsion Laboratories