Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua


Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Altingiaceae
Genus: Liquidambar
Species: L. styraciflua

Liquidambar styraciflua

The most obvious attribute of the Sweetgum, is a leaf that looks like star -- However, the stars range from kind of blocky to deeply lobed. The other attribute, known quickly by anyone who has an American Sweetgum in his yard, is the stickery "mine-ball" seed" - a great weapon or a nuisance under the heal.

As a camera toting teenager, I called them "Kix ball trees" - with Kix referencing the cereal, which in turn referenced the fact that a Sweetgum in fall can showcase almost any color...all at once, and spangled throughout the form.

In the wild, Sweet gum tend to grow thin and tall, and will along the roadside, take on the form of a tall colonnade. (they lack the bulk of either oak or maple)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saltbush - Rabbitbush

Early October, bush starts with cream green look, then presses white over the weeks.

This bush is over 9 feet tall.


Female plant with very visable white pappus seed hairs.

Male Plant (I initially thought that this was another species, or just a saltbush pre-bloom, but didn't understand why this one bush should be out of sync with the others in the area and with a different distribution "weight". Turns out it is the male of the species, and even had a different smell, much like sage.

Baccharis halimifolia

aka:  Rabbit bush, Salt bush

October 24, 2009  (These are from years past, with some stages more advanced than what we see right now.)

A hearty thanks to Gary Tucker who was able to identify this plant, and who helped me solve another riddle. I had noted plants seemingly of this same species, that appeared to be out of sync with the others, and still green. Turns out they were the males of the species.
Gary writes:
Your plant is saltbush or rabbitbush, Baccharis halimifolia . It is of widespread occurrence in Arkansas w/ exception that it is largely absent from mountain regions of NW Arkansas. Very common in Arkansas River Valley, coastal plain, and Delta regions. There are male and female plants. The colorful plants with an abundance of white are the female plants, with the white representing a group of hairs (called the pappus) on the seeds. The male plants are typically growing among the female plants but are not showy because they lack the white hairs on the seeds.

Thank you,

Gary E. Tucker, PhD
Senior Botanist
FTN Associates, Ltd.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Snapshot: 10/8/09 Golden glow near the Car Wash

The Big Legume

Not sure what this stuff is yet.  Looks like Daisy Fleabane, but a bit raggitier.

I will confess to being a little dazzled by the number of butterflies in a small space.  Turns out the Monarchs are migrating to Mexico, and can be seen in groups or lone flappers, all by themselves headed south.  Someone showed me how to distinguish the males, but since I don't have a good pic that shows the difference, I will just see if I can snag another picture.  All pics taken next to the car wash off of Hogan Lane Near Dave Ward, Across from the "New Walmart", Conway, Arkansas

Sunday, October 11, 2009

cloud grass

Waiting on both ID and better pictures:)
without the dew, this grass appears to have a thin purple hue, but with dew, it takes on the look of cloud

Grass, Id waiting


Grass: waiting on an ID

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Who would have thought this to be Gardenia time? But our bush outside the house keeps sqeezing them out at the rate of one or two blooms per day. (Areas to the North have managed first frost, be we are still in waiting.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Snapshot: Early Oct: Willow Leaf and Thistle

A touch of color and a night or two with nip suggest we may yet see a Fall.  And hasn't this been an odd season.  More rain than I have ever seen, with little Second-Spring editions, from Gardenias to Queen Anne's Lace, to Honeysuckle (in much smaller numbers) -- dotting the Indian Summer landscape.

The Most visible of the Early October flowers are the Yellow Tickseed, Willow Leaf Sunflowers, and Godlen Rod (see posts below) making for a truly golden brew.

(Picture of Purple thistle to come)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Poke (Polk) Berry

Poke Berry:

I will need to re-feature this plant in the summer or spring, when its broad leaves make for good salad pickin's. But in the fall, after the leaves have withered, the poke weed jumps out of the field with its bright red stem, and dark red berries. Unlike the summer leaves, the berries are poisonous, so not the kind of thing to munch on.

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is a robust perennial potherb native to the eastern United States. It belongs to the pokeweed family (Phytolaccaceae), a small family found mostly in Africa and the New World. In addition to pokeweed, it also includes several enormous South American trees and some unusual serpentine vines of the tropics. Poke is derived from the Algonquian Indian word "pakon" or "puccoon," referring to a dye plant used for staining. It is sometimes spelled polk and the leaves were reportedly worn by enthusiastic supporters during the campaign of James K. Polk, 11th president of the United States. The generic name Phytolacca is derived from the Greek word phyton (plant) and the French lac (lake--a dark red pigment), referring to the crimson juice of ripe berries. Pokeweed may grow to nine feet tall, with large, alternate leaves and a carrotlike taproot. It may become a very invasive weed in southern California gardens and is difficult to eradicate when it becomes well-established. Greenish-white flowers are produced in long clusters (racemes) that droop due to the weight of ripening fruit. The flattened berries change from green to shiny purplish-black. Ripe berries yield a crimson juice that was used as a substitute for red ink and to enhance the color of pale wines. The coloring of wine with pokeweed berries has been discouraged because they are very poisonous.