Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cow Vetch - Vicia Cracca

V. cracca flower stalk and fern-like leaves
This is my specimen photo of cow vetch (fr. vesce craque, pois à crapauds), vicia cracca. It is a very hardy, invasive plant, considered a weed where it isn't native. Though it isn't native to Canada, in this environment it isn't particularly problematic. Cow vetch, being a meadow flower, has limited scope in a mostly wooded area like the one where I photographed this plant. It can be problematic as an invasive plant, but it is an excellent fixer of nitrogen, so it's not entirely bad, either. The difficulty with this plant is in its tendency to spread aggressively, choking and eventually squeezing out other plants.

V.  cracca flower stalk
I love the shape of the flower; it looks a bit like a rabbit's head to me. I love the way the deeper purple veins in the upper petals are clearly visible here, in their double-loop pattern. Cow vetch is particularly attractive to bees and butterflies, so sticking around these for a while results in quite a show.

I took a stroll this morning with my father to identify two shrubs, the berries of which seem to be particularly attractive to birds; yesterday, we spotted a cedar waxwing on one of them. This area is mostly too dense and forested for cedar waxwings, so it was a nice sight. The plant that attracted it was a red elderberry (fr. sureau rouge), sambucus racemosa.

Also, my parents adopted kittens recently. They're brothers, and close to 4 months old now. Here's a picture of them spooning. Just for the cute.

Leo (orange) and Noirot (black)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wood Lily - Lilium Philadelphicum

L. philadelphicum specimen
I consider this to be my 'specimen photo'. The anatomy of lilium philadelphicum is quite apparent here. I particularly love the richness of the gradation of colour from bright yellow to deep red. It is a spectacular wildflower. This specimen was growing in loamy soil at the edge of a clearing, in the shade of a stand of cedars. It gets the late afternoon sun (4hrs or so) in its location but the other specimens in the area appeared to be growing in the somewhat more shaded areas (less than 2hrs direct sunlight, but plenty of indirect or dappled sunlight).

L. philadelphicum blossom
The growth pattern of the plant (in threes and sixes) is particularly visible here. The six stamens, lined up with the six petals, and then the tripartite shape of the stigma (upper portion of the pistil, for trapping pollen), is particularly evident in this shot. I love how the points of the stigma are lined up with the three more deeply curled petals. You can also see, from this angle, the tubular section near the base of the petals (quite different, for example, from a day lily, which is of course closed at the base). The clear shadow cast by pistil and stamens is fun.

L. philadelphicum pistil and stamens
And here we take a closer look at the pistil and stamens. I particularly love the way the pollen accumulated on the lens of the camera, resulting in that dappled, sparkly look. The anthers (pollen-producing parts at the tops of the six stamen) look rather like grains of wild rice to me, and the filaments (stalks on which the anthers are located) are beautifully coloured. You can see that the stigma's tripartite appearance from the top is the result of the intersection of three bulbous portions; the curved lower edges are visible from this angle.