Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Flowers and Orchids?

Once again, our friend Richard Lyons, a volunteer at the Falls of the Ohio, led us on an Indiana adventure. We visited Charletown State Park, just down the road from the Falls, and then drove over to the Nature Conservancy's Chelsea Flatwoods in neighboring Jefferson County, IN. Richard had gone to both sites to case out the plants which would be visible, and gave us a list ahead of time. Richard always takes us outside our comfort zone, and today was no different. We forged into the wetlands, careful to avoid twisting our ankles on the mud towers of crayfish, hidden in the green stems, while not falling into stickers and needles of blackberry, greenbriar, and multiflora rose. Meanwhile the sedges with edges grabbed at my pants, wanting to impede my progress towards the road. Honestly, I felt like Katherine Hepburn in the African Queen!
Some flowers, such as this teasel, are common and we saw them almost every time we turned our heads. I learned a new word today - "extirpated." Botanists thought the Creeping Cucumber was completely destroyed in Indiana, (extirpated), but have now discovered several spots of it, included the one we saw at Charlestown State Park. In fact, it looked pretty darn healthy, spreading like crazy where we were.
Square Stemmed Monkey Flower
This Screw Stem popped up in the middle of some Club Moss, and was very hard to focus my camera on since it is short, and has only a narrow stem with almost invisible flowers. It was one of the target plants for the day though. Richard found a fossil of some Club Moss that lived 65 million years ago, when it looked like a large tree. Now it resembles a forest, but one which is no more than 5-6 inches tall! We saw familiar flowers such as this Chickory, and Heal All... ... right next to one unknown to us, the Blackberry Lily, a confused flower if ever there was one. The blossom does resemble something in the lily family, while the leaves look like iris. The seed pod breaks open with, you guessed it, something resembling a blackberry.
I did not test this Purple Headed Sneeze Weed to see if, in fact, it makes you sneeze. I was having enough trouble with all the little seeds that attached themselves to my sweaty arms.
Maryland Meadow Beauty
When I think of orchids, I envision a hot steamy jungle, or a hot steamy hot house, certainly not open meadows in Indiana. We found Ladies Tresses, a small white orchid with blossoms twisting up the stem...
...and the exquisite Fringeless Purple Orchid growing in the open sunshine. Of course, it did feel rather steamy today, but not as much as one would find in the jungle! These small purple orchids look like little angels. When Richard looked earlier, he found one plant blooming, but by today, we saw them every few steps in the easement under the power lines.
Someone's sharp eyes found this scary looking caterpilar. I looked but have been unable to identify it. Any ideas out there? If I were a bird, I'd be reluctant to eat either the end with the sharp looking horn, or those huge eyes. The eyes are at the rear, of course, and the horn is neither sharp nor hard.
We also saw two deer running through the field, away from us, we assumed. But they neared as we watched. The fawn seemed to run just for the joy of it, while his mother tried to bring him back under control. When the fawn saw us, he stopped and called back to Mom to find out what to do next. She, of course, directed him into the nearby brush, where they quickly disappeared from sight.


Kathiesbirds said...

What a lovely walk! You saw so many things! Love all the wildflowers and the deer! And that is some kinda wierd caterpilar! Doug Taron of the Gossamer Tapestry blog may be able to help you out with the ID.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

What an interesting post as well as just beautiful images of everything you took. I love your new banner too, I am still working on my new one, cannot get the best ones to fit properly...urghhh, oh well~

Anonymous said...

I think the caterpillar is a tersa sphinx moth.. we found one the other day in our yard. Beautiful photos!!

Anonymous said...

That one with the caterpillar,was that taken in Florida? The closest match I could find was a elephant hawkmoth, but they're not in the U.S.

1gothickitten said...

I live in San Antonio, Texas and just found one of these caterpillars in my backyard garden. After searching around on the internet I think it must be a Tersa Sphinx Moth as well. My boyfriend wanted to put it in a jar to see it turn into a moth but as much as I would love to see the moth emerge, I can't do that because to me it would be cruel. I told him to just let it live in it's natural habitat because if it were to die, I would never forgive myself for killing such a beautiful creature. You took some lovely pictures and I really enjoyed you sharing them with us.