Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bloomin' Weather!

Obviously, some living things like it this hot! Reports that the wiregrass (Aristida stricta) was blooming on the Audubon South Carolina land that was burned last December brought us out into the heat with the camera. Wiregrass has anything but a flashy flowers, which are tiny and close to the stalk. The fruit they produce is a yellowish grain. The flowering seedstalks are rare and occur ONLY after a fire. Last December's fire has produced over 30 acres of flowering wiregrass!

Finding a wiregrass plant to photograph required only a few steps from the air-conditioned truck. However, after a few quick shots of the wiregrass, we observed numerous other plants flowering within dropping distance should we faint from the near-record heat.

The purple blooms are Ironweed (Vernonia angustifolia), which is a member of the Aster or Sunflower family. The are common in the open, dry, sandy areas like the burned over Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) restoration tract. The large clusters of white flowers are Broad-leaved Eupatorium (Eupatorium rotundifolium), which is also a member of the Aster or Sunflower family commonly found in Longleaf Pine flatwoods or savannas. The yellow flowers are St. Peter's-wort (Hypericum stans), which is a member of the St. John's-wort family and another disciple of Longleaf Pine flatwoods or savannas.

Finally, the bright white flowers are Tread-softly (Cnidoscolus stimulosus), which is terrific advice in this weather. This member of the Spurge family prefers xeric landscapes such as the sandy, dry, open area that is characteristic of this tract of land. The root is reported to be an aphrodisiac, though the stinging hairs on the plant can inflict a painful rash. So how does that work? It's not bloomin' hot enough for us to find out.


Unknown said...

The photo purported to be Vernonia acaulis seems to be a misidentification. The stem and leaves are more like Vernonia angustifolia or V. noveboracensis. See Radford, Ahles, Bell, p. 1045

Swampy said...

You are correct! John B. Nelson of the A. C. Moore Herbarium at the University of South Carolina confirms that it is V. angustifolia.

Thank you for reading so carefully!