Winter weather in the Ozarks is much the same each year. We get cold, frost, mist to fog, snow and wind.
Winter plants are much the same each year too. The trees are bare. Only a few plants are still green and those keep under wraps as much as possible.
Winter wildlife varies some. There are a few more birds around. There are turkeys and deer hiding up in the woods eating acorns.
There are three wild petunias. This is the hairy wild petunia Ruella humilis. It grows along the roads and up in the woods on the hills.
I’ve written about these topics in previous years, scrounging up a new one each week. Not this year.
This year I am working on the plant pages for my botany project over the winter. There are a few hundred of them waiting my attention. Each week one of them will show up here. I will make exceptions for anything special that happens.
As you read through these plant pages, I would like your help with them. Are the descriptions understandable? Are they complete enough?
I am trying to choose the pictures carefully. Do they show what they should clearly?
Please let me know what you think about the plant pages. I think the comment sections work. I know the Contact Me form works.
Each of the plant pages has a rough format. Each plant has two pages. The first has descriptions of flowers, leaves, stem and fruit. I do not dig the plants up so sometimes I can add information about the root. The second has a picture of the plant. This may not show up well for you as I am planning on regular full-sized pages for the final books.
Wild ginger flowers sit on the ground. They are obviously very hairy. I’ve never seen a fruit form but fruits must form as the plants keep spreading in moist places above the creek and in ravines.
Underneath is a short essay about the plant. Some plants have lots of information about them, others do not. What I do have is my experience with the plant.
The plant pages are still being finalized as to the information on them. Should I include a range map? Right now I am working only with Dent County, Missouri, plants so maps are unneeded. I may expand to include the Ozarks but the maps would still not really be needed. Do you feel otherwise?
I will note whether or not the plants are native to the area [N for Native, I for Introduced]. I have been asked to include edibility when applicable. The opposite of this is toxicity. The scientific name and common names will be listed as will blooming times. My guide for this will be the three volume set of Flora of Missouri by Dr. Yatskievych with the single volume by Dr. Steyermark as backup.
Thank you for your input about my plant pages. I am including two plant pages this week on Water Willow. Unfortunately, the pictures are positioned differently than on the original pages. I would have to create page images to preserve that which would make them too small for on the site. I don’t have the section and pictures for the fruits yet. Those will be added next summer.
Justicia americana (L.)
May – October N Family: Acanthaceae
Flower: clustered at the tips of stems with An upper lavender petal, two side white petals and a lower lip with lavendar spots and streaks. They are up to 1.5 cm tall.
Leaf: Long tapering at both ends making one end look like a petiole and the other pointed. The midvein stands up from the leaf.
Stem: The underground rhizomes create colonies to plants rooting at the nodes where aerial stems go up unbranched from 30 cm to 100 cm. These are tough but bendable.
Root: Fibrous off extensive rhizomes
Habitat: Prefers shallow water along streams and lakes. It will grow in water up to 1.5 m deep.
Water willow seems to love water about 15 cm deep over gravel. It’s stems form large mats of green. Boaters sometimes find these large colonies a nuisance.
Once the flowers open the butterflies move in. They are a favorite of various skippers which flit from flower to flower. Since the plants bloom for months, they are a reliable source of nectar for both butterflies and bees.
When floods occur, the stems bend over letting the water rush over them. Once the flood is past, the stems rise up again. New flowers open.
If the flood uproots sections of the rhizomes and carries them downstream, the rhizomes move in wherever they land and begin new colonies.
Since water willow prefers gravel, the rhizomes stabilize the stream banks. This lets other plants such as black willow and sycamore seedlings to start growing building up the banks.
The numerous stems provide cover for baby fish. Aquatic insects move into the gravel as well enjoying the shade as well as the cover.
The aerial stems die down over the winter. In the spring the carpet of new growth appears when the water thaws and warms a bit.
Water willow would grow readily in a water garden and is sold commercially. Care must be taken to curtail the rhizomes or the water garden will become a water willow garden.
Although called willow, this plant is in the petunia group. It gets its common name from where it grows and the shape of its leaves. Only insects seem to find the plants palatable.