Tag Archives: identifying plants

Invasive Plants Everywhere

It’s strange how I forget to take some pictures for so many plants. My quest to fill in these blanks took me back to ShawneeMac Lakes where I also found several invasive plants.

What is an invasive plant? It’s a plant usually from some other country that is now spreading through native habitats.

How do these invasive plants get here? Some arrive by accident. Colonists brought over crop seed to plant and the invasive plants were mixed in. These are such plants as the plantains, shepherd’s purse, corn speedwell and many other common weeds.

invasive plants include Oriental bittersweet

The native bittersweet and the Oriental bittersweet are very similar in appearance and seeds. The Oriental is very aggressive and can kill the trees it climbs. I’m not sure which this is and will check the flowers this spring.

Another way such plants arrive is by invitation. Some are herbs or edible and are brought over as crops. Some are pretty and gardeners bring them over to decorate their gardens.

Once growing, plants flower and produce seeds. The seeds scatter growing into new plants. Consider the dandelion and how many seeds one plant produces.

Walking around the trail at ShawneeMac I was not concerned with invasive plants. I had a list of plants I needed winter bud pictures for. Even though I knew about where to find these plants, I’m always on the lookout for new ones.

invasive plants include Japanese honeysuckle

Japanese honeysuckle flowers have a wonderful scent that hangs in the air around the vines. It blooms for months. It covers fences, other plants and buildings.

Japanese honeysuckle is an invasive plant. It can be a terrible problem piling up over native plants, smothering them under thick vines and leaves that stay green through the winter. There is a lot of this at ShawneeMac Lakes.

The little vine climbing up the side of a tree was a bit similar with opposite green leaves. It wasn’t Japanese honeysuckle. Those leaves have smooth edges. These had teeth. The winter bud is different too. I took pictures to look it up later.

invasive plants include wintergreen vines

Gardeners like wintergreen as a ground cover in shady areas. It spreads into wild areas and climbs trees and shrubs burying them under foliage.

The American holly plants are pretty this time of year. The hawthorn had nice buds on it. One of the hazelnuts still had a few nuts on it.

When I first saw this plant, I noticed the red seeds with wings over them. There are a number of plants with such seeds including the wahoo tree. But this wasn’t that plant. I took some pictures of bark, bud, twig and seed to look up later.

invasive plants include burning bush

Burning bush is easily recognized by the wings on its twigs. It makes a nice hedge when trimmed. In wild areas it spreads by seed crowding out native shrubs.

I knew about the bittersweet vines. There are two similar ones. One is a native plant. The other is an invasive Oriental vine. I tend to think the ones at ShawneeMac lakes are the invasive one, but won’t be sure until spring when the vines flower.

Once home I took out “Shrubs and Woody Vines” from the Missouri Department of Conservation. That vine seems to be wintergreen, as invasive species. The bush is burning bush, also an invasive plant.

Invasive plants grow wherever they can find a place. More than these few find a place at ShawneeMac Lakes.

Finding New Plants

Over the years I have found a lot of new plants, new to me that is. The plants are not new. They have been there all along unnoticed.
Last year a new fence was put up along the road to keep some cattle in. The bulldozer came out and scraped all the plants away leaving bare dirt. The fence went in.
This year I keep finding new plants growing along that fence. Once I find them, I take pictures and maybe a sample leaf or stem. The guidebooks come out.

Virginia plantains were new plants to me

Virginia plantain has strongly veined leaves covered with hair. It is unusual because the plants vary in size but all look alike. The flower spike is the same type seen in other plantains.

The first find reminded me that plant families have many similarities. The plant looked like a hairy version of one of the wild greens I’ve enjoyed eating.

Broad-leafed plantain

The broad strongly veined leaves are so distinctive in broad-leafed plantain. Early in the spring the small leaves start appearing and are great additions for salads and potherbs. They have a mild taste.

Botanists have sorted plants into groups. Each individual kind of plant is a species and has a species name. One thing I have noticed about these is how many times the same specific name is used for different plants. Even so the plants names are not the same.
The species are grouped into genera. A genus is a group of plants with similar flowers. Usually more than the flowers will be similar.
The genera are grouped into families. I keep my wildflower pictures sorted by plant families.
One of the nice things about living in a smaller town is being recognized at the places I often go such as the local library. Such was the case the other day when the librarian let me know about a new book about plants called “The Plant and Flowers Collection.”
This book is not a reading book although it does have some text. Instead it goes through different groups of plants with beautiful pictures showing the range of the families.
What difference does this make?

new plants with this flower spike must be plantains

The flower spike is short in English plantain but still resembles that of broad-leafed, bracted and Virginia plantains.

For my two new plants I found along that new fence it made a lot of difference and saved a lot of time. These two plants both belong to the same family as that wild green.
The wild green is the Rugel or broad-leafed plantain Plantago rugelii. It is an introduced plant growing wild all over in lawns and out of the way places. Another plantain, the English or narrow-leafed plantain Plantago lanceolata is another of my familiar wild greens.

English plantain

Another great mild tasting wild green, English or narrow-leafed plantain has long leaves but still the strong veins. The flower spike is typical too.

Both of these plantains have long leaves with parallel veins. Both of these put up flower stalks with tiny flowers forming rings around them starting near the bottom and progressing upwards.
My two new plants have the long leaves with the parallel leaves. They have the same kind of flower stalks. They are plantains.

new plants can be new models of known plants

Bracted plantain leaves are much narrower than the others I’ve seen but still have strong veins. The flower spike is fancy with the long bracts sticking out.

Unlike my wild greens, the first is native and called hoary plantain Plantago virginica. The second one is the bracted plantain or buckthorn Plantago aristata.
Finding new plants is exciting. Knowing characteristics of plant families makes finding their names so much easier.