Sunday, May 26, 2013

White Out--Tale of Ten (White) Flowers

They're white, and they're out and about, like this Deutzia. It works as a pruned hedge, but pruning makes it less likely to live up to its name, Deutzia gracilis. Not native, but not invasive.

A Vanhoutte spirea (S. vanhouttei) cascading down next to a sidewalk. Not native but non-invasive.

There are a couple native Spiraea species, one of which, Meadow Sweet (Spiraea alba),  I found growing wild during a plant inventory of Rogers Refuge, deep in the marshy area. Sometimes suburban plantings can have more meaning if one can relate them to the wild relatives growing in more natural systems nearby.

Out in the Princeton wilds, native Umbrella Magnolia (M. tripetala) grows in Institute Woods, with big leaves creating a striking effect in the understory.

Down from Institute Woods, at Rogers Refuge, surrounding the smaller observation tower next to the marsh, grows bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia), a seldom seen native shrub that forms clones and later bears seeds in green "lanterns" reminiscent of Chinese lanterns.

Up from Institute Woods, another native, hawthorn, planted in abundance at the Institute for Advanced Study.

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), with silver undersides to the leaves. It's a non-native that can invade fields. Princeton seems to have just a few here and there. A blast from the past: I was on a management committee years back for Penny's Bend in North Carolina, where we were managing the preserve to bring back the glorious prairies that once thrived on special "diabase" soils. Prescribed fire was a very important tool, but also hand removal of invasives that were competing with the rare native wildflowers. Our mission was to remove exotic invasive species like autumn olive, but the caretaker's wife, Hazel, loved making jam using autumn olive berries from an enormous specimen along the driveway. Occasionally at meetings, the topic of the autumn olive would come up, but we never had the heart to cut it down.

Dame's Rocket is a non-native weed that comes in several colors--white, purple, pink. It can be mildly invasive, but seems to pick its spots. There's alot along the Mountain Lakes driveway near Mountain Ave, and also along West Drive on the way to Rogers Refuge.

Garlic mustard has finished blooming, but here's a recent photo of a specimen that is apparently infected with a mosaic virus. This link describes how garlic mustard competes in the U.S. with native wildflowers like Trillium, while in its native Europe its harboring of the mosaic virus can affect commercial crops that are also in the mustard family. On the bright side, it's edible, though this particular specimen doesn't look too appetizing.

This Persian lilac doesn't look very lilac. The small size of this kind of lilac makes it useful in landscaping.

In the same front yard, looking very much like the Persian lilac, is a wildflower in the dogbane family, Amsonia. Related to milkweeds, there are several species native to the U.S., mostly south and west of NJ. This one looks like Arkansas Blue Star (Amsonia hubrichtii), with foliage that turns brilliant orange/yellow in the fall.

Here it's doing fine in regular garden soil, but in the wild it's found, only very rarely, in marshes.

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