Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Field-guide FUNdamentals for flowers #phenology

According to the information I looked at a year or two ago on the Minnesota Wildflowers web site, there are almost 1,200 plants in Minnesota, of which almost 700 are wildflowers. We learned over the past few days that that's at least one more than is listed in several of our wildflower field guides. The plant in question, according to patient paging by the Better Half [BH] in one of our guides, appears to be Round-headed Bush Clover (Lespedeza capitata). The BH found it in Wildflowers and Weeds by Booth Courtnay/Janes H. Zimmerman. It's also in Prairie Plants of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Theodore S. Cochrane, Kandis Elliot, Claudia S. Lipke, which I hadn't yet gotten around to checking, and in WEEDS and WILDFLOWERS in Winter, Lauren Brown. (FULL DISCLOSURE: Using Brown's book, I identified the Winter version of Round-headed Bush Clover about 18 months ago. Although we published the photo with identification, at the time, I failed to go back and label my photograph on my computer. It is now labeled and keyworded.) But, that was then and this is Summer and the Bush Clover plants haven't started blooming yet. In fact, that was a basic reason why I wasn't looking for them online in Minnesota Wildflowers, which works best for me when I'm searching on a flower by color.

Round-Headed Bush Clover in Winter
Round-Headed Bush Clover in Winter
Photo by J. Harrington

Round-headed Bush Clover was/is(?) conspicuous by its complete absence from the following three field guides which I spent several hours fruitlessly searching.
  • What's Doin' the Bloomin, A Guide to Wildflowers of the Upper Great Lakes Regions, Eastern Canada and Northeastern USA, Clayton R. Oslund

  • Northland Wildflowers, The Comprehensive Guide to the Minnesota Region, John B. Moyle & Evelyn W. Moyle, photography by John Gregor

  • Wildflowers of Minnesota, Stan Tekiela
The purpose of this little story isn't to denigrate those guides which lack the Round-headed Bush Clover. It's to suggest that you might want to have several options available and don't think it's a failure on your part if you can't find every wildflower every time, especially if you're limited to one guide.

If anyone wants to suggest a single, all-encompassing, Minnesota wildflower field guide, published in print format and portable, please do so in the comments. The same information(?) in the Minnesota Wildflower online guide has also published by Immersion Media as an app. I haven't tried it and don't know if the Minnesota Wildflowers folks get any of the $2.99 proceeds or not.

Field Guide



The stars are pinned between the leaves   
of the trees, and love is only a harbinger,   
a regular Boy Scout handbook
of things not to do, and how to do other things,   
small chores you’d never think of,   
and supper gets cold on the table.   
But I can’t leave here without
taking you with me.
And the formal customs we once had,   
like wearing red during hunting season,   
are only signposts pointing the way   
in and out of the territories—
colored leaves floating on the water,   
hesitant, before the rains come.


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