Saturday, August 20, 2011

new things happen all the time

I found something I’ve never seen before – which feels like a treat at this point in the year, as I ready myself for fall and the inevitable fading away of All Lovely Newness. I’m always happy to be proved wrong, as I was in spectacular fashion:
Waaaahhh!! How cool is this? It’s groundnut, also called wild bean (Apios americana). Its flowers have a “distinctive, sweetish odor” – amen to that. It’s a vine – here it is ambitiously scaling a tree:
It’s irregular flower day around here. I found a new stash of butter-and-egg (Linaria vulgaris) flowers:
How does this thing even get pollinated? The darker yellow part looks like it’s obstructing access to the nether regions of the flower. Hm.  Somehow fertilization must happen, because here we see what I’m assuming are the stigma, after all the petal-like parts have given way.
In other exciting news, I found what I thought at first was an adult ladybug about to emerge from the pupa. Imagine my surprise when it started walking around and flew away!
It turns out that this is a tortoise beetle. That name makes sense, given that it looks like it has an extra shell over its shell. God, being the beetle fiend that s/he is, made a bunch of these: there are 114 species of these in North America and Canada alone, according to I was happy to make the acquaintance of just one of them, since this morning, I didn’t even know these existed. I’ll bet you didn’t, either, right?
I had some fun observing a musk mallow (Malva moschata). First, on one of the leaves, we have this awesome pair of whatevers (snails?) (but they have pointy shells. Do they still count as snails if their shells aren’t the classic snail shape?)
They were perched over the volcanic abyss of the the nearest flower blossom:

Peering into the depths of said volcano…
Meanwhile, the sepals that enclose the flower buds stick around after the petals fall off, and then start to fall apart, thusly:
Presumably there’s a seed or two enclosed in that basket-like structure.
They’re still blooming, though:
Oh! there’s another new species! I actually saw it the other day, but didn’t post about it because all the yellow flowers were clamoring to be featured, and this flower is white.
This is virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana). I love how you can see, in the bud just opening up in the lower right of the photo, all those stamens raring to go.
And, another new species showed up in my awareness today. I believe it’s a gentian, but I’ll have to wait til the flowers open to confirm:
That looks promising, doesn’t it?

1 comment:

  1. I love groundnut. The MA state botanist recently told me that somewhere in CT is the northernmost place you'll find fruiting groundnuts, and that it only occurs north of there because it used to be cultivated by Native Americans. I could have sworn I'd seen the pods before, but I haven't been able to prove him wrong yet.