Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yuccaleaf or Button Eryngo (Eryngium yuccifolium)

It was late one afternoon. We were making our way from the Ogeechee Wildlife Management Area in Hancock County to the Oconee WMA in Greene County, Georgia, when we took a wrong turn. According to the GPS the road was supposed to go through. I’m sure it did at one point. The road should have continued down the hill and across a creek. But it didn’t any longer; it stopped at the top of the hill. This is often the case with rural roads. The bridges become unsafe and, if the road doesn’t carry much traffic, the bridge is closed and the road stops short of its original destination.

Near the end of this road we saw some unusual plants. I’d seen a few back down the highway but they were inaccessible. The light wasn't good but I took these shots.

The plant. This is a relatively young plant.

A closer view of the flower heads.

It didn’t take much research to identify these as Eryngium yuccifolium, known by the common names Button Eryngo, Northern Rattlesnake-master, Button Snakeroot or Yuccaleaf Eryngo. At first glance from a distance, the foliage might be mistaken for an agave or yucca, or even an iris. In bloom, however, this plant is immediately recognizable.

Two weeks later, we saw Eryngium yuccifolium plants again, growing by the roadside in rural Hancock County, Georgia. Unfortunately, these flowers were past their best but the light was better and we took the opportunity to photograph them again.

A mature plant.

A closer view of the plant.

A closer view of a flower head.

The leaves have spines.

Close up view of a flower head and leaf.

Eryngium yuccifolium
is a perennial plant native to the United States and may be found In eastern states. In Georgia, it has been documented in more counties in the coastal plain than in the Piedmont. It has not been documented formally in Hancock or Greene counties.

Click on an image to view a larger image

- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium (Button Eryngo)

- North Carolina herbarium: Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora: Eryngium yuccifolium (Yuccaleaf Eryngo)

- Missouri Plants: Eryngium yuccifolium

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Eryngium yuccifolium (Northern Rattlesnake-master, Button Snakeroot)

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis)

On our recent trip to the Piedmont NWR in Jones County, Georgia, we drove south from GA-83 into the wildlife area on Starrs Road. I saw a couple of flashes of orange in Jasper County. I month or so ago I would have dismissed them as Orange daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva). But, for the most part, daylilies have finished blooming, and these blooms seemed smaller. So… we backed up and I hopped out of the car to investigate. Sure enough, these were smaller lilies. These were Blackberry lilies (Belamcanda chinensis), also known by the common name Blackberry-lily.

From the car. The flower heads are hardly visible. They are slightly to the right of the center of the photo.

A closer view.

Close views of an individual flower.

After blooming, the petals twist up and then dry up. In the foreground, flowers have just completed blooming. Dried-up flowers are visible in the background still attached to the developing seed pods.

This view shows flower buds, flowers, and developing seed pods. When the seeds ripen the pod will open to reveal the seeds that look like a blackberry – hence the name Blackberry Lily.

Enjoy another posting on the Blackberry Lily from Nellie at Beyond My Garden.

Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis) is native to Japan and Korea. In the Unites States, it grows in states east of a line from Minnesota and South Dakota south to Texas. In Georgia, it has been documented in counties at the edge of the Piedmont from Elbert to Jones counties as well as in Appling County.

Click on an image to view a larger image


- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Belamcanda chinensis
(Blackberry Lily)
- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Belamcanda chinensis

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora: Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis)

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Belamcanda chinensis (Blackberry-lily)

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens): Berries & Seeds

Lonicera sempervirens is known by the common names Trumpet Honeysuckle and Coral Honeysuckle. So far, I’ve only seen it at Fort Yargo State Park where I saw several plants along the trail from the campground to the dam (segment 6). That’s what I wrote in June last year. I didn’t get a chance to follow the berry development then and the plants were set back by some clearing work along the lake’s shore. I saw some vines blooming at a distance in the woods across the road from Rock and Shoals Outcrop Natural Area but they were high in a tree and out of reach. And then, when we were looking for plants of the Clasping Milkvine (Ascelpias amplexicaulis), I spotted a vine in a dead tree at the side of White Plains Rd in Greene County, Georgia.

May 29, 2011. The vine is visible from a distance. The characteristic perfoliate leaves caught my eye.

May 29, 2011. A closer view. The berries were green.

May 29, 2011. Close ups. Some clusters were showing slight tinges of red were others were still quite green.

June 11, 2011. Several berries have turned orange.

June 25th. The vine. Most of the berries are red.

June 25th. A close up.

July 9th. The berries have shriveled up and the seeds are ready to begin the next cycle of life.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution Map:
- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Lonicera sempervirens (Trumpet Honeysuckle)

- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Lonicera sempervirens

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora: Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Lonicera sempervirens

- Missouri Plants: Lonicera sempervirens

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower

- Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Dragonfly: Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata)

While we were photographing the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) at the pond in section #6 in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Jones County, Georgia, we noticed another pennant-like dragonfly with dark brown-black bands on the wings. I’d never seen one of these before.

You can see the general surroundings here. It was sunny with scattered clouds, and breezy with strong gusts of wind from time to time.

This dragonfly – a female - was clasping a dead stem. Several times, she left the twig and flew in a circle before returning to the same twig about less than three feet from me – often hovering for some time before landing. Depending on the light, the bands appeared to be dark brown or almost black. This dragonfly is smaller - about 2/3 the size - than the Halloween Pennant. Like the Halloween Pennant, this pennant also seemed to enjoy the breeze.

We only saw two or three female Banded Pennants. Neither had yellow markings on the abdomen. We didn’t see any males but you can see a photograph of one here.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- Georgia Dragonfly Survey: Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata)

- BugGuide: Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata) [
Male] [Female]
- Duke University: Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata)

Related posts:

- First Halloween Pennant of the Season

Thursday, July 21, 2011

First Halloween Pennant Of The Season

I’ve been keeping my eye open for Halloween Pennants (Celithemis eponina) and finally, last Saturday, we saw our first halloweens of the season. We visited the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Jones County, Georgia. A cold front was coming through. We had a brief relief from the daily 90+ F temperatures we’ve endured for the last few months. It was sunny with occasional clouds and a breezy with strong gusts from time to time. We stopped by a pond - an impoundment - in section #6 (at the top left-hand corner of the map, indicated by a large yellow arrow) to look for dragonflies. (Note: Google maps traces a ‘through’ road, but the only road that reaches the pond from Starr Road approaches from the southeast. The road back to Starr Road from the north end of the dam is closed.)

Map: Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge

The pond. This photo is taken from the dam looking northeast towards the upper end of the pond to the est.

We had the pond to ourselves so we just parked on the dam. This photo looks along the dam towards the woods beyond.

Did I mention it was windy? Between gusts of wind these cattails stood upright.

It always looks like pennants really enjoy the wind. They clasp a relative stable object and ride the wind. Sometimes they sway wildly in the wind and have to adjust wing position repeatedly to maintain their balance

This photo is out of focus because the dragonfly, a male, was in motion during a strong gust of wind.

Several views of this handsome dragonfly, in focus. This dragonfly is clasping a broad grass leaf. He’d positioned himself facing directly into the wind. He was blown around a little but, for the most part was fairly steady.

We didn’t see any female Halloween Pennants but you can see photos of a female here.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- Georgia Dragonfly Survey: Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)

- BugGuide: Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) [Male]

Related posts:

- Dragonfly: Halloween Pennant

- Zen: Halloween Pennant on Rush by Water’s Edge

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rosepink (Sabatia angularis)

Sabatia angularis is known by the common names Rosepink, Rose-pink, Bitter-bloom, Common Marsh-pink, and Square-stem Rose Gentian. We saw this plant first in Gilmer and Pickens counties in North Georgia last July. This year, we’ve seen it in Taliaferro, Hancock, and Jasper counties. Plants are biennials and reseed.

These plants are hardly visible at a distance. The first I noticed was a flash of pale pink flower heads as we pass by. It’s only when we got up close we realized how pretty these flowers are.

Growing in full sun in a branching, bushy mode. This plant is about 18 inches tall.

Growing in complete shade as long, single stems, in this case, about 30 inches tall.

The flowers occur in panicles

The flowers. Pink petals have a green angular spot at the base; the green spot has a narrow red margin. The stigma on these flowers hasn’t unfurled yet; the anthers are curled. The angular stem is visible in the upper photograph.

These flowers show the stigma ‘unfolded.’ The stigma has a ‘furry’ appearance. Its shape is clear in the shadow on the petal in the lowest of the photos above.

The backside of the flowers showing the sepals

The stems are angular and the leaves are opposite

Sabatia angularis
(Rosepink) is native to the United States. It’s found in the eastern United States from Ontario in Canada and in states east of a line from Wisconsin and Michigan southwest to New Mexico. In Georgia, it’s been documented growing in several counties in the Piedmont.

Click on an image to view a larger image


- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Sabatia angularis (Rosepink)

- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Sabatia angularis

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora: Rosepink (Sabatia angularis)

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Sabatia angularis (Rose-pink, Bitter-bloom, Common Marsh-pink)

- Missouri Plants: Sabatia angularis

- Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses: Sabatia angularis

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blue Dasher: Up Close And Personal

On our recent visit to Allen Pond in the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Jasper County, Georgia, we encountered a male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) clasping a dead stem. It really liked this stem and didn’t fly off when we approached.

The Blue Dasher in question
Close-ups of the head and thorax. In fact, it let me lean over it and take a couple of macro shots. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. This was a rare opportunity.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
- Dragonflies of Georgia: Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)

- BugGuide: Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) [male] [female]

Sunday, July 17, 2011

American Caesar’s Mushroom (Amanita jacksonii)?

I saw a couple as we were driving along Hwy 44 but they were orange rather than red; not good specimens. And then, as we drove along the pinewoods section of Anthony Shoals Road in the Broad River Wildlife Management Area, I spotted a cluster that was a brilliant red color. Too good to pass up. So we backed up and got out.

The light wasn’t good. The skies were dark with an impending thunderstorm and the mushrooms were growing on an embankment under the edge of a thick pine woods. So I used LED lights to take some macro shots.

The closest identification I can arrive at, based on comparing photographs on mushroom web sites, is American Caesar’s Mushroom (Amanita jacksonii). The caps are the right color – a rich red with minute vertical striations that are clearly visible in the lower image. I’m questioning the identification because they don’t appear to have volvas and I would have thought that the volvas should still be quite visible at this stage of development. Unfortunately we weren’t able to follow the development of the cap to see if the mature cap also resembled Amanita jacksonii.

Any thoughts on this identification?

Click on the image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- Rodham E. Tulloss, Amanita jacksonii

- Michael Kuo, Amanita jacksonii

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bambi's Big Brother

Hancock County, Georgia, must have a fairly large White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population. It’s unusual if we don’t encounter deer along rural roads in the county. Usually we see does or fawns that still have their spots. Last weekend, however, we encountered a young buck in the middle of the road just after we rounded a corner. He bounded off the road but stopped in the woods nearby.

He gave me time for just two shots before he moved off deeper into the woods.

It was nice to see such a healthy young deer. But I hope he develops some street smarts before the hunting season in the Fall.

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Identification resource:

- University of Georgia Museum of Natural History: White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)