Flower power! Seriously, flowers are pretty important. That pollen that attacks your sinuses every year around the same time? Yup, even that is necessary. Without flowers, A LOT of plants would not be able to reproduce. So… what makes a flower a flower? Here’s some basic terminology before we jump in to the good stuff.

Corolla: Toyota? Nah, petals! All of the petals.

Calyx: All of the sepals. These are the parts underneath the petals that almost look like support petals; they tend to be green on many plants.

Androecium: All of the stamens. What are stamens, you ask?

Stamen: Male part of the flower made up of the anther and filament that releases the pollen (sperm).

Gynoecium: Another (more technical) name for the pistil. Again, what the heck is the pistil? Well, it’s not used in a cowboy movie… yeehaw.

Pistil: Female part of the flower made up of the stigma, style, and ovary that contain the ovules. The ovule contains the egg!

This is all good stuff. It’ll come in handy. There are a few more terms that relate to the gynoecium specifically that will allow us to further categorize our flowers. 1) Unicarpellate: One carpel with a single chambered ovary. Oh man… what is a carpel, you ask? To put it simply, a carpel is the basic unit of the gynoecium. 2) Syncarpous: One fused carpel with a many chambered ovary. 3) Apocarpous: Many carpels with single chambered ovaries.

Whew. We’re almost done with the definition stuff, I promise. There are just a few more things we need to go over, like what are the flower types? 1) Hypogynous: the ovary is above where the other parts of the flower come together. 2) Perigynous: the ovary is surrounded by something called the hypanthium. It almost looks like it’s sitting in a snug, very little teacup. 3) Epigynous: the ovary is fused to the hypanthium (like a perigynous flower) but below where the other parts of the flower come together (unlike the hypogynous flower).

Last, but not least, let’s talk about symmetry. There are two types of symmetry. Flowers with regular (or radial) symmetry can be cut into identical halves in more than one way; we also call this actinomorphic. Flowers with irregular (or bilateral) symmetry can only be cut into identical halves in ONE way; we also call this zygomorphic.

Sweet. Now that we have that stuff out of the way, we can start looking at our highlighted flower species. We’re going to start out by looking at 4 flower species that I analyzed over the past weekend, a couple wild, a couple not. Let’s see if we can put this terminology to some good use.

Our first flower of the day is a wild one (*plays Wild Thing by The Troggs*): wild carrot! I also found this specimen out in a field at Waterman Farm.

A small bundle of wild carrot that I took home with me from Waterman Farm this past weekend.

It is on page 220 in Newcomb’s Wildflowers.

Common name: Wild Carrot, Queen Anne’s Lace, Bird’s Nest

Scientific name: Daucus carota

Corolla:  number of petals 5 separate or  fused? separate

Calyx:    number of sepals 5 separate or fused? separate

Androecium: number of stamens 5 separate, fused or arranged in any special way? separate

Gynoecium type: unicarpellate, apocarpous, or  syncarpous (and # of carpels =_____)
How can you tell? (Cite the features were apparent about the number of carpels.)

Syncarpous, consisting of two fused carpels. This can be distinguished if cross-section of ovary is taken.

Flower type/ovary position: Hypogynous, or  perigynous or epigynous? epigynous

Flower symmetry: actinomorphic (regular) or zygomorphic (irregular)? actinomorphic

Additional distinctive features: It smells similar to cultivated carrot and has a distinct, hair flower stalk that has an umbrella-like clump of tiny white flowers at the top. When the flowers are mature, they look kind of like a bird’s nest.

https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=21

The next flower on our list is also wild! It’s wild garlic. Wild garlic is actually a type of wild onion, so that’s a bit funky. One may say it’s… wild. I’ll stop. I also found this specimen out in a field at Waterman Farm.

Wild garlic in the field at Waterman Farm.

It is on page 334 in Newcomb’s Wildflowers.

Common name: Wild Garlic

Scientific name: Allium canadense

Corolla:  number of petals 6 separate or  fused? separate

Calyx:    number of sepals 6 separate or fused? separate

Androecium: number of stamens 6 separate, fused or arranged in any special way? separate

Gynoecium type: unicarpellate, apocarpous, or  syncarpous (and # of carpels =_____)
How can you tell? (Cite the features were apparent about the number of carpels.)

Syncarpous, consisting of three fused carpels. This can be distinguished if cross-section of ovary is taken and by 3 bulb-ish gynoecium features in center of flower.

Flower type/ovary position: Hypogynous, or  perigynous or epigynous? hypogynous

Flower symmetry: actinomorphic (regular) or zygomorphic (irregular)? actinomorphic

Additional distinctive features: They grow in pretty much any soil condition and are very common in fields, pastures, and meadows. When you cut into them, they have a very strong garlicy smell.

https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=46

On to flower #3. I found this guy on Ag Campus. What we have here is a pinkladies! The name comes from this flower’s tendency to open up in the afternoon or evening. Many people plant them and buy them at nurseries, but they’re known for taking over garden spaces quickly.

A specimen a brought home with me. Hope you like seeing my fingers again, haha.

It is not in Newcomb’s Wildflowers.

Common name: Pinkladies, Pink Evening Primrose, Showy Primrose

Scientific name: Oenothera speciosa

Corolla:  number of petals 4 separate or  fused? separate

Calyx:    number of sepals 4 separate or fused? separate

Androecium: number of stamens 8 separate, fused or arranged in any special way? separate

Gynoecium type: unicarpellate, apocarpous, or  syncarpous (and # of carpels =_____)
How can you tell? (Cite the features were apparent about the number of carpels.)

Syncarpous, consisting of four fused carpels. This can be distinguished if cross-section of ovary is taken and by the X shape stigma.

Flower type/ovary position: Hypogynous, or  perigynous or epigynous? epigynous

Flower symmetry: actinomorphic (regular) or zygomorphic (irregular)? actinomorphic

Additional distinctive features: The name comes from this flower’s tendency to open up in the afternoon or evening. They are white with the pink tint that you can see in my picture.

http://w3.biosci.utexas.edu/prc/K12/pages/Oenothera%20speciosa.html

Our last flower for this in-depth ID section is going to be these pretty ones.  I also found these on Ag Campus. These are Egyptian Star-clusters!

These star-clusters were so bright in person!

It is not in Newcomb’s Wildflowers.

Common name: Egyptian Star-cluster

Scientific name: Pentas lanceolata

Corolla:  number of petals 5 separate or  fused? fused

Calyx:    number of sepals 5 separate or fused? fused

Androecium: number of stamens 5 separate, fused or arranged in any special way? fused to petal tube

Gynoecium type: unicarpellate, apocarpous, or  syncarpous (and # of carpels =_____)
How can you tell? (Cite the features were apparent about the number of carpels.)

Syncarpous, consisting of two fused carpels. This can be distinguished if cross-section of ovary is taken and by the shape of the stigma with the two pieces going in opposite directions.

Flower type/ovary position: Hypogynous, or  perigynous or epigynous? epigynous

Flower symmetry: actinomorphic (regular) or zygomorphic (irregular)? zygomorphic

Additional distinctive features: Flowers look like stars and are pink, magenta, lilac, and (uncommonly) white. Pentas refers to its series of 5 flower parts.

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a538

Now that we’ve gone down to the nitty gritty for the previous flowers, let’s talk about some more wild flowers that I found while on Waterman Farm. Here’s a lovely picture I took of the farm and an absolute UNIT of a hawk that paid me a visit. Birder me was shook to say the least.

The Jersey cows were out and very friendly.

This was taken through my binoculars. You would be surprised how hard it is to do that.

Now that I’ve shown you some pictures of the site, let’s get started!

This picture is of a sensitive partridge pea (Chamaecrista nictitans). These guys get their name because when you go to touch them, they close up! That’s why the flower in this picture looks the way it does. I even tried to look for a picture online to show what the inside looks like, but didn’t find very many!

See what I mean? So sensitive!

Sensitive partridge pea is pretty common in disturbed sites in the Eastern U.S. They have 5 distinct, yellow petals and pinnately compound leaves that almost look like ferns. These leaves are also super sensitive to movement and will close when touched. You can see a couple of them in my picture!

https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_chni2.pdf

Our next flower up to bat is field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis). So pretty and harmless, right? WRONG. These guys can cause some serious issues for crop farmers. Field bindweed is what we refer to as a noxious weed; once it has established itself in an area, it’s remarkably difficult to get rid of due to its extensive root system. Native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa, it outcompetes its American competitors and in turn can reduce crop yields.

There were a bunch of these guys all in the same spot.

https://www.nwcb.wa.gov/weeds/field-bindweed

Tall ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) is our next flower. They’re actually a member of the sunflower family, Asteraceae. Looking at the picture, you probably wouldn’t think so. It’s commonly found in disturbed areas and in overgrazed pastures. Livestock actually don’t like to eat it, so when that’s added to an overgrazed site situation, these plants are in germination heaven. On a more positive note, tall ironweed nectar attracts many species of butterfly and bee!

The color was so vibrant. There were a ton of insects hanging around these plants.

https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/vernonia_gigantea.shtml

Our last flower for the day is bad boy, Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus). Now these guys can be a real pain in the Aster to identify (lol, sorry). It’s pretty much impossible to distinguish it from other annual sunflowers in the Asteraceae based on their above ground looks. You know you have a Jerusalem Artichoke by looking at the below ground growth that have these fleshy tubulars (hense the name). I’ll add a stock picture of those for you. This plant in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys, so yay for state spirit!

Had to pick this guy and take the picture at home like the wild carrot. It was getting very dark and the mosquitos were descending!

Here is a picture of what the “sunchokes” look like. Picture from https://anps.org/2017/12/29/know-your-natives-jerusalem-artichoke/

https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=1#:~:text=Jerusalem%20artichoke%20is%20native%20to,Ohio%20and%20Mississippi%20River%20valleys.&text=Jerusalem%20artichoke%20occurs%20in%20all,%2C%20preferring%20rich%2C%20moist%20soils.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our little crash course in flower ID! Even though my specialty is in forestry and woody plant ID, I’ve found this to be really fun. I hope you’ll go out and try it! Until next time, stay groovy my flowery friends.

~Eva