Unexpected inquiry…


 

Shaggy Mane in the lawn copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Shaggy Mane in the lawn copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Shaggy Mane, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Shaggy Mane, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

It is easy for things to be go unseen in October’s leaf covered lawns. I paused and backtracked a few steps when spotting these two cone-shaped mushrooms. Had they been brown instead of off-white I might have paid them no attention.

Coprinus comatus is the formal name for Shaggy Mane, this variety of an “inky cap” mushroom. That sentence sparks the exploring learner in me, curious to understand what my eyes (and camera) have seen. Admittedly I am no expert yet on nature’s diversity.

Popular by many…


New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a part of the prairie terrain in Chicago’s Lincoln Park outside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The blooms with prolific, pollen-laden anthers caught my attention. If a plant could scream, “Here I am, come visit me” this is what it was silently yelling to passing insects.

Popular with more than insects, during the American Revolution, the leaves became the alternative tea source replacing British varieties. New Jersey Tea has been a long time medicinal choice of Native Indians and a current favorite of herbalists. What will remain unmentioned is that is part of the Buckthorn family whose members include the Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), an aggressive European invader.

 

New Jersey Tea prolific native survivalist, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

New Jersey Tea prolific native survivalist, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

New Jersey Tea in full bloom, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

New Jersey Tea in full bloom, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

 

Beauty at a distance…


Four different plants have the common name, Rose of Sharon. The images below are example of the species Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), a shrub, found in North America. It had just finished raining which is evident by the wet blossoms and pollen-loaded, water saturated, and immobile bee.

I admired the blooms for many years along my neighbor’s fence. When I was looking to fill some open space in my garden, she suggested I take a few of the numerous new shoots emerging between the mature shrubs. I did so. My green-thumb gardener, mother, warned me that they can be invasive and I might want to rethink my use of them in my garden. This turned out to be very true. Like other advice from a mother, it took me several years to realize her wisdom. Though I removed the three full size shrubs several years ago, I am still continuously pulling out young sprouts every few weeks all around my garden. They are easy to remove when new sprouts; and good exercise.

The images below are from this dear neighbor’s yard. The upward view on the pink blossom is because the shrub has grown to over eight feet tall and FULL of beautiful blossoms. I am grateful for my wonderful neighbors, and also that there is a wide gravel alley between our two gardens; keeping neighboring seeds at bay.

Rain soaked Rose of Sharon, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Water and pollen laden Bee on Rose of Sharon bloom, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Urban prairie puzzle…


New England Aster {Aster novae-angliae} copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

New England Aster {Aster novae-angliae} copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

20140903_170058

copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

20140903_165657

copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Interesting seed head formation; copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Interesting seed head formation; copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

These images were all taken at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s prairie garden in Chicago in September. Other than the Aster I am puzzled by the identity of these plants. Once again I am reminded of how much I do NOT know still.

You are WELCOME to add share your expertise if you know any of these interesting plants.

Spring in the fall…


This Robin was enjoying a cool autumn bath in Chicago's Skokie. Looking quite plump, so I'm guessing this spring time visitor is almost ready to journey south for the season(s). copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

This Robin was enjoying a cool autumn bath in Chicago’s Skokie. Looking quite plump, so I’m guessing this spring time visitor is almost ready to journey south for the season(s). copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Second appearance…


Jack In the Pulpit berries, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Jack In the Pulpit berries, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Fall brings the reappearance of Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema spp.). Early spring is when the plant’s name is apparent from the three leaves and unique flower design. Then this plant seems to go dormant, but just may be covered by other blooming plants. This time of year, the stalk is visible with a large cluster of bright red berries.

This image shows berries appearing through browning Lily of the Valley leaves.