Eastern Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus) shows up voluntarily along paths and roadsides. The flowers are thumbnail sized and bloom in bouquet arrangements tempting passersby to capture their loveliness. Today I brought them home as images saved.
The fuzzy seed heads are Goldenrod, whose flowers were a short while ago bright golden yellow. The background is the golden flowers of Jerusalem Artichoke, unintentionally reminding us of the recent blaze that was Goldenrod.
The long lens allowed for a short depth of field making the Goldenrod in focus and the background Jerusalem Artichoke to fade in detail. Despite the strong yellow color in a large portion of the image, the contrast in focus makes it clear to the viewer that the attention belongs to the seed heads in this image.
This native perennial is aptly named, Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum). It is one of the last blooming perennials in Chicago-land, ending only when a hard frost sets the stage for winter’s dormancy. The abundance of blooms is magnified by the circumstance that the plant is a rhizome, existing as spreading gatherings of the parent plant. The previous post showed the Frost Aster along the lakefront path in Lincoln Park. Those colonies lived on the side of the wall opposite of Lake Michigan, preferring the dryer environment of a gravel path.
Attention is focused as the sun momentarily spot lights this bouquet. I centered the composition, to emphasize the natural vignette around this vibrant cluster.
May frost come later than sooner.
For more information on Frost Aster: http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/fr_aster.htm
Dormancy happens in the heat of summer for some spring-blooming, native woodland plants. Leaves brown, wither, and then become a part of the forest floor. Later in summer the fruit appears. These images are of the native Jack in the Pulpit, shown May 12, 2013 (Humble Interests) with dried leaves still attached to the plant.
The forest floor offers many stories. It’s top layer is currently full of nuts, as yet uncovered soon to fall leaves. I do not recall such a nut proliferation in the twenty seven years I have witnessed these Preserves first-hand. My concern is real, knowing that when plants are stressed and in danger their defense is to make many seeds in an effort to ensure survival of their species. This knowledge also comforts me as I realize once again that nature’s abilities to endure are indeed amazing. This has been a year of extremes in the Chicago region. We have witnessed cycles of extreme heat and drought followed by extreme rains; each taking a toll on the plants’ root systems and wildlife. Trees seem to take longer to respond to weather extremes, but the abundance of acorn and other nuts tell me that their roots have been unable to provide enough water for stable health. A story of nature’s struggle to endure.
This patch of forest floor also tells the story of “native versus invasive” or rather “disturbed land”. These images are from the street’s edge where the Forest workers were asked by neighboring residences to control the “weeds” that were growing out into the street, scratching passing cars. The weeds are unwelcome by native forest species as well as the non-native suburban residents; these Eurasian immigrants (the plants!!) have learned to survive and thrive shading out potential growth of native oak and wildflowers while also “volunteering” their presence in adjacent gardens.
Finally there is one more story yet to unfold. Seeds will soon be covered with leaves providing conditions ripe for future growth into new perennial native plants and some may develop into majestic Oak trees as well as more “weeds”. Some will have additional help from the squirrels who are busy establishing their winter food rations; any seeds left uneaten can begin their new stage of life next spring. And the stories continue.