WebTucker's blog

1 year with the NGA
Posted on Sep 7, 2022 6:35 AM

September 7, 2022!:
Today is my one year anniversary with the National Gardening Association. It's been a great and fun year. I feel like I accomplished way more than I ever thought I would. I learned and relearned and repeated and reloaded and learned and learned a whole bunch of stuff! I'm really just posting this as a memory for myself of what I accomplished. Here is what I accomplished during my 1st year with NGA.



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Here's looking forward to year 2. I'm looking forward to discovering a whole lot more. Unfortunately I don't think I'll ever get the accomplishments I got in my 1st year again. Sad ... So I'll do my best and see what I end up with next September 7.
I tip my hat to you.

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Hypericum heaven final
Posted on Aug 19, 2022 1:05 PM


This photograph was taken at the Boyd garden in Southern Pines, NC. It's a native plant, but this one was cultivated. None of the plants at the garden are labeled like they are at some botanical gardens. So I had to figure this one out.
It wasn't that hard. It's woody. It's the only woody one I have encountered so far. I won't go into the rest of the description you can read it in the key:

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I saved my favorite for the last. I discovered this plant on my bike like I do most of the plants that I photograph. I have a mountain bike. This allows me to ride almost anywhere. I can reach places and move faster than I can if I hike or walk. I have really bad knees, so walking long distances kills me. On my bike my knees don't have to take all that weight, and they last much longer for longer periods of time than I would if I walked.

Back to the point. I was on my bike when I found this plant riding along a 'right of way' for gas, sewer, power lines, etc. You don't see people usually wandering around on these right away areas, but I like to look at them because you can find some interesting stuff. My point is some of the things I find, I would never find if I wasn't riding my bike in these weird areas. So here's the last plant Sandhills St. John's wort. It's my favorite. It's almost as pretty as the Shrubby, but not nearly as big and not nearly as noticeable. It's a very small plant, herbaceous in nature, and I can't believe that I found it. I'm gonna go back and look for it again next spring.


Well that's all I have to say about the Hypericums for now. I might take up another of my favorite genera next, Rhexia. You'll have to look for it and see. As always please comment, and add your own stories. I'd really like to hear them.
I tip my hat to you.


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Hypericum heaven 3
Posted on Aug 10, 2022 1:36 PM

Welcome back to Hypericum Heaven! The first two species I addressed had 4 petals. There are only 2 other species in my area with 4 petals. Low St. John's wort-Hypericum stragulum is found in my area, but farther north into the piedmont part of Moore county. I have not encountered it yet. Pineland St. John's- Hypericum suffruticosum is found farther south and east in Bladen, Sampson and Jones counties. Hopefully I'll encounter both of these in the future.
The next 3 I would like to talk about are all quite obscure. Most people would walk by these plants without a second glance. All the blossoms are tiny. They all have 5 petals. So, that's where we start with the key. The flowers have 5 petals. The next question is:

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Are the flowers pink to purple or yellow in color? All 3 of these are yellow. The next question is related to the character of herbaceousness or woodiness. All 3 of the species are herbaceous. So we skip ahead in the key to those that are herbaceous.

Our next question is about the leaf veins. Do the leaves have 1 nerve? The answer for 1 of these is yes. Hypericum gentianoides-Gentian-leaved St. John's wort has appressed and one nerved leaves.


The other two, and you will see that they look very similar to the first, have spreading leaves with 3 or more nerves.



The last couple of days I have hit some old spots like MacArthur lake on Fort Bragg, Weymouth woods's sandhills nature preserve-Boyd tract, of course my old stomping grounds at Pages Lake Park in Aberdeen. I've seen all 5 species including St. Andrew's cross. In fact, I have seen it everywhere! I can't believe I only found one plant last September. I guess it was the end of it's season.

Next time I'll talk about the 2 showiest members of the group. As always I hope to hear comments and stories from anyone who would like to share. Till next time!
I tip my hat to you.

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Hypericum heaven 2
Posted on Aug 2, 2022 2:08 PM

The next member of this group I want to talk about is very similar to the last. In fact, the key that I posted before includes the next species. You may have noticed that in the last post the species name STANS was highlighted. This is a synonym for the accepted name, Hypericum crux-andreae-St. Peter's Wort.


The theme for common names of the four petal varieties seems to be religious in nature, what with Saint Andrew and Saint Peter.

Let's look at the key again:
https://garden.org/blogs/view/...
The thing that really stands out to me is the fact that not only are there 4 petals, but there are also 4 sepals. In this species the inner sepals are not obsolete. They are clearly visible, and are lanceolate in shape.
From the description in Radford:
"Outer sepals cordate or ovate, 6 -7 nerved, 10-18 mm long, 8-15 mm wide, acute or obtuse, inner sepals lanceolate, 6-15 mm long, 2-3 mm wide, acute to acuminate; petals 4, 10-18 mm long; styles usually 3 (2-4), separate, 1-2.5 mm long, ovary 1-locular."
The styles, or the place where the ovary receives the pollen for reproduction, are also evident if you look really close. You can see there is not a single style, rather it is composed of 3 or 4 "appendages" or divisions, not a single stalk. This is not easy to see (Unless you have really good eyesight or a good lens), and not nearly as evident and easy to make out as the size and shape of the sepals, and number of petals.
This one involved a little bit more information to figure out, and the next species get even harder. Plus, some get really small in size, which makes it even more difficult. I hope to see comments or stories of your own.
I tip my hat to you.

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Hypericum Heaven?
Posted on Jul 29, 2022 12:19 PM

After an amazing spring with no end of flowers popping up all over the place, July has been positively "dog days" in my searches for native plants to photograph. I spent the last 5 or 6 days riding around on my bicycle, and in my truck, and sometimes in my truck with my bike in the back, looking for plants. I went to 3 different counties, four different locations and rode my bicycle over 30 miles looking for new species to enter into my log.

I have not made an actual count of species added in July. I think it's probably less than 20. I know that's not bad, and I feel pretty good about it, but I like to get more than that on these rides. In the past these rides were for the exercise mostly, and looking for the plants secondarily. Now it's just the opposite. Since I haven't spent as much time logging in plants I decided to write about 1 of my favorite groups, the Hypericums. The following is a link to what I have logged so far.
https://garden.org/lists/view/... Green Grin!

The 1968 edition of "The Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" lists 30 species of the genus Hypericum. I've seen 6 of them this spring and summer and 1 last fall. Though these plants are not particularly conspicuous (Some of them are so small that most people wouldn't notice them as they walk along!), and don't always have showy blossoms. They are still one of my favorite groups of plants. Eventually, I hope to see all 30 (and of course photograph them), but I don't think that's likely.

Some members of this genus, known as the St. John's wort(s) are considered to have medicinal qualities, and you can even buy supplements of St. John's wort online, in your local pharmacy and grocery stores.
Here's an excerpt from an ad I found on Amazon:
"Saint John's Wort is a traditional herb commonly used in wellness practices around the world. This flowering plant is well-known for its blossoming yellow flowers, which are a source naturally occuring antioxidant flavonoids and other botanical nutrients."
Unfortunately it does not have a nice effect on livestock, particularly cows. This plant can be a real problem for cattle farmers. If the weed is found in the pastures where cattle graze it must be eradicated, otherwise it will have deleterious effects on the cattle.
Wiki excerpt:
"In large doses, St John's wort is poisonous to grazing livestock. Behavioral signs of poisoning are general restlessness and skin irritation. Restlessness is often indicated by pawing of the ground, headshaking, head rubbing, and occasional hindlimb weakness with knuckling over, panting, confusion, and depression. Mania and hyperactivity may also result, including running in circles until exhausted."
It would be interesting to hear from members who have had either positive or negative experiences with Saint John's wort. Either you raise cattle/livestock and have had problems with it in your pastures or maybe you have had a positive medicinal effect from the supplement you can buy. Either way it would be interesting to hear about these experiences.

Back to the botany part of this blog entry. I learned quite a lot as I came across each, photographed and keyed out these different species of Hyperpicum. Now, I have never claimed to be a professional botanist by any means. And I'm sure that's obvious to some of the members. I did take plant taxonomy in graduate school, and made an 'A'. During that course, we were required to collect 100 native plants in a collection (I still have it). That was quite a learning experience.
With that said, I have previously spoken about my method for determining specific epithets of genera. I usually start with the key and if the key is too damn complicated then I move to my backup method. In the course of working back and forth between these 2 methods, I can usually figure it out. If not, you know where it gets posted. My other method begins with geographic distribution. So let's start there.
Of the 30 species that "live" in the 1968 version of Radford, only about 2/3 are found in the area where I spend most of my time trasping around the woods or bike riding about the streets and trails of my area. Briefly here's how I go about it. I put down a check mark and an X mark on a piece of paper, and then I start going through the descriptions of the plants. As I come across 1 that seems right I put that number next to the 'check' mark and if it's wrong next to the'X'. After I completed my 1st survey of geographic distribution, the field usually narrows considerably. In this case from 30 to approximately 20 species in my list.
Hopefully the list is not too cumbersome. In example, if you were doing a member of the genus Poa, the grasses, then you will encounter dozens of species within that genera. Daunting, to say the least.
So what does that mean. That means that now I only have to eliminate 19 of 20, as I encounter " new" examples. Not nearly as hard as working with 30, and after the next step It will be even less.
Step 2:
Plants bloom at specific times of the year. So this makes the next step easy. Go through the keys, and look at the blooming dates or if you have fruit the fruiting dates. After you've been through the key, and eliminated any plants that don't match for dates of blooming or fruit, then you've pared your list even further. As my favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes, advised, on the subject of deductive reasoning, "Whenever you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth."
I didn't use this method for my first. In fact I almost threw up my hands from the beginning because I felt so helpless at the time. You folks at NGA figured it out for me. In retrospect I know I could have figured it out now. It's the easiest one of all to i.d.
St. Andrew's Cross (Hypericum hypericoides)


Here is a screenshot of the 1st part of the binomial key found in Radford:

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Let's work the key.
The first question is about the petals and the sepals of the flower. It's asking about the number.... Very simple , at least this time. As I said I know I could've "figured it out". The species I have encountered to date, the identification has come down to the number, shape and form of the petals and sepals. I've been able to figure out most of them with this information, and now knowing this, will probably be able to identify them in the future more easily. This plant obviously has 4 petals. The outer sepals are ovate in shape, and the inner sepals are absent or obsolete (You have to go to the plant description to find this information). I probably gave up back in the fall. But now I know I can figure it out. Especially after reading the plant description. It's definitely St. Andrew's cross, which is cool because I'm right near St. Andrew's college in Laurinburg, North Carolina.

The other 6 species that I have encountered so far are not as easy as the St. Andrew's cross was to figure out. Most of them come down to the shape and form of the sepals and petals, as I mentioned before. If you become familiar with this information I think most people would be able to figure them out. I'm going to talk about the other 6 species later, either in small groups or separately.
That is to say if anybody had enough patience to read this far, I hope you enjoyed it. I really just write this stuff for myself to help me remember things about the plants that I study and photograph. And it's fine...and FUN!!!

The following link is for more information on Hypericum.
https://hypericum.myspecies.in...
Until next time.
I tip my hat to you.

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