Alpine sandwort (Arenaria lateriflora) is a tundra plant that is a member of the Pink Family (Caryophyllacea)along with moss campion and chickweed. Its striking flowers consist of 5 white petals, 5 light green sepals, a lightgreen superior ovary with 3 styles and 10 stamens. They can be distinguished from the chickweeds and the starworts in that the ends of the petals are convex.This little beauty was on our last tundra hike in Greenland.
Monday, November 30, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
Yellow oxytrope (Oxytropis arctica) is in the legume family. The flowers arise on a single stalk and have distinctive sharply beaked keels. Oxytropis is Greek for the pointed keel of the petal unit (Corolla).
Also known as arctic locoweed the genus is noted for its production of a phytotoxin containing
swainsonine which is harmful to grazing animals. Too much of this toxin can produce neurological symptoms
resembling "loconess" and even death in these animals. We did not eat this flower but not because we had any
inside information or special knowledge of what it could cause. We just were not eating flowers that day.
It has many names: Field Locoweed, Northern Oxytrope, White Smallflower
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Plants in the Wintergreen Family (Pyrolaceae) are low growing herbs with leaves clustered at the base and with showy waxy flowers. The Large-Flowered Arctic Wintergreen (Pyrola grandiflora) has a reddish stalk arising from a basal rosette of leathery evergreen leaves (below) with rounded tips and prominent white veins.
The stalk bears sweet scented creamy white flowers, each with 5 petals, 5 sepals, and 8-10 prominent
yellow stamens (below). A distinctive characteristic is a downward curving style at the center of each flower. The flowers face the ground when they open, rotating to face more horizontally as they mature.
Friday, November 20, 2015
In going over some images of a cemetery in Qaqortaq Greenland I noticed that this white poppy (Papaver radicatum) was growing on a grave. It is also called P.lapponicum. White poppies are common especially in areas where clouds and fog obscure the sun. Poppy flowers constantly turn to face the sun. In fact poppies turn to face the sun throughout all the 24 hours of daylight when that occurs. Growth in the stalk results from the elongation of stalk cells and those cells on the sunlit side grow slower than those on the shadier side. This differential causes the stalk to bend toward the slow growing side instead of facing straight up and allows it to "follow" the sun. This is made possible because the G3 plant hormone (gibberrillic acid) in the tip of the stalk stimulates elongation in the cells below and since sunlight inhibits the formation of this hormone then growth is slowed on the sunlit side producing the differential. It is this differential that allows the poppy to follow the sun without becoming twisted on itself.
Under cloudy or foggy conditions the poppies grow straight as above.
The white poppies that the family has put on the grave are a sign of peace and reconciliation.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Recently we went to our favorite country Antique Store in Hopewell. Mickey, the owner who raised commercial flowers before retirement, told us about American Beautyberry with an excellent description. The next day as we walked in Kirkwood Park we came upon American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). This is a rapidly growing shrub native to the southern U.S. The purple fruit grows late into the fall and is a favorite of small birds and deer.
The crushed leaves contain a chemical, callicarpenal, which has been shown in tests to be effective as a mosquito repellant.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Brook Saxifrage (Saxifraga rivularis) lives in wet places alongside brooks and in moist meadows. It has light green stems with distinctive shiny green leaves with scalloped edges. Each stem bears one to five small white flowers with petals twice the length of sepals.
Saxifrage means "rock breaker" and may derive from the plants living in rocky areas. This stand of saxifrage was on the top of a moist tundra hummock.
Comment: Hummocks are humps of ground which are elevated above the base soil of the tundra. In a well developed hummock area the hummocks are roughly the same size with matching vegetation (one kind of plant on the hummock top and another kind in the crevices between them). One theory of hummock formation indicates that winter freezing forms polygonal cracks in the soil and summer meltwater flows into these cracks enlarging them and rounding the polygons into hummocks with troughs between them.
Anyone walking on the tundra has had the quandry of whether to stay on the tops of the hummocks or to try to walk in the troughs between them. My short legs demand that I dance on the top of the hummocks.
Monday, November 16, 2015
We are sitting in our Crazy Creek chairs by this small waterfall on Charette Creek in Warren County. There is a spectacular limestone bluff in the background above the creek bed.We sit by the crystal clear water across from this huge sycamore tree.I lean back in my chair and take in the towering branches above me. It is cool and crisp and the days aregetting short. And you know what that means.BAM BAM Bam !!! Its the week before deer hunting season.Hopefully they are not shooting at us but it feels like its about 10 yards away andwho can be sure that these folks know that the season starts next week. One thing we both know -our lunch is over.
We are sitting in our Crazy Creek chairs by this small waterfall on Charette Creek in Warren County. There is a spectacular limestone bluff in the background above the creek bed.
We sit by the crystal clear water across from this huge sycamore tree.
I lean back in my chair and take in the towering branches above me. It is cool and crisp and the days are
getting short. And you know what that means.
BAM BAM Bam !!! Its the week before deer hunting season.
Hopefully they are not shooting at us but it feels like its about 10 yards away and
who can be sure that these folks know that the season starts next week. One thing we both know -
our lunch is over.
This is the last mystery flower from my Greenland images.
This is a special flower: the blossoms come from a whorl of green and brown leaves.The tiny flowers have notched white petals and lavender sepals. There are 2 or more whorls arising in sequence from each bract.
It doesn't need a name to be enjoyed. I'm pleased just to have taken its picture and it certainly has added mystery to my life.
Friday, November 13, 2015
My Blog Reports of my trip to Greenland are slowly winding down. The trip was powerful in its ability to remind me of our times living in Anchorage in the late 60's. One of the first flowers that I recognized in Greenland was an old friend from Alaska - Arctic Cotton. Here is a classic portrait of Jan and our older boys in an entire field of Arctic Cotton in 1967.
In the wilds of Alaska we combined artistic ingenuity with the need for handling life's challenges. Our neighbor Barbara Myers painted flowers on this useful art object. We learned from the old 'acrylic paint on the bottom' lesson why the old masters used several coats of sealer to protect their art work. Once the art was sealed it was eminently successful and highly utilitarian.In fact we never left home without it.This is the young Queen on the ice pack at the village of Point Hope Alaska in June of 1970.This is the happy couple under some massive whale bones in the coastal whaling village of Point Hope. It is no wonder that I had a longing for the arctic through the years that came to fruition with multiple Canoe Expeditions to Arctic Canada and this summers trip to Greenland.
..... There's a land where the mountains are nameless,And the rivers all run God knows where;There are lives that are erring and aimless,And deaths that just hang by a hair;There are hardships that nobody reckons;There are valleys unpeopled and still;There's a land—oh, it beckons and beckons,And I want to go back—and I will. .....It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,It's the stillness that fills me with peace.Robert W. Service The Spell of the Yukon
Thursday, November 12, 2015
With help from flower pros in Colorado we think that this flower from the shore of western Greenland is a primrose.
It is either Primula egaliksensis (Greenland primrose) or Primula stricta. They both grow in Greenland. The pink to lilac (sometimes white) flowers are composed of five deeply notched petals fused into a tube at the base.They are arranged in a solitary tight umbel of 5 to 8 flowers at the tip of a long stem arising from a rosette of spoon-shaped basal leaves (below).
P. egaliksensis is very similar in color, size, and shape to P. stricta. The distinction between the two requires a magnified look at the calyx. Of the two only P.egaliksensis has minute glandular hairs on the lobes of the calyx. These hairs end in a tiny sticky globe (which I probably could have seen with my macro lens- if I had read three books, looked it up on my laptop, and sent multiple e-mails and texts and a few phone calls from the western shores of Greenland). At least I didn't step on it as I was warned not to do by Page Burt in her book Barrenland Beauties.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
This is arctic poppy (Papaver radicatum) on the tundra. It is a solar collector. The flowers have yellow petals which are shaped to reflect the rays of the sun onto the ovaries in the center of the corolla raising the temperature to encourage rapid maturation of the seeds. The flower head rotates to face the sun (much like sunflowers) keeping the rays focused. There are dark hairs on the outside of the maturing capsules which absorb heat also aiding seed maturation. The small black seeds are dispersed by the wind through holes in the top of the mature dry capsule.
Arctic poppies have wintergreen leaves. These are leaves that develop late in the summer and survive the winter. They remain green and can start photosynthesis as soon as the weather warms in the spring before there has been time for the new season's leaves to function. This gives the plant an important head start.
Monday, November 9, 2015
Bright sunny day - clear water.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Bearberry plants (Arctostaphylos) form mats on the tundra. The flowers are seen only in the spring (June). The leaves (below) turn
vibrant scarlet, coloring large areas of the tundra. The leaves are rounded and the base tapers to the petiole.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Beach Pea (Lathyrus maritimus) is a legume with many other names: sea pea, circumpolar pea, and sea vetchling. The flowers are broad with a dark purple standard petal and paler purple and white keel and wing petals.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Monday, November 2, 2015
The nights are getting colder and the garden is winding down. The celosia (Celosia cristata) in the front garden
is mature forming spear heads and cockscomb structures in bright magenta. I save the seed heads for drying and
for the seeds which are very successful in producing this annual year after year.