August 03, 2020

Jewelweed: Ohio's Humblest Gem!

Hello and Happy Monday to all our Wonderful Wildflower Enthusiasts of Cuyahoga Valley! This week let’s talk about Jewelweeds (also known as Touch-me-nots)! Jewelweed is a very popular plant among Herbalists, Ethnobotanists, and lovers of medicinal plants alike. For this reason, I would like to preface this feature by reminding us that Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a park for everybody to enjoy. The natural life within it is our responsibility to protect and share with one another. Doing this successfully means that we are not permitted to take natural resources out of the park.

Please know that there are PLENTY of online stores where you can buy Jewelweed seeds. You can find them by Googling “jewelweed seeds for sale”. Just remember to check for scientific names and remember to BUY NATIVE! Ohio’s native Jewelweeds include common jewelweed (Impatiens capensis, also called Spotted Jewelweed) and pale jewelweed (Impatiens pallida). If you are looking to add jewelweed to your home garden, I would get on buying those seeds ASAP because jewelweed seeds do best when they are planted in the early fall.

Now, back to the plants!

Jewelweed is an herbaceous annual that typically reaches a maximum height of 2-5’ tall. When it is well-established, you might even mistake it for a shrub! Here are some notable characteristics to reference next time you think you’ve spotted jewelweed in CVNP:


Jewelweed has a hairless (or, glabrous) stem that contains a sap (Note: plant guides describe a sap-containing stem as succulent). This sap, which also runs through jewelweed leaves, is often harvested as an antidote for poison ivy and stinging nettle. Jewelweed stems are thin, often shiny, and can be green to pale reddish green in color.

Left: Jewelweed as shrub-like growth (courtesy Washington State's NWCB). Middle: green-colored Stem (courtesy Steve Baskauf). Right: reddish green stem (courtesy Dawn Dentzer).


Jewelweed leaves are alternately arranged on its stem. Its leaves are egg shaped and coarsely toothed, meaning its edges are serrate and each tooth is rather large (as opposed to a finely toothed leaf). The upper surface of jewelweed leaves is often dull and smooth. Jewelweed leaves, along with other plants of the Impatiens genera, are waterproof. You’ll notice this by the way rain droplets and morning dew forms beads on the leaf’s surface. Additionally, tiny air bubbles are trapped just beneath the leaf’s surface, giving them a silvery sheen that is most noticeable when wet. Some accredit the Jewelweed name to this silvery sheen. Others say it comes from the plant’s seed, which we will talk about next!

Left: leaf shape (Arthur Haines). Right: water beading on waterproof leaves (Marie Read).


The jewelweed fruit is an elongated capsule (about ½-1” long) that resembles a swollen green bean. When it has grown to full size, it will burst at the slightest touch, hence its other common name, touch-me-not. Fresh seeds are green and resemble a plump sunflower seed. Over time, the green seed becomes black in color. However, when the seed’s thin outer layer is gently peeled or scraped away, a beautiful light turquoise seed is revealed, often referred to as the “jewel” of the jewelweed plant. If you choose to examine the seeds in this manner, please remember to leave them in the park!

Left: Seed pods, common jewelweed flowers, burst seed pods, black seeds, blue seeds, and one green seed (Russ Cohen). Right: Seed pods, green seeds, and burst seed pod (courtesy Jim Conrad's Naturalist Newsletter).


Jewelweed flowers hang on stalks attached to the top of plant stems. Its flowers are tubular and shaped like a cornucopia with a spur that produces nectar. This nectar is desired by pollinators, like hummingbirds, bees, and less commonly, butterflies. Common jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) has orange flowers with reddish spots, while pale jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) flowers are mostly yellow and have fewer spots that are orange. The spur on common jewelweed curves beneath the flower so that it is about parallel with the flower. The spur on pale jewelweed is usually curved less so that its spur is roughly perpendicular to the flower.

Left: Common jewelweed flower and spur (courtesy Washington State's NWCB). Middle: Pale jewelweed flower (G.D. Bebeau). Right: Pale jewelweed spur (G. D. Bebeau).

Habitat preference:

Both common and pale jewelweed prefer to grow in shaded areas but will sometimes tolerate partial sun. They prefer wet soils and can be found in wet forests and on the edges of wetlands, swamps, marshes, stream banks, and even in ditches. While common jewelweed is found almost exclusively in wetter soils, pale jewelweed can sometimes thrive in soils that are slightly drier.

Hopefully, you’ll find this feature helpful this week while you’re hunting for jewelweed observations! If you would like to learn more, Kent Karriker with the US Forest Service wrote an excellent article on jewelweed:

Posted on August 03, 2020 15:58 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 27, 2020

Joe-Pye Weeds: Some of the tallest wildflowers around!

Hey iNatters! We hope you’re all feeling refreshed and reinvigorated from the beautiful weekend! This week, we’re featuring Joe-Pye Weeds. Joe-Pye Weeds can be tricky to identify and are often confused with a close relative, the Bonesets. Before we dive into that, let’s touch on some history of the Joe-Pye weed.

Joe-Pye Weed is named after a folklore figure of the New England area in the late 1700s. Said to be a Native American medicine man by the name of Joseph Pye, he treated typhus with a concoction made from a plant that induced sweating to break and relieve the fever (note: some sources say he used his concoction to treat typhoid fever as well). Early reports associate Mr. Joseph Pye with the name Shauqueathquat, possibly his true name. However, other sources assert that the name Joe Pye could be a distortion of the Native American word for typhoid, jopi (cite: Speck and Dodge in The Scientific Monthly, Vol. 61, No. 1, pp. 63-66, “On the fable of Joe Pye, Indian herbalist, and Joe Pye Weed”).

Joe-Pye Weeds are some of the tallest wildflowers around, some growing up to 10 ft! They have whorled leaf arrangements of 3-7 leaves and pinkish-purple inflorescences, or clusters of smaller flowers. They used to belong to the genus Eupatorium, but are now classified in their own genus, Eutrochium. Three Joe-Pye Weed species call the Cuyahoga Valley home: Hollow Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium fistulosum), Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), and Sweet-scented Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum). Below, we’ll walk through the identification process for Joe-Pye Weeds. Most of this can be found in Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, a personal favorite of mine!

Step 1: What color is the flower?

Joe-Pye Weeds have a pinkish-purple inflorescence, while Bonesets often have a white flower.

In foreground: Common Boneset. In background: Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Courtesy New Hampshire Garden Solutions).

Step 2: What if the flower isn’t present yet?

By late July, Boneset and Joe-Pye flowers should be open and blooming in Northeast Ohio. If you’re referring to this post at a different time of year, examine the leaves of the plant.

Boneset leaves are oppositely arranged on the stem and are described as perfoliate, meaning each leaf pair look as though it has been skewered onto or perforated by the stem. Or, Boneset leaves will be closely attached to the stem, with little or no petiole (the small stem that joins the leaf to the main stem). Joe-Pye leaves are arranged as whorls on the stem and they have a much more noticeable petiole. While we’re looking near the plant’s stem, some Boneset species have hairy stems, whereas Joe-Pyes will have smooth, hairless stems.

Lastly, Bonesets and Joe-Pyes have differing leaf textures. Boneset leaves are hairy on both the top and underside of the leaf and generally feel leatherier than a Joe-Pye leaf. Joe-Pye leaves will only have hair on the underside of the leaf.

Left: Common boneset perfoliate leaves (Katy Chayka). Right: Spotted Joe-Pye leaf whorl (Courtesy Illinois Wildflowers).

Step 3: What shape is the top of the flower cluster?

Check out the general shape or outline of the pinkish-purple flower cluster. Does it have a flat top, or a rounded/domed shape? If you notice a flatter top, you likely have a Spotted Joe-Pye Weed! You can confirm this by checking out the stem of the plant. Spotted Joe-Pye will have either a purple stem with spots on it or, less commonly, a solid purple stem.

If you notice a rounded/domed top to the flower cluster, you could have either a Hollow Joe-Pye Weed, or a Sweet-scented Joe-Pye Weed (note: Newcomb’s groups Eastern Joe-Pye Weed under this feature as well. However, Eastern Joe-Pye prefers swampy coastal areas. CVNP is farther inland than this plant prefers, so we don’t have any reported sightings of Eastern Joe-Pye here in the park!)

From Left to Right: Spotted Joe-Pye (D. Gordon E. Robertson), Hollow Joe-Pye (Gerald C. Williamson), and Sweet-scented Joe-Pye (courtesy: Prairie Moon Nursery).

Step 4: Look closely at the leaves!

Joe-Pye Weed leaves are arranged in whorls of 3-7 leaves. However, Spotted Joe-Pye and Sweet-Scented Joe-Pye rarely have more than 5 leaves in each whorl. So, if each whorl has five or more leaves, you might have a Hollow Joe-Pye Weed.

Also, check out the individual leaves. Joe-Pye Weed leaf edges are all toothed or serrate. However, the teeth on Hollow Joe-Pye Weed leaves are duller than that of Sweet-scented and Spotted Joe-Pye. Additionally, Sweet-scented Joe-Pye leaves are often slightly wider than Hollow Joe-Pye Weed leaves.

Left: Hollow Joe-Pye Weed (JK Marlow). Right: Sweet-scented Joe-Pye (Laura Belin)

Step 5: Look at the plant’s stem.

As we mentioned in Step 3, Spotted Joe-Pye will have either a purple-spotted or solid purple stem. Hollow Joe-Pye rarely has a spotted stem. It is often a solid dark to pale purple color. Sweet-Scented Joe-Pye often has a green stem that has purplish nodes (where the leaves attach to the stem). You can review some of the above pictures to see each stem more clearly!

Other notable characteristics: Please do not confirm these characteristics on Joe-Pyes in CVNP!

As the name suggests, the stem of Hollow Joe-Pye Weed is hollow. Joe-Pye flowers usually have a faint vanilla scent, however, the leaves of Sweet-scented Joe Pye will also give off a strong vanilla scent when they are crushed. However, confirming these characteristics will damage the plant, so we ask that you do not conduct this test on Joe-Pyes in CVNP.

Hopefully, these five steps are helpful when you’re searching for Joe-Pyes in CVNP this week. We look forward to seeing your observations and helping you identify them!

A last note: Though this feature touches on the medicinal use of Joe Pye Weed in years past, please do not harvest plants from CVNP for medicinal uses. Harvesting wild plants can be unsafe due to misidentification and is also illegal without a permit in National Parks. If you really want your own Joe-Pye, plenty of online stores sell them and some of our local county parks and their friends organizations host annual native plant sales.

Posted on July 27, 2020 17:56 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 2 comments | Leave a comment

July 20, 2020

Make a Wish; It's Sunflower Season!

Happy Monday, iNatters and welcome to Sunflower Season!

Though Sunflowers are native to the Americas (woot woot!), they have been cultivated on nearly every continent for food, oil, medicines, dyes, and for religious and spiritual purposes. Their widespread use has earned them a rich and symbolic history. Most notably, sunflowers represent bounty, courage, growth, inspiration, and peace.

Wild sunflowers, however, can take on a different meaning, representing good fortune, vitality, and liberation. It is said that when you find a wild sunflower, you should make a wish; your wish will come true once it blooms! Good thing we’re still near the beginning of sunflower season! CVNP is home to nine species of sunflowers, if you count the false sunflower! Here are our four most common sunflowers:

False sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides):

Although this isn’t a member of the Helianthus (sunflower) genus, it belongs to the same plant family as sunflowers: Asteraceae (the aster, composite, daisy, or sunflower family). This is one of our earliest blooming “sunflowers”, beginning as early as June. We separate the False sunflower from the sunflower genus because their ray florets (or, the yellow petal-looking structures on the flower) are fertile. In Helianthus flowers, the ray florets are infertile, while the disc-florets (the very small, tubular structures in the center of the flower head) are the flower’s fertile structures (photos labeled below with disc and ray florets so that next time you're out, you'll know where to look on the flower!).

Photo credit: Christine Krol

Below are some photos labeled with disc and ray florets for reference next time you're out!

Left: A Giant sunflower (Helianthus giganteus) with a composite flower head of both disc and ray florets.
Middle: A Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) with a ligulate flower head with only ray florets.
Right: A Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) with a discoid flower head with only disc florets.
Photo credits: Patrick J. Alexander and Al Schneider; Edits: Mallory Klein

Woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus):

You’ll likely find this sunflower in dry woodland habitats, hence its name! While most sunflowers have rather hairy stems, Woodland sunflower has only a slightly rough stem. Its leaves are lance-shaped and oppositely positioned on the stem.

Photo credit: James L. Reveal, courtesy Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus):

The Jerusalem artichoke prefers moister soils and might even situate itself on roadsides. Jerusalem artichoke has alternate leaves and a fairly hairy stem.

Photo credit: Fred Losi

Stiff-hair sunflower (Helianthus hirsutus):

Like other sunflowers, the Stiff-hair sunflower has a rough, hairy stem. However, it also has hair on its leaves. Additionally, its leaves have smoother, less-toothed edges and are narrower in shape than other sunflowers. Similar to the Woodland sunflower, Stiff-hair sunflower leaves are oppositely positioned on the stem as well.

Photo credit: Sandy Smith, courtesy Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

CVNP’s other sunflower species include: Harsh sunflower (Helianthus strumosus), Pale sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus), Giant sunflower (Helianthus gigantieus), Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus), and Small woodland sunflower (Helianthus microcephalus).

We hope you all have a Happy Sunflower Season! Remember to make your wish and share your observations with us here on the project!

P.S. Leave those sunflowers for others to enjoy, too. Sunflowers are great for removing toxins from the soil, which means a happier and healthier park for us all!

Posted on July 20, 2020 18:30 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 13, 2020

Rock Harlequin: Letting Nature Take the Lead

Instead of featuring a Wildflower that’s currently blooming, let’s talk about one that used to bloom here in Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Rock Harlequin, or Capnoides sempervirens (or Corydalis sempervirens). The more I learn about this intriguing wildflower, the more I hope to see it in person one day.

Photo Credits: Perennial Resource, Jeffrey Pippen, Karen, courtesy of The National Gardening Association’s Plant Database, and WiseAcre, courtesy of WiseAcre Gardens.

This pink and yellow bloom is unmistakable, and those leaves look awfully familiar! Do they remind you of Dutchman’s breeches? Squirrel corn? Perhaps faintly of Greater celandine? Well, good eye! These four plants belong to the Poppy family, Papaveraceae.

Rock Harlequin is a pioneer species, so it’ll swoop into disturbed areas, but doesn’t persist very long as the habitat grows back. Furthermore, it’s defined as a pioneer species for secondary succession. Secondary succession occurs when a pre-existing habitat experiences a disturbance that greatly affects the plant population but doesn’t destroy everything (this is opposed to primary succession, which occurs on bare rock where plant life was not occurring before). Additionally, Rock Harlequin prefers to pioneer areas disturbed by fire.

Though this bloom can be picky, Rock Harlequin doesn’t always have its way. In the absence of recent fires, we might simply find this bloom on rocky, well-drained slopes in areas of partial to full sunlight. In comes a CVNP favorite: The Virginia Kendall Ledges. We’ve got some nice rocky, well-drained slopes there, yea?

Photo credit: NPS

Well, sorry to get your hopes up, but Rock Harlequin not as common as it used to be at our Lovely Ledges. Our Ledges have been bouncing back from prior years of use for hunting recreation, farming, and even as living places by Native Americans. So, The Ledges is no stranger to pioneer species. However, as a beloved attraction of CVNP, The Ledges are taking on a new force of impact: the footsteps of excited park visitors like you and me.

What does this mean for the Rock Harlequin? As The Ledges began to bounce back from former use, pioneer species survived comfortably. However, as a perennial that, for part of its life, exists as a low-lying herbaceous plant, the Rock Harlequin has not withstood the forces that accompany the love and appreciation of park visitors. In short, the Rock Harlequin is now a rare find amongst The Ledges.

And let me be clear: I am not discouraging anybody from visiting The Ledges and nobody should feel bad for wanting to visit either! This land is here for all of us to enjoy! However, if we want to continue enjoying it for generations to come, we have a duty to enjoy it responsibly. We can do this together by being mindful of the current traffic to the resource, staying on the trail, and being mindful of our impact on trail conditions after rain events.

However, there is still hope for the lovely Rock Harlequin! Rock Harlequin produces VERY hardy seeds that can survive in the seed bank for decades and even centuries. So, although we do not see Rock Harlequin today at The Ledges, we could see it there in the future. Nature is more than capable of paving its own course, and we simply must support that. Perhaps if our current circumstances change and The Ledges catch a break, we’ll see this beautiful bloom resurface and thrive. What do you think?

Here are some helpful resources if you would like to learn more about Rock Harlequin:

Posted on July 13, 2020 18:42 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 06, 2020

Milkweed Week. . . Can Milkweed plants exhibit Albinism?

Hello friends! We hope you all had a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

This week, we are featuring Milkweeds! We treasure our Milkweeds in the park because they are essential for Monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies can only lay their eggs on milkweed plants because that is the only thing Monarch caterpillars will eat. Picky eaters are the worst, am I right? Monarch caterpillars and my childhood-self have something in common, haha!

In all seriousness, Milkweed is closely tied to the Monarch’s survival. Milkweeds get their name from the toxic, milky latex in their leaves. The Monarch caterpillar eats milkweed leaves and absorbs the toxins from the latex. It stores these toxins in its body and becomes poisonous and inedible for predators. The caterpillar maintains its toxicity even once it metamorphoses into a butterfly! Predators that eat Monarchs will not die, but they will become very sick indeed!

Photo credits: Sonia Altizer, courtesy of Science magazine and Monarch photo courtesy of

CVNP is home to five different species of milkweed. If you go looking for milkweed this week, you will most likely find Common milkweed, or Asclepias syriaca. Common milkweed can bloom between June and August. It has broad, light green leaves with a purplish-pink bloom. Common milkweed can be found in meadows, but it prefers disturbed areas, such as roadsides and cropland:

Photo credits: Alan Cressler, John Hixson, and W.D. Bransford & Dolphia, all courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson Center

Here are the other four species of milkweed you might see in CVNP this week:

Poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata):

Poke milkweed can bloom between mid-May and mid-July. It has dark green leaves with a purplish-white and green flower. Poke milkweed is often found in gaps of deciduous forests.

Photo credits: Alan Cressler and R.W. Smith, courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Center

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata):

You’ll see Swamp milkweed’s white, pink, or pinkish-purple bloom anywhere between July and August. As the name suggests, Swamp milkweed does well in swamps and wet meadows.

Photo credits: Stephanie Brundage, courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Center and Jennifer Anderson

Fourleaf milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia):

Fourleaf milkweed tends to bloom between May and July. It has a pale pink bloom and is often much shorter than other milkweed species. Fourleaf milkweed prefers dry, open woodland habitat.

Photo credits: Jim Stasz, and W.L. Wagner

Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata):

Whorled milkweed dons its white bloom between June and September. Whorled milkweed can be found in sunny grasslands and disturbed areas. It has needle-like leaves and is one of the most toxic milkweeds. In fact, this milkweed is considered a noxious weed for farmers because it has been known to kill livestock.

Photo credits: R.W. Smith and Carolyn Fannon, courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Center

BONUS FACT: Did you know that Milkweeds can exhibit ALBINISM?

Animals exhibit albinism by lacking melanin, a common hair, skin, and eye pigment. Plants can exhibit albinism by lacking chlorophyll, the green pigment that allows them to photosynthesize. Some milkweeds, like Common milkweed, sprout new plants via their root systems. Albino milkweed, then, survives by absorbing nutrients through its root systems with the parent plant. This can be classified as a form of parasitism.

One of our iNaturalist project members, Christine Krol, discovered TWO albino Common milkweeds in CVNP! She has documented photo observations of the plants throughout the growth season; their progress is very exciting:

Photo Credits: Christine Krol

I know that was a long feature, but milkweed plants sure are cool! Have a great week, everyone!

Posted on July 06, 2020 14:47 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 05, 2020

Wildflower Flag Mosaic

Well, well, well. Happy Sunday everyone! I hope everyone had an amazing Holiday weekend. Whether you’re relaxing and preparing for the work week or cleaning up from all the festivities, we hope you are all doing well and remembering to stay safe and diligent about your health!

Here at CVNP, we've been so inspired by everyone's amazing contributions to this project. So, we decided to make a Wildflower Flag Mosaic for Independence Day. On Saturday, we posted the photo to our Facebook page:

Here is a link to the post so you can go check it out:

In the post, you will find a link that directs you to an NPS Photo Gallery that showcases all the lovely photos that helped make the mosaic. Well. . .not all of them actually!

This Flag Mosaic was a lovely amalgamation of archived photos from our volunteers and photos from you, our iNatters! Here are all of the iNaturalist observation photos that helped make this flag mosaic possible:

Photo credits:

Dale Knox: Dame’s Rocket
Fred Losi: Cardinal flower, Indian paintbrush, Mock strawberry, and Red trillium
Christine Krol: Aliske Clover and Red Columbine
Keith Schilstra: Dropping trillium (x3)
Jeffb987: Sweet William
Mallory Klein: Orange hawkweed

Thanks everyone! We appreciate all the hard work you are all doing to contribute to this project. Keep those observations coming!

Posted on July 05, 2020 21:56 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 1 comment | Leave a comment

June 29, 2020

Fire it up this week with Firewheel, Fire Pink, and Scarlet Bee Balm!

It’s prime time bonfire season out there! What’s your favorite part about a good bonfire? Is it the ‘mallows and the s’mores? Or the good times with friends and family? Feel free to share in the comments below!

This week in CVNP, find your own bonfire in the daytime by checking out some of our fiery red blooms! Bright red flowers aren’t very common in Northeast Ohio, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t find any. However, here are some blushed blooms you might spot in CVNP this time of year:

1) Firewheel (Gaillarda pulchella, also known as Indian Blanket)
This flower is a member of the sunflower family. Firewheel flowers are a red-orange color with a yellow outer ring. Each petal has yellow tips and usually has 3 teeth, giving it a sun or flame-like appearance. Firewheel is not native to Ohio. But don’t worry, it’s not an invasive plant either. We call it “naturalized” in Ohio, which means that it can survive here outside of its natural range without help from humans.

image credits: Randy Heisch and Joyful Butterfly:

2) Fire Pink (Silene virginica)
Fire Pink, or Royal Catchfly, is a member of the carnation family. Its flower has a tubular base with five red petals, each with two teeth at the ends. This red bloom is native to Ohio and is pollinated by a crowd favorite, the ruby-throated hummingbird.

image credits: Stephanie Brundage and Betty Truax

3) Scarlet Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
Scarlet Bee Balm is a member of the mint or deadnettle plant family. Its bloom looks like a bright red case of bed head, if you ask me! However, what look like individual flower petals are actually single tubular flowers. Many tubular flowers are clustered onto one flower head, creating this charming messy mop. Scarlet Bee Balm is rare in Ohio. If you find some in CVNP, you should protect the plant by obscuring its coordinates and adding it to the Ohio Watch List project on iNaturalist (link: ).

image credits: Alan Cressler and Stephanie Brundage

Stay safe out there this week, iNatters. Good luck finding your own bonfire in the day time in CVNP!

Posted on June 29, 2020 18:26 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 22, 2020

Blue Belly Flower Week

What does being a Naturalist mean to you? Does it mean you can identify everything in your natural environment? Or, does it mean that you notice things that other people don’t?

A good Naturalist is a keen observer. They have trained their senses to notice specific hints and clues about the world around them. You don’t become a Naturalist overnight either! Becoming a good observer takes time and practice. In fact, a good Naturalist is always learning. They are constantly curious about what’s out there.

The best way to stay curious is by keeping a fresh perspective on things. That’s why this week, we’re highlighting Blue Belly Flowers! Belly Flowers is a term used to describe low-growing wildflowers. These are the wildflowers that are so tiny, you have to get on your belly to see them! Here are some Blue Belly Flowers to hunt for next time you come to the park:

Speedwells: CVNP is home to six species of Speedwells. Here are a couple to get you started:

From left to right: Thymeleaf Speedwell, Slender Speedwell, and Birds-eye Speedwell.
Image credits: Nelson DesBarros (x2), Mallory Klein, respectively.

Blueeyed Grasses: CVNP has only one confirmed species of blueeyed grasses:

Narrow-leaved Blue-eyed Grass.
Image credit: Mallory Klein.

Have a great week out there! Remember to be observant, stay curious, and most importantly, have fun!

Posted on June 22, 2020 20:00 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 3 comments | Leave a comment

June 15, 2020

Weekly Wildflower Feature: Positive Vibes with Daisies and Fleabanes

Hey there friends and family! We hope you all had a great weekend. What’s one thing you did this weekend that made you or others around you happy? Leave a comment about it below!

Let’s keep spreading those positive vibes this week by sharing pictures of Daisies and Fleabanes in CVNP. The Daisy’s symbolic history is focused on spreading positivity. Daisies are symbols of healing, happiness, persistence, patience, and most importantly, new beginnings.

With everything we’re going through right now, positive vibes are something we all need. When you see a Daisy or Fleabane in your National Park, let it share its positive vibes with you and remember to share those good vibes with others too!

Some of the Daisies and Fleabanes in CVNP look very similar and identifying them can get tricky! Remember that the iNaturalist community is here to help you out! To get you started, here are CVNP’s five most common species of Daisies and Fleabanes!

Oxeye Daisy:

Photo credit: D.J. Reiser

Horseweed Fleabane:

Photo credit: John Gerrath

Annual fleabane:

Photo credit: Mark Turner

Philadelphia fleabane:

Photo credit: Jonathan Foise

Daisy fleabane:

Photo credit: JJ Prekop Jr.

"When times get tough, we don't give up. We get up." -Barack Obama

P.S. Please don't pick your park's daisies for your loved ones! Let other people find them so they can feel those positive vibes too. If you really want to give someone a bouquet of daisies, try purchasing blooms from your local floral business instead!

Posted on June 15, 2020 20:04 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 08, 2020

Weekly Wildflower Feature for the week of June 8, 2020

Hey all, happy Monday! This week, we’re going to talk about the Mustard family, Brassicaceae.

Quite a few of our nation’s food crops are members of the Brassicaceae family; broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard (obviously), and more! Still, many members of the mustard family are not cultivated and thrive in natural habitats.

CVNP is home to 22 members of the Brassicaceae family. About half of our mustard species live here naturally (a.k.a. native), while half of them were brought here by humans (a.k.a. non-native)! Regardless of their unique origin stories, the flowers of Mustard plants share certain characteristics. Here are 3 characteristics to check for if you think you’ve found a Mustard bloom!

1) The flower has 4 petals and 4 sepals

Left: Dame's Rocket petals (credit: Arthur Haines). Right: Dame's Rocket sepals (credit: Katy Chayka)

2) The flower has 6 stamens: 4 tall and 2 short

Left: Black Mustard 4 tall stamens in the middle, 2 short stamens on the right and left (credit: Jouko Lehmmuskallio). Right: Spring Cress 4 tall stamens in the middle, 2 short stamens on the right and left (credit:SRTurner)

3) The seed pods that attach to the plant stalk in a “spiral staircase” formation

Left: Shepherd's Purse triangular seed pods (credit: Glen Mittelhauser). Right: Spring Cress thin, oblong seed pods (credit: SRTurner).

These are just a few examples of Brassicaceae family flower characteristics. Here is a great resource that explains these characteristics in more detail:

Feel free to respond to this post with any questions you have. Happy iNatting!

Posted on June 08, 2020 15:49 by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment