Mittwoch, 28. Dezember 2011

Plant of the Day (December 28th, 2011) - Eupatorium cannabinum L.

Today's “Plant of the Day” is Eupatorium cannabinum L from the Asteraceae family. In German, this plant is known as “Gemeiner Wasserdost” or sometimes “Kunigundenkraut”, while the English name is “hemp agrimony”. Despite the suffix “cannabinum”, this species is not related to Cannabis, which belongs to the Cannabaceae.

E. cannabinum - habitus

It's an upright growing herb, which can reach heights between 50 and 150 centimetres (or 19.5 to 59 inches). The alternate leaves are digitate (hand-shaped) with 3 to 5 (sometimes 7) lobes. In some rare cases, the leaves are also simple.

E. cannabinum - inflorescence

As with most Asteraceae, the inflorescences of E. cannabinum are heads (capitulum) and consists of many small flowers. In turn, these heads are grouped into fake umbels. This plant belongs to the subfamily Asteroidae and has only radial flowers (unlike e. g. the daisy (Bellis perennis L.), which has radial flowers in the centre and ray flowers in the peripheries). Each flower has five pink petals (sometimes white).

E. cannabinum - habitus

This species is native to Europe, but can also be found as neophyte in Australia and North America. It grows on wet places like meadows, floodplains but also in parks and cities on wet embankments. E. cannabinum is also a indicator for a high nitrogen content.

In past, E. cannabinum was used as medicinal plant to cure wounds or for liver and kidneys complaints. However, today it's known, that E. cannabinum contains carcinogenic ingredients.

Freitag, 23. Dezember 2011

Plant of the Day (December 23rd, 2011) - Campanula rotundifolia L.

Today's “Plant of the Day” is Campanula rotudifolia L. from the Campanulaceae (bellflower) family. The English name of this species is “Harebell” (or “Bluebell” in Scotland), while in German it's called “Rundblättrige Glockenblume”.

C. rotundifolia - habitus

It's a small but beautiful herb, which can reach heights between 10 and 30 centimetres (4 to 12 inches). The sitting bracts are long and narrow, while the long-stalked basal leaves are kidney-shaped or heart-shaped with a serrated edge. The stalk is fluffy at its base.

C. rotundifolia - habitus

The inflorescence is a panicle and consists of many, small and radial flowers. Each flower has five, bright-green sepals and five violet petals with triangular tips. The flowers are hanging; a typical feature of the bellflowers. However, the flower buds are upright and the suspension starts after the opening of the flower.

C. rotundifolia  - flowers

C. rotundifolia is native to Europe, Siberia and  North America. It's a indicator for leanness and can be found on grasslands with a low content of nutrients in the soil. So, you can find it e. g. on calcareous grasslands or pastures but also on rocks and walls.

C. rotundifolia - flower

Like the most Campanulaceae, C. rotundifolia contains some ingredients (e. g. Inulin) and was used as medicinal plant, especially as inflammatory inhibitor.

Montag, 19. Dezember 2011

Plant of the Day (December 19th, 2011) - Hypholoma fasciculare (Huds. ex Fr.) Kumm.

This time, I have a new fungus for you. It is Hypholoma fasciculare (Huds. Ex Fr.) Kumm.; a member of the Strophariaceae family. Typical names for H. fasciculare are “Grünblättriger Schwefelkopf” in German and “sulphur tuft” in English.

H. fasciculare - habitus

It's a medium sized mushroom with a height between 4 and 8 centimetres (1.5 to 3.25 inches). The dorsal site of its cap has a glance surface and a sulphur-yellow colour with a brown spot on a humpback in the centre. Young caps are bell-shaped, while older caps become more flat. The edge of the cap is rolled.

H. fasciculare - gills

The gills on the ventral site are sulphur-yellow to greenish; as like the stalk, which is between 6 and 12 centimetres long. The ripe spores are brown, 6 to 8 micrometres long and 4 to 4,5 micrometres high.

H. fasciculare - habitus

This species is native to Middle Europe and North America. It can often be found in forests, where it grows on dead wood and tree stumps of beeches and pines. H. fasciculare infested only dead wood and is not a vermin. Because of this, the fungus is very popular with foresters. It is a competitor of the honey fungus (Armillaria mellea (Vahl.) Kumm., which is a wood-infesting vermin.

H. fasciculare - mushrooms on a tree stump

H. fasciculare is toxic. Although it's not deadly, the consumption of this fungus will cause Diarrhea and vomiting.

Freitag, 16. Dezember 2011

Plant of the Day (December 16th, 2011) -Cymbalaria muralis Gaertn., Mey et Scherb.

Today's “Plant of the Day” is Cymbalaria muralis Gaertn., Mey. et. Scherb. from the Plantagninaceae (plantains) family. In some literature, this species still belongs to the Scrophulariaceae (figworts), but phylogenetic studies have proven, that it belongs to the plantains. The German name of this plant is “Mauer-Zimbelkraut” or simple “Zimbelkraut” (cymbal-weed), while in English, it is called “Kenilworh Ivy” or “ivy-leaved toadflax”.

C. muralis - habitus

It's a small herb, which grows on walls. The crawling and bald shoots are between 15 and 60 centimetres long (6 to 24 in). The leaves are kidney-shaped or heart-shaped (or a mix of them). They have a dark-green dorsal site, while the ventral site is often reddish (also the shoots).

The long-stalked flowers are cygomorph. Their petals are violet with a white bulge and yellow spots. They also have a long spur. This morphology was also the reason, why this species has belonged to the Scrophulariaceae in past (as for Linaria vulgaris Mill.).

C. muralis - habitus

The biology of pollination is also the same as with L. vulgaris. The function of the bulge is to attract pollinators like bees or hoverflies. However, the most interesting feature of C. muralis is the kind of spreading its seed. After pollination and ripening, the seed stays connected with floral-axis, which grows in a new dark place like a wall column, where the seed can start to sprout. This behaviour, the growth of the parts of a plant to dark places, is called “negative phototroph”, while the opposite is called “Phototrophism” (growing to light).

C. muralis - a shoot grows into a wall colum
(negative phototrophism)

Originally, this plant is native to the Mediterranean area but can also be found all over the world. Its original habitat were the slopes and rocks of the Mediterranean mountains, but later, C. muralis was brought to other countries as medicinal and garden plant and naturalized later. Today, you can find it on warm, sunny walls and similar places. C. muralis is also the characteristic species of a plant society on walls: the Parietarietalia judaicae

Montag, 12. Dezember 2011

Plant of the Day (December 12th, 2011) - Solanum nigrum L.

Not a fungus again, this time I'll show you a new plant. It's Solanum nigrum L. from the Solanaceae family. In the German language, this species is known as “Schwarzer Nachtschatten” while common English names are “black nightshade”, “garden nightshade” or “hound berry”.

S. nigrum ssp. schuletsii - Habitus

There are to sub-species of this plant: Solanum nigrum ssp. nigrum and Solanum nigrum ssp. schultesii

It's a herb, which can reach a height until 50 centimetres (or 19.5 inches). The stem is angular and the whole plant dark green to purple. The leaves are also dark green and eggs-shaped, while the leaves of the sub-species Solanum nigrum ssp. nigrum has an entire margin and the leaves of Solanum nigrum ssp. schultesii has a lobate margin.

S. nirgrum ssp. schuletsii - berries (unripe)

Solanum nigrum ssp. schultesii is covered with many, protruding hairs; Solanum nigrum ssp. nigrum on the other side has only a few, smooth-fitting hairs.

The inflorescences of both sub-species consist of five to ten, small flowers. They are star-shaped, with five white petals. Flowering time is between June and October. The fruits are small, black berries, which resemble tomatoes. As the most species of the Solanaceae, these berries contain Alkaloids (e. g. Solanine) and are a little bit toxic. The consumption of to many fruits caused nausea, hallucinations, convulsions and a drop in body temperature. However, S. nigrum is also used as medicinal plant.

S. nigrum ssp. schuletsii - habitus

Today, you can find this species all over the world. It's true origin is unknown. Scientists believe, that it is native to Eurasia, the Mediterranean or Africa. In Europe, the sub-species Solanum nigrum ssp. nigrum can be found in the Northern regions, while Solanum nigrum ssp. schultesii is more common in the southern areas like the Mediterranean. (however, during the last years, Solanum nigrum ssp. schultesii has become more common also in Middle Europe).

S. nigrum ssp. schuletsii -stalk

Both sub-species are typical plants of ruderal wastelands and can be found on dumps, railway tracks and roadsides. They are also a typical garden weed. They prefer warm, sunny places and are very undemanding towards the soil but cannot tolerate dryness or frost.

Freitag, 9. Dezember 2011

Plant of the Day (December 9th, 2011) - Trametes hirsuta (Fr.) Pilat.

Autumn time is fungi time, so today's article is about a fungus again. This time, it's Trametes hirsuta (Fr.) Pilat., a fungus from the Polyporaceae family. Common German names are e. g. “Striegelige Tramete” or “Filzige Tramete”. Again, I've found no English names, but the translation of the Latin name means something like “Rough haired Tramete” or “bristly Tramete”.

T. hirsuta - habitus

The fungi of the Genus Trametes have hemispherical mushrooms (Karposoma), which sit on dead trees and tree stumps, which are decomposed by the fungus. The mushrooms of T. hirsuta have 8 to 10 centimetres in diameter (3.25 to 4 inches). They are white or greyish with dark-grey, wavy zones. The whole dorsal site is covered with rough bristles, what gave the species its name. Sometimes, the dorsal site has some green spots, which is caused by symbiotic green algae. The growth area at the base of the mushroom is brown.

T. hirsuta - habitus

The ventral site is white and has many large pores, while the spores are ripe in autumn.

T. hirsuta is a scavenger, which lives on dead wood of trees, especially the wood of the beech Fagus sylvatica L. but also the wood of many other species; mostly deciduous trees and in some, rare cases also on conifers.

T. hirsuta - habitus

The species is spread over large parts of the Northern hemisphere and is native to Europe, Asia and North America, where it can be found in parks, woods and the Edge of forests.

This fungus is not edible. It's flesh is tough, hard and tastes very bad.

Sonntag, 4. Dezember 2011

Plant of the Day (December 5th, 2011) - Coprinus comatus (O. F. Müll.) Grey

Today's “Plant” of the Day is a fungus again. This time, it's Coprinus comatus (O. F. Müll.) Grey. from the Psathyrekkacae family. In German, this fungus is known as “Schopf-Tintling” “Tintenpilz” or “Spargelpilz” while common English names are “shaggy ink cap” or “shaggy mane”

C. comatus - habitus; please note the
fibrous surface

It's a large fungus. The cap can reach heights until 10 centimetres (4 inches) and has 3 cm (1,25 inches) in diameter. The young cap is egg-shaped and long. With age, the cap spreads out and becomes bell-shaped. The colour of the young mushroom is white. The surface of old caps is scaly and fibrous.

C. comatus - fungi on a turf in a park

The gills of the young fungus are white and will become pink with time. The black spores are eliptical.

Probably, the most interesting feature of this fungus is the peculiarity of the cap to dissolve into a viscous black liquid. This liquid reminds of ink, what gave the species also the name “ink cap” or “Tintenpilz”. In this way, C. comatus spreads out its spores.

C. comatus - (unsharp) picture of some fungi

C. comatus
is native to the whole Northern hemisphere. In Middle Europe, this fungus can be found in September (however, I've also found individuals in November). It's a typical “city fungus” and can be found in parks, at roadsides and on turfs. A speciality of this fungus is, that it also catches and eats nematodes.

Young mushrooms are edible and have a good taste, but you have to hurry, because shortly after collecting, the cap will dissolve in that inky liquid.

Important Message

Hiy everybody,

during the last months, new Posts came in very irregular intverals. But in future, I will try to post a new entry every Monday and Friday, but please don't be angry, if i will miss this deadline sometimes.

Montag, 28. November 2011

Plant of the Day (November 28th, 2011) Armillaria solidipes Peck.

Today's “Plant of the Day” is not a real plant but a fungus (however, fungi are also a part of plant science; while the zoology has got the microbes, which are also no real animals in the strict sense ;-)). The name of this fungus is Armillaria solidipes Peck. from the Physalacriaceae; known as “Dunkler Hallimasch” in German (unfortunately, I've found no English name).

A. solidipes - stock

It's a large fungus. The cap has a diameter of 3 to 10 centimetres (sometimes 20). The young cap is hemispherical but will become more flat or curved later. The outer surface of A. solidipes is flesh-brown to reddish-brown and covered with dark-brown scales. The gills (“Lamellen” in German) on inner site are bulged to straight. Gills of younger individuals are white, while the gills of older fungi are mottled reddish-brown.

The stem is white, with an average height of 15 centimetres and 3 centimetres in diameter. They're fibrous and become hollow in the old. The spores are also white and have a diameter of 10 micrometres. The whole fungus has a pleasant, earthy odor, which reminds a little bit of Maggi (a German soup sauce).

A. solidipes - mushroom & gills

A. solidipes can be found all over the world as parasite on dead and living conifers. One individual of this species, a fungus in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, is also the biggest living creature of the world. Its mycelium (the totality of all hyphae) has an area of 965 ha and a total weight of nearly 600 tons. In some regions, this species has become problematic, because it can kill some trees very fast.

Regarding the edibility: the raw mushroom is poisonous.

Donnerstag, 24. November 2011

Plant of the Day (November 24th) - Origanum vulgare ssp. vulgare L.

Today's Post is about Origanum vulgare L. from the Lamiaceae family. The common name is Oregano, while other names are “Wild Marjoram” (in English) or “Dorst” “Dost” or “Echter Dost” (German)

O. vulgare - habitus

It's a small herb, that can reach heights between 20 and 50 centimetres (7.9 in to 19.7 in). Like at the most Lamiaceae, the leaves of O. vulgare are arranged after the cross-opposite leaf-pattern. They're egg-shaped and have a simple edge (sometimes, the edge is slightly serrated). The stalk grows upright and is (like the leaves) covered with many oil-glands. Normally, it's dull green but in some cases red overflooded.

The bracts are deep purple

O. vulgare - habiuts

The inflorescences are double cymes, which forms fake umbels, which are also known “corymb” (a form of the panicle). The pink petals of the flowers are cygomorph; a typical character of the Lamiaceae. Two of the five petals are fused to an upper lip, while the lower petal is called the “under lip”

O. vulgare is a very aromatic plant, which is rich of essential oils, which give the species a very aromatic taste.

O. vulgare - habitus

Originally, this species is native to the Mediterranean Area, but natural stocks can also be found in all temperate areas of Middle Europe, while the plant is cultivated all over the World.
Wild Oregano grows on warm, sunny places on lime. You can find it e. g. in warm, bright forests or on rocky slopes.

O. vulgare, especially the sub-species ssp. viridium is a popular spice, which is used in the Spain, Italian and Greece. Probably, it's best known for its role as spice for pizzas. However, I think, that my photos show O. vulgare ssp. vulgare, the wild form, but this form is also very aromatic (I've smelled it ;-))

Freitag, 18. November 2011

Plant of the Day (November 18th, 2011) - Rumex scutatus L.

Hi everybody,

today's article is about Rumex scutatus L. from the Polygonaceae family, a close relative to the garden sorrel. In German, this species is known as “Schild-Ampfer”. Unfortunately, I've found no English name, but the translation of the German one is “Shield Sorrel”.

R. scutatus - habitus

It's a small herb, which can reach heights between 20 and 40 centimetres. The shoot grows erect, but is also slightly bent. The leaves are grey-green to blue-green and conspicuously pike-shaped to triangular. They have also a long stalk.

The inflorescences are racemes with six tepals; distributed on an inner and an outer circle with three tepals per circle. The outer tepals are green, while the inner ones (also called Valven in German) are red and until six millimetres long. Unlike some other species of the Genus Rumex, the “Valven” of R. scutatus have not any callus.

The main task of these “Valven” is to protect the fruit after ripening.

R. scutatus - leaves

R. scutatus is native to Middle Europe, South Europe and Asia Minor. It's a typical inhabitant of warm, rocky slopes, hillsides and scree but can also be found on warm places like ruderal wasteland or walls (e. g. old harbours. Railway tracks or gravel pits). It prefers calcareous and base-rich soils.

Freitag, 11. November 2011

Plant of the Day (November 11th, 2011) - Humulus lupulus L.

This time, I want to show you Humulus lupulus L. from the Canabaceae family. In German, this species is called “Echter Hopfen” (true hops), while in English it's known as “common hop” or “wild hops”.

H. lupulus - habitus

Hops is a creeper, which can reach lengths between 3 to 6 metres (9.8 to 19.7 feet).The decussate leaves are lobed deeply but sometimes also undivided. Their dorsal site is dark-green and covered with some bristles, while the ventral site is brighter and with some yellowish glands. There are also stipules.

H. lupulus - female inflorescences

The species is dioecious. The male flowers are located in panicles, while the unconscious female flowers are fused with the bracts, which overgrow the female flowers. So, the “female inflorescence” looks similar to a cone.

H. lupulus is native to the temperate areas of Middle Europe and North America. It grows on wet or fresh soils with a high content of nitrogen. Typical habitats are floodplains, the edges of forests or hedges. Sometimes it can also be found in parks.

H. lupulus - female inflorescences

Of course, hops is probably best known of its role in the production of beer. Together with barley and malt, it's one of the three ingredients of beer and the chemical ingredients of hops give the beer the typical bitter taste. Some of this ingredients are myrcene or caryophyllenes. Their ratio determines the taste of the beer significantly. Therefore, hops is cultivated in many breeds today; each with a different ratio of chemical ingredients.

Some literature say, that hops contains oestrogens and because of this fact, the consume of too many beer leads to the growing of a breast. It's true, that oestrogens are ingredients of the hops, but its level is so low, that it cannot cause a hormonal reaction.

Montag, 7. November 2011

Plant of the Day (November 7th, 2011) - Ficus carica L.

Today's Post is about Ficus carica L. from the Moraceae family. I'm sure, that the most of you know this species because it's just the "common fig" (“Feigenbaum” in German), one of the most common fruit trees in the World.

F. carica - habitus

In nature, F. carica is a shrub or a tree, which can reach heights until 10 metres (32.8 feet). The bark is grey and the stem branched richly. The characteristic leaves are alternate and digitate; the typical form of fig-Leaves. Inside the plant is a caustic milky juice

The inflorescences of this monoecious species are pear-shaped and consist of many inconspicuous flowers with five white tepals, between 3 and 5 stamens and only one stylus per flower.

F. carica  - leaves

There are also two kinds of flowers: pure female flowers with only tepals and stylus and hermaphroditic flowers with tepals stamens and stylus. In Germany, we call the first type “Essfeige” and the second one “Bocksfeige”. The “Essfeige” (the pure female one) will later become the edible fruit.

Probably, the most complicated aspect of F. carica is its pollination biology, which is closely connected with the reproduction cycle of the fig-wasp (Blastophaga psenes). In coordination with the reproduction, the fig has three flowering times in Early Spring, Midsummer and Late Summer. In short, the pollination works as follow

  1. The female Fig-wasp enters a hermaphroditic flower (“Bocksfeige”) and lays its eggs in the stylus. This happens during the first flowering in the early spring.

  2. Both, male and female wasps will hatch from the eggs. The male wasps will fertilize the female ones and then die immediately after hatching. This happens during the second flowering time in Midsummer, when the pollen is ripe. The pregnant female wasps leave the
    flower and take the pollen with them.

  3. A pregnant female wasp enters a new flower. Now, two scenarios are possible: the wasp can enter a new “Bocksfeige” and start the reproduction cycle again or it enters a “Essfeige”. However, in contrast to the “Bockfeige”, the wasp is not able to lay its eggs and dies but pollinates the flowers with the pollen. As a result, the inflorescence will become a fig, which in fact consists of many small drupes.

  4. If the wasp chooses the first scenario, the reproduction cycle will repeated and for a second pollination in the last months of summer.
F. carica - fruit (proabably after Third flowering time)

F. carica is native to Mediterranean Areas and the Arab space, where it was first cultivated thousand years ago. Later it came to Europe and the colder Regions of the world as ornamental tree. But today, it can also be found as wild plant on temperate spots all over Middle Europe (e. g. slopes, cities, vineyards and so on). It's very undemanding toward the soil and has no problems with dryness but needs a warm place and a deeper soil to grow.

All photos show a wild fig 

Freitag, 4. November 2011

Plant of the Day (November 4th. 2011) - Rubus laciniatus Wild.

Today's “Plant of the Day” is Rubus laciniatus Wild. from the Rosaceae family and the big genus of Rubus (blackberries). In English, this species is known as “Cutleaf Blackberry” or “Evergreen Blackberry” and in German as “Schlizblättrige Brombeere”, what's also the translation of the Latin name. (laciniatus means cutleafed).

R. laciniatus - habitus

Like all Blackberries, this plant is a climbing shrub, which can climb to heights until 3 or five metres. Their stem is angular and bald, while its “thorns” are between 6 and 8 millimetres long (in fact, the thorns of the Rosaceae are spikes. A spike is a pointed protuberance of the epidermis while a thorn is a special leaf-morphology (cactuses have thorns). However, because it's usual to speak of a thorn in the context with roses, I'll use this word also in my blog.).

R. laciniatus - leaves

The leaves are pinnate to double pinnate, while the leaflets are digitate, what is an unique character of this species.

Each flower consists of five green sepals, five white to pink tepals and 20 stamens and carpels. The ripe fruit is a typical blackberry, which is in fact not a berry but consists of many small drupes.

R. laciniatus -fruits

Originally, R. lanciniatus comes from England, but today, it can be found worldwide as wild growing garden plant. Like all blackberries, it prefers nutrient-rich and calcareous soils at bright places. So it can be found on ruderal wastelands, clearings or the edge of forests.

 R. laciniatus - habitus

Montag, 31. Oktober 2011

Plant of the Day (October 31, 2011) - Conyza sumatrensis (Retz.) E. Walker)

Happy Halloween!

After I've shown you Conyza canadensis (L.) Crouq. from the Asteraceae family; i want to present you another species of this Genus: Conyza sumatrensis (Retz.) E. Walker, also from the Asteraceae family. Common English names are “fleabane” or “white horseweed”, while in Germany we call it “Weißliches Berufskraut”.

C. sumatrensis - habitus

The species looks similar to C. canadensis an can reach heights until 1 or even 2 metres. It has long, thin leaves, which looks similar to the leaves of a dandelion (however, here the whole shoot is leafy)

The inflorescences are panicles. Like all Asteraceae, these panicles consist of heads, which consist of many radial flowers with five white petals per flower in the periphery and many tubular flowers with five greenish petals per flower in the centre.

C. sumatrensis - inflorescences

So, the radial flowers are simulating a corolla, while their bracts form a fake calyx. These fake flowers are typical for the Asteraceae. It lets the flowers look greater and more attractive for pollinators.

C. sumatrensis - habiuts

Despite it's name, C. sumatrensis is not native to Sumatra but to North America. However, today this species can be found everywhere in world. In Europe it came as Neophyte in the Mediterranean and later to Germany, England or Ireland. It grows at ruderal wastelands, roadsides and between stones. In contrast to C. canadensis, which is the most common species, C. sumatrensis is more rare.

Mittwoch, 26. Oktober 2011

Plant of the Day (October 26th, 2011) - Auricularia auricula-judae Bul. Fr. & Quell.

O.k., Auricularia auricula-judae Bull. Fr. & Quel. is not a plant, but a fungus from the Auriculariaceae family. In Germany it's called “Judasohr” which is also the exact translation of its English name “Judas Ear”. Other common names are “jelly fungi”, “Black Fungus” or (in German) “Hollunderschwamm” (elder mushroom).

A. auricula-judae - habitus (note the shape of an ear)

It's a medium sized fungus with 3 to 10 centimetres in diameter and 2 millimetres in thickness. The convex mushroom (also Karposoma) is nearly ear-shaped, what is also the reason for its name. It has a bright-brown to grey ventral side, while the dorsal site is dark-brown to fleshy-brown. The flesh is tough, gelatinous with a mild flavour and a musty smell of earth. The small spores are white and have a plain surface.

A. auricula-judae - on a branch

This fungus grows on the stems or branches of trees. It's a parasite, which infests weak, death or sick wood. Its primary host is Sambucus nigra L. (Elder), what also gave the species it's name. After his betrayal of Jesus, Judas had hanged himself on a elder tree. It's a cosmopolitan and can be found all over the world and all over the year (it's tolerant towards frost).

A. auricula-judae - habitus

A. auricula-judae is also one of the most popular edible mushrooms of the world and part of many recipe for mushroom dishes; especially in the Asian cuisine, although this fungus has no flavour but for that a pleasant mouth feel.

Sonntag, 23. Oktober 2011

Plant of the Day (October 23th, 2011) - Impatiens glandulifera Royle

Today's entry is about Impatiens glandulifera Royle from the Balsaminaceae family. Its most common German name is “Drüsiges Springkraut” or “Indisches Springkraut”, while in English, you know it as “Himalayan Balsam”.

I. glandulifera - habitus

It's a fast growing, annual plant, that can reach heights until 2 metres (6.56 feet), which is very high for an annual plant. The long leaves are opposite in the lower region of the stalk and whorled in the upper regions. They're oval to lanceolate with strongly serrated edges. Leaf-stalk and the Leaf-base are glandular and covered with many, long stalked glands, what also gave the plant its Latin name (“Glandulifera” means “rich of glands”).

I. glandulifera - stock

Another characteristic feature of this plant are its big, zygomorphous flowers, which are the reason for names like “Wupper orchid”, “Bobby Tops” (based on the helmets of British police officers) or “Gnome's hatstand”. They consists of three sepals and five petals. The lower sepal, which looks like a petal, is extended to a long spur. One petal is much bigger then the rest. The inflorescence is a raceme.

I. glandulifera - flowers, capsules and a bee

Because of their scent and the purple colour, the flowers of I. glandulifera are very attractive for bees, which became the most important pollinator of this species. Another reason are the high content of (average sweet) nectar and the very sweet-tasting pollen.

The fruits are small capsules with many seeds within (between 16.000 and 40.000 seed). These capsules are sensitive to pressure and even the slightest touch (e. g. by a raindrop) is enough to bring them to burst. The seeds are flung away with high speed. This kind of spreading is typical for the genus Impatiens and is responsible for the German name of the genus (“Springkraut” means “jumping herb”)

I. glandulifera - flowers, leaves and capsules

Like its English suggest, I. glandulifera is native to India and the Himalayas but today, it can be found as neophyte also in Europe and North America (it looks similar to an orchid, so it was a very popular ornamental plant). However, today it is one of the most invasive plant of Middle Europe. Because of its fast growing rate and many seeds, I. glandulifera is highly competitive against other species and can displace them easily.

I. glandulifera prefers nutrient-rich and wet soils, so it can be found at riverbanks, ruderal wastelands or the edges of woods and many other places with a high anthropogenic import of nitrogen