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.