Wildflowers - 25 March

Just a quick trip around the yard to see what’s about today. We’ll start with the Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) growing up by the county road.

Next is a small, purple violet. Saying “purple violet” seems redundant, but there are white and yellow violets too! This is probably Viola papilionacea, but could also be either V. sororia or V. missouriensis. The photo doesn’t show enough to distinguish, I didn’t take the time to key it out when I took the photo and I can barely tell them apart anyway.

Here we have a Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia) which the Missouri Botanical Garden’s web site describes as “flowers not showy,” if you can believe that.

Pussytoes are very common over most of my yard. That should tell you that the soil in my yard is dry, rocky and acidic, all conditions that Pussytoes thrive in.

Our last entry isn’t technically a wildflower, but it is the fruiting body of a lichen, so I figure that’s close enough.

The lichen in question is called “British Soldiers” because of the resemblance of their red tops to the caps worn by British soldiers. More technically, it’s probably Cladonia cristatella but there are other possibilities.

A lichen, of course, is a symbiotic association between a fungi and either an algae or cyanobacterium. What most people don’t know is that while the fungal portion of a lichen requires a particular algal/bacterial partner, the reverse is not true. The algae/cyanobacterium species is capable of forming a lichen with many, sometimes dozens of species of fungi. For that reason, the scientific name of a lichen is the scientific name of the fungal component. Somehow doesn’t seem fair to the fungi!

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