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Friday, July 16, 2010

Botany Detective

Well, Ratty has a yellow mystery over at The Everyday Adventurer today. He challenged anyone to figure out what his "Alien Fire Flower" is. You know I couldn't resist. You will have to go over there to see the whole post, but I've grabbed some pieces of images for our "game."

sedum blossomHere is a closeup of one of the flowers. Ratty is just learning to notice plants, so the only information he gave is that this is beside a pathway. So I began with five yellow petals and a mass of stamens. Bill, at Wild Ramblings, suggested something in the Hypericum genus. That would be a St. Johhswort.

Hypericum perforatum

Well... I sort of concurred... but I couldn't come up with any match for the species that grow in our area. (the Great Lakes). For one BIG thing, the leaves are too narrow. For another thing, the two most common St. Johnswort here have black dots on the blossoms. See them around the edge of the petals? This picture is Hypericum perforatum. This one is blooming in my field.

We also have no information about the height of the plant, or about the leaves. I had one other Hypericum suspect, one that I've never seen, but that grows on the lakeshores. It is Hypericum kalmianum. But I found some pictures on line and the petals are even more round...

sedum budsI also had a real problem with this string of buds. This doesn't look anything like a St. Johnswort. Now what? So I backed off and just thought about what it looked like.

Well, the blossom looks like a Sedum.

Sedum kamtschaticum

Here's a sedum from my flower bed. Now, can we find some leaves?

sedum budsLook what I found hiding in the corner of one of Ratty's pictures! See that succulent leaf? That clinches it! This is a sedum. My best guess is some variety of Sedum kamtschaticum.

By contrast, below are the leaves of the Hypericum perforatum. Not the same at all.

Hypericum perforatum

Betchai of The Joys of Simple Life said... "looks like very similar to my succulents here at home." She was right!


betchai said...

oh, you are such a botanist geek Sharkbytes, I really admire you for taking the lengths to identify, you are so good at them. And thanks for naming exactly, you see, all I know are succulents, but I can not name exactly what kind of a succulent :( Now, I know there are several types of sedum and I have several of them at home too :)

John | English Wilderness said...

Nicely done :-) Now can you recommend a good caterpillar detective? ;-)

Ann said...

You are an excellent detective. When I saw that on Ratty's blog I had no clue what it was, I was willing to go along with his alien fire flower story :)

rainfield61 said...

You are a real guru.

Secondary Roads said...

Shark, you are the greatest! I'm in awe of that logical and analytical mind that comes up with answers to difficult questions. Will I be in trouble if I confess I like Ratty's name for it better? 8-)

Marg said...

That sure is great, you going to the trouble of figuring out the flower or plant. Really fun learning all about these plants. Who knew.
Have a great week end.

Sharkbytes said...

betchai- "botany geek" sounds great! But you just looked at it and knew enough to know generally what it was.

John- yes, I can... see

Ann- He got great pictures, and made everyone remember it with a fantastic name

rainfield- well, I'm not, but I know a couple of real plant gurus.

Chuck- Yup, his name wins hands down! Thanks for the compliments.

Marg- I'm really glad that a few people think it's fun, because I sure do, and it's nice to know that I'm not boring everyone! But I thought I should take a break from plants today.

RNSANE said...

You are a great detective, Shark...and, after Jo and I went to the Sloat Garden Center the other day and saw many succulent, I've been going crazy trying to identify them online ( why did I not copy their names when I photographed them???? ). I see betchai that there are MANY sedum - I also read somewhere that they are edible - and the name holds true for the other succulent varieties. Good grief...this is certainly not my area of expertise. I had no idea, even, that all these succulents flower!!

Icy BC said...

Mystery solved..My sister had these in her yard, but the flowers are purple..

Sharkbytes said...

Carmen- sedum are edible? I haven't heard that.

Icy- Yes, some sedum have purple flowers.

Ratty said...

It looks like you got this one exactly right. I knew Betchai was on to something when she left her comment too. I was deceptive with the size, because these blossoms are very small. I need to go back there so I can show the whole scene one of these times. There is actually an even more interesting story to those plants in that place.

Sharkbytes said...

Ratty- yes, I would like to know more. I think it must have escaped from a garden.

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