Well, I thought this was going to be two WOWs! It turned out to be one big WOW and one new fact about a familiar plant.
All along the Little Miami Rail Trail, and again at Glen Helen this huge plant was filling the space beside the trail. It's 3-5 feet high, so it sure makes quite a fence. It was so dense I assumed it was some sort of invasive plant. It's completely new to me- never saw it before. My best guess was one of the wild lettuces.
I didn't have any luck finding it in my books or searching on line. Huh. Not a lettuce (Lactuca). Look at the leaves on this baby! Some are 10 inches long.
So I emailed the ranger at Glen Helen. She answered me promptly (nice!) and said it's a native plant called Small-flowered leafcup, Polymnia canadensis. It prefers calcareous soil- think limestone. That's why I sure don't see it here.
It has hairy stems and funky round stipules.
The flowers aren't much of anything. Thus "small-flowered." The large-flowered species doesn't have much bigger flowers, but they have more white daisy-like rays than this one.
It always amazes me when I have so much trouble identifying such a distinctive plant. The drawings in the guidebooks aren't always the most helpful.
So, just in case the trip wasn't perfect enough already, I've now met the superb criterion of learning a new plant.
But I thought I was going to learn a new fern as well. Nope. But I did learn a new fact about Intermediate Wood Fern, Dryopteris intermedia. It will happily grow on rock faces. And I got a picture of the sori.
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