White bog violet (Viola lanceolata)

Like the common violet, the lance-leaved violet blooms early to mid spring. It is among the very few white stemless violets growing on man disturbed habitats, marshes, sandy shores and wetland margins. I observed them growing in high numbers along the river system in New Jersey pinelands.

These plants can be found growing anywhere along the river shore, on the left we see a violet growing on an eroded bank out of an exposed rhizome. The stemless violets are not truly without stem, but instead grow from a modified stem buried underground, a Rhizome.

The flowers are small as seen by the lichens growing next to it. I was able to take these photographs thanks to the awesome birthday gift my wife got me. A day kayaking through the pinelands! We used pineland adventures, they are awesome and will highly recommend them!

If you look closely at this sedge mound (possibly a tussock sedge) you can see a small bog violet growing out of it. This demonstrates clearly the need for ecosystem preservation. The sand next to the sedge roots has been eroded out by the rivers flow, but the roots of the plant are holding on to enough soil to allow other species of plants and animals to survive. Native grasses and sedges have deep roots and help vulnerable habitats. The aquifer under New Jersey depends on these ecosystems to replenish itself with clean water.

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge, Oak Sedge)

On a recent trip to long island, at the very beginning of spring I was treated to a still sleeping forest with very little grown vegetation. An exception were of course the Skunk cabbage, and these small sedges.

I had no knowledge of what a sedge actually looks like. Sedges is a family of monocots, grass-like flowering plants with over 5,500 known species, the largest belong the genus of Carex (true-sedges) comprising of over 2000 species.

Like grass, identifying a sedge species can be tough, I spent a good chunk of time looking at other images of similar species, like the Vernal Sedge to be pretty sure that what I documented was the common Pennsylvania Sedge. The Pennsylvania sedge is a perennial sedge that grows across north American, primarily Canada and Eastern US. The leaves can grow to two feet, this particular clump was observed in early spring.
The sedge spreads primarily vegetatively, spreading via Rhizomes. It grows in shady dry forests commonly found near oak trees.

It flowers through mid April to June. The flower cluster comprises of a single spike with a slender staminate (male) spike above one to three shorter pistillate (female) spikes each with 4 to 12 florets.

Pollination occurs by wind, a casual flick of a spike yields a plume of pollen. You can see some of the pollens that landed back on the spike after I gave it a little flick.

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)

After a month of moving to my new place I decided to upload pictures from Spring of 2020. I pray I can go out and photograph again!

Mountain laurels are a broadleaf shrub native to Eastern US, from Maine to northern Florida. Flowers range from white to light pink and bloom from May to early June. The plant’s size is heavily dependent on its growing conditions. In Appalachia, it can grow as large as a tree. While in less ideal conditions, the plant remains a smaller size.

Pink variation of the mountain laurel, if you look closely, you can spot a small fly at the center of the flower.

The plant is known for its unique method of pollination. The anthers are under tension as the flower matures. When a pollinator lands on the flower, the tension is released, and pollen is flung on to the pollinator.

Moth looks for the little nectar mountain laurel flowers produce.

These plants were in bloom in early June in high point state park.

Helianthus decapetalus (thinleaf sunflower)

Helianthus decapetalus, commonly known as the thinleaf sunflower, is a common native plant in Eastern US. It belongs to the same genus as the garden variety sunflower (Helianathus), unlike the common sunflower, these plants are perennials. The commonly grown sunflower is an annual plant, gardeners have avoided growing perennial varieties of sunflowers because of their propensity to spread and become “invasive” rapidly.

The plant serves as a host and a food source for a diverse array of native bugs. The seeds produced are food for birds, and so are the insects that are attracted to the plant.

I would highly recommend the thinleaf sunflower to any new gardener. They bloom in late summer – early fall in a beautiful display lasts for a few weeks, with fresh flowers blooming every few days.

An advantage of growing native species, of course, is the insects that visit your garden. Photographed here is what I believe to be a Green sweat bee, covered in pollen, hopping from one flower to the next. Slide through these two slideshows to see a bee fly away.

Calla palustris (Bog Arum)

Continuing with Araceas from New Jersey, today, we look at the Wild Calla. Not to be confused with the plant Calla Lily (Zantedeschia) commonly found in garden centers. They belonged to the same family (Calla), but after further analysis, the tropical species are now classified in the genus Zantedeschia.

Bog Arum grows in the cold temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. In the Americas, it grows in the northeastern United States in bogs, swamps, and slow-moving streams.

It flowers in an inflorescence on a spadix surrounded by a white spathe.

These flowers are some of the few plants that are also pollinated by snails (not pictured).

The fruits are red berries that contain several seeds. Shown here is a developing set of berries.

The plant is very poisonous due to due to its high concentration of oxalic acid,

Orontium aquaticum (Golden Club)

Golden club grows in a flooded bog in New Jersey.

Orontium aquaticum, Golden Club, or the floating Arum is a plant species endemic to the Eastern United States. Its native habitat extends from as south as Florida, to New York State. It grows in ponds, slow streams, and bogs and swamps. 

The plant belongs to the family Araceae, as is clear from its inflorescence. The golden color stands out in the mostly dormant landscape of a bog in spring—Photograph taken in the New Jersey pinelands.

The plant is also called “never-wet.” As you can see here, the leaves are water repellent.

The plant has generated morphological confusion. If you are familiar with a peace lily, you would know that a modified leaf, a spathe surrounds an Arum inflorescence. The spathe is missing from the mature inflorescence. You may observe a green sheath early on in the development, which drops off as the spike matures. Engler had classified the structure as a spathe. We know now that that the small green enclosure was a sympodial leaf. The spathe is missing in this species.

Lophiola aurea (GoldenCrest)

Goldencrest (Lophiola aurea) is a perennial that grows in wetlands with thin grass-like leaves growing above the water surface. The plant spreads using Rhibozomes underwater. It blooms in late summer in a corymb atop a silver-colored stalk.

It is found primarily in the southwestern US from Louisiana to North Carolina, and in isolated populations in New Jersey- Delaware, and up north in Nova Scotia Canada. Owing to its strange geographical distribution, Fernald suggested classifying the northern populations as two separate species (L americana in NJ and DA, L. septentrionalis in Nova Scotia ). Modern studies have proven that all three are the same populations.

The plant faces an uncertain future it faces threats from a changing climate and human development. North Carolina classifies it as an endangered species in North Carolina. Left to its own devices, the plant will survive, it is adaptable and hardy.