Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)

Swamp Milkweed is a tall moisture-loving plant found growing near bogs, swamps, fens, and streams. It prefers sunny spots where it flowers on a terminal spike in the summer. The flowers are showy pink to purple and carry nectar that attracts multiple pollinators. Shown here is a bumblebee trying to find its balance on swaying milkweed. It is a common species found across most of the continental US and into Canada. It is an excellent addition to any pollinator-friendly garden as its flowers are both showy and wonderfully scented.

Rhynchospora latifolia (Sand-swamp Whitetop Sedge)

Rhynchospora latifolia or the Sand-swamp whitetop sedge is a splendid-looking sedge species found in the southeastern states. Three species of whitetop sedges grow in the United States; two are native to the southeast state, while the third is endemic to Florida. Like other Sedge species belonging to the same family, distinguishing them is not easy. I am relying on the seeks app, which told me what species I had observed.

The whitetop sedge is a perennial plant growing in open grasslands and pine bogs; I took these photographs in the Green swamp preserve. Whitetop Sedge was possibly the most impressive plant that was not on my “to-see” list when I visited North Carolina. It was a pleasant surprise to walk into an open savannah covered with large white Inflorescences. It seems to attract many bumblebees; it was nearly impossible to photograph them without capturing a bumblebee working its way through the flowers!

Rhexia alifanus (Savanna Meadow Beauty)

An Oblique Stripetail Hoverfly prepares to land on a Meadowbeauty.

Savanna Meadowbeauty is a striking wildflower found from North Carolina to Florida, and west to Texas. In North Carolina they grow near the coast, these were growing in the green swamp preserve alongside various carnviorous plants and orchids. The flowers are striking and attract pollinators. I was lucky enough to photograph an Oblique Stripetail Hoverfly flying around flowers searching for a reward. Swipe through them to see what the hoverfly was up to!

Asclepias pedicellata (Savanna Milkweed)

Savanna Milkweed, a diminutive milkweed species found from Florida to North Carolina. In North Carolina, the species is listed as a “special concern” and is imperiled in other states. Its population is in danger due to fire suppression and loss of habitat.

The plant grows in open grassland or pinelands, with a fire-based ecology. It grows about a foot from the ground with a bunch of flower buds in the summer. Its flowers are not as showy as those characteristics of other milkweeds.

Rhododendron periclymenoides (Pinxter flower)

Rhododendron periclymenoides, the Pinxter flower or the pink Azalea, is a native azalea found along the eastern coast from southern New York to Georgia. They flower in the spring with showy pink blooms and long stamens with a sweet smell.

I caught these finishing their bloom in the first week of June. Despite being late in its blooming season, it put on a good show, and the old flowers still caught my eye!

The plant is a good substitute for many non native species in the garden. Then plant forms a shrub near the forest floor and is used by birds and animals as cover.

Cleistesiopsis (genus: Spreading Pogonia)

Cleistesiopsis, or spreading pogonia, is a genus of three orchid species found in north eastern America. Despite their similar names, they are not in the same genus as the rose pogonia found from Canada to Eastern US. Flowers produced by the orchid are large and showy, ranging in color from light pale to white. The three species are endemic to eastern North America, primarily south of Virginia to Florida. However, the rosebud orchid seems to have been found in New Jersey, although rarely. 

Because this was my first encounter with this genus, identifying their species was hard. As they are not as widespread as Calopogon orchids, spotting them in the Green swamp preserve was hard. After moving less at less than half a mile an hour through the longleaf pine savannah, I was able to observe four distinct populations of these orchids growing in the preserve. Some flowers were much past their primes while others were fresh. But even the ones done flowering, were still quite a sight to look at.

I would not want to hazard a guess as to the species of these orchids; if others could help me, I would be thankful.

One of my dating attempts was to photograph the inside of this orchid, it was, moderately successful!

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.

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.