Journal archives for July 2020

July 05, 2020

Wildflower Flag Mosaic

Well, well, well. Happy Sunday everyone! I hope everyone had an amazing Holiday weekend. Whether you’re relaxing and preparing for the work week or cleaning up from all the festivities, we hope you are all doing well and remembering to stay safe and diligent about your health!

Here at CVNP, we've been so inspired by everyone's amazing contributions to this project. So, we decided to make a Wildflower Flag Mosaic for Independence Day. On Saturday, we posted the photo to our Facebook page:

Here is a link to the post so you can go check it out:

In the post, you will find a link that directs you to an NPS Photo Gallery that showcases all the lovely photos that helped make the mosaic. Well. . .not all of them actually!

This Flag Mosaic was a lovely amalgamation of archived photos from our volunteers and photos from you, our iNatters! Here are all of the iNaturalist observation photos that helped make this flag mosaic possible:

Photo credits:

Dale Knox: Dame’s Rocket
Fred Losi: Cardinal flower, Indian paintbrush, Mock strawberry, and Red trillium
Christine Krol: Aliske Clover and Red Columbine
Keith Schilstra: Dropping trillium (x3)
Jeffb987: Sweet William
Mallory Klein: Orange hawkweed

Thanks everyone! We appreciate all the hard work you are all doing to contribute to this project. Keep those observations coming!

Posted on July 05, 2020 09:56 PM by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 1 comment | Leave a comment

July 06, 2020

Milkweed Week. . . Can Milkweed plants exhibit Albinism?

Hello friends! We hope you all had a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

This week, we are featuring Milkweeds! We treasure our Milkweeds in the park because they are essential for Monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies can only lay their eggs on milkweed plants because that is the only thing Monarch caterpillars will eat. Picky eaters are the worst, am I right? Monarch caterpillars and my childhood-self have something in common, haha!

In all seriousness, Milkweed is closely tied to the Monarch’s survival. Milkweeds get their name from the toxic, milky latex in their leaves. The Monarch caterpillar eats milkweed leaves and absorbs the toxins from the latex. It stores these toxins in its body and becomes poisonous and inedible for predators. The caterpillar maintains its toxicity even once it metamorphoses into a butterfly! Predators that eat Monarchs will not die, but they will become very sick indeed!

Photo credits: Sonia Altizer, courtesy of Science magazine and Monarch photo courtesy of

CVNP is home to five different species of milkweed. If you go looking for milkweed this week, you will most likely find Common milkweed, or Asclepias syriaca. Common milkweed can bloom between June and August. It has broad, light green leaves with a purplish-pink bloom. Common milkweed can be found in meadows, but it prefers disturbed areas, such as roadsides and cropland:

Photo credits: Alan Cressler, John Hixson, and W.D. Bransford & Dolphia, all courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson Center

Here are the other four species of milkweed you might see in CVNP this week:

Poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata):

Poke milkweed can bloom between mid-May and mid-July. It has dark green leaves with a purplish-white and green flower. Poke milkweed is often found in gaps of deciduous forests.

Photo credits: Alan Cressler and R.W. Smith, courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Center

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata):

You’ll see Swamp milkweed’s white, pink, or pinkish-purple bloom anywhere between July and August. As the name suggests, Swamp milkweed does well in swamps and wet meadows.

Photo credits: Stephanie Brundage, courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Center and Jennifer Anderson

Fourleaf milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia):

Fourleaf milkweed tends to bloom between May and July. It has a pale pink bloom and is often much shorter than other milkweed species. Fourleaf milkweed prefers dry, open woodland habitat.

Photo credits: Jim Stasz, and W.L. Wagner

Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata):

Whorled milkweed dons its white bloom between June and September. Whorled milkweed can be found in sunny grasslands and disturbed areas. It has needle-like leaves and is one of the most toxic milkweeds. In fact, this milkweed is considered a noxious weed for farmers because it has been known to kill livestock.

Photo credits: R.W. Smith and Carolyn Fannon, courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Center

BONUS FACT: Did you know that Milkweeds can exhibit ALBINISM?

Animals exhibit albinism by lacking melanin, a common hair, skin, and eye pigment. Plants can exhibit albinism by lacking chlorophyll, the green pigment that allows them to photosynthesize. Some milkweeds, like Common milkweed, sprout new plants via their root systems. Albino milkweed, then, survives by absorbing nutrients through its root systems with the parent plant. This can be classified as a form of parasitism.

One of our iNaturalist project members, Christine Krol, discovered TWO albino Common milkweeds in CVNP! She has documented photo observations of the plants throughout the growth season; their progress is very exciting:

Photo Credits: Christine Krol

I know that was a long feature, but milkweed plants sure are cool! Have a great week, everyone!

Posted on July 06, 2020 02:47 PM by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 13, 2020

Rock Harlequin: Letting Nature Take the Lead

Instead of featuring a Wildflower that’s currently blooming, let’s talk about one that used to bloom here in Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Rock Harlequin, or Capnoides sempervirens (or Corydalis sempervirens). The more I learn about this intriguing wildflower, the more I hope to see it in person one day.

Photo Credits: Perennial Resource, Jeffrey Pippen, Karen, courtesy of The National Gardening Association’s Plant Database, and WiseAcre, courtesy of WiseAcre Gardens.

This pink and yellow bloom is unmistakable, and those leaves look awfully familiar! Do they remind you of Dutchman’s breeches? Squirrel corn? Perhaps faintly of Greater celandine? Well, good eye! These four plants belong to the Poppy family, Papaveraceae.

Rock Harlequin is a pioneer species, so it’ll swoop into disturbed areas, but doesn’t persist very long as the habitat grows back. Furthermore, it’s defined as a pioneer species for secondary succession. Secondary succession occurs when a pre-existing habitat experiences a disturbance that greatly affects the plant population but doesn’t destroy everything (this is opposed to primary succession, which occurs on bare rock where plant life was not occurring before). Additionally, Rock Harlequin prefers to pioneer areas disturbed by fire.

Though this bloom can be picky, Rock Harlequin doesn’t always have its way. In the absence of recent fires, we might simply find this bloom on rocky, well-drained slopes in areas of partial to full sunlight. In comes a CVNP favorite: The Virginia Kendall Ledges. We’ve got some nice rocky, well-drained slopes there, yea?

Photo credit: NPS

Well, sorry to get your hopes up, but Rock Harlequin not as common as it used to be at our Lovely Ledges. Our Ledges have been bouncing back from prior years of use for hunting recreation, farming, and even as living places by Native Americans. So, The Ledges is no stranger to pioneer species. However, as a beloved attraction of CVNP, The Ledges are taking on a new force of impact: the footsteps of excited park visitors like you and me.

What does this mean for the Rock Harlequin? As The Ledges began to bounce back from former use, pioneer species survived comfortably. However, as a perennial that, for part of its life, exists as a low-lying herbaceous plant, the Rock Harlequin has not withstood the forces that accompany the love and appreciation of park visitors. In short, the Rock Harlequin is now a rare find amongst The Ledges.

And let me be clear: I am not discouraging anybody from visiting The Ledges and nobody should feel bad for wanting to visit either! This land is here for all of us to enjoy! However, if we want to continue enjoying it for generations to come, we have a duty to enjoy it responsibly. We can do this together by being mindful of the current traffic to the resource, staying on the trail, and being mindful of our impact on trail conditions after rain events.

However, there is still hope for the lovely Rock Harlequin! Rock Harlequin produces VERY hardy seeds that can survive in the seed bank for decades and even centuries. So, although we do not see Rock Harlequin today at The Ledges, we could see it there in the future. Nature is more than capable of paving its own course, and we simply must support that. Perhaps if our current circumstances change and The Ledges catch a break, we’ll see this beautiful bloom resurface and thrive. What do you think?

Here are some helpful resources if you would like to learn more about Rock Harlequin:

Posted on July 13, 2020 06:42 PM by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 20, 2020

Make a Wish; It's Sunflower Season!

Happy Monday, iNatters and welcome to Sunflower Season!

Though Sunflowers are native to the Americas (woot woot!), they have been cultivated on nearly every continent for food, oil, medicines, dyes, and for religious and spiritual purposes. Their widespread use has earned them a rich and symbolic history. Most notably, sunflowers represent bounty, courage, growth, inspiration, and peace.

Wild sunflowers, however, can take on a different meaning, representing good fortune, vitality, and liberation. It is said that when you find a wild sunflower, you should make a wish; your wish will come true once it blooms! Good thing we’re still near the beginning of sunflower season! CVNP is home to nine species of sunflowers, if you count the false sunflower! Here are our four most common sunflowers:

False sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides):

Although this isn’t a member of the Helianthus (sunflower) genus, it belongs to the same plant family as sunflowers: Asteraceae (the aster, composite, daisy, or sunflower family). This is one of our earliest blooming “sunflowers”, beginning as early as June. We separate the False sunflower from the sunflower genus because their ray florets (or, the yellow petal-looking structures on the flower) are fertile. In Helianthus flowers, the ray florets are infertile, while the disc-florets (the very small, tubular structures in the center of the flower head) are the flower’s fertile structures (photos labeled below with disc and ray florets so that next time you're out, you'll know where to look on the flower!).

Photo credit: Christine Krol

Below are some photos labeled with disc and ray florets for reference next time you're out!

Left: A Giant sunflower (Helianthus giganteus) with a composite flower head of both disc and ray florets.
Middle: A Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) with a ligulate flower head with only ray florets.
Right: A Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) with a discoid flower head with only disc florets.
Photo credits: Patrick J. Alexander and Al Schneider; Edits: Mallory Klein

Woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus):

You’ll likely find this sunflower in dry woodland habitats, hence its name! While most sunflowers have rather hairy stems, Woodland sunflower has only a slightly rough stem. Its leaves are lance-shaped and oppositely positioned on the stem.

Photo credit: James L. Reveal, courtesy Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus):

The Jerusalem artichoke prefers moister soils and might even situate itself on roadsides. Jerusalem artichoke has alternate leaves and a fairly hairy stem.

Photo credit: Fred Losi

Stiff-hair sunflower (Helianthus hirsutus):

Like other sunflowers, the Stiff-hair sunflower has a rough, hairy stem. However, it also has hair on its leaves. Additionally, its leaves have smoother, less-toothed edges and are narrower in shape than other sunflowers. Similar to the Woodland sunflower, Stiff-hair sunflower leaves are oppositely positioned on the stem as well.

Photo credit: Sandy Smith, courtesy Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

CVNP’s other sunflower species include: Harsh sunflower (Helianthus strumosus), Pale sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus), Giant sunflower (Helianthus gigantieus), Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus), and Small woodland sunflower (Helianthus microcephalus).

We hope you all have a Happy Sunflower Season! Remember to make your wish and share your observations with us here on the project!

P.S. Leave those sunflowers for others to enjoy, too. Sunflowers are great for removing toxins from the soil, which means a happier and healthier park for us all!

Posted on July 20, 2020 06:30 PM by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 27, 2020

Joe-Pye Weeds: Some of the tallest wildflowers around!

Hey iNatters! We hope you’re all feeling refreshed and reinvigorated from the beautiful weekend! This week, we’re featuring Joe-Pye Weeds. Joe-Pye Weeds can be tricky to identify and are often confused with a close relative, the Bonesets. Before we dive into that, let’s touch on some history of the Joe-Pye weed.

Joe-Pye Weed is named after a folklore figure of the New England area in the late 1700s. Said to be a Native American medicine man by the name of Joseph Pye, he treated typhus with a concoction made from a plant that induced sweating to break and relieve the fever (note: some sources say he used his concoction to treat typhoid fever as well). Early reports associate Mr. Joseph Pye with the name Shauqueathquat, possibly his true name. However, other sources assert that the name Joe Pye could be a distortion of the Native American word for typhoid, jopi (cite: Speck and Dodge in The Scientific Monthly, Vol. 61, No. 1, pp. 63-66, “On the fable of Joe Pye, Indian herbalist, and Joe Pye Weed”).

Joe-Pye Weeds are some of the tallest wildflowers around, some growing up to 10 ft! They have whorled leaf arrangements of 3-7 leaves and pinkish-purple inflorescences, or clusters of smaller flowers. They used to belong to the genus Eupatorium, but are now classified in their own genus, Eutrochium. Three Joe-Pye Weed species call the Cuyahoga Valley home: Hollow Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium fistulosum), Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), and Sweet-scented Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum). Below, we’ll walk through the identification process for Joe-Pye Weeds. Most of this can be found in Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, a personal favorite of mine!

Step 1: What color is the flower?

Joe-Pye Weeds have a pinkish-purple inflorescence, while Bonesets often have a white flower.

In foreground: Common Boneset. In background: Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Courtesy New Hampshire Garden Solutions).

Step 2: What if the flower isn’t present yet?

By late July, Boneset and Joe-Pye flowers should be open and blooming in Northeast Ohio. If you’re referring to this post at a different time of year, examine the leaves of the plant.

Boneset leaves are oppositely arranged on the stem and are described as perfoliate, meaning each leaf pair look as though it has been skewered onto or perforated by the stem. Or, Boneset leaves will be closely attached to the stem, with little or no petiole (the small stem that joins the leaf to the main stem). Joe-Pye leaves are arranged as whorls on the stem and they have a much more noticeable petiole. While we’re looking near the plant’s stem, some Boneset species have hairy stems, whereas Joe-Pyes will have smooth, hairless stems.

Lastly, Bonesets and Joe-Pyes have differing leaf textures. Boneset leaves are hairy on both the top and underside of the leaf and generally feel leatherier than a Joe-Pye leaf. Joe-Pye leaves will only have hair on the underside of the leaf.

Left: Common boneset perfoliate leaves (Katy Chayka). Right: Spotted Joe-Pye leaf whorl (Courtesy Illinois Wildflowers).

Step 3: What shape is the top of the flower cluster?

Check out the general shape or outline of the pinkish-purple flower cluster. Does it have a flat top, or a rounded/domed shape? If you notice a flatter top, you likely have a Spotted Joe-Pye Weed! You can confirm this by checking out the stem of the plant. Spotted Joe-Pye will have either a purple stem with spots on it or, less commonly, a solid purple stem.

If you notice a rounded/domed top to the flower cluster, you could have either a Hollow Joe-Pye Weed, or a Sweet-scented Joe-Pye Weed (note: Newcomb’s groups Eastern Joe-Pye Weed under this feature as well. However, Eastern Joe-Pye prefers swampy coastal areas. CVNP is farther inland than this plant prefers, so we don’t have any reported sightings of Eastern Joe-Pye here in the park!)

From Left to Right: Spotted Joe-Pye (D. Gordon E. Robertson), Hollow Joe-Pye (Gerald C. Williamson), and Sweet-scented Joe-Pye (courtesy: Prairie Moon Nursery).

Step 4: Look closely at the leaves!

Joe-Pye Weed leaves are arranged in whorls of 3-7 leaves. However, Spotted Joe-Pye and Sweet-Scented Joe-Pye rarely have more than 5 leaves in each whorl. So, if each whorl has five or more leaves, you might have a Hollow Joe-Pye Weed.

Also, check out the individual leaves. Joe-Pye Weed leaf edges are all toothed or serrate. However, the teeth on Hollow Joe-Pye Weed leaves are duller than that of Sweet-scented and Spotted Joe-Pye. Additionally, Sweet-scented Joe-Pye leaves are often slightly wider than Hollow Joe-Pye Weed leaves.

Left: Hollow Joe-Pye Weed (JK Marlow). Right: Sweet-scented Joe-Pye (Laura Belin)

Step 5: Look at the plant’s stem.

As we mentioned in Step 3, Spotted Joe-Pye will have either a purple-spotted or solid purple stem. Hollow Joe-Pye rarely has a spotted stem. It is often a solid dark to pale purple color. Sweet-Scented Joe-Pye often has a green stem that has purplish nodes (where the leaves attach to the stem). You can review some of the above pictures to see each stem more clearly!

Other notable characteristics: Please do not confirm these characteristics on Joe-Pyes in CVNP!

As the name suggests, the stem of Hollow Joe-Pye Weed is hollow. Joe-Pye flowers usually have a faint vanilla scent, however, the leaves of Sweet-scented Joe Pye will also give off a strong vanilla scent when they are crushed. However, confirming these characteristics will damage the plant, so we ask that you do not conduct this test on Joe-Pyes in CVNP.

Hopefully, these five steps are helpful when you’re searching for Joe-Pyes in CVNP this week. We look forward to seeing your observations and helping you identify them!

A last note: Though this feature touches on the medicinal use of Joe Pye Weed in years past, please do not harvest plants from CVNP for medicinal uses. Harvesting wild plants can be unsafe due to misidentification and is also illegal without a permit in National Parks. If you really want your own Joe-Pye, plenty of online stores sell them and some of our local county parks and their friends organizations host annual native plant sales.

Posted on July 27, 2020 05:56 PM by mklein1216 mklein1216 | 2 comments | Leave a comment