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Posted on June 20th, 2024 in Forestry, Gardening, Wildlife | No Comments »

In recognition of Pollinator Week 2024, let’s see what is blooming at Purdue FNR Tippecanoe County property, Martell Forest.

Wild petunia with a bee in itWild petunia, Ruellia sp, are several species found in woodland and sunny edge habitats. The blooms do look like the familiar garden petunia, but it is a different genus of plants. I caught small insects inside the flower, evidence of its pollinator value, although I have read the individual flowers may only last one day.

American cancer root, also called bear corn, looks like a parasitic plant.I came upon a unique parasitic plant that does not have chlorophyll or true leaves, but obtains its nutrients by parasitizing oak trees. This is American cancer root, Conopholis americana, also called bear corn, because of the similarity of the plant structure to an ear of corn. Although it lacks chlorophyll, it does possess flowers that propagate the plant.

Fire pink flower, from the pink family of plants.Not far from the cancer root I found fire pink, Silene virginica. This is one flower that would be hard to miss! This is about as red as any native flower encountered in Indiana forests. If you are wondering why pink is in the name instead of red, it is a member of the pink family of plants, which include carnations and a rare prairie relative, royal catchfly. An effort was made a few years ago to make this our state flower, but that has not been acted upon so far.

Virginia spiderwort, three-petaled violet flower.As I headed downhill I came across Virginia spiderwort, Tradescantia virginiana, with beautiful three-petaled violet to blue flowers clustered at the top of the plant. The flowers typically last only a day, but are rapidly replaced by the numerous buds below the current blooms.

blue eyes grass flowerBlue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium sp. was encountered in a grassy area near a tree plantation. This is not a grass but several species that are members of the iris family. The tiny blooms and narrow leaves blend into the grass background.

American persimmon, a bell-shaped flower.Some woody plants are blooming in June as well. This is the bell-shaped flower of American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana. Persimmon trees tend to bear either all male or all female flowers on a single tree, but occasionally a tree will have both. Female flowers are solitary on the stems while male flowers tend to be in small clusters.

Rough-leaved dogwood flower.The final bloom I have included is rough-leaved dogwood, Cornus drummondii, a shrub relative of the flowering dogwood that provides a white blossom show earlier in the spring. As the name implies, this shrub has leaves with a slightly sandpaper-texture and clusters of small white flowers that are attractive to many pollinators. This blooms later than several other dogwoods, extending the flowering season.

More about Pollinator Week: this an annual celebration in support of pollinator health that was initiated and is managed by Pollinator Partnership. It is a time to raise awareness for pollinators and spread the word about what we can do to protect them. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, beetles, moths, wasps, hummingbirds, bats, flies, beetles, lizards, rodents and more.

USDA Recognizes National Pollinator Week, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Ask an Expert: What’s Buzzing or Not Buzzing About Pollinators, Purdue Extension – Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Indiana Monarch and Pollinator Conservation website
Protecting Pollinators: Protecting Pollinators in Home Lawns and Landscapes, publication, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Consider Pollinators When Planning Your Garden, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – FNR
Pollinator Conservation Education, Purdue Entomology
Recommended Indiana-native Plants for Attracting Pollinators (pdf), Purdue Extension – Entomology
Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Protecting Pollinators: Biology and Control of Varroa Mites in Bee Hives, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Gardening for Pollinators, Purdue Garden Articles
Subscribe Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel

Lenny Farlee, Extension Forester
Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center
Purdue Department of Forestry & Natural Resources

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