What’s In Flower During Mid-August?

I designed a compensatory wetland mitigation project that was constructed in 2017, and now is in it’s first year of a Maryland Department of the Environment and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 5-year performance maintenance and monitoring phase.  The created wetland is a low pasture in a floodplain, bounded by a perennial stream (R2) and emergent wetlands (PEM).  The wetland was excavated to intercept seasonal high groundwater and is near saturated for much of the growing season.  We planted a total of 296 trees and shrubs and broadcast a wetland seed mix using a native blend of 25 different grass, sedge, rush and forbs.

We obtained all of the necessary regulatory Federal, State and local permits including grading, erosion and sediment control, Agricultural Land Preservation Board and deed restrictions to protect the created wetland into perpetuity.  We then solicited bids for a construction contractor and provided construction management services.

None of this would have happened if the farmer was not on board.  Working with the land owner, we developed a plan that removed a portion of pasture that had always been problematic, as it could only be used in the dry summer time, offered a series of proffers and having our client pay a most reasonable settlement for the land conversion.  A win-win for all concerned.

The site is located in the Maryland Piedmont (Howard County), and is an active beef cattle farm.  The Environmental Systems Analysis, Inc. (ESA) project included agricultural best management practices (BMP’s) consisting of riparian planting of a Use Class III, naturally reproducing trout stream (Cattail Creek), in order to provide thermal closure (shading) over the perennial stream and the installation of a reinforced cattle stream crossing (a concrete ford).  Working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and land owner, other BMP’s were initiated including electric fencing, pasture rotation cells and water troughs.

Holstein cows come to visit as we perform our first year of monitoring, separated from the wetland mitigation area by high tension electrical fencing.  I believe our site to be predisposed to success due to the excellent hydrology and recruitment opportunity via seed rain from the adjacent wetlands.  Other than the loss of a few planted trees, the site is performing very well, and the oncoming wetland wildflowers were a treat to observe.

Ailanthus Webworm Moth feeding on an early goldenrod.

Cabbage White Butterfly feeding on a water mint.

So what’s in flower?

Seedbox, Ludwigia alternifolia.

New York Ironweed, Vernonia noveboracensis.

Heal-All, also known as Self-Heal, Prunella vulgaris.

This plant favors sites with a history of disturbance.  Habitats include moist meadows along streams, thickets, opening in the forest, woodland borders, pastures and abandoned fields.  The variety commonly observed in lawns is thought to be the typical Eurasian variety.  It is shorter and roots at the nodes of the leaves.  Some botanists refer to the North American variety as Prunella vulgaris variation lanceolata.

Both native and introduced genotypes occur in Maryland, the native Heal-All’s (var. lanceolata (W. Bart.) Fernald) being strikingly more floriferous and colorful.  Many specimens cannot be adequately assigned to var. because of extensive hybridization.”

Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis.

Blue Mist Flower, also known as Wild Ageratum, Conoclinium coelestinum.

Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarata pulchra.  Swamp milkweed has two varieties, one being Asclepias incarnata and the other being Asclepias incarnata variation pulchra (pronounced pullkra).  A. incarnata is a Maryland mountain species and A. pulchra is the coastal plain and Piedmont species, and both being capable of  hybridizing with each other.  A. pulchra has hairy stems, wide leaves and robust flowering, whereas A. incarnata does not have hairy stems, the leaves are narrower, and the flowering head is not as robust or showy as  A. pulchra.

Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, in fruit, and quite tasty.

Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum.

Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitca.

Silky Dogwood, Cornus amomum, in fruit/seed.

Nodding Bur-Marigold, Bidens cernua.

Fireweed, also known as Pilewort or Burnweed, Erechtites hieraciifolia.

Queen Anne Lace, Daucus carota, going to seed.

Soft-Stem Bulrush, Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani.

Water Mint, Mentha aquatica.

Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis.

Early Goldenrod, Solidago juncea.

Dominant herbaceous species included redtop, beaked panic grass, blue vervain, joe-pye weed, rice cutgrass, aster, broad-leaved cattail, bulrush, jewelweed, soft rush and woolgrass.  The two aspect dominant plants for mid-August included the non-native water mint and Southern Agrimony (Agrimonia parviflora).  The most successful planted tree species that is taking-off is sycamore.

It was a beautiful day in the field!

Responding to a blog entry, a friend of mine asks, “Hey Mark, what do you use to help you key out goldenrod (Solidago) species?”  One book that I like is the spiral bound Goldenrods of Northeast Ohio.  A Field Guide to Identification and Natural History, Dr. James K. Bissell, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 2017.

In Maryland, I see white goldenrod, Canada goldenrod, tall goldenrod, wrinkled-leaf goldenrod, gray goldenrod and early goldenrod with a degree of regularity.