Friday, September 11, 2009

Sambucus canadensis


Elderberry is a large suckering shrub with cane-like trunks growing to 15 feet tall. It spreads underground to form colonies. The American elderberry is sometimes refered to as a subspecies of S. nigra which grows throughout Europe. American elderberry has a widespread range from Eastern Canada to Texas. Although the fruit are mildly toxic when raw, they are used cooked in jams and pies. In spring, the plants produce large, flat-topped inflorescences of white flowers which lead to many shiny black drupes later in summer. The opposite, compound leaves can be identified by little soft spurs that occur the the axils of the leaflets.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Phytolacca americana


Pokeweed is a large herbaceous perennial that dies back in winter and resprouts every spring. It produces large lance-shaped leaves up to a foot long. The plant itself can become very large (8-12 feet) but I've never seen it over 6 foot. By summer, the stems turn an intense red and the plant produces hanging bunches of berries. Although they may look enticing, the berries are poisonous to humans. The young shoots however were eaten in the old days and made edible by boiling in several changes of water.

Conoclinium coelestinum


Mistflower is a native composite found all over the eastern half of Texas. It's a rhizomatous perennial that puts out pretty powder-blue flowers in late summer/fall on 1 to 2 foot stems. It's very similar and related to the common bedding annual Ageratum which is native to South America. The leaves are fragrant when crushed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hypericum hypericoides ssp. hypericoides


This member of the St. John's Wort family is known as St. Andrew's Cross. It's a small shrub, no more than a couple feet in height and diameter. In spring, the young shoots are easily identified by their paired, opposite leaves which grow at right angles to eachother around the stem. They also tend to have a bluish cast to them. In summer, small yellow flowers appear with four petals, creating St. Andrew's Cross.

Callicarpa americana


American beautyberry is a woodland shrub native to the eastern US and also occurs in parts of the Carribean. They typically stay less than 6 foot and have an open form. The large, toothed leaves are deciduous. As the name implies, the main attraction of beautyberry are it's fruits which are bright metallic magenta and occur in tight clusters within the leaf axils. Varieties of this plant have been developed for landscape use.