Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wabash river otters

It's Tuesday evening December 29 and I am heading to the east side, late to watch the basketball game. I'm crossing the SR 26 bridge over the Wabash. It's dark but I notice three animals below me at the surface of the river, swimming downstream. My first thought was that they were carp but they were too big and their backs were out of the water, they must have been mammals. I am guessing they were river otters (Lontra canadensis), they were about the right shape and size. I only saw them for a second so I didn't get a photo and it was too dark anyway. They must have noticed me watching them, as they crossed under the railroad bridge, they dived and disappeared.

Link to Lontra canadensis:

Link to otters in Indiana:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Privet berries

Privet bushes full of berries surround this parking lot downtown. Picture taken December 21, 2009.

Link to Ligustrum:

Link to Ligustrum vulgare:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snow angels on the pedestrian bridge

Two fresh snow angels on the pedestrian bridge, evening of December 20, 2009.

A closer look at one of the snow angels.

Red Brick Bat

This bat has decided to hibernate on the outside of this building on the Purdue campus. It's been hanging upside down on this wall for several days now. Possibly it got chased out of a building. I am guessing it's a big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus). Picture taken December 20, 2009.

Link to Eptesicus fuscus:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wabash River, December 19

Wabash River from the pedestrian bridge, Lafayette, December 19, 2009. A light wet snow is falling.

Link to Wabash River levels:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wabash River, December 16

A view from the pedestrian bridge at Lafayette, looking upstream. A chilly day compared to the last few days. Air temperature about 15 degrees F here. December 16, 2009.

Link to Wabash River levels:

Winter mushrooms and hickory nut

These are most likely the winter mushroom, Flammulina velutipes. They were frozen solid. A hickory nut (Carya) sits on the fallen log with the mushrooms. This was in McCormick Woods in West Lafayette, December 15, 2009.

Link to Flammulina velutipes:

Link to Flammulina velutipes:

Link to Flammulina velutipes:

Link to hickory nuts:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wabash in December. A few ice floes.

Wabash River on December 12, 2009. A few ice floes. It takes a few days of subfreezing weather to get ice on the river like this. Since then it's been warmer and the ice is gone.

Link to Wabash RIver levels:

Dried floral arrangement on Main St.

You can find this dried plant arrangement outside of the Artist's Own Shop on Main St.

Link to Artist's Own:

These are the plants that were used, as best I can figure out:

The red stems are from Red Osier Dogwood

Link to Red Osier Dogwood:

The tallest straw colored stems with the seedheads is Miscanthus sinensis, a very popular ornamental grass:

Link to Miscanthus sinensis:

Link to Miscanthus sinensis:

The branches with the tiny purple fruits are Callicarpa, or beautyberry, probably Callicarpa dichotoma:

Link to beautyberry:
Link to Callicarpa dichotoma:

The little black clusters are blackberry lily (Iris domestica)

Link to blackberry lily:

The evergreen boughs are white pine and hemlock

Link to hemlock (Tsuga canadensis):

Link to white pine:

Link to white pine:

Also in the arrangement is Hydrangea.

Link to Hydrangea:

Addition 3/19/2010: Somehow I left out mention of the dried seed capsules, the most interesting part of the arrangement. These are from some sort of Lilium species, the lily flowers turn into these capsules (also can be called fruits)

Saturday, December 12, 2009


This is winterberry (Ilex verticillata). Ilex is Latin for holly, so this is one of the hollies. It's native to Indiana, although this isn't its native habitat. It's on Sheridan Road in the Perrin area of Lafayette, near where the railroad used to go. Winterberry is dioecious, so there must be a male plant close by for the female plant to produce berries. Pictures taken December 10, 2009.

Link to Ilex verticillata:

Link to Ilex verticillata:

Link to dioecious:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wabash River in December

Wabash River, from the pedestrian bridge, Lafayette, December 5, 2009.

Link to Wabash River levels:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Library as solar observatory

As the sunset comes sooner day by day, the point of sunset on the horizon likewise moves southward until a few days before the winter solstice. Then it starts moving back northward. The Central Library at Indianapolis provides a good place to track Sol Invictus at it travels along the horizon.

At the Central Library, sunset, November 27, 2009.

Link to sunset:

Link to sunset calculator:

Link to Central Library:

Mexican bush sage

This Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) is still blooming nicely in late November. It's outside the Wesley Foundation on Sheetz St near State St. in West Lafayette.

This picture taken November 25, 2009.

This picture taken November 26, 2009.

Link to Salvia leucantha:

Link to Salvia leucantha:

Wabash River later in November

The Wabash River, looking upstream from the pedestrian bridge at Lafayette, November 26, 2009.

Link to Wabash River levels:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

White snakeroot

White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) is a common plant of the woodlands. This white snakeroot grows behind the Speedway gas station in West Lafayette. Picture taken November 16, 2009.

Link to white snakeroot:

Link to white snakeroot:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bald Eagles over Lafayette

I noticed these two bald eagles wheeling over the downtown Lafayette area yesterday. Unfortunately this was the best picture I could get of them. The picture was taken from a vantage point on Main Street between Fourth and Fifth Street, the eagles would have been somewhere over City Hall. Eagles soar with their wings laid flat, if you see birds this big soaring with wings held in a shallow "V" shape, they are vultures. The white head and tail distinguishes the bald eagle from the smaller red-tailed hawk which also can be seen sometimes over Lafayette.

Picture taken November 26, 2009.

Link to bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus):

Pachysandra and labyrinth

This ground cover is Pachysandra, probably the non-native Pachysandra terminalis. It's in the courtyard of St. John's Church at 6th & Ferry Street. There is another Pachysandra that is native to Indiana which can also be used as a ground cover under shade trees, that is Pachysandra procumbens. The tree in the picture is a flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida). If you look at the tree right now you find the buds for next spring's flowers at the tips of all the twigs.

Pictures taken November 26, 2009.

Link to Pachysandra:

Link to Pachysandra procumbens:

Link to Pachysandra terminalis:

Link to Pachysandra procumbens:

Link to Cornus florida:

This labyrinth is also in the churchyard, next to the Pachysandra.

Link to list of labyrinths around the world:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Siberian elm

This Siberian elm tree (Ulmus pumila) was cut flush to the ground and it still survives. This is in a landscaped strip of land along Northwestern Ave. between Evergreen St. and Stadium Ave. Picture taken November 18, 2009.

Link to Ulmus pumila:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bald cypress

These bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) have been planted along a pond in Lake Sullivan Park in Indianapolis. This is at the edge of the parking lot for the velodrome. Bald cypress trees lose their leaves in the fall, don't cut them down in the winter thinking they are dead pine trees. They are coniferous like pine and spruce but they are also deciduous like maple trees.

Bald cypress trees will grow these knees when they are in soil that has a consistently high water table like at the edge of this pond. Bald cypress will also grow quite well in dry soil too but they won't show these knees in that case. You can also find bald cypress with knees like this planted along the Central Canal in downtown Indianapolis.

Bald cypress cones. The bald cypress is native to Indiana but doesn't naturally occur this far north. These pictures were taken November 14, 2009.

Link to Taxodium distichum:

Link to Lake Sullivan Park:Link

Ornamental pear trees with fall color

The callery pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) that are ubiquitous all over town are showing some very good fall color this year. These pictures were taken November 11, 2009. I had never thought of them as having any good fall color but now most of the leaves have fallen off the other trees and these pear trees stand out from a long distance away with nice red colors. The first two pictures are of a Pyrus calleryana behind the Hall of Music on the Purdue campus. The third picture is a Pyrus calleryana on Third Street in downtown Lafayette.

Link to Pyrus calleryana:

Black medic

Black medic (Medicago lupulina) grows in the sidewalk just east of the Harrison Bridge, on Union Street, November 10, 2009.

Black medic is in the bean family of plants (Fabaceae), it's related to plants like alfalfa and clover.

Link to Medicago lupulina:

Link to Medicago lupulina:

Link to Medicago lupulina:

Link to Medicago lupulina:

Link to Harrison Bridge:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wabash in November

The Wabash River from the pedestrian bridge. Looking upstream, November 11, 2009.

Link to Wabash River levels:

Courthouse dome

The Christmas lights are up on the courthouse dome. Picture taken November 11, 2009.


The leaves have mostly fallen off the persimmon trees (Diospyros virginiana) but some of the trees are still loaded with fruit.

This persimmon tree in the two pictures above is planted along the east wall of the armory building on the Purdue campus. The persimmon tree has a distinctive blocky bark.

This persimmon tree is behind Recitation Hall on the Purdue campus. Most of the fruit has fallen off of this one.

This persimmon tree is at Grant Street near Freehafer Hall.

These pictures were taken November 11, 2009.

Link to Diospyros virginiana:

Link to persimmons:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peppergrass finds its niche

Peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum), still flowering in November. Union Street, entering Lafayette from the west, November 10, 2009.

Link to Lepidium virginicum:

Link to Lepidium virginicum:

Canal at night

Central Canal at Indianapolis, November 7, 2009.

Link to Central Canal:

Juniper berries

Juniper berries on a juniper bush, Purdue campus, November 4, 2009.

Link to juniper berries:

Link to juniper:

Milkweed pod releases its seeds

The milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) releases its seeds to the wind. This is at Celery Bog Park, November 4, 2009.

Link to previous post on Asclepias syriaca:

Link to another post on Asclepias syriaca:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wooly worm at Coot Slough

This wooly worm (Pyrrharctia isabella) is headed for the west side of Coot Slough. It's crawling on the fence along the trail along Lindberg Road. The culms of grass it's passing by are big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii).

This picture was taken November 4, 2009.

Link to previous wooly worm post:

Link to Andropogon gerardii:

Link to Andropogon gerardii:

Link to culm:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dawn over Lafayette

Dawn over Lafayette, looking west on Main Street, November 2, 2009.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Asparagus has a distinctive butterscotch color in winter. This big asparagus plant (Asparagus officinalis) is along a roadside in Benton County. Some roadsides in western Benton County and Warren County have substantial populations of asparagus growing wild. Take highway US 52 west of Lafayette and you can find asparagus on the roadside where you encounter the first wind turbine.

Pictures taken October 28, 2009.

Link to asparagus:

Friday, October 30, 2009

At the pedestrian bridge

Wabash River at pedestrian bridge, October 27, 2009.

At the pedestrian bridge, October 27, 2009.

Link to Wabash River levels:

Fifth Street

Fifth Street, looking north, October 27, 2009. The L&N railroad used to run right down the middle of the street until about fifteen years ago.

Link to old 5th St. tracks:

Romig St.

Romig Street, October 27, 2009.