Sunday, August 30, 2009


Galinsoga grows wild on the sidewalk on 6th St. in Lafayette near the old Mars Theatre.

Link to Galinsoga parviflora:

Galinsoga is used to make ajiaco, here is a link:

Link to Galinsoga:
Link to Galinsoga:

Galinsoga is a key ingredient in the traditional Lafayette stew made from Pearl River rats, a specialty of Romig St. or Wabash Avenue. Some versions of the recipe use piranha. True purists will only use piranha caught in the Wabash River near the mouth of the Pearl River.

Link to Mars Theater:

Pictures taken August 22, 2009.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wabash River, August 24, 2009

Looking downstream, Wabash River at Lafayette, Monday morning, August 24, 2009.

Link to river level:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cicada molting

This cicada came out its skin on this ash tree on the Purdue campus yesterday. This first picture was at about 3:14 pm, Aug. 25, 2009.

The big tree is a green ash tree (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and is mentioned on the Purdue Tree Tour on the Green Trail:

Link to Trees of Purdue:

In addition to providing a habitat for the cicadas, this ash tree also is home to a Laetiporus sulphureus fungus. This fungus will eventually rot the tree, but in the meantime the yellow chicken-of-the-woods fruiting body pops out of a damaged spot on the trunk now and then. It's not there now though. You can see the spot on the side of the tree facing State St. a couple feet above the ground.

Link to chicken-of-the-woods:

About 3:17 pm, Aug. 25, 2009.

About 3:24 pm, Aug. 25, 2009. The cicada is out of the old skin.

About 3:38 pm, Aug. 25, 2009. The cicada has moved a few feet away from its old skin.

Link to previous post on cicadas:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Black chokeberry

These black chokeberry bushes (Aronia melanocarpa) are bent over full of ripe fruit. These are planted at the terminal point of a bicycle/pedestrian trail in West Lafayette, just west of the Payless supermarket. Picture taken August 10, 2009.

Link to Aronia:

Link to Aronia melanocarpa:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dawn Redwood

These two dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) trees have been planted at Martell Forest. The first picture shows the leaves. They are much like bald cypress leaves, but a bit bigger and are arranged in opposite fashion on the twigs. Like the bald cypress, this coniferous tree also loses its leaves in the winter.

Link to dawn redwood:

Link to Martell Forest:

Here is a scene to help you find the dawn redwood trees at Martell Forest. The dawn redwood trees are just outside the picture to the left, you can see some of the branches left of the bench. There are several bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) trees planted on the edge of this pond. The small tree at the edge of the pond that is visible in the picture is a black walnut tree. Pictures taken August 22, 2009.

Link to bald cypress:

Link to previous post on black walnut:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wabash River in August

Wabash River, looking downstream from Lafayette, August 14, 2009.

The river on this day was rather low, which is normal for August. Today the river is much higher due to the recent heavy rains in the watershed area, and the sandbars are underwater again.

Link to current Wabash river level:

This website also shows Wabash river data, you can reset the graph to show the level for the last 60 days:

The sandbar has been above water long enough for some grass to sprout.

A few miles upstream, the Tippecanoe River and Wildcat Creek enter the Wabash. Lafayette began in 1825 as the terminal point for steamboat traffic up the Wabash, there was too little water to float a large boat farther upstream. When the Wabash was low as you can see in the picture, large boats didn't have enough water here either. The Wabash is not dammed or channelized for navigation and is one of the largest wild rivers in the nation.

Link to steamboat traffic on the Wabash:

Link to current Wildcat Creek level:
Link to current Tippecanoe River level:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Caterpillar of the White-lined Sphinx Moth

This big caterpillar is on a purslane plant in a soybean field. The caterpillar is Hyles lineata, it will turn into a White-lined Sphinx Moth.

Link to White-lined Sphinx Moth:

Link to Hyles lineata:

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is very common in this field, it has been partially defoliated with glyphosate herbicide, but not killed completely, enough has survived to feed a caterpillar. The beans are Roundup Ready soybeans and are not affected by the glyphosate,

The field is in Tippecanoe County, in the floodplain of Wabash River. Picture taken August 3, 2009.

Link to glyphosate:

Link to previous post on purslane:

Link to previous post on soybeans:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gaura biennis

Gaura biennis grows along the trail between South River Road and the pedestrian bridge in West Lafayette. Like its cousin, evening primrose, Gaura biennis sometimes shows its fall colors early. Picture taken August 12, 2009.

Link to Gaura biennis:

Link to Gaura biennis:

Link to previous post on evening primrose:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yellow foxtail and giant foxtail

Here two kinds of foxtail grow along a paved trail in Prophetstown State Park. The kind with the yellow seedhead that stands straight up is yellow foxtail (Setaria lutescens) The kind that is greener and has the bigger droopy seedhead is giant foxtail (Setaria faberi).

Link to Setaria lutescens:

Link to Setaria faberi:

Link to Setaria faberi:

Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) has been established in this restored prairie and this prairie grass and the other prairie plants are dominant except where the park mows a strip of land alongside the pavement. The continual mowing creates a new habitat where annual plants like foxtails and Queen Anne's Lace will invade and outcompete the prairie vegetation. Pictures taken at Prophetstown State Park, August 9, 2009.

Link to big bluestem:

Link to big bluestem:

Link to edge effect:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) is getting a little top-heavy here along the Monon Trail. This is in Marion County somewhere south of 86th St. Picture taken August 8, 2009.

Link to Eutrochium purpureum:

Link to Eutrochium purpureum:

The correct scientific name for Joe Pye Weed has been in dispute some the last few years but according to current botanical thinking it is Eutrochium purpureum (L.) E.E. Lamont.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wild poinsettia

This bunch of wild poinsettias (Euphorbia dentata) grows on the Monon Trail at 106th St. in Hamilton County. Picture taken August 8, 2009.

Link to Euphorbia dentata:

Link to Euphorbia dentata:

Link to Euphorbia dentata:

Cast-off cicada skin

Along the Monon Trail, north of Carmel, Hamilton County. A cicada, having molted, left its skin still attached to the fence. Picture taken August 8, 2009.

Link to cicadas:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The purple floret of Queen Anne's lace

Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) is the common wildflower of summer. Queen Anne's lace is the wild form of the carrot you buy at the grocery store, both are Daucus carota. Look closely at the center of the flowering head and often there is a single purple floret in the center. Nobody really knows why Daucus carota has this purple flower, I can suppose it's a display to mimic an insect and make other insects think there's something good here. The real insect on the flower is a Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica).

Link to Daucus carota:

Link to Japanese beetle:

Picture taken at Prophetstown State Park, August 9, 2009.

As the flowering umbel ages, it curls into the bird's nest form you see in the flower in the background.

Sunfish nest with softshell turtle and rose mallow

From the Monon Trail in Marion County, August 8, 2009.

The Monon Trail crosses White River with two bridges north of Broad Ripple, this is looking down from the north bridge.

At the upper right of the picture is a softshell turtle basking in the sun. On the submerged concrete debris a bit to the left is a sunfish breeding nest, the male sunfish has swept away the loose debris to form a circular area on the bottom where he will linger to guard the eggs. Look close and you can see the top of the sunfish in this view.

Link to sunfish:

The flower at the bottom of the picture is a halberd-leaved rose mallow (Hibiscus laevis). These are common on the banks of White River.

Link to Hibiscus laevis:

Link to a previous post on softshell turtles:

The Monon Trail is now open past 146th St. into Westfield as far as 161st St.

The best water on the Monon Trail is at the entrance to the Indiana Blind School.

Link to softshell turtles in the Wabash River:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mayflies and gnats

Mayflies resting on the lamp at the Lafayette side of the pedestrian bridge over the Wabash. This was yesterday evening, August 6, 2009. The deck of the bridge from one end to the other was a huge swarm of gnats.

Link to mayflies:

Link to mayflies:

The lighted orb of the lamp seemed to attract the smaller gnats.

Link to gnats:

Link to gnats:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Honey locust seed pods

Unripe seed pods hang from the tops of honey locust trees (Gleditsia triacanthos). These trees are not far from the Wabash River, in West Lafayette. August 5, 2009.

Link to earlier post on honey locust:

Rough cinquefoil

This rough cinquefoil (Potentilla norvegica) is growing on a roadside in Sullivan County. Picture taken August 5, 2009.

Link to Potentilla norvegica:

Link to Potentilla norvegica:

Link to Potentilla:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) is a very common plant in mowed areas. It grows where it does because it survives mowing and it can grow where the ground has been compacted by people walking on it. This knotweed is at the corner of River Road and State St. in West Lafayette, at the entrance to the Levee area. Picture taken August 2, 2009.

Link to Polygonum aviculare:

Link to Polygonum aviculare:

Some authorities consider this common knotweed to be Polygonum arenastrum, separate from Polygonum aviculare, here is a link:

Honey locust thorns

The trees with the rather dangerous looking thorns on the trunk are honey locust trees. This honey locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos) is in the woods at France Park in Cass County. Picture taken August 1, 2009.

Link to Gleditsia triacanthos:

Link to Gleditsia triacanthos:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pawpaw sapling

Pawpaw sapling (Asimina triloba), in the woods at France Park, Cass County, August 1, 2009.

Link to pawpaw tree:

Autumn olive berries

Elaeagnus berries, on the trail to the cliffs at France Park, Cass County. Picture taken August 1, 2009. This is most likely autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellata).

More France Park

A view of the cliffs of the old limestone quarry at France Park.

A view of the swimming beach at France Park, from the trail leading to the cliffs. Pictures taken August 1, 2009.

Link to limestone of France Park:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dwarf snapdragon

This dwarf snapdragon (Chaenorhinum minus) is on top of the cliff at France Park in Cass County. Picture taken August 1, 2009.

Link to Chaenorhinum minus:

The dwarf snapdragon is at home in urban environments as well, sometimes growing out of a crack in the sidewalk or in a graveled parking lot.

Prairie tea

Prairie tea (Croton monanthogynus) at top of the limestone cliffs at France Park in Cass County. The prairie tea here is a good size population but the severe conditions keep it a dwarf size, normally it can get about a foot tall, these plants on top of the cliff are about four or five inches high. The dry looking plants behind it are white sweetclover (Melilotus alba).

More Croton monanthogynus at the top of the cliff, it makes the best of whatever thin soil it can find. Pictures taken August 1, 2009.

Link to Croton monanthogynus:

Link to Croton monanthogynus:

Link to a post on Melilotus:

Link to another post with Melilotus:

White baneberry

White baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) showing its distinctive doll's eye berries, in Hort Park woods (Stewart's Woods), July 29, 2009.

Link to Actaea pachypoda:

Link to Actaea pachypoda:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Black locust seeds

Black locust seeds litter the ground under a black locust tree at Hort Park, July 29, 2009. The scientific name of the black locust tree is Robinia pseudo-acacia.

Link to Robinia pseudo-acacia:

Link to Robinia pseudo-acacia:


Catnip (Nepeta cataria) grows wild here at Hort Park. You can find catnip growing wild in lots of places in the Lafayette area. Picture taken July 29, 2009.

Link to catnip:

Link to catnip:

Link to Nepeta x faasenii:

Redbud has zigzag twigs

The redbud (Cercis canadensis) sends its shoot out in a zigzag pattern as it grows new leaves. This redbud tree is at Hort Park, July 29, 2009.

Link to previous post on redbud:

Plant succession

A demonstration of plant succession. Hort Park just west of the McCormick Road parking lot. Mowing here stopped a few years ago and the land is reverting back to forest with ash, catalpa and maple seedlings.

Link to plant succession: