Wildflower Wednesday — Pink Lady-slipper

Pink Lady-slipper

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
Lady-slipper orchids are perhaps the best known and most loved of all of our native orchids.

Their large, slipper-shaped flowers are curious in shape and devious in the manner in which they manage to get pollinated. Bumblebees must force their way into the slit that bisects the pouch of the flower. Once inside, the slip closes and they are trapped, buzzing around until they see the light from the two small openings at the top of the flower. They must exit via one of these openings, and in doing so, brush against the female stigma, where pollen from a previously visited flower is scraped off and pick up additional pollen from the large anthers that they will transport on to a subsequent flower.

 
For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.
 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Wildflower Wedneday — Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
The imaginative name for this plant comes from the perception of the upright central portion’s resemblance to “Jack,” a preacher, in his leafy, overhanging “pulpit.” The tiny flowers of this species are found at the base of “Jack.”

The flowers of a plant are either male or female, determined primarily by the resources of the plant. Larger plants with two leaves usually have female flowers, since greater resources are needed for a plant to be able to produce fruits and seeds. Jack-in-the-pulpit has the interesting ability to change sexes from one year to the next depending on the stored food available in its underground corm. 

 
For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.
 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Wildflower Wednesday — Painted Trillium

Painted Trillium

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
Of our three most common species of trillium in the Northeast, my favorite is the painted trillium. Its three white petals are strikingly marked with bright magenta chevrons that “bleed” into the veins of the petal. This species prefers colder, damper habitats than both the large-flowered (white) and purple trilliums and, thus, is less commonly seen.

Like many other spring woodland flowers, the seeds of trillium have a fleshy appendage (an elaiosome) that ants find attractive. The ants carry the seeds off to their nests, where they eat the elaiosomes and discard the seeds, thereby dispersing them away from the mother plant.

 
For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.
 

 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Wildflower Wednesday — Mayapple

Mayapple

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
The large, white flowers of Mayapple are hidden under the plant’s large leaves and often overlooked by walkers. The large and attractive flowers are worth searching for to enjoy their beauty. (tip: only Mayapple plants with two leaves produce flowers.)

Mayapple grows in large clonal colonies, usually in moist areas. Their ripe fruits cause them to topple over allowing box turtles to reach the fruits, which they eat and then disperse the seeds. Although toxic, Mayapple and its relatives are a source of compounds important in medicines used in the treatment of various types of cancer.

 
For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.
 

 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Wildflower Wednesday — Columbine

Columbine

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
We have few red-flowered plants in the eastern United States, most likely due to our paucity of hummingbird species as compared to other parts of the country. Red is a color known to be attractive to hummingbirds, but not as much so to other potential pollinators. The blooming of columbine coincides with the return of ruby-throated hummingbirds from their winter locales and provides them with a welcome source of nectar after their long journeys.

The nectar is held at the tips of the long spurs, where it is accessible only to hummingbirds and some bumblebees. Columbine is frequently found growing on rocky ledges and cliff faces.

 
For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.
 

 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Wildflower Wednesday — Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
Virginia bluebells provide an array of changing colors in spring, beginning with the deep purple of their newly emerged leaves, which soon turns to a soft green contrasting nicely with the pink flower buds. As the buds mature, they turn a clear, sky blue just before opening. The color change is caused by changes in the pH of the sap.

Virginia bluebells is a perennial plant that grows well in shade and provides a lovely contrast to the many yellow-flowered species in bloom at this time.

 
For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.
 

 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Wildflower Wednesday — Trout-lily

Trout-lily

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
Another spring ephemeral, trout-lily, has flowers composed of three sepals and three petals that are almost identical in appearance that are referred to as tepals. The flowers close at night and on overcast days when pollinators are not active, and thus protect their pollen from being dissipated by rain or wind.

Trout-lilies have leaves that are speckled like a trout and bloom during trout fishing season, possible reasons for their common name. They usually grow in large colonies, with few of them in flower in a given year.

 
For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.
 

 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Wildflower Wednesday — Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
The pink lines and yellow spots on this small flower serve as “nectar guides,” signaling to insect visitors exactly where they should probe for nectar.Spring beauty is a true ephemeral, completing the aboveground phase of its life cycle in a matter of weeks when it is able to take advantage of the sunlight reaching the forest floor. The food manufactured by spring beauty’s leaves in early spring is stored in small potato-like tubers underground to provide energy for next year’s early growth, giving rise to an alternate name: “fairy spuds.”

 
For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.
 

 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Announcing a new imprint: Princeton WILDGuides

 

Learn more and see a complete list of books: http://press.princeton.edu/wildguides/

 

April 2012 — Princeton University Press, a leading publisher of natural history titles, is pleased to announce the acquisition of the WILDGuides natural history list and the formation of a new imprint: Princeton WILDGuides.

 

 

“The WILDGuides imprint at PUP will fit into a program dedicated to natural history titles, and already published through series like Princeton Pocket Guides and Princeton Field Guides.”–Publishers Weekly

Princeton, NJ – (April 12, 2012) — In recent years, Princeton University Press and UK-based publisher WILDGuides co-published several titles including Nightjars of the World by Nigel Cleere and Antarctic Wildlife by James Lowen. Under the new agreement, Princeton University Press acquires rights to the WILDGuides existing catalog of books including The Jewel Hunter by Chris Gooddie and authoritative British guides like Britain’s Dragonflies by Dave Smallshire & Andy Swash, Britain’s Orchids by David Lang, and Britain’s Reptiles and Amphibians by Howard Inns. Princeton University Press also reserves the right to publish all new WILDGuides acquisitions as part of the Princeton WILDGuides imprint.

“We are thrilled to partner with Princeton University Press because they share the same aspirations to produce the highest quality natural history guides available,” noted Andy Swash, Managing Director of WILDGuides, Ltd.

Princeton University Press has a long tradition of natural history publishing including popular series like Princeton Field Guides, Princeton Illustrated Checklists, and Princeton Pocket Guides, as well as award-winning bird books The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds and Avian Architecture. As Princeton University Press’s Group Publisher for Science and Reference Robert Kirk noted, this acquisition positions Princeton University Press as the leading international publisher of natural history titles.

“This partnership will allow us to both expand our footprint in the UK and continental Europe and to embark on ambitious co-development of projects on a global basis,” said Kirk. “It will also introduce readers around the world to a wide range of practical, up-to-the-minute field guides and manuals, reference works, and the best in broad natural history titles.”

Princeton WILDGuides books will be available worldwide via Princeton University Press’s networks sales representatives and distributed through California-Princeton Fulfillment Services in the United States; John Wiley & Sons Ltd in the UK; United Publishers Services in Japan; and Footprint Books in Australia.

About Princeton University Press
Founded in 1905, Princeton University Press is an independent publisher with close connections, both formal and informal, to Princeton University. The fundamental mission of the Press is to disseminate scholarship both within academia and to society at large. The Press seeks to publish the innovative works of the greatest minds in academia across a range of disciplines including economics, mathematics, natural history, philosophy, art and literature, law, political science, religion, and history.
http://press.princeton.edu

About WILDGuides, Ltd
WILDGuides was created in 2000 as a not-for-profit publishing organization with a commitment to supporting wildlife conservation. Over the years, in conjunction with Governmental and Non-Governmental conservation organizations, WILDGuides has produced a series of definitive yet simple-to-use photographic guides to Britain’s wildlife. We have also published field guides and visitor’s guides to a wide range of wildlife hotspots around the world. More recently, we have embarked upon a series of photographic guides to the bird families of the world in partnership with Princeton University Press in the USA. Profits from the sale of our publications go towards supporting a range of conservation charities worldwide.
http://www.wildguides.co.uk/index.php

 


The official press release is available for download here as a PDF.

Wildflower Wednesday — Bloodroot

Bloodroot

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
In order to see the “blood” (actually a red-colored sap) that runs through the veins of this lovely spring wildflower, one must only nick one of the prominent veins in the leaf. Bloodroot is a misnomer since the source of the blood red color is actually the underground rhizome, or stem, of the plant, long used by Native Americans as a source of medicine and a long-lasting dye.

The contrasting yellow anthers and white petals of the flowers advertise a food source to early-flying bees and flies, but they are deceived if they hope to find nectar in the base of the flower. The flowers provide only pollen, which bees can use to feed their larvae.

 

For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.

 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Wildflower Wednesday — Dutchman’s Breeches

Dutchman’s Breeches

 


Photo credit, C Gracie.
One of our earliest spring wildflowers, Dutchman’s breeches, derives its name from the resemblance of the flowers to a clothesline of several pairs of old fashioned Dutch pantaloons.

The curious shape of the flowers reflects their co-evolution with their native pollinator, the bumblebee. The flowers’ nectar is held at the tip of the “pant legs” and is accessible only to insects having a long tongue. Queen bumblebees are the only bees to survive the Northeastern winters, and they eagerly seek the earliest flowers in bloom during the first weeks of spring. The bees hang from the flowers and insert their proboscises (sucking mouthparts) into the long spurs of the flowers.

Other flying insects have learned to beat the system by biting holes in the spurs to reach the nectar. They are termed “nectar thieves” since they manage to get the reward without also touching the reproductive parts and effecting pollination. (Fig. 82)

 

For a high-res version of this image, please contact blog@press.princeton.edu.
 

 

Read more in Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast
by Carol Gracie

Wildflower Wednesday

Bringing Plants to People — Introducing Wildflower Wednesday

Carol Gracie’s new book, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast truly is a book that hearkens back to a much earlier era of natural history writing. She has not written a nuts to bolts identification guide to every single species you might happen across — instead, she has selected the 35 or so most likely suspects and presents them in a holistic, complete way. Gorgeous photographs spill color over the page, the text meanders from identification tips to medicinal uses to culture and folklore.

Carol recently wrote a post for ArtPlantae in which she describes how she “brings plants to people” (perhaps also people to plants as she describes enticing children to play with their subjects — tearing petals and stems as they explore).

Of the new book she writes:

I hope to reach a larger audience with my latest book, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History. In it I have included details about the lives of 35 plus wildflower species that have interested me over the years. As a photographer I’ve spent long hours in the field plant watching, and in the process learning about the plants’ lives. Knowing what pollinates them, how they reproduce, what eats them, etc. gives me a better understanding of how they fit into the environment and a deeper appreciation for their importance. It’s this information — from my own observations and that of many others — which I have written about in the book. Although I am not an artist I feel that depicting some of these interactions would make drawing or painting the wildflowers more interesting, both for the artist and for the viewer of his/her artwork.

Happily you can read Chapter 1 of Carol’s book for free on our web site: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9668.pdf

Also, starting next week, we will celebrate Wildflower Wednesday with exclusive photographs and writing from Carol so check back again soon.