So, how did you enjoy trying to ID various random plants from a photo or two? I think it’s fun, which is why I love my job. Sometimes I know the answer off the top of my head (number 1, for example) while others have me tearing my hair out while I track them down (such as number 8).
The hardest ones are those which are all foliage, with nary a flower or seed pod in sight. It’s almost impossible to tell some species apart just by their leavesl! Sometimes, I have to answer that I need more information, so please send another picture if and when the plant blooms.
I’m also getting better and sifting every possible clue from each photo. For example, did you notice the red fruit in number 6? It’s an important piece of information.
Without further ado, here are the answers to last week’s quiz. How did you do?
- Spider Flower, Cleome hassleriana. An annual plant that may have been part of Grandmother’s cottage garden.
- Castor oil plant, Ricinus communis. Ornamental plant from Europe grown widely in North America. Reaches 15 feet in height. All parts are poisonous, especially the seeds (castor “beans”). Source of castor oil.
- Globe Amaranth, Gomphrena globosa (left). Annual flower, prefers hot, sunny location. The original species was purple, but breeders have produced a variety of reds, pinks, and white.
- Ash Leaf Falsespirea, Sorbaria sorbifolia (top). Deciduous shrub that prefers damp, rich soil. Tends to sucker.
- Fireweed, Chamerion angustifolium. A native, perennial wildflower that is one of the first plants to colonize a burned area. The flowers form tall spikes on top of long, erect stems.
- Cornelian Cherry, Cornus mas. A deciduous shrub or small tree native to Europe and Asia. Has pretty, exfoliating bark, yellow flowers, and red fruit.
- Lambsquarters, Chenopodium album. This common annual weed takes on a variety of leaf shapes, making ID tricky.
- Balfour’s touch-me-not, poor man’s orchid, and Kashmir balsam (right), Impatiens balfourii. An import from the Himalayas, I. balfourii prefers damp soil and shade, but is able to handle more sun than many other Impatiens species.
- Penstemon. No, it’s not Husker’s Red, although you get points if you called it that. This is a newer hybrid, ‘Dark Towers.’ I’m not sure how to tell them apart.
- Creeping Phlox, Moss Phlox, Phlox subulata. Groundcover for small areas, covered in spring with brilliant pink, purple, and/or white flowers. Foliage is prickly, reminding one of short pine needles. Likes full sun; moderately drought-tolerant.
- Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, Cleome serrulata. Showy annual wildflower found throughout the western U.S. Attracts bees, as the name implies. Used by native Americans for food and as a black dye.
- Giant Knapweed, Armenian basket flower, Centaurea macrocephala. Yellow thistle flowers (as you can see here) on tough, drought-tolerant plants. Needs full sun; not fussy about soil.
- Bonus plant: I’m still stuck! Does anyone have any ideas?