Thursday, July 11, 2013

White Avens

I have curtailed my trips through the woods since the chiggers have become more active.  This has limited my search for wild flowers to the relatively open places.  There are still plenty of plants that are new to me to identify.  One of these native wildflowers that, while fairly common, is new to me is White Avens, Geum canadense.

This plant is about 2 feet tall and has been
in bloom for at least 2 weeks.

I first noticed this plant along the partly sunny edges of the woods at the end of June.  The 5-petaled white flowers looked like something from the Rose family, but I was pretty sure that it wasn't a cinquefoil (most are yellow) or blackberry (no thorns).  I was able to ID using Newcomb's Wildflower Guide; It has 5 regular flower parts, alternate arrangement of leaves and the leaves are divided into 3 or more leaflets.  I was a little slow in settling on Avens because most of the species in this genus have irregular leaflets that get larger toward the end of the leaf.  White Avens tends to have 3 similarly sized leaflets per leaf.  After the petals fall off a bristly receptacle is left behind.  While interesting close up they make the plant look wild and messy, not the best choice for a formal garden.

After blooming, the ripening seed heads will turn brown
 and give the the plant a wild, ungroomed appearance.

Most of my plants are 1-2 feet tall.  The white flowers bring some contrast to to a shady woodland edge.  They have an loose open habit, so they probably wouldn't well as a focal point.  I think they would work well as background plants.

I have an area under some trees that I nuked with round-up (formerly stilt grass, multiflora rose, euonymus, bittersweet poison ivy and horse nettle).  This may be a good spot to scatter some of these Avens seeds and see if they will fill in as a flowering ground cover.  I have not seen signs of deer browsing on the Avens, but I will need to keep a closer eye on that.

The flowers of White Avens is attractive to a variety of insects.  This image caught a small caterpillar and a fly.  Since it had been raining I think the caterpillar had just fallen out of a nearby tree.  I saw no evidence of the caterpillar feeding.  I annoyed it sufficiently that it left the flower and started crawling down the stem.

White Avens is attractive to bees, wasps and flies.
Not necessarily to caterpillars.

When this caterpillar 'stood up' it gave me a clue that it may be an inchworm or looper.  A perusal images on Bug Guide lead me to believe that this was a Common Pug, Eupitheca miserulata; although I'm sure it is as difficult to assign the species of a bug with a picture as it is to do so with a plant.

The caterpillar 'stood up' when I nudged it,
then inched its way down the stem.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool, I had no idea what this plant was.