Saturday, August 23, 2008

100 Species Challenge -- Species # 7

Specimen #7. Ironweed

Vernonia Baldwinii

Found south of Desoto, in western Van Meter.

I found this today while leading a plant walk. Boy Scouts need to ID ten species to move out of Tenderfoot ranking. The cool thing was that we did not have to walk very far at all to get ten plants identified.

The Scoutmaster found this plant. I had seen it at the Brenton Arboretum a few years ago. (You can also look at their rarely updated blog.) I didn't remember the name. Thought it was Monarda at first, but it too many things weren't right. Like the stem wasn't square. And, as "N" of GAIN pointed out, it didn't smell peppery. It has purplish, hairy, round stems. The leaves are also hairy and toothed on the edges.

I used Iowa's Living Roadway (click on the link and order a free copy for yourself), published by the Iowa DOT, to identify it. Later, I found this site, for more information on ironweed. I usually use books, not the internet for researching my plants, so this was a first for me. If you go to the site, or if you click either picture, you can see the bracts covering the unopened flower buds. They remind me of acorns.

Soon after this find, I scouted out the possible location of a hopefully soon-to-be-found geocache, GC144AP, Frames Per Second. I generally stay away from micros, but this one seems really interesting. I think I know where to go, especially after I watched the video upon returning home and reading a few log entries. Very intriguing concept.

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