Sunday, September 24, 2017

Butterfly Metamorphisis

I enjoy growing leaf fennel because it is a beautiful plant with yellow flowers and fragrant foliage can be used in recipes.  It also produces fennel seeds that I gather and use in cooking and tea during the winter.  It is winter hardy and drought resistant.  A great plant for flower and herb gardens.

A side advantage of fennel is that it attracts Black Swallowtail butterflies like this one.

The butterflies lay eggs on the fennel and caterpillars, like this one, hatch.  They chow down on the leaves, stems and flowers, but do very little damage to the plant.

I've seen the chrysalises produced by these caterpillars, but have never caught a butterfly emerging from one of these.  So, a couple of weeks ago, when I found one of these I put it in a jar where I could watch it every day and hopefully see the butterfly emerge.

It is difficult to believe a butterfly could come from such a strange object!  Anyway, I put this in a jar and put it on our front porch.

 About a week later, I noticed the chrysalis began to darken.

The next day it looked like this.  You can actually see the wings of the butterfly inside.

I watched if for a while, but had to go to town on an errand.  About 45 minutes later when I got back, here's what I found.

I thought it would take the butterfly longer to emerge from the chrysalis than it did.  I may have to try this again.  I may have to carry the jar around with me if I want to witness the event!  However,  it is too late in the season to redo my "experiment" this year.  I've not seen any of these butterflies in several days.  It is the last part of September at this point and the forecast calls for much cooler weather in the next 24 hours.  I'll try it again next summer.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Native Orchid

I enjoy walking through our native prairie landscape that we have allowed to grow in an area between between our house and the road.

There are hundreds varieties of flowers and grasses out there.  Pictured above are clumps of bluestem grass and a variety of goldenrod called "Rigid Goldenrod".  But, those are not what this post is about.

A couple of days ago I noticed these small white flowers as I was walking out there.  

The flowers grew in a spiral design around the stem.  I fell in love with the little plant and immediately started trying to identify it.  I didn't have much luck on my own, so I posted a picture of it on a Facebook group called Oklahoma Native Plant Society.  Someone there quickly identified it as a native orchid called Ladies Tresses.  

Here's a picture that shows how the flowers spiral around the stem.

And a closer one of the delicate little flowers.

The stem appears to grow right out of the ground without any leaves.

What I've learned from the web is that the leaves of some varieties die before the plant flowers.  So, it must have had leaves at some point.  

This variety is Spiranthes lacera gracilis.  I found a lot of good information about orchids on this site:  North American Orchids

I'm delighted to know that orchids are not limited to the ones you see in greenhouses and that I have them growing in my own yard!  And to think that I've probably walked right by these little beauties many times and never noticed them!  The moral of this story is "Take time to go outside everyday and notice the wonderful plants and animals all around you". 

Sometimes you just need to look down.