Dipsacus fullonum (Common Teasel) [synonym D. sylvestris]

A noxious weed in the United States, Common Teasel (and Cut-leaf Teasel) is originally from Africa and Europe. It arrived during the 1700’s and is now common alongside roads and disturbed areas. This monocarpic species begins with basal leaves but bolts upwards typically during the second year. Many insects and small invertebrates become caught in the “cups” between the leaves and stem, allowing it to absorb more Nitrogen and Phosphorus (possibly a form of partial carnivory?).

Dipsacus fullonum (Common Teasel, Fuller’s Teasel) [synonym D. sylvestris]
Family: Dipsacaceae
Subspecies: subsp. fullonum, sylvestris
Native: Europe, northern Africa, temperate Asia
Hardiness Zones: 4-8
Height: to 2m
Diameter: to 70cm
Root System: shallow taproot (60cm tall, 3cm wide) with extensive lateral roots, yellow
Growth Rate: moderate to fast, pioneer species in disturbed areas, not a climax species
Age: typically biennial, rarely to 4 years
Deciduous: yes
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: heavy clay soils,
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): These are noxious weeds in many regions of the United States of America but are intolerant of thick shade.
Poisonous: non-toxic
Soil requirements: tolerates sandy, loamy, clay, and hard clay soils, prefers moist and rich sites
Air requirements: air pollution
Watering requirement: low to medium; typically in moist, meric habitats, sometimes xeric (dry) conditions
Sun requirement: full sun to part sun
Leaves: initially basal before bolting; basal with rounded serrations, oblong-oblanceolate; non-basal opposite, white midvein, stem-clasping (13cm deep space between leaf and stem, water collection, possible carnivorous or simply retrieves nutrients from drowned, decaying insects and small invertebrates), entire, toothed-wavy margins (pinnatifid in D. laciniatus, Cut-Leaf Teasel), 30cm long by 8cm wide
Stem: robust, hollow, erect, spiny
Flower structure: egg- or cone-shaped inflorescence (1-35 per plant), prickly bracts underneath curve upwards, 250-1500 flowers (each lasting 1 day), perfect, protandous (pollen release before stigma receptive), purple (white in D. laciniatus), self-fertile
Flowering frequency: monocarpic (usually at end of second year), April-October
Fruit type: possibly exceeding 3,000 seeds per inflorescence, to 34,000 for an extremely healthy and well-pollinated adult
Fruit dispersal: typically within 1.5m (dropping, rolling), water (viability remains up to 22 days floating), humans or other animals, not by wind
Seeds require stratification: no (although a short, cold dormancy period promotes germination), quick to germinate and lose viability
Subterranean storage organ: taproot
Annual/Biennial/Perennial: biennial or short-lived perennial
Notable characteristics:
The egg or cone-shaped inflorescences on these have spiny bracts underneath curving upwards. The flowers are purple on Common Teasel and extremely prolific seed producers. The cup-shaped region which catches water may also trap insects. It is believed that these may be a form of partial carnivory or simply a mechanism to retrieve nutrients from decaying animals.

Uses:
These were previously used for medicinal purposes or to tease certain fabrics/cotton apart.
Sources used:

Dipsacus_laciniatus
Dipsacus lancilatus (Cut-Leaf Teasel) in northern Illinois

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

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Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon)

Going dormant in mid-summer, Green Dragons or Dragon Roots are aroids that are very similar to Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). These only grow a single compound leaf that splits into two stem-like portions with elliptical to lanceolate leaflets. The spadix is not covered by its spathe, and instead lies closely to the enlarged petiole.

Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon)
Family: Araceae
Subspecies: none
Native: North America
Hardiness Zones: 4-9
Height: 90cm
Diameter: 45cm
Root System: thick corm with many lateral roots
Growth Rate: moderate to slow
Age: perennial
Deciduous: yes
Monoecious/dioecious: may be entirely male, entirely female, or hermaphroditic inflorescences (depends upon energy reserves, all male when younger becoming hermaphroditic to rarely solely female for large, healthy individuals)
Monocot/dicot: monocot

Tolerates: heavy shade, wet soil, browsing by deer
Problems (major): few insect/disease problems
Problems (minor): rusts, fungal spots, sun scorch
Poisonous: Calcium oxalate crystals primarily in the roots but present in every portion of the plant. These are toxic enough to cause vomiting, kidney damage, and gastrointestinal distress if consumed.

Soil requirements: prefers humusy, moist to wet, well-drained soils
Air requirements: not particularly susceptible to air pollutants
Watering requirement: moderate to high, in moist woodlands
Sun requirement: partial sun to partial shade to full shade
Leaf: single per plant, compound, long petiole curling in opposite directions at maximum height, 7-15 lanceolate leaflets
Flower structure: green spathe very narrow, yellow spadix coming to a tip, erect, near shoot, flowers small and white, 15cm long
Flowering frequency: April-June, begins 2 or 3 years after germination
Fruit type: berry, orange-red, occurring in late summer (August-September)
Fruit dispersal: birds, small mammals
Subterranean storage organ: corm
Notable characteristics:
Unusually, these have only one leaf at a time.

Uses:
These are uncommon woodland plants in moist, shaded areas.

Sources used:

Arisaema_dracontium
Leaflet pattern

Arisaema_dracontium_
Inflorescence

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

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Sabal minor (Dwarf Palmetto, Bluestem Palmetto)

Forming VERY dense stands in certain southern coastal forest-swamp ecosystems, Dwarf Palmetto are long-lived palms tolerant of many different conditions. After potent natural disasters which reduce canopy cover, such as hurricane Katrina, these produce large leaves to exploit the increased sunlight exposure. These shade out most competing vegetation and presumably inhibit hardwood forest migration upslope with rising sea levels. However, this is speculation and requires more experimentation to occur before conclusive results can positively confirm this hypothesis.

Sabal minor (Dwarf Palmetto, Bluestem Palmetto)
Family: Arecaceae
Subspecies: ‘McCurtain’
Native: southern United States, northern Mexico
Hardiness Zones: 7b-11
Height: to 4 meters tall
Diameter: to 3 meters wide
Root System: very extensive, shallow, dense on lower portion of surface stems (makes up for no secondary growth)
Growth Rate: slow, typically 3 leaves annually
Age: very long-lived, potentially to 250 years old
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious, hermaphroditic flowers
Monocot/dicot: monocot

Tolerates: flooding, dense forest shade, poor drainage, cold (relative to other palms), drought (strongly resistant once established), deer browsing (semi to fully mature leaves, previous browsing may cause static disruptions across the leaf), salt
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): few, occasional grazing (deer, boars)
Poisonous: presumably no
Soil requirements: requires partially (to almost completely) saturated sandy/loamy/clay soils
Air requirements: rather insignificant effects of pollution on overall health
Watering requirement: moderate to high, flood tolerant
Sun requirement: full sun, tolerant of partial to full shade
Leaves: dark green or blue-green, palmate to costapalmate, typically 4-10 per plant, lacking fibers, petioles lacking teeth/serrations, flexible petioles, pinnae separate easily when moved, normally dissected, petiole to 0.6m, lamina to 1.2m long and wide
Flowering structure: light-green spikes with numerous white-yellow flowers arranged in whorls, strongly fragrant, to 3 meters tall from leaf bases
Flowering frequency: May-June
Fruits: drupes, initially medium green turning black in late summer autumn, 1cm in diameter
Seed dispersal: typically small mammals, primarily birds
Trunk: usually subterranean, rarely above ground (response to excessive flooding) to 2 meters (known as caulescent, trunk-forming), covered with a thick layer of roots (especially when above ground), thickest where leaf bases are still present, orange-brown, to 0.5 meters in diameter
Form: typically compact yet open, more upright in wet conditions
Notable characteristics:
Dwarf Palmettos are very hardy palmettos adapted to a wide range of conditions (including soil conditions, moisture levels, sunlight exposure) in the deep south. The flowers are more sweet than other sections of these palmettos, prompting some creatures to consume bits of the flower spikes.

Uses:
These have been previously used to create baskets with their fibers. The fruits are thought to be edible, although their consumption is not advised. These are not uncommon in landscapes for their many resistances to pests and environmental stresses.

Sources used:

15801_840174102718223_7392286888572266908_n
S. minor fairly spread out in standing mud/water, Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve

palmetto
Form, rather young palmetto, acaulescent (no above ground trunk)

11751750_840174106051556_2848992420861384790_n
Upright, caulescent form (very atypical for a relatively dry forested area, note all other palmettos suppressing trunk formation)

flowers
S. minor flowers

11745911_840745559327744_2913735450761646912_n

Trunk covered in roots, remainders of petioles visible

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first. These were all taken on a field work expedition at Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve in southern Louisiana.

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Huperzia lucidula (Shining Clubmoss)

Rarely found in dense conifer or mixed forests, Shining Clubmoss grow atop limestone and/or acidic soils throughout the Eastern United States. These lycophytes have vascular/conducting tissues (xylem and phloem) but are seedless and not ferns. Shining Clubmoss bears its sporangia on its leaves (microphylls) and does not bear cones.

Huperzia lucidula (Shining Clubmoss)
Family: Lycopodiaceae
Subspecies: Huperzia × bartleyi (sterile hybrid between H. lucidula and H. porophila), Huperzia x ?protoporophila (H. appressa x H. lucidula), Huperzia × protoporophila (H. selago x H. lucidula)
Native: North America
Hardiness Zones: 3-8 (Manitoba to Alabama)
Height: to 20cm tall
Diameter: to 3cm in diameter
Root System: rhizome
Growth Rate: slow
Age: perennial
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious

Tolerates: heavy shade, cool conditions
Problems (major): Slugs and snails may seriously damage foliage. Over-shading from competing vegetation may prevent Shining Clubmoss from growing properly. Encroaching bryophytes and algal colonies, in addition to vascular plants, pose a serious competitive threat. Fungal infections and rot can also be fatal (can be prevented with higher light levels and good air circulation).
Problems (minor): most problems major
Poisonous: non-toxic
Soil requirements: requires consistently moist, cool soils
Air requirements: requires cool, damp conditions
Watering requirement: moderate
Sun requirement: partial shade to dense shade
Vascular tissue: present
Leaves: dark green, triangular/obovate/lanceolate, reflexed, scale-like attachment, stomata on abaxial/lower surface, spirally arranged, to 11mm long
Shoot: dark green, erect, decumbent, trailing
Roots: forming whenever the stem contacts the soil
Dominant generation: sporophyte
Gametophyte: subterranean, inconspicuous
Sporophyte: dominant, aboveground portion
Strobili: yellow, U-shaped, thin, at base of leaves (known as microphylls)
Gemmae cups: no but gemmae produced at leaf bases
Epiphyte: no

Notable characteristics:
Lycopodiaceae are intriguing plants, being vascular seedless plants not closely associated with the fern division (Polypodiophyta). Their ancestors, the Lepiodendron genus, once grow as trees back in the Carboniferous era. Nowadays, though, club mosses are small and uncommon plants scraping out a living in usually cool shaded sites.

Uses:
These are rarely grown for uses outside of labratories and universities. These serve an important role to botanists, however, for their taxonomic placement and unique characteristics.
Sources used:

Huperzia_lucidula
A small colony of H. lucidula

Huperzia_lucidula_
Leaves spirally arranged

Huperzia_lucidula__
Decumebt form

lycophyte_mississippi
Another Lycopodiaceae species in coastal Mississippi at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

lycophyte_mississippi_
A different Lycopodiaceae species, sterile decumbent shoots and fertile erect shoot

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

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Borrichia frutescens (Sea Ox-Eye, Bushy Seaside Tansy)

One of the few asters commonly found in saline soils, Sea Ox-eye are unique due to their rhizomatous root system. These form small mats if possible and tend to show up in brackish or fresh marsh conditions in coastal ecosystems.

Borrichia frutescens (Sea Ox-Eye,Bushy Seaside Tansy)
Family: Asteraceae
Subspecies: none
Native: southeastern United States, Florida
Hardiness Zones: 10-11
Height: to 60 (rarely 90) cm tall
Diameter: to 30 centimeters wide
Root System: rhizamotous, creeping
Growth Rate: slow
Age: perennial
Deciduous: yes
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: salt spray and saltwater, drought (somewhat)
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): rarely succumbs to diseases or pests
Poisonous: non-toxic
Soil requirements: grows alongside beaches, typically in well-drained sands (survives in thicker, consistently wet loams/clays in irregularly flooded brackish marshes)
Air requirements: tolerant of salt spray
Watering requirement: high, naturally grows in brackish marshes infrequently inundated by a mixture of freshwater and saltwater
Sun requirement: full sun
Leaf characteristics: obovate to elliptic, opposite, pinnate, simple, light green to gray-green, to 11 cm long by 3 cm wide
Flower structure: peduncle, short yellow rays, to 6 cm wide
Flowering frequency: late spring, early summer (May-July)
Fruit type: dried achenes
Fruit dispersal: wind, small vertebrates
Subterranean storage organ: rhizome
Epiphyte: no
Notable characteristics:
These are highly tolerant of saline conditions and commonly grow along brackish areas or beaches in the American southeast.

Uses:
Occasionally used as a groundcover or mat in subtropical areas.

Sources used:

Borrichia_frutescens
Flower

Borrichia_frutescens_
B. frutescens growing amongst Juncus roemerianus

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

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Passiflora vitifolia (Crimson Passion Flower, Fragrant Passion Flower)

Crimson Passion Flowers are fast-growing perennial Passion Flowers with conspicuous red blooms once mature. These climb on small shrubs and trees in South America (native) in order to accomidate their high light requirements.

Passiflora vitifolia (Crimson Passion Flower, Perfumred Passion Flower, Grape Leaf Passion)
Family: Passifloraceae
Subspecies: none, although Passion flowers are commonly hybridized
Native: South America
Hardiness Zones: 10-11
Height: climbing to 6 meters tall if environment permits
Diameter: to (presumably) 3 meters wide if allowed
Root System: becoming thick (but not woody), mostly shallow, transplant very poorly
Growth Rate: fast
Age: perennial (to over 10 years old)
Deciduous: not usually, may go dormant in cold spells (very frost tender)
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: partial shade (may grow to accomidate low light levels)
Problems (major): fungal pathogens (if poor circulation)
Problems (minor): requires high humidity and air flow, flea beetles feed on foliage
Poisonous: The stems produce small quantities of HCN (Hydrogen Cyanide) and toxic tannins; the fruit is toxic as well.
Soil requirements: sandy/loamy, well-drained soils
Air requirements: requires high humidity and air flow
Watering requirement: moderate
Sun requirement: full sun, tolerates partial sun
Leaves: deeply 3-lobed (three segments), lobes lanceolate and toothed dark green, nectaries present at base of lamina to attract ants for protection, to 15 centimeters long by 18 wide
Stems: winding tendrils, glabrous
Flower structure: passionflower, to 15 centimeters across with outward-facing red filaments and inner white filaments, 10 crimson tepals (5 petals, 5 petal-appearing sepals),fragrant
Flowering frequency: year-round once mature
Fruit type: berry, bright green (with white or yellow speckles), ovate (turning globose) with fleshy white pulp, more than 25 black seeds per fruit
Fruit dispersal: unlikely by animals due to toxicity (although some parts of the fruit are edible)
Subterranean storage organ: none
Epiphyte: vine (no)
Notable characteristics:
Aside from the spectacular, bright red flowers, these can be reproduce via cuttings. The leaves superficially resemble grape

Uses:
Passion flowers are food to caterpillars and butterflies. These are frequently used due for their aesthetic appeal.

Passiflora_vitifolia_
Flower

DSC07969  DSC07970 DSC07971
Another Passiflora species

Passiflora_vitifolia
Close-up of P. vitifolia flower at the Southern Illinois Univeristy Carbondale Plant Biology greenhouse
Sources used:

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately citedfirst.

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Nepenthes x Miranda (Asian Pitcher Plant, Monkey Cups)

This hybrid pitcher plant has interesting modified leaves adorned with a red “mouth” and mottled scarlet blotches inside the traps. Each has two parallel rows of soft, tiny spines that run down the front of it. Certain Nepenthes, additionally, are vines that produce tendrils to more easily capture light.

Nepenthes x Miranda (Asian Pitcher Plant, Monkey Cups)
Family: Nepenthaceae
Subspecies: hybrid ‘Miranda’, many cultivars have been produced through extensive hybridization
Native: southern hemisphere, tropical Pacific Islands
Hardiness Zones: 10b-11
Height: may climb as high as 2-3 meters from the soil, vine
Diameter: spreads to 1 meter around, largely depends on environment
Root System: fibrous, poorly developed
Growth Rate: slow to moderate
Age: perennial
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: dioecious
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: wet, poorly-drained soil
Problems (major): regular gardening soil, non-distilled water, drying out (drought) – all fatal
Problems (minor): Some spiders may take up residence in the pitchers and the plant’s pray.
Poisonous: toxic to ingest, acid in traps harmful to consume
Soil requirements: consistently damp/wet peat or sphagnum moss, MUST be nutrient-poor (especially in Nitrogen)
Air requirements: requires constantly warm and humid conditions
Watering requirement: high
Sun requirement: full sun required
Carnivorous leaves: non-hooded (no flap, operculum) pitchers with a red “mouth” adorned with nectar glands, red splotches inside pitcher and two parallel rows of small, soft teeth on front, highly acidic fluid inside pitcher, to 15 centimeters tall and 8 centimeters wide
Non-trapping leaves: paddle shaped, thick central vein, light green, to 20 centimeters long), both begin as climbing tendrils
Flowering structure: long, arching flower stalks with several dozen tiny green-brown flowers, without petals
Flowering frequency: autumn (September)
Fruit: light, wind-dispersed winged seeds in clusters up to 500 per flowering stalk, to 30 mm long
Time required to consume prey: several hours
Habitat preference: sunny bogs with copious invertebrates
Common prey: small flying arthropods, occasionally small vertebrates
Notable characteristics:
The distinctive pitchers have fascinating morphology. Adding fertilizer will cause the plants to produce far less traps, and excesses may be fatal.

Uses:
These are grown for their spectacular traps for aesthetic appeal and interest.

Sources used:

Nepenthes_x_Miranda
Both types of leaves at Southern Illinois Univeristy Carbondale
pitcher_plant_flowers
Flowers of another Nepenthes species
All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

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Picea glauca (White Spruce)

Forming dominant stands in regions of Canada, White Spruce are very slow-growing conifers that hybridize extensively and entirely with Engelmann Spruce.

Picea glauca (White Spruce)
Family: Pinaceae
Subspecies: completely hybridizes with P. engelmannii, var. albertiana (prominent pegs (known as sterigma)), var. porsildii (smooth bark with more resin present), var. glauca, ‘Densata’ (dwarf), ‘Conica’
Native: northern United States and Canada
Hardiness Zones: 2-6
Height: to 30 meters
Diameter: trunk to 1 meter in diameter, to 10 meters in width
Root System: shallow
Growth Rate: slow (first year seedlings under 3 centimeters, 6 year seedlings under 50 centimeters tall)
Age: begins noticeable seed production around 30 years old, exceeds 200 (or even 300) years of age
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious (separate male and female cones on same plant)

Tolerates: extremely cold winters, browsing
Problems (major): spruce budworm, fires kill non-mature trees and burn roots
Problems (minor): spruce cone maggot, fir cone worm, spruce seed moth, red squirrel (severely reduced seed crop success), air pollution (hinders growth)
Poisonous: no
Soil requirements: prefers moist, nutrient-rich, well-drained soils with copious non-decomposed organic material (sometimes 40 centimeters deep), tolerant of partial clay
Air requirements: dislikes air pollution (not fatal, although inhibiting)
Watering requirement: moderate, tolerant of dry (frozen) conditions
Sun requirement: full sun (tolerant of partial shade when young)
Leaves: sharp green-blue needles, 2 centimeters long, buds dull brown to bright orange, 4-sided, stomates on each surface
Cones (male): reddish, turning green, to 3 centimeters long, May-July
Cones (female): initially purple turning brown-orange, to 8 centimeters long
Seeds require stratification: yes, requires 2-3 months of cold stratification
Seed dispersal: wind (eaten by squirrels and other small rodents), ripen in August-September
Form: conical or spire-like
Trunk: gray-brown
Notable characteristics:
In their native habitats (including Quebec), these sometimes form pure stands with few neighboring Abies balsamea, Picea rubra, Picea mariana, Betula papyrifera, Populus tremuloides, and Populus balsimifera. These trees are the climax community in many arboreal and north temperate regions. These, like Norway Spruce (P. abies), may reproduce by layering.

Uses:
The wood is prized in production of boards, cabinets, and camping equipment. These are ecologically important in Canada as winter cover and food. However, the needles are very sharp and unpalatable to most creatures. These propagate readily from root cuttings.
Sources used:

DSC05426
New foliage

spruce_1
Form

P_glauca_bark
Bark
11012501_818294004906233_1871216911955325269_n
Form

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

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Aristochola durior (Dutchman’s Pipe) [synonym A. macrophylla]

An exceptionally vigorous vine, Dutchman’s Pipe (much to my surprise) is a temperate woodland plant that scale small buildings with ease. The purple-mahogany flowers are peculiar in appearance and release a faint odor.

Aristolocha durior (Dutchman’s Pipe) [synonym Aristolocha macrophylla]
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Subspecies: none
Native: moist woodlands in eastern United States
Hardiness Zones: 4-8 (thrives in greenhouses year-round)
Height: to 9 meters tall with proper objects to climb on
Diameter: to 6 meters wide at maturity
Root System: taproot, spreading, becoming very thick and woody
Growth Rate: very rapid
Age: perennial
Deciduous: yes
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious (bisexual flowers)
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: air pollution, pruning (very vigorous), most pests, fungal diseases and infections
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): poorly tolerant of dry soils and droughts
Poisonous: no
Soil requirements: prefers consistently moist, deep, nutrient-rich, well-drained soils
Air requirements: tolerant of poor urban air quality
Watering requirement: moderate
Sun requirement: full sun or partial sun
Leaf shape: dark green (initially light) heart-shaped or rounded leaves, simple, alternate
Leaf size: to 30 centimeters in diameter, commonly overlap
Flower structure: very peculiar, small, cream, tubular section behind flat, mahogany-purple flower with a yellow-white, pubescent calyx (mouth-like entrance), to 5 centimeters in diameter
Flowering frequency: most in late spring or summer (May/June), may be year-round in greenhouses
Fruit type: capsule, green/brown, 4-10 centimeter
Fruit dispersal: small vertebrates (appreciates winter stratification for 3 months)
Epiphyte: vine, no
Notable characteristics:
The flowers are mostly flat at the receiving end while the interior, containing the sex organs, vaguely resemble a Dutch Pipe (hence the name).

Uses:
Pipe-vine Swallowtail Butterflies use this plant as a source of food in both portions of its life
Sources used:

Aristolochia_durior_3
Hanging flower at the Plant Biology greenhouse at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
unopened_flower
Flower (side view)
zA_durior
Foliage

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

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Psilotum nudum (Whisk Fern, Moa)

Relatives of ferns and horsetails (all Polypodiophyta), and club mosses (Lycopodiophyta) to a lesser degree, Whisk Ferns are peculiar tropical plants that do not produce leaves, root, cones, or flowers. They are simply, Y-branching vascular seedless plants that can be terrestrial or epiphytic.

Psilotum nudum (Whisk Fern, Moa)
Family: Psilotaceae
Subspecies: roughly 100 cultivars have been produced
Native: tropical regions (including Hawaii)
Hardiness Zones: 8-11
Height: to 50 centimeters
Diameter: aerial shoots to 4 mm in diameter, spreads 30 centimeters in diameter at maturity
Root System: rhizomatous, no roots
Growth Rate: fast (considered weedy)
Age: perennial (persist for longer than 5 years)
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: bisexual, homosporous (monoecious)

Tolerates: most pests (rarely bothered by them), dry soil
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): weedy in greenhouses, rather poor salt tolerance
Poisonous: no
Soil requirements: prefers moist conditions, survives in some dry regions, pH 5.6-7.5 (weakly acidic), requires good drainage
Air requirements: requires high humidity and warmth ( keep above 13 C or 60 F)
Watering requirement: moderate
Sun requirement: full sun to partial shades
Vascular tissue: present
Leaves: absent
Shoot: green stem with stomates (gas exchange), protostele (similar to pith) in cener of vascular tissue surrounded by endodermis
Roots: absent, rhizome present
Dominant generation: sporophyte
Gametophyte: saprophytic (absorbs nutrients from soil), heart or pill shaped, to 2 mm long
Sporophyte: medium green
Strobili: lateral, yellow clusters of synagria (three fused sporangia) interspersed on upper portion of foliage atop enations (leaf-like non-vascular structures supporting the synagria), produce spores
Thallus body: absent
Gemmae cups: absent
Epiphyte: yes (grows in soil, however)
Notable characteristics:
These have vascular tissue but lack leaves, roots, and any seeds. Despite this, they are affected by few pests and do very well for themselves.

Uses:
These are commonly grown at universities for their unique physiological structures and taxonomic placement.
Sources used:

oooold_1
Mature syrangia and Y-shape at the Plant Biology greenhouse at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
DSC04873
Foliage and enations holding up developing syrangia
All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

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