Fall Garden pictures – Wild Grapes

Wild grapes, some interesting features of composite flowers, and other miscellaneous garden flower pictures from this week.

I already put the last two on Facebook, but included here for those who don’t use those media.

We have wild grapes in fruit in the garden.  Like strawberries, these are a fruit where the wild ones, albeit much smaller than the domesticated, are even sweeter. Each fruit is about 7 mm diameter.

Wild grapes
Wild grapes

Now for a botany lesson – for those of you already familiar with it, you can just learn from my photography mistakes.

Flowers are, of course, the plants’ way of attracting pollinators, and they need to compete for attention with their neighbours. Some of them go for size:

Sunflowers
Sunflowers
Sunflower
Sunflower

In fact, the sunflower, like others of its family, are actually composite flowers, made up of many smaller flowers. When I was first learning botany, the family was called Compositae but now they have been renamed to Asteraceae after one branch of the family. In fact, the composites are possibly the largest family of flowering plants, rivalled by the orchids; it is hard to tell which family is bigger. Wikipedia can tell you more.

Look at this closeup.  On the far left are the bases of the large “petals” of the flower. Each one is a small flower of its own, called a ray floret.  The middle set are a different shape of floret, disk florets. It’s easiest to see from the ones on the left edge, where you can see a little crown of five petals.  Each of these flowers will form a sunflower seed.  By the way, can you see the little insect near the edge in the centre, almost perfectly camouflaged?

Sunflower close up
Sunflower close up

The sunflower and, to a lesser extent, the other daisy-like flowers have a single large disk of ray florets surrounded by the ray florets that make the composite flower look bigger. (Dandelions and others only have ray florets).

Other composites go one level further, they assemble a mass of composite flowers into a cluster.  An example is this Heath Aster.

Heath Aster
Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Packing even more, even smaller composite heads into a cluster is the goldenrod.

Goldenrod close up
Goldenrod close up

By looking even closer, it is easier to see that they are indeed composite. The one on the right hasn’t yet opened its disk florets so you can more easily see the rays with their own pollen-bearing stamens. The one on the left has opened some ray florets which almost hide the rays.

Goldenrod closer up
Goldenrod closer up

Of course, from flowers come seeds.  The next picture is a set of seeds from a true geranium. I like the neat way the seed pod opens up from the bottom, still carrying the seed.  Somehow, one has come loose but is still hanging on to its neighbour.  I shot this one into the sun so as to catch the light refracting from the hairs.

Geranium seed
Geranium seed

Finally, just because they are almost over, a picture of some garden phlox.  I wish the camera could capture the scent.

Phlox
Phlox

Although there are some red leaves on the small maple on the right, it is not a sugar maple but a sunset maple, so they are not dying leaves but the new ones that the sunset maple keeps opening most of the year. They open red, turn green and do turn back reddish as they die in the fall, but not as deeply coloured as the sugar maples.  (Unfortunately, a few of those are starting to turn).

 

Author: Eric Lawton

Eric is a natural philosopher living in rural Ontario

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