The November lake shore community at the Falls Lake State Recreation Area is alive with the final blooms of a wide assortment of flowering plants. One thing they have in common is their unusually small size, attributed primarily to their late germination and rush to bloom before heavy freezes. Keeping the plants company are a very large number of Cricket Frogs enjoying the mid day sun during the chilly temperatures.
Lurking just behind the seedling Eryngium prostratum (featured in the previous blog) is Ludwigia palustris – Marsh Seedbox -one of the 3 species of Ludwigia growing together along the shore. Although Ludwigia palustris is a native, it is still considered an invasive and can be a problem in some parts of the lake. The recumbent, trailing growth pattern gives the impression of the plants flowing across the ground. The tiny flowers at the leaf axils are difficult to see; a red arrow points to one flower in the following photo.
A couple of closer looks at the tiny flowers.
Diminutive Bidens frondosa – Common or Devil’s Beggarticks – are blooming here as well. These native annuals are commonly 1 to 3 feet tall, but here they are 4 to 8 inches tall in bloom.
Occasionally tiny yellow Ludwigia blooms can be seen among the E. prostratum. Although Ludwigia alternifolia – Seedbox – is the commonest of this genus along the shore, the blooming plants are actually Ludwigia decurrens – Wingleaf Primrose Willow. A red arrow points to a seedbox on one of the plants.
The distinctive shape and length of the seedbox and the winged stems help to identify these plants as Ludwigia decurrens.
The tallest plants here, still only a foot or so off the ground, are the Persicaria hydropiperoides – Swamp Smartweed. On the terminal racemes, the buds are relatively sparse and interrupted along the tip of the stem.
The joints of these plants are distinctive. The cilia (hair-like structures) protrude from the top of the ocrea (the sheath around the stem) and are about the same length as the ocrea.
There are an estimated 230 miles of varying shoreline habitat at Falls Lake! All of the species mentioned above and in the previous article lie within a 50 ft length of shoreline. I counted 6 additional species blooming in this same area (for example: Symphyotrichum pilosum – Frost Aster, Persicaria longiseta – Oriental Lady’s Thumb….) and I am sure I missed many as most are so small.