Portulacaceae (Purslane family)
Description: Small herbaceous perennial with a cluster of fleshy, linear basal leaves, round in cross-section and 1-2 in. long. Flowering stems long and wiry with a few deep pink flowers in an open terminal cluster. Flowers one-half in. across with 2 green sepals, 5 small, rounded petals, and less than 20 stamens. Fruit a small, roundish capsule. Flowers June-Sept.; fruits July-Oct.
Habitat/range: Thin, rocky, or sandy soils, usually on or near edges of rock outcrops. Common. From Pennsylvania south to Georgia.
Taxonomy: A genus of about 25 species of herbs and dwarf shrubs of the Americas, including 4 species in the mountains and piedmont. The similar but less common large-flowered rock pink (P. mengesii) has larger flowers that open earlier in the day.
Ecology: Appalachian rock pink occurs on shallow soils on a variety of rock substrates, including granite, sandstone, and serpentine. Unlike most other flowering plants on rock outcrops, it actively grows, flowers, and sets seeds in the summer months when temperatures are most severe and prolonged droughts are common. Appalachian rock pink survives drought by closing its stomates (thereby minimizing evaporative water loss) and by utilizing stored water in its succulent leaves. The pink flowers are open for only a few hours, opening by 3 p.m. and closing by about 7 p.m. On cloudy days, the flowers remain closed. The flowers are visited and pollinated by various species of bees. If cross-pollination fails, the flowers can self-pollinate as the stigma brushes against the stamens when the flowers close in the evening. This species is thought to have arisen as a result of hybridization between large-flowered rock pink (P. mengesii) and small-flowered rock pink (P. parviflorus). The 2 parental species are diploids, whereas P. teretifolius is tetraploid (has 4 sets of chromosomes). All 3 species are summer-flowering, drought-tolerant perennials with succulent leaves that grow in shallow soils on rock outcrops.
Synonym: Talinum teretifolium Pursh
*Phleum pratense L.
Poaceae (Grass family)
Description: A short-lived perennial bunchgrass from 1 to 4 ft. tall. Flowering stems (culms) smooth, erect or ascending, form large clumps. Leaf blades elongate, flat, 4-12 in. long, tapering to a thin point. Seed heads cylindrical, bristly, and very dense. Flowers June-Oct.
Habitat/range: Meadows, pastures, roadsides, and disturbed areas. Common. Native to Eurasia, now widely distributed throughout the temperate world, including all 50 states.
Taxonomy: Phleum is a genus of 15 species of annual and perennial grasses. Timothy grass is the only species in the mountains and piedmont; its common name honors Timothy Hanson, a farmer who promoted cultivation of it as hay beginning about 1720.
Ecology: As an important range plant, Timothy grass has been introduced over much of temperate North America, where it has often escaped cultivation and become established in fields, roadsides, and other open habitats. A prolific seed producer, it rapidly colonizes disturbed areas. Once established, Timothy grass stores carbohydrates and other products of photosynthesis in the base of swollen stems and in corms. These nutrient reserves are important to winter survival, to the initiation of early spring growth, and in the production of replacement tillers (shoots) following defoliation by grazers. Grasses, like other wind-pollinated plants, produce enormous amounts of pollen as a mechanism to facilitate successful pollination. A meadow dominated by Timothy grass, for example, can disperse over 1 billion pollen grains in just 2 weeks. Unfortunately, pollen produced by this grass is a common cause of hay fever. No matter how long a naturalized plant such as Timothy grass persists in an area, or how far it spreads, it doesn't become native to the area if its history there is traceable to human introduction.
Wildlife: Timothy grass is a palatable and nutritious forage plant for domestic livestock (horses, cattle, and sheep) as well as deer, elk, and small mammals.
Uses: One of the most important hay species in the United States, but it's weedy.
Phlox carolina L.
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