Journal archives for July 2021

July 01, 2021

Field Identification Tips for the Sages of Texas

Sages are very commonly misidentified, especially for beginning iNatters, so here are a few tips I've learned for some of the Salvia species:

Last updated: 16 April 2022

Salvia engelmannii (Engelmann's Sage) and Salvia texana (Texas Sage)
While Engelmann's Sage tends to be a pale lavender color, and Texas Sage a deeper shade of blue, the color of the blooms isn't a reliable way to distinguish the two.

The easiest way I distinguish these two is by the upper corolla lobe.

Engelmann's Sage is pilose (covered in fine, soft hairs) on the upper corolla lobe:

Image by @desertnaturalist on iNaturalist

This is absent for Texas Sage:

Image by @jbecky on iNaturalist

Once you notice this, it's quite hard to miss. Credit to @alex_abair for first pointing this out in an observation I found
Also note how the flower stalk on Texas Sage looks less dense (personally I'd call it a willowy look) than Engelmann's Sage.

Another possible distinguishing trait is the forked stigma of the flowers, the sort-of "snake's tongue" that sticks out of the upper corolla lobe. I've noticed that on Engelmann's Sage, the stigma sticks quite far out of the rest of the corolla (visible in the image, on the flower on the right). On Texas Sage, the stigma is less prominent, or absent from view.

Salvia farinacea (Mealy Blue Sage)
Mealy Blue Sage is distinct in this area since the pedicel (the flower stalk) and the calyx share the blue of the flowers. Usually it'll range from a lighter blue to a greyish color. There will usually be no sign of green when the flowers are in bloom. Often the entire flower stalk will be a purplish blue. It will also appear powdery or "mealy" due to hairs on the calyces.

Image by @arnanthescout via iNaturalist

Salvia roemeriana (Cedar Sage), Salvia coccinea (Tropical Sage), and Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)

These are another three plants that are often mixed up. The main difference is in the leaves.
The leaves of Cedar Sage are distinctly rounded, cordate to reniform (kidney-shaped) with a scalloped/crenate edge.

Image by @samwilhelm on iNaturalist
It also has a long petiole, almost as long as the length of the leaf:

Those of Tropical Sage are more triangular, mint-like, ovate to deltoid in shape, and more pointed at the tip (an acute apex, as a botanist would say).

*Image by @himuegge on iNaturalist

Often the leaves of Cedar Sage are hairy/hirsute and can look quite crinkled, though this can vary between plants. As far as I know, Tropical Sage leaves are glabrous.

Autumn Sage has small leaves, obovate to eliptic in shape, no larger than the corollas. It often planted as a cultivated plant.

I guess I'll call this finished. Most of the other sages I find distinct and easier to identify, but I could try to add them all in.
If you have any other useful identification information be sure to tell me.
Posted on July 01, 2021 08:13 PM by arnanthescout arnanthescout | 4 comments | Leave a comment

July 06, 2021

Mulberry Blurb

Mulberries can be such a pain to identify. What makes things most difficult is the introduction of the White mulberry, which has hybridized extensively with Red mulberry.
Found from:
Excellent resource differentiating Red and White Mulberry
Unfortunately, these two can hybridize...

Red Mulberry: The native
White Mulberry: The invasive one
Paper Mulberry: velvety-pubescent on leaves, longer petiole. The other invasive one

Black Mulberry: The other, cultivated brother. Slower growing than its invasive counterparts. Also said to have the best berries.
Texas Mulberry: Micro phylla, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 in. Dark auxillary buds clear here.
Korean Mulberry (Morus indica): Not studied

Some things:

M. rubra: 3-9 in
M. alba: 2 1/2 to 8 in
M. nigra: 1 1/2 to 6 in
M. microphylla: 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 in

M. rubra: Finely serrate, doubly serrate?
M. alba: Blunty crenate
M. nigra: Coarsely toothed
M. microphylla: Coarsely serrate

M. rubra: Glabrous, scabrous, almost sandpaper-like above. Soft pubescent beneath.
M. alba: Glabrous and glossy above, glabrous beneath.
M. nigra: Rough, becoming glabrous above. Pubescent(sources vary in description, but it's at least hairy) beneath.
M. microphylla: Somewhat pubescent above. glabrous to hairy-ish below.

Leaf apex:
M. rubra: Acute to prominently acuminate (think very-tapered)
M. alba: Acute to short-acuminate
M. nigra: Acute to short-acuminate
M. microphylla: Acute to short-acuminate

What this basically boils down to:

M. rubra: Large scabrous leaves, finely serrate margins, prominent veins. If apex is very acuminate then that's also a good sign.
M. alba: Glossy leaves, glabrous throughout, bluntly crenate margins.
M. nigra: Rough-ish above, Pubescent beneath (unlike M. alba), coarsely toothed (but not finely serrate like )
M. microphylla: All the leaves are tiny, dark auxilary buds.
Broussonetia papyrifera: Leaves covered in white-velvety pubescence (often creating a white lining around the edges where the light hits the hairs), finely serrate margins.

Anything in-between: Probably a hybrid or something. Leave it be.

Things I looked at:
Trees of Central Texas by Robert A. Vines
A lot of different iNat observations and images.

Posted on July 06, 2021 07:22 PM by arnanthescout arnanthescout | 0 comments | Leave a comment