USA Wildflowers Tour
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Species Hierarchy 
Common name: TOADSHADE

Location: ROUND LAKE, IL, USA, MAY 15, 05

Species Info:

This lifeform is found east of the Continental Divide in North America. This lifeform is widespread, but not common.

Trillium recurvatum (Toadshade or prairie Trillium) is found from southern Wisconsin and Illinois to Indiana, and further south to Louisiana. It has three leaves and its petals point upwards. Generally, this species lacks stems on its leaves. It blooms in spring before the leaves appear in the overhead hardwood trees.

Trillium genus is found in North America and the Orient.  This genus contains almost 50 species on a worldwide basis.  These are perennial herbs that live in temperate forests.  There are two main subdivisions in this genus.  Some species have sessile flowers and others have their flowers that are pedicels.  This genus contains some of the most spectacular and interesting spring wild flowers.  Kartesz lists 39 species in this genus in North America along with another seven subspecies.  Case, in his excellent book on Trilliums, maintains that there are seven species in western North America and 35 species in eastern North America.  Case also notes that there are five or six species found in the Orient. Many species of Trilliums are found in hardwood forests.  These spring blooming species grow and bloom in a small time period prior to the leafing of the overhead trees.  Trilliums are in environmental danger in many parts of North America because invasive garlic mustard, Asian honeysuckles, and European buckthorn take much of the precious early spring sunlight.

Native Lilies of North America are in this group. Some introduced agricultural plants and some lilies have been excluded even though they may be widely established.

Lilies (Family Liliaceae) are usually characterized by having flowers with three (or six) petals that have radial symmetry. There are over 4,600 species divided into over 600 genera in this widespread family. North America has about 520 species in almost 90 different genera. (The North American numbers are based on the inclusion of the Amaryllis group with the lily family.)

Here this family has arbitrarily been divided into several subgroups. These groups are the wild lilies of different geographical areas: the Aloe group, and lilies cultivated as ornamentals, or vegetables. The placement of several of the well-known species in both the wild and in the garden has been arbitrary.

Lily Order (Order Liliiflorae) contains several families many of which are noted for their beautiful flowers. In addition to the rushes, this order contains the well-known lily family. Although some authors combine them with the lilies, here the Amaryllis, Iris, and Agave groups are presented in separate families.

Monocots are a large group of plants usually characterized by having leaves with parallel veins and a seed with a single shell. Most flowers are created with multiples of three. In  the older botany texts, the Monocots were considered more primitive than the Dicots. However, many recent authors have placed the Monocots as an offshoot of the primitive Dicots. Here they are placed before the Dicots.

Seed plants (Phylum Embryophyta) are generally grouped into one large phylum containing three major classes: the Gymnosperms, the Monocots, and the Dicots. (Some scientists separate the Gymnosperms into a separate phylum and refer to the remaining plants as flowering plants or Angiospermae.)

For North American counts of the number of species in each genus and family, the primary reference has been John T. Kartesz, author of A Synonymized Checklist of the Vascular Flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (1994). The geographical scope of his lists include, as part of greater North America, Hawaii, Alaska, Greenland, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Kartesz lists 21,757 species of vascular plants comprising the ferns, gymnosperms and flowering plants as being found in greater North America (including Alaska, Hawaii, Greenland, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands).

There are estimates within the scientific world that about half of the listed North American seed plants were originally native with the balance being comprised of Eurasian and tropical plants that have become established.

Plant kingdom contains a large variety of different organisms including mosses, ferns, and seed plants. Most plants manufacture their energy from sunlight and water. Identification of many species is difficult in that most individual plants have characteristics that have variables based on soil moisture, soil chemistry, and sunlight.

Because of the difficulty in learning and identifying different plant groups, specialists have emerged that study only a limited group of plants. These specialists revise the taxonomy and give us detailed descriptions and ranges of the various species.  Their results are published in technical journals and written with highly specialized words that apply to a specific group.

On the other hand, there are the nature publishers. These people and companies undertake the challenging task of trying to provide easy to use pictures and descriptions to identify those species.


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