Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Plant of the week: Southern Monkshood, Aconitum uncinatum

Flowering in the woods and garden right now, this beautiful twinning, almost vine like woodland wildflower adds grace and elegance to any setting. While it is found mostly in rich or fertile deciduous woods frequently along streams, this species flowers best in the garden if it gets morning sun and afternoon shade.  It will grow in full, dense shade but does not flower as profusely when placed where it gets some sunlight Perhaps the most interesting feature of this plant is the unique 1-inch deep purple or purplish blue flowers clustered at the end of stems that have five sepals and the .upper sepal forms a rounded hood, concealing part of two claw-like petals. The natural range for this species is most of the eastern United States from Pennsylvania down to Georgia and Alabama. It is considered rare, threatened, or endangered in much of its range but is pretty widely available in the nursery trade.  This showy member of the buttercup family has large, palm shaped lower leaves and smaller lance shaped leaves near the flowers.  This species has co-evolved to be pollinated by bumble bees.  The stamens mature more quickly and the female flowers are typically lower so the bees enter the flower and get nectar in the lower female flowers which produce more nectar and then move upwards to the lesser nectar producing flowers higher in the bloom.  When the bees move upwards to the lower nectar producing flowers, they cross over the stamens and get pollen on them and because they have to spend more time nectaring in the upper flowers of which some do not get pollenated and then the bees move to another bloom and enter with the female flowers on the bottom, ensuring cross pollination. Like many members of the genus Aconitum, this species has some toxicity, although it appears it is not as toxic as other members of the genus and most of the toxicity is in the roots and seeds.

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