I’ve made some progress on the plant-identification front! Yipee! One of my farm goals is to know the names of all the plants growing on the farm, even the weeds and wildflowers. This has turned out to be more fun and interesting than I expected. There’s always something new and unusual growing underfoot or overhead that catches my eye each time I visit the farm. These are not the usual and familiar suburban garden plants. I’ve never seen many of these plants before!
When I encounter a new (to me) plant, I usually take a lot of pictures and then ask for the local name. Our caretaker is from the area, so he is familiar with the plants growing in the farm. At first I thought this was such an amazing feat. Then I realized that it was just like knowing the plants growing in your backyard. It’s not that unusual to find a homeowner that knows the plants growing in his or her yard. It’s just a matter of scope. For our caretaker, his “yard” covers many hectares. Later, our caretaker pointed out that one of the workers is “taga-bundok” or from the mountains. That fellow knew even more about the trees than our caretaker. After getting the local name, I check the pictures and description my reference materials to see if it matches the plant in the farm.
It’s much harder if the caretaker can’t provide a local name. In the beginning, I was able to find a lot of the very common weeds by looking doing a search for things like “weed, flower, pink”on Stuartxchange and looking at all the entries that came up. If I was still stumped, then I would turn to Facebook! I would post my pictures on two plant groups and ask the experts in the group to “please ID this plant”. But after several of those kinds of posts, I figured I should learn to ID the plants on my own. Especially since they were probably very common and easy to id plants.
I came across a website called The Wild Classroom that said that the key to plant identification is learning the plant families. Aha! But, there are several hundred plant families. Uh oh. But still, it is easier to learn hundreds of plant families than thousands of plant species. Every plant family has its own characteristics. So if you can figure out the family of a plant, then you can narrow down your search by several hundred thousand species.
When I first saw this plant, I called it the Three Leaves Weed because I thought that was its most striking characteristic. It has three leaves make it look triangle shaped when viewed from the top. I also thought the firm stem might be significant. But a google search of “three leaves weed triangle” didn’t yield any results.
Then I read up on the first plant family in the “First 5 Plant Families To Learn” on The Wild Classroom, I realized that the small petals make this part of Asteraceae, the sunflower or daisy family. From there I went to PhytoImages where they have an index of images by family. The closest image was of a plant found in the US. This one found on the farm is Elephantopus scaber
The next flower I found was this one:
The funnel shape looked very familiar! I had seen many other similarly-shaped flowers before. I was quite sure that the funnel shape was a family characteristic. I googled “plant family funnel flower heart shaped leaves” and came up with Convolvulaceae, the Morning Glory family. It was very satisfying to look through the Convolvulaceae family in PhytoImages and find a photo of the same exact plant! Of course I could be wrong, but it looks exactly the same. So now I know this wildflower’s name. Obscure Morning Glory Ipomoea obscura.
That’s two out of two plants that I was able to identify by using plant families! Woo hoo, really happy for these small victories! Now to learn more plant families!