Hawkweed of the Genus Hieracium species unknown
I use several references, for identification. In my arsenal are Wildflowers of Minnesota by Stan Tekiela, a very basic book with a focus on quick reference by color. Our copy is dog eared and worn. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers ( Eastern Region) again arranged by color, but it does take it a step further and includes flower form or shape. Both of the before mentioned books I purchased for Far Guy. The one that I purchased for myself, is called Newcomb's Wildflower Guide, it does not cover all of Minnesota..but if you use "The Key" you can identify just about anything. Keys can be confusing, simply put it is a series of five questions that will lead you to a correct identification. If you guess at any of them..you will be SOL. That is not short for Sunny Out Look either. Used correctly a good key can be very useful.
Wild Indigo (Yellow) or Baptisia tinctoria
I used it to identify this plant.. (Flower Type One) =irregular flowers, (Plant Type Three)= Wildflower with alternate leaves, (Leaf Type Four)= Leaves Divided. So then I took my numbers 134 and went to the locator key..where it said Leaflets three, entire or finely toothed (Question #4) with yellow flowers (Question #5) ..page 58 where seven drawings and descriptions were located..Bingo ..Wild Indigo (Yellow) ..easy peasy.
I had to write a Key once, it was not easy..it was part of a final exam. The Instructor did not have too much hair left to pull out and I did get an A. We have become a society that has come to expect instant gratification.. like Far Guy's color coded Wildflower Book. To go deeper into the plant world you must be willing to put aside instant observations to make a definite correct identification. The plants out there will speak to you, if you let them.
Last evening I picked up a booklet at the local County Fair, it is called Wildflowers of Minnesota's Northern Prairies...it highlighted 51 of the almost 500 species of native plants found in our area. A quick run through, and I found several errors..probably not significant errors..but they obviously did not use a key, or double check their sources. Their photographs could have been better too. Maybe I should just shut up, it is a reasonably nice publication, and it will probably raise public awareness, which I am sure was their intention. As a tax payer in the State of Minnesota, I thought "Who are the Idiots that were hired for this project?" " How much did this little project cost?" Far Guy was not sympathetic with my whining.. he just said..write your own book. I am not sure if this little booklet is enough to push me over that edge, I would have to photograph and research everyday during the summer, and I have laundry and errands to do, you know important stuff that makes a difference. However it is an interesting thought, for now I am adding it to my bucket list. You know the before I kick the bucket list! :)