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Archive for May, 2013

Here are a few more spring wildflowers that I’ve seen recently. It’s hard to believe that summer is just around the corner.

1. Autumn Olive aka Elaeagnus umbellataAutumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellate) is a terribly invasive shrub from eastern Asia that has a heavenly scent. It is blooming now along with Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) which is so invasive that it is banned in New Hampshire. But it also has a heavenly scent, and when you combine the two invasive shrubs with our native lilacs, also blooming now and also extremely fragrant, I think you might have an idea of what heaven must smell like. Autumn olive is often confused with Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia.)

2. Bird's Foot Trefoil aka Lotus corniculatus 2

Bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) has just started blooming. This is another invasive plant that forms dense mats that choke out native plants. This plant was originally imported from Eurasia for use as a forage plant. The plant gets its common name from the way the clusters of seed pods are often shaped like a bird’s foot. Many butterflies, Canada geese and deer love this plant.

 3. Golden Ragwort aka Senecio smallii

Native golden ragwort (Packera aurea) likes wet places in full sunlight, but it will tolerate some shade. It’s not a common plant in this part of the state, but it can be found here and there. Golden ragwort is in the aster family and is considered our earliest blooming aster. The plant is toxic enough so most animals (including deer) will not eat it, but Native Americans used it medicinally to treat a wide variety of ailments.

4. Greater CelandineGreater celandine (Chelidonium majus) is another introduced invasive plant that is seen everywhere. It is a member of the poppy family that was originally introduced from Europe and Asia. Another celandine, lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria,) belongs to the buttercup family. Greater celandine has a yellow- orange latex sap that stains hands, as every schoolchild in the country quickly finds out. Another common plant used in gardens, celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum,) isn’t related to greater celandine.

5. Pheasant Eye Daffodil aka Narcissus poeticus

Another invasive that has naturalized here is the pheasant eye narcissus (Narcissus poeticus,) also called the poet’s daffodil. This plant is very old-ancient in fact-and is said to be the flower that is the basis of the Greek legend of Narcissus. It can be found in botanical texts from as early as 371 BC. The flower is very fragrant and easily recognized by the white petals and red edge on its yellow cup. It is said that its fragrance is so powerful that a few cut flowers in a closed room can cause headaches. I often see it in un- mown fields and pastures.

 6. Solomon's Seal Flowers 3

Native Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum canaliculatum) is blossoming throughout our forests now.  There are several plants that look very similar, but I believe the plant in the photo is Great Solomon’s seal.  Hairy Solomon’s seal has small hairs on the underside of the leaves and the flowers are smaller. Rose twisted stalk has similar leaves but a twisted, zig zag stem like the name implies. The rose / purple/ pink flowers are bell shaped.

7. False Solomon's Seal 2

False Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum  or Smilacina racemosa) has small white, star shaped  flowers in a branching cluster (raceme) at the end of its stem. The way to tell this plant from true Solomon’s seal when there are no flowers is by the zig zagging stem. The stem on Solomon’s seal is straight.

8. Start Flowered False Solomon's Seal aka Smilacina stellata

Star flowered Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum stellatum  or Smilacina stellata) also blossoms in a cluster at the end of its stalk, but the flower cluster isn’t branched like that of false Solomon’s seal. The white flowers are larger and usually fewer than those of false Solomon’s seal. This plant likes to grow in the same habitat as true and false Solomon’s seals and can often be found growing right beside them.

 9. Fleabane

Native common fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus) always surprises me by seeming to appear over night, but in reality I just don’t see them until they bloom. That’s because most that I see grow in lawns or fields where I don’t hike. This is a much loved flower, and you can tell that by the way people mow around it when they mow their lawns and fields. There is always a large patch of tall grass full of lavender flowers left standing. The flower pictured had just a hint of lavender on the ray petals, but some of them can be quite darkly colored.

 10. Comfrey Blossoms

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is in the same family as borage and is considered an herb, but I love the bell shaped blue flowers so I would rather use it as an ornamental. This is a strange plant that can be used as a fertilizer. Comfrey plants root very deeply and take up many nutrients from the soil, and that makes them as valuable to organic gardeners as manure. Quite often large plots of it will be grown to be cut and used as a fertilizer or in compost heaps. Comfrey is native to Europe.

 11. Gaywings

Fringed Polygala, also called gaywings (Polygala paucifolia,) are still blooming. I’m suddenly finding these plants everywhere. They seem to like to grow in the same places that lady’s slippers do. I love their color but it’s easy for me to mistake them for violets, so every time I see what I think are violets I stop to see if they are really gaywings. The blossom on the left seems to have lost its wings.

 12. Forget Me Nots

I see forget me nots (Myosotis) on riverbanks and along trails-almost everywhere I go.  There are many species of forget me nots and in some cases the differences are nearly microscopic, so I leave all the sorting to botanists and just enjoy the flowers.

 13. Painted Trillium

Painted trillium (Trillium undulatum ) have much smaller flowers than those of red trillium (Trillium erectum.) This plant likes very acid soil and doesn’t seem to be as easy to find here as the red trillium. The undulatum part of the scientific name comes from the wavy (undulating) petals. The painted part of its common name comes from the purple splotches on the petals. Painted trillium is native to the east coast.

14. Pink Lady's Slippers

I went for a short hike on a recent drizzly day and saw lots of pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule.) This native orchid is making a comeback after being collected nearly into oblivion by people who didn’t know any better. The plant interacts with a Rhizoctonia fungus in the soil and this fungus must be present for it to reproduce.  If plants are dug up and placed in private gardens they will eventually die out if the fungus isn’t present so please, look at them, take a couple of pictures, and let them be.

15. Pink Lady's Slipper

Pink lady’s slipper’s color can go from white, which are very rare, to deep pink. Those that are lighter pink often show interesting darker pink veins like the example in the above photo.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  ~Albert Einstein

Thanks for coming by.

 

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This is another of those posts full of all of the things I’ve seen that wouldn’t fit in other posts.

1. Oak Apple Gall

This oak apple gall was about the same diameter as a quarter. Apple galls are caused by a wasp (Amphibolips confluent) called the oak apple gall wasp. In May, the female wasp emerges from underground and injects one or more eggs into the mid-vein of an oak leaf. As it grows the wasp larva causes the leaf to form a round gall. Galls that form on leaves are less harmful to the tree than those that form on twigs.

 2. River Birch Fruit

The female catkins of native river birch (Betula nigra) will form cone shaped fruit called a strobiles. The seeds in the fruit, called nutlets, are dispersed by the wind. River birch is a popular ornamental tree because of its peeling and curling reddish brown bark. It’s my favorite birch tree.

3. Robin

This robin let me walk right up to him and snap a few pictures.

4. Blue Jay

This blue jay didn’t want any part of having his picture taken and thought he was hidden.

5. Frog on a Log

This bull frog sitting on a log was fidgety and his movements told me that one more step would make him launch himself into the water. I didn’t take it, and he stayed dry.

6. Frost Bitten Sensitive Fern

Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) gets its common name from the way even a light frost damages it. This spring sensitive ferns and many other native plants miscalculated and came up early, and a late frost made their leaves wither and turn brown.

7. Interrupted Fern

Interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana) looks frost bitten, but it wasn’t. The brown parts are fertile, spore bearing leaflets that appear in the middle of the leaf, interrupting the green, infertile leaflets.

8. Interrupted Fern

 The fertile leaflets of interrupted fern are completely covered with spore-bearing structures called sporangia. The sporangia have small openings that the dust like spores are released through during the summer. The fertile leaflets will wither away and fall off after the spores are released, and by the time fall arrives each leaf will have a gap between its infertile, green leaflets.

9. Grapes

The flower buds of wild grape look like miniature versions of the fruit that will hang here later on.

10. Big Leaf Aspen Leaves

The white leaves of large toothed aspen (Populus grandidentata) mean the tree hasn’t started photosynthesizing. These trees, along with many oaks, are the last to green up in spring. Some call them white poplar (Populus alba,) but that is an entirely different tree, even though they are both in the poplar family.

11. Poison Ivy

The shiny, purplish bronze, spring leaves of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) make you want to reach out and touch them, but if you do you’ll be sorry. It usually takes about two weeks before the itchy and sometimes painful rash goes away. This plant can grow creeping along the ground, as a shrub, and as a vine like the one pictured. If you spend any time in the woods in this part of the country it’s a good plant to get to know well before you meet face to face. Later, these shiny purple leaves will become green and won’t be quite as shiny, and the plant will blend right in to the background.

12. Royal Fern aka Osmunda regalis

American royal fern (Osmunda spectabilis) is probably the easiest fern to identify because there aren’t any other ferns that I know of that look like it. It can reach 5 feet tall and prefers growing near wateron stream and pond banks. I think that it is one of the most beautiful ferns in the forest. According to the book How to Know the Ferns, written in 1900 by Francis Parsons, the European version of the royal fern (Osmunda regalis) can grow to 10 feet in Great Britain.

13. Striped Wintergreen

Spotted wintergreen is an odd name for a plant with no spots, but that’s what someone decided to call it. It is also called striped wintergreen (Chimaphila maculate,) which makes more sense to me.  This native plant is a close relative of pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellate,) which is called umbellate wintergreen. The small, white to pink, nodding flowers appear in July. This plant is rarely seen here-I’ve found it in only two places and both are areas that haven’t been disturbed by man in 100 years or more. The U.S.D.A. lists it as endangered in Canada, Illinois, and Maine, and in New York it is listed as vulnerable.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Note that I have added a new page called Books I Use.

Have a great holiday weekend. Thanks for stopping in.

 

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1. Beaver Pond

Last Wednesday I was floating in a canoe on this beaver pond with friends from north of here. It was a lot of fun but we got rained on and the canoe took on enough water to soak anyone sitting in the bottom of it, meaning me. Still, even though I got wet I’d happily do it all over again.

 2. Canoe

This beautiful cedar strip canoe was able to glide over most of the pond with ease and though we ran into an occasional log or stone, our trip was uneventful. Meaning we didn’t end up in the drink! Jim, who writes the jomegat blog, built this canoe and is in the process of re-building another one.  He drove for a couple of hours with them on top of his car so we could use one and so I could see the other one. It was interesting to see it in person after seeing it on his blog. If you’d like to see it for yourself, just click here.

3. Beaver Lodge

Everything was so wet that afternoon because of the rain and all that I took very few pictures for fear of destroying my camera. I went back to the pond on a dryer day and took some of the shots that appear here so I’d be able to illustrate the adventure for you. We took a spin around this beaver lodge but nobody seemed to be home.

 4. Bullhead Lily

We saw hundreds of yellow pond lilies, also called bullhead lilies (Nuphar lutea.) Jim brought along his young daughter Beth, whose natural exuberance and happiness was contagious. I think we were all surprised by how shallow the water was. I’ve read that beavers like shallow ponds, but this pond was barley 6 inches deep in places. I don’t think we saw anything deeper than 18 inches.

5. Unknown Seed Pods

This caught my eye as we floated past. Because it was raining at the time I couldn’t see well, and couldn’t really even tell if these were flowers or seed pods. They turned out to be dry seed pods, and I think they might be last year’s turtlehead (Chelone glabra) seed pods.

 6. Rhodora aka Rhododendron canadense

Jim and Beth spotted pinkish / purplish flowers off in the distance, but we couldn’t get near them because of all the obstacles in the shallow water. Though I hoped they were orchids I guessed that they were most likely Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense,) which is a small, native rhododendron that loves swampy places. Unfortunately, even with binoculars we couldn’t make a solid identification. These plants I’ve used for illustration grow at a cranberry bog that I know of. They are in full bloom right now.

 7. Rhodora aka Rhododendron canadense

Rhodora blossoms appear delicate-as if they would blow away in a strong wind- and are very beautiful. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote poems about this flower.

 8. Leather Leaf

Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata)i s another shrub that likes swampy places and we saw what I thought were several examples of it. The plant’s stems and leaves have an odd, leathery feel to them because of their pebbly texture. From a distance both the flowers and leaves look like smaller versions of the blueberry.

9. GBH Nest

We saw a great blue heron fly over us towards this nest, but it didn’t stop. It just flew around the nest and left as silently as it had come. When I suggested this pond as a good place to find wildflowers I didn’t know that herons, ducks and other birds were nesting here. I realized later on that this nest could have had heron hatchlings in it. Mid May would be about right, so I hope we didn’t scare the parents away permanently.

 10. Marshland

Last weekend I saw what I thought would be a perfect spot for canoeing in Dublin, New Hampshire, which is east of here. When I stopped I saw that someone had put up signs saying boating here was very dangerous and shouldn’t be attempted. All I can do is wonder why.

11. Monadnock from Dublin Lake

Shortly after passing the marshy area in the previous photo Dublin Lake appears on the right if one is traveling east. There is a good view of Mount Monadnock from the lakeshore. Dublin has a reputation for having wealthy summer residents and many famous people have been here. Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson came and climbed the mountain. Mark Twain spent two summers here, and well-known American master painters Abbott Thayer and George DeForest Brush owned homes here. They and several other well-known artists painted views of the mountain. At 2,834 feet (864 m) above sea level Dublin is also the highest village in all of New England.

12. Brook

I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old when my father started taking me along when he went fishing for brook trout. He did this 3 or 4 times before finally realizing that it was hopeless, because all I was interested in was exploring the forest. I didn’t care a whit about catching fish and his relaxing fishing trips turned into a living hell of chasing a whirlwind-pretending-to-be-a-boy through the woods and over slippery boulders. I stopped at this roadside stream last weekend to explore its banks and had to smile when those memories came floating back through time.

13. Brook Waterfall

I don’t run much anymore and I make a point of staying away from slippery boulders, but I still enjoy the forest.  Hearing the sound of falling water and following that sound through the trees  until you come to a deep, still pool that is fed by a waterfall is what makes it all worthwhile. Sitting quietly on the bank of a stream enjoying the power and beauty of nature is one path to true joy, and my father knew it. I don’t think that he really cared  about catching a fish any more than I did.

We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey. ~ John Hope Franklin

I hope everyone is safe and was able to stay out of harm’s way during the recent tornado outbreak. Thank’s for coming by.

 

 

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Here are just a few of the wildflowers I’ve seen recently.

1. Bulbous Buttercup aka Ranunculus bulbosus

I try hard to not misidentify the plants that appear here and all of the little yellow, 5 petaled flowers growing in lawns increase the chances of that happening, so I usually leave them alone. This bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) was relatively easy to identify though, so here it is. This plant gets its common name from its bulbous root, which is a corm.

2. Red Trillium

Most of the red trillium (Trillium erectum) blossoms have faded or have been eaten, but I still see them here and there. They lighten from deep red to a pale purple color before finally turning brown.  The fading of red trilliums means it’s time to start looking for pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) and painted trilliums (Trillium undulatum.)

 3. Hawthorn Blossoms

I love the plum colored anthers on these hawthorn (Crataegus) blossoms. They are very beautiful, in my opinion.

 4. Mayapple Blossom

I’ve decided that mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum ) are hard to photograph, and that’s because I’ve never been happy with a single one that I’ve taken.  The flowers are very close to the ground but even if I lie out flat they never seem to be fully in focus.

 5. Sessile Leaved Bellwort

Our native sessile leaved bellworts (Uvularia sessilifolia) have put on a good show this year. I’ve seen more than I ever have. Botanically speaking the word sessile means sitting, as in the leaves are sitting on the main stem, which means that the leaves themselves don’t have a stem (petiole.)

 6. Red Baneberry Blossoms

Red baneberry (Actaea rubra) is blooming early this year-probably because of the early warmth we had. Soon each tiny blossom will become a poisonous red berry. Native Americans dipped their arrowheads in concentrated baneberry juice to use as a poison.

7. Dwarf Ginseng Blossoms

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius) will set a cluster of yellowish fruit if the tiny white flowers are pollinated.  If it doesn’t set berries this plant often disappears without a trace shortly after flowering. The trifolius part of the scientific name refers to the three compound leaves that always appear in a whorl around the stem. Each leave has three to five leaflets that are nearly sessile on the stem.

 8. Jack in the Pulpit

I wasn’t sure if I’d see a Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) this year. I visited all of their growing places that I know of and found only two plants. That could be because last year was a banner year and I saw them everywhere. Many plants-even oak trees-“rest” after a bountiful year. This plant is in the arum family, along with skunk cabbage and many others.

 9. Jack in the Pulpit

I always pop the hood on jack in the pulpits to see what ‘Jack” is up to. I also like to see the purple stripes on the inside of the spathe, which is the hood that overhangs Jack. Jack is a club shaped spadix which in this photo appears black, but is actually purple. At the bottom of the cup shaped spathe male or female flowers will form at the base of this spadix. The spadix smells like mushrooms and if its female flowers are pollinated by tiny fungus flies, they will become bright red berries that deer love to eat.

 10. Blue Bead Lily

I found quite a large patch of blue bead lilies (Clintonia borealis) recently. If you gave this plant a quick, passing glance you might mistake its leaves for those of pink lady’s slipper, but blue bead lily leaves don’t have deep pleats like lady’s slipper leaves do.

 11. Blue Bead Lily

Blue bead lily is in the lily (Liliaceae) family and it’s not hard to see why when you take a good look at one of the small flowers-they look just like a Canada lily. If pollinated each flower will become a single berry that will turn from green to white and finally to an almost fluorescent, bright blue. I had a hard time finding any berries last year so I’m hoping there will be many to see this year.

 12. Bluets

Bluets (Houstonia caerulea) are still blooming in great drifts across mowed places.  This plant is considered an ephemeral, but given enough moisture it will bloom well into summer. Their range of color goes from almost white to dark blue and I always try to find those with the darkest color. These ones looked fairly dark.

 13. Cypress Spurge aka Cemetary Weed aka Euphorbia cyparissias

Cypress Spurge ( Euphorbia cyparissias) is also called cemetery weed because it’s often found there.This plant was introduced from Europe in the mid-1800s as an ornamental. Of course, it immediately escaped the gardens of the day and is now seen in just about any vacant lot or other area with poor, dry soil. This plant forms explosive seed pods that can fling its seeds several feet.

14. Gaywings

One of my very favorite woodland flowers is fringed polygala (Polygala paucifolia,) also called gaywings. This plant is a low growing creeper which at a glance is easily mistaken for a violet. I know that from experience because last year was the first time I ever really paid any attention to it. I think that I have passed it off as just another violet for most of my life, which is too bad. The flowers are made up of five sepals and two petals. Two of the petals form a tube and two of the sepals form the “wings.” The little fringe like structure at the end of the tube is part of the third petal which is mostly hidden. When an insect lands on the fringed part, the third petal drops down to create an opening so the insect can enter the tube. There are 3 or 4 flowers in this photo, and they all seem to be growing on top of each other.

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat. ~ Beverley Nichols

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Since New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the country after Maine, with 84% of the land forested, forests are easy places to explore. More difficult is finding untouched places that are as close to true wilderness as you can get, but it can be done. I visited one such place last weekend.

1. Forest

In these pockets of older, sometimes protected forest there are often no marked trails or other signs of civilization, so it is wise to be well prepared if you decide to penetrate them very deeply. People get lost in these forests year round-even experienced hikers and hunters.

2. Violets

Violets always make a hike more pleasant. This one had very downy stems, and that makes me think that it was an ovate leaved violet (Viola fimbriatula.) The only trouble with that line of thought is, ovate leaved violets are supposed to be purple and my color finding software tells me that these are very blue.

3. Anemones

In places hundreds of anemones carpeted the forest floor. As I moved on I realized that, instead of feeling thankful for the beautiful scene before me, I was wishing that the anemones were white trilliums like the amazing displays I’ve seen on Michigan and Ohio blogs. I need to work on gratitude.

4. Low Bush Blueberry

Low bush blueberry bushes (Vaccinium angustifolium) grow in great profusion in any spot that gets enough of sunlight. The berries are an important food source for bear, deer, and many other animals and birds.

5. Beaver Pond

This forest has low, wet places made even wetter by beavers. Beaver ponds are active for an average of 30 years and the first stage in creating one is damming a stream to form a pond. Our native trees aren’t meant to live with their roots under water because they take in a lot of oxygen through them, so living trees in an area like this means it was flooded recently.

6. Old Beaver Pond

This was another wet area that looked to be in the process of becoming a sunny clearing with a stream running through it. The dead trees show that this was once a forest that became a pond. Older beaver ponds fill with silt or the beavers move away and their dams erode enough to drain the land. In either case the beaver pond of today will eventually revert back to forest. When the forest has re-established itself and there are enough trees for beavers to eat they will come back and again flood the land in a slow but ever repeating cycle. I feel lucky that I was able to see both the birth and death of beaver ponds without having to travel very far.

7. Goldthread

Three leaf goldthread (Coptis trifolia) is very happy in moist places. This plant gets its common name from its bright, golden yellow roots. Both Native Americans and colonials used goldthread to treat soreness in the mouth, hence the common name “canker root.” It is said to be very bitter.

 8. Starflower

Starflowers (Trientalis borealis) grow all through the forest and make use of any place that might get an hour or two of sunlight.  The Trientalis part of the scientific name means “one third of a foot” and relates to the plant’s 4 inch height. Two or three flowers are the usual number for this plant but each year I like to try to find the plants with the most flowers. I think my record is four.

9. Foamflower Blossoms

Heartleaf foamflowers (Tiarella cordifolia) like to grow in moist, shady places. This plant is a good example of how wildflowers becoming garden flowers. People liked this plant enough to create a demand for it and nurserymen obliged by collecting its seed and growing it for sale. Of course, plant breeders also got ahold of it and have bred many new and unusual varieties.

 10. Strawberry

Wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) like sunny spots and help keep the forest inhabitants well fed.

 11. Foliose Lichen

All kinds of lichens fall from the tree tops and litter the forest floor. I think this one is a fringed wrinkle lichen (Tuckermenopsis americana) but there are many that look very similar so I’m not 100% certain. Lichens can be very hard to identify because they change color as they dry out, and then when it rains change back to their “normal” color again. That’s why serious lichen hunters only hunt for them after it rains.

12. Unknown Fungs

The fungus growing from under the bark of this tree reminded me of those dinner rolls that come in a tube and pop out if you smack them hard enough.  I’ve looked through three mushroom identification books and haven’t found anything that resembles it.

13. Hobblebush Blossoms

Hobblebushes (Viburnum alnifolium) grow in the clearings and along the edges of the forest. Hobblebush grows very low to the ground and is known for tripping up, or “hobbling” both men and horses.

 14. Hobblebush Blossoms

The flowers are beautiful but deceiving. The fertile flowers are small and form in the center of the flat topped flower cluster (corymb). Larger and showier infertile flowers ring the outer edge of the cluster. This shrub is a favorite of mine and has been very popular for a long time. Even Gorge Washington grew them in his garden.

There is a love of wild nature in everybody, an ancient mother-love showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties. ~ John Muir

Thanks for stopping in.

 

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About two weeks ago the sun came out and has stayed out, and each day has been warmer than the last. The eighty degree temperatures make it feel like summer and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s still early May. Of course, the sunny days mean no rain and we are starting to see the effects of that.

1. Water Line on Rocks

The boulders at a local reservoir show that the water level is about three feet lower than it should be. The water level is drawn down in the fall to make room for snow melt and spring rains. Unfortunately the spring rains haven’t happened this year and now we are about 4 inches below normal.

2. Cloudless Sky

This has been our weather-not a cloud in the sky-for about 15 days.

 3. Weeping Willow Flowers

 Some plants have been affected by the lack of rain but not this weeping willow (Salix babylonica,) which was in full flower the day I visited it. Weeping willows like a lot of water so it was surprising to see the tree in such fine shape.

 4. Christmas Fern Fiddleheads

Ferns are still coming up in the wetter areas. These are the silvery fiddleheads of evergreen Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides.)

 5. Cinnamon Fern Unfurling

The fronds of cinnamon ferns (Osmunda cinnamomea) are just starting to unfurl. These ferns seem to prefer wet areas. That’s where I see most of them growing.

 6. Coltsfoot Seedhead 4

In spite of the dryness coltsfoot held up well and had quite a long blooming season. Now the wind is doing its job of distributing the seeds. Once the seed heads have disappeared the leaves will begin to grow. One of coltsfoot’s common names is “son before the father” because of the way the flowers appear before the leaves.

 7. False Morel Mushrooms

I was surprised to see several false morel mushrooms in such dry soil. I think these are Gyromitra esculenta. This is a mushroom that you don’t want to eat by mistake. According to Tom Volk’s fungus identification website these fungi contain a chemical called gyromitrin (N-methyl-N-formylhydrazine), which is metabolized to monomethylhydrazine when eaten. This is rocket fuel. Really-rocket fuel-and it destroys red blood cells in human beings who are unlucky enough to ingest it. People have even gotten sick from inhaling the steam produced by boiling these fungi.

 8. Rattlesnake weed aka Hieracium venosum

Rattlesnake weed (Hieracium venosum) got its common name from the way people thought it grew where there were rattlesnakes. We have timber rattlers in New Hampshire but they are as rare as a blue moon. This plant has flowers that resemble those of yellow hawkweed, but I like its purple veined leaves. I can’t say for sure how rare this plant is in New Hampshire but I’ve seen only one in my lifetime, and this is it. It is listed as endangered in Maine. This plant grows in a dry, sandy spot in full sun.

9. Red Baneberry Buds

The new leaves of red baneberry (Actaea rubra) always look tortured to me- as if they were in a gale force wind. I like looking at them and have pictures from last year that I keep telling myself I’m going to draw. Someday.  This plant is already showing flower buds and will later have poisonous red berries.  The leaves closely resemble those of black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa.) This one grows on an embankment that never dries out completely. They seem to like a lot of water.

10. Skunk Cabbage Fruiting

I thought I’d show what the fruit of skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) looks like when it is forming for those of you who have been following along and watching the plant’s development. The fruit is contained within the splotchy purple/yellow/brown spathe and will ripen between July and September. These plants like low, swampy places that are wet in spring but don’t seem to mind a little dryness later in the year.

11. New Oak Leaves

These tiny new oak leaves were red and fuzzy. I ‘ve been reading about why new spring leaves aren’t green in many species of trees and have found, according to the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative, that trees require plenty of light and warmth to begin producing the chlorophyll that makes them green.  When there is a cloudy, cool spring trees will not be able to produce chlorophyll and their leaves will stay red (or orange, yellow or another color) until the weather turns sunny and warmer. Oak leaves are among the last to appear in spring, so it hasn’t enjoyed the last two weeks of warm, sunny weather.

 12. Poplar Leaves

These new poplar leaves are also fuzzy, and almost completely without color. It is the only tree I know of that has white leaves in spring. Trees keep a weather history in their rings and I wonder if someone in the future will read our history and see that we’ve had very strange weather over the past three years.

13. Shagbark Hicory Bud Unfurling

The new leaves of shagbark hickory (Carya ovate) are green from the start, but the insides of the bud scales that enclosed and protected the new growth are fantastic shades of orange, pink, and yellow. They are so colorful and unusual that they are sometimes mistaken for flowers.  It seems like in spring every plant wants to show how beautiful it can be.

 14. Ashuelot on 5-10-13-2

As soon as I started writing this post telling you how sunny and dry it was, clouds rolled in and we’ve had scattered showers for the last two days. Who says Mother Nature doesn’t have a sense of humor?

To look at any thing,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long.

~ John Moffitt

Thanks for coming by. Happy mother’s day to all of you moms!

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We haven’t seen a cloud in the sky here for the last two weeks, so I apologize for the harsh lighting in some of these shots.

 1. Wild Cherry Blossoms

The many different native white flowered trees have just started blooming. Soon they will brighten the roadsides in every town in the county. This is a cherry (Prunus) but I’m not sure which one.

 2. Magnolia Blossoms

The magnolias didn’t have room for even one more flower this year. They’ve been beautiful.

 3. Woodland Garden

Last weekend I saw what a couple of well-placed magnolias, a cherry tree or two, and a few hundred daffodils can look like. It was an amazing spring display, but I couldn’t help wondering what it would look like in the summer.

4. White Trillium

I saw a few white trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum) in the woods near the woodland garden in the previous photo, but I’m not sure if they are natural or if they had been planted.  However they got there, they were very beautiful and are rarely seen in our woods.

If you want to see a rare and most beautiful display of white trilliums and other flowers, check out Jerry’s blog, Quiet Solo Pursuits, by clicking here.

 5. Japanese Andromeda Blossoms

Japanese Andromeda flowers (Pieris japonica) resemble many others, including grape hyacinth and blueberry.

 6. Fern Leaved Bleeding Heart

In the garden fern leaved bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia) has just started blooming. This is one of my favorites.

7. Coltsfoot Flowers

I saw more coltsfoot plants (Tussilago farfara) in one place than I ever have on this trail recently. They extended well out of the photo to the right. Coltsfoot has just about finished the end of its blooming period.

 8. Anemone

I think that what I thought were native rue anemones (Thalictrum thalictroides) are actually false rue anemones (Enemion biternatum,) which are also native. The leaf shape helps identify each plant but I want to find them both so I can be sure. Both are just starting their blooming period. As if that isn’t complicated enough, there are also wood anemones (Anemone quinquefolia ,) that resemble the other two.  Maybe I should just say that this photo of some type of anemone.

 9. Ginger Flowering

Native ginger (Asarum canadense) has just started blossoming as well but the flower is hard to see.  This plant isn’t related to the ginger we buy in stores, but Native Americans dried and ground the root and used it as a seasoning. Scientists believe that the plants may contain poisonous compounds and do not recommend eating any part of them. The plant also contains two different types of antibiotics and was used as a poultice to heal wounds by both Native Americans and early settlers.

10. Ginger Flower

It’s a small and not very colorful flower, but interesting. The reason the flower is so close to the ground is because it is pollinated by flies that look for the carcasses of dead animals after they emerge in the spring. That is also why the flower is the color of decomposing flesh-it fools the flies into pollinating it.

11. Norway Maple Blossoms

The flowers of Norway maples (Acer platanoides) appear well after those of red maples. These trees are native to Europe and are considered an invasive species. White sap in the leaf stem (petiole) is one way to tell Norway maples from sugar maples, which have clear sap.

 12. Dandelions and Ground Ivy

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful man-made gardens but I think this display of dandelions and ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) is every bit as beautiful.

What is lovely never dies, but passes into other loveliness, star-dust, or sea-foam, flower or winged air. ~ Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Thanks for stopping in.

 

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This post is about finding beautiful things in unexpected places, which seems to be happening a lot lately.

1. Curly Dock Seed Head

Curly dock (Rumex crispus) is a roadside weed that wouldn’t win any beauty contests, but the seeds left from last fall were very beautiful indeed.

2. New Maple Leaves

The orange color found in these new spring maple leaves gives just a hint of the brilliant display that will come later on in the fall.

3. Flowering Sedge

Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica) blooms when the trout lilies do and can be seen everywhere right now. The upper, creamy yellow parts are the male stamens and the lower white, string like parts are the female pistils. The leaves look a lot like course grass, so this is an easy plant to miss when it isn’t blooming.

4. Furry Fiddleheads

These are the fuzziest fern fiddleheads I’ve ever found. I think they are interrupted fern (Osmunda Claytoniana.)

5. Indian Pipe

I like looking for last year’s Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) plants because they look so very different than the pale, ghostly things they once were. This one looked like it had been carved.

6. Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knot weed (Polygonum cuspidatum ) is one of the most invasive plants known but in early spring, just as the new shoots are coming up, they are amazing things to behold. I always want to sit beside them and draw them so I can gain a better understanding of their remarkable curves, twists and turns.

7. Lilac Buds

The just opened buds of lilac (Syringa) look like tiny grape clusters.

8. Pink Lady's Slipper Shoots

A man stopped while I was taking pictures one day and asked me what I was doing. After talking for a while he gave me a tip about where I might find some ram’s head lady’s slippers (Cypripedium arietinum) which the Forest Service lists as “rare and critically imperiled” in New Hampshire. Needless to say if the man who told me about them was correct, it would be quite a find. Unfortunately, he also told me that people used to dig them up at that location. In any event, I’m watching the shoots of the pink lady’s slipper in the above photo, hoping they’ll tell me when I should look for the ram’s head orchids. They are a very beautiful flower that is rarely seen.

9. Pink Lady's Slipper Seed Pod

The woody seed pod of a pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule.) Several of these plants have colonized my yard and I’m very happy to see them producing seeds.

10. Striped Maple Buds

Striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum ) buds show hints of pink, rose, and even orange, according to my color finding software. I don’t see all of those colors when I look at them, but they seem to have an aura, almost as if they were lit from within.

11. New Beech Leaves

 At this time of year it looks as if someone had traveled through the forest with a basket of green and silver feathers, hanging them on the branch tips of all the Beech trees (Fagus grandifolia.)

My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness. ~Michelangelo

Thanks for coming by.

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I apologize to those who came hoping to see snail’s tongues or some other minute wonder of nature, but every now and then I like to be standing up when I click the shutter, rather than lying in a prone position in the forest litter. A wider view is a little easier on the knees, which seem to creak and pop a little more now than they used to.

1. Full Moon on 4-25-13

Sky and Telescope’s Sky Week program told me that I’d be able to see Saturn just above and to the left of the full moon last week and I saw what looked like a very bright star, but all my camera could see was the moon. I was happy to see that it had some yellow in it and had lost the harsh, white coldness of winter. Of course the moon doesn’t change color and was yellow only because I was seeing it through our atmosphere, but I kind of like this color. It feels warmer.

2. Green Field

The sun was also playing color games. Last year corn was grown in this field and then last fall the farmer planted a cover crop of some kind. In the late afternoon sunshine it was such an impossible bright green color that I had to stop and get a picture of it. My color blindness cheating software tells me that it is yellow green.

3. Monadnock

I went to one of my favorite viewing spots in Marlborough, New Hampshire over the weekend to get a picture of Mount Monadnock. I don’t really need any more pictures of the mountain but I can’t seem to stop taking them.  When I was about 15 or so I foolishly thought that someday I would have made a list of every wildflower that grew on its flanks. I quickly realized that two lifetimes wouldn’t be enough to compile such a list.

 4. Ginger

I saw some fuzzy wild ginger leaves (Asarum canadense,) but no blossoms yet.

5. Bracket Fungus

Once again I found a “late fall polypore” that didn’t know it was mid spring. This is Ischnoderma resinosum, whose common name is literally “Late Fall Polypore.” These are said to fruit on hardwood logs late in the year, but I wonder if temperature and day length isn’t a trigger for them. Days can have the same length and temperature in the spring as they do in fall and these seemed relatively fresh.

6. Big Mud Puddle

I expect trails to be muddy at times but this was ridiculous. Luckily there was plenty of room in a field off to the left so I could go around it.

7. Frog Eggs

It has been dry enough here to raise the brush fire danger to high. The water in the giant mud puddle in the previous photo went down so fast that the mud around the edges hadn’t even hardened when I saw it. Unfortunately frogs, counting on April showers that never came, miscalculated and didn’t lay their eggs deep enough to survive the lack of rain. Even nature makes an occasional mistake and in this case the price paid is fewer frogs in the forest, and that means more black flies and mosquitoes.

8. Vernal Pool Reflections

I stopped at a small pond hoping to see some frogs but all I saw were reflections and pollen.

9. Turkey Tails

I saw some colorful turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor) but no turkeys.

 10. View from High Blue

Sometimes you have to climb a hill to see a mountain and that’s exactly what I had to do to see across the Connecticut River valley to Stratton Mountain in Vermont. On Sunday I climbed the hill known as “High Blue” in Walpole, New Hampshire. Whoever named this hill got it right because the view is always very blue. It has been quite warm so I was surprised to see snow still on the ski trails.

11. Trailing Arbutus

I’m seeing a lot of trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) flowers now. These are one of the most fragrant flowers in the forest, but since they grow so close to the ground you have to get down on your knees to smell them.  While I was down there smelling them I thought I’d get a picture too, so all of you who were betting that I couldn’t get through an entire post without at least one macro shot were right.

The influence of fine scenery, the presence of mountains, appeases our irritations and elevates our friendships. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks for coming by.

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