Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Columbine’

1. Tall Meadow Rue

Here in the United States we celebrate our independence on this day and “bombs bursting in air” are part of that celebration. Right on schedule tall meadow rue (Thalictrum pubescens) blooms and add its own kind of fireworks to the festivities. This plant is also called king of the meadow, probably because it can reach 6 or 7 feet tall under perfect conditions. It likes wet feet and its head in the sun, and grows in places that never completely dry out. The example shown is a male plant which has petal-less, stamen only flowers that dangle in sparkly panicles.

2. Wood Sorrel

Years ago I found a small group of native wood sorrel (Oxalis montana) and have never seen any since until just recently. It’s a beautiful little thing which to me is like a spring beauty bonus that blooms in summer.  Unfortunately it’s very rare here, or at least I thought so. Now I’m not so sure; I found these plants growing in a spot that I have passed close to a hundred times, and that illustrates perfectly why I never hike a trail just once. You simply can’t see everything there is to see by hiking a trail once and since flowers bloom at different times, if you want to see them a trail should be hiked every couple of weeks. It’s the only way to see all of the plants that grow in a certain place.

3. Slender Nettle

Though slender nettle (Urtica gracilis) has fewer stinging hairs it is sometimes regarded as a variety of stinging nettle and is referred to as Urtica dioica gracilis. Its common name comes from the long, slender leaves. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has fatter, shorter, more heart shaped leaves. But grab ahold of either plant and you’ll find out why the Urtica part of the scientific name comes from the Latin uro, which means “I burn.” The hollow stinging hairs on the leaves and stems are called trichomes and act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that cause the stinging. If you’re lucky the nettle you run into will be growing next to some jewel weed (Impatiens capensis,) because the sap of that plant will stop the burning and stinging. People have been using nettles for food, medicine, fibers, and dyes since before recorded time.

4. Virginia Creeper

When I showed the Pathfinders around the old abandoned road near Beaver Brook we saw plenty of Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and Jim, their leader, mentioned that he had never seen its flowers. The flowers won’t win any blue ribbons at flower shows but they are another interesting part of nature that many people never see, so here they are.

5. Virginia Creeper

Each Virginia creeper flower is about 1/4 inch across and has 5 greenish, backward curving petals, 5 stamens with white filaments and large yellow anthers, and a conical pistil. If pollinated each flower becomes a bluish berry that many birds and animals love to eat. They are eaten by bluebirds, cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers, and turkeys. Mice, skunks, chipmunks, squirrels, and deer eat them too and deer also eat the leaves and stems. My favorite part of the plant is its leaves, which turn bright scarlet, orange and purple in the fall.

6. Staghorn Sumac Flowers

Staghorn sumac (Rhus hirta) is another flower that most of us, myself included, pass by without a glance. This time I decided to stop and see what I had been missing. It’s another of those flowers that won’t win any prizes but insects must love them, judging by how each flower head becomes a cluster of bright red, fuzzy berries. Each greenish yellow flower is about 1/4 inch across and has 5 curved petals, a 5 lobed calyx, 5 stamens, and a central pistil, all of which are so tiny I can’t even see them by eye alone.

7. Black Swallowwort

Black Swallowwort (Cynanchum louiseae) has purplish-brown to nearly black star shaped flowers that are about 1/4 inch across. They have five-petals and are fragrant, but not in a good way. It has a hard to describe their odor but on a hot summer day this plant is a real stinker that can be smelled from quite a distance. It’s a vining plant native to Europe that twines over native shrubs and plants at the edges of forests and shades them out. Colonies of this plant have been found that covered several acres of land. It is nearly impossible to eradicate from a garden; I can think of one or two gardens where I tried for years.

8. Black Swallowwort

It is thought that black swallowwort was intentionally introduced to North America around 1900 as an ornamental. I’m guessing that it was more of a garden conversation piece because of its “black” flowers. Plant breeders have been trying to create a truly black flower for a very long time and this one comes very close to fulfilling that dream on its own.

9. Dogbane

Native spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) has pretty little fragrant, pink bell shaped flowers with darker pink stripes inside. They remind me of lily of the valley in shape. Many insects visit these flowers but the plant has a toxic, sticky white latex sap that means animals leave it alone. The plant doesn’t mind a little shade; I often find it growing along trails through the woods. The tough bark from the stems of dogbanes produces fibers that Native Americans made a strong thread from. It was used to make nets for hunting rabbits, among other things.

10. Indian Cucumber Root

Natives had uses for Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) as well, and one of them was as food. Like its common name implies, this plant’s small root looks and tastes a lot like a mini cucumber.  It’s easy to identify because of its tiers of whorled leaves and unusual flowers. It likes to grow under trees in dappled light, probably getting no more than an hour or two of direct sunlight each day.

11. Indian Cucumber Root

The flowers of Indian cucumber root have 6 yellowish green tepals, 6 reddish stamens topped by greenish anthers, and 3 reddish purple to brown styles. These large styles are sometimes bright red- brown but I think they darken as they age. These appeared to be black under the camera’s flash. Each flower will become a shiny, inedible dark purplish black berry.

12. Ground Cherry

I don’t see ground cherry plants (Physalis heterophylla) very often. In fact I know of only two places where they grow, but it’s always worth going to visit them in June to see their unusual flowers. There is a bit of work involved though, because the nodding yellow and black flowers can be shy at times and hard to see. You can just see a bit of yellow in this photo at the rear of the plant.

13. Ground Cherry

I had to prop this ground cherry blossom up on a leaf to get this photo so we could see what it looks like. They look like someone put a drop of ink on each petal and then blew through a straw to make a feathery design. If pollination is successful each flower will become a bright yellow berry. This plant is called clammy ground cherry and there is another which looks quite different called smooth ground cherry (Physalis subglabrata.) That plant isn’t hairy and has orange or red berries. All parts of this plant are poisonous except the fruit, which can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be found in all of the lower 48 states except Nevada and California.

14. Bee Balm

Though I’ve seen signs advertising it for sale as bee bomb its common name is actually bee balm, which comes from the way the juice from its crushed leaves will soothe a bee sting. The native scarlet bee balm (Monarda didyma) is also called Oswego tea, because the leaves were used to make tea by the Native American Oswego tribe of New York. Early settlers also used the plant for tea when they ran out of the real thing. No matter what you choose to call it, it’s a beautiful thing that I’m always happy to see. Hummingbirds love it too and will come from all over to sip its nectar.

15. Swamp Milkweed

If ever there was a flower that could stop me in my tracks and absorb me so fully that I lose all sense of time and place, it is swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata.) It is one of those flowers that take me out of myself, and I wait impatiently for its blossoms each summer. How can you not love life when you know there is beauty like this in your future?

16. Columbine

The back of a columbine flower resembled a flock of white swans, come together to discuss whatever it is that swans discuss. I never knew this until now but technically a group of swans is called a whiteness, which seems appropriate. Unless you happen to be a black swan, I suppose.

In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty. ~Christopher Morley

Thanks for stopping in. I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th!

Read Full Post »

1. Catalpa

Imagine a tree 100 feet high and 50 wide full of orchids and you’ll have a good idea what the northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) looks like in full bloom. Of course the flowers are not orchids, but they’re very beautiful nevertheless. At 1-2 inches across they are also large, and so are the heart shaped leaves. These trees have long, bean like seed pods and when I was a boy we called them string bean trees. Luckily we were never foolish enough to eat any of the “beans” because they’re toxic. The word catalpa comes from the Native American Cherokee tribe. Other tribes called it catawba.

2. Catalpa Leaf

For those who have never seen a catalpa leaf, here is my camera sitting on one. I took this photo last fall.

3. Heal All

And since we’re thinking about orchids, here is our old friend heal all (Prunella lanceolata,) whose tiny hooded flowers also remind me of orchids. The plant is also called self-heal and has been used since ancient times. It is said to cure everything from sore throats to heart disease, and that’s how it got its common name. Some botanists believe that there are two varieties of the species; Prunella vulgaris from Europe, and Prunella lanceolata from North America. Native Americans drank a tea made from the plant before a hunt because they believed that it helped their eyesight.

4. Knapweed

Brown knapweed (Centaurea jacea) has started to bloom. I’ve always thought that knapweed flowers were very beautiful but unfortunately this plant is also from Europe and according to the U.S. Forest Service is a “highly invasive weed that is capable of forming large infestations under favorable conditions.”  The large infestations crowd out native plants including those used for forage on pasture lands, so it is not well liked by ranchers. The brown bracts below the flower are what give the plant its common name.

5. Partridge Berry

The unusual twin flowers of partridge berry (Mitchella repens) fuse at the base and share one ovary. They will become a single small red berry that has two dimples that show where the flowers used to be. Partridgeberry is one of the lowest growing evergreen plants on the forest floor, hardly growing more than 3 or 4 inches high. Plants have a vining habit but don’t climb. Instead they form dense mats by spreading their trailing stems out to about a foot from the crown. Roots will often form at leaf nodes along the stems and start new plants. Ruffed grouse, quail, turkeys, skunks, and white-footed mice eat the berries.

6. Mt. Laurel

June is when our native mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) blooms. The pentagonal flowers are very unusual because each has ten pockets in which the male anthers rest under tension. When a heavy enough insect lands on a blossom the anthers spring from their pockets and dust it with pollen. You can see flowers with relaxed anthers in the upper center and left parts of this photo. Once released from their pockets the anthers don’t return to them.

7. Mt. Laurel from Side

What once may have been five petals are now fused into a single, cup shaped blossom. A side view of a single mountain laurel blossom shows the unusual pockets that the anthers rest in. Another old name for mountain laurel is spoon wood, because Native Americans used the wood to make spoons and other small utensils.

8. Hedge Bindweed

I saw a beautiful bicolor hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium) flower one day. Though for many years all I ever saw were white flowered hedge bindweeds these bicolor ones have become more numerous over the last few years. Bindweeds are perennial and morning glories are annuals and one good way to tell them apart is by their leaves; morning glory (Ipomoea) has heart shaped leaves and bindweed has arrowhead shaped triangular leaves.

9. Red Sandspurry

This is the first time that red sandspurry (Spergularia rubra) has appeared on this blog, maybe because it is so small I’ve never noticed it. The tiny flowers aren’t much bigger than a BB that you would use in an air rifle, but grow in groups that are large enough to catch your eye. I find them growing in sand at the edge of roads and parking lots.

10. Red Sandspurry

The pretty little flowers of red sandspurry are pinkish lavender, so I’m not sure where the red in the common name comes from. This plant was originally introduced from Europe in the 1800s. An odd fact about the plant is that it has reached many states on the east and west coasts but doesn’t appear in any state along the Mississippi river except Minnesota. It must have been introduced on both coasts rather than first appearing in New England and then crossing the country like so many other invasive plants have.

11. Silky Dogwood

Silky dogwood has just started blooming. One way to tell that it’s a dogwood that you’re looking at is to count the flower petals. Dogwoods have 4 and viburnums have 5. What I like most about this shrub are its berries. They start off white and slowly turn deep blue, but for a while they are blue and white and remind me of Chinese porcelain. In fact I’ve always wondered if the Chinese got the idea for blue and white porcelain from these berries. This shrub is also called swamp dogwood. I usually find it growing on the banks of rivers and streams.

12. Columbine

I saw these beautiful wine red columbines in a friend’s garden. I think they probably started life as flashy bicolor hybrids and now the seedlings reverted back to one of the parents.

13. Sulfur Cinquefoil

Five pale yellow heart shaped petals surround a center packed with 30 stamens and many pistils in a sulfur cinquefoil blossom (Potentilla recta.) Close to the center each petal looks like it was daubed with a bit of deeper yellow. This is a very rough looking, hairy plant that was originally introduced from Europe. It grows in unused pastures and along roadsides but it is considered a noxious weed in some areas because it out competes grasses. I like seeing its pale yellow flowers among the purple maiden pinks and white ox-eye daisies.

14. Tulip Tree Blossom

The tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) gets its common name from the way its flowers resemble tulips, at least from the outside. As the photo shows, the inside looks very different. The fruit is cone shaped and made up of a number of thin, narrow scales which eventually become winged seeds. Another name for this tree is yellow poplar. It is the tallest hardwood tree known in North America, sometimes reaching 200 feet. Native Americans made dugout canoes from tulip tree trunks.

15. Crown Vetch

I love all flowers but some seem to have a little extra spark of life that makes me want to kneel before them and get to know them a little better. One of those is the lowly crown vetch (Securigera varia.) I know it’s an invasive species that people seem to either despise or ignore but it’s also beautiful. In fact if I had to design a beautiful flower, I don’t think I could do better than this.

If you love it enough, anything will talk with you. ~George Washington Carver

Thanks for stopping in.

Read Full Post »

Here are a few more of the flowers I’ve seen recently.

1. Blue Flag Iris

Last year I saw two native blue flag iris (Iris versicolor ) on the far side of a local pond. This year they are on all sides of the pond, so they spread fast. If you happen to be a forager and like making flour from cattail roots you want to be sure that you don’t get any iris roots mixed in, because they are very toxic.

2. Bunchberry

These bunchberry plants (Cornus canadensis) like growing on the side of this oak tree. These plants are often seen growing on or near rotting logs, so a lot of their nutrients must come from there. If bunchberry flowers remind you of dogwood blossoms, that’s because both dogwoods and bunchberry are in the same family. (Cornaceae) Just like with dogwoods blossoms the white parts of the bunchberry blossom are bracts, not petals.

 3. Bunchberry

The actual bunchberry flowers are the small bits in the center of the white bracts. The flowers will become “bunches” of bright red berries later on. The berries are loaded with pectin and Native Americans used them both medicinally and as food. The Cree tribe called bunchberry “itchy chin berry” because they can make you itch when rubbed against the skin.

4. Honey Locust Blossoms

Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) grows in all but two of the lower 48 states in the country. People in Oregon and Washington won’t get to see and smell its beautiful blooms but the rest of us will. This tree gets its common name from the sweet pulp found on the inside of its long, ripe seed pods. This tree has some very sharp thorns and is also called thorny locust.

5. Native Pink Azalea aka Rhododendron periclymenoides

 Last summer I found a shrub that looked like an azalea, so this year I went back and found that, sure enough, the shrub was our native pink azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides .) In my experience this shrub is very rare-I’ve only seen two of them in my lifetime, and this is one of those. I’ve since discovered that it is listed as endangered in New Hampshire .The flowers had mostly all gone by before I re-visited it, so next year I’ll have to visit it a little earlier. It’s a beautiful thing rarely seen, so it is well worth the effort.

6. Columbine

Other plants that I found last year were some columbines (Aquilegia) growing along a roadside. It was well past their bloom time so I made a note to revisit them this spring. Unfortunately a road crew had come along and scraped up all but two plants. I visited those that were left several times this spring until they finally bloomed.  Again unfortunately, instead of being our native red flowered Aquilegia they were a pinkish / purple garden escapee. I’ve included their photo here only because it took 7 months and a good dose of patience to get it.

7. Ashuelot Wildflowers

Native blue lupines (Lupinus Perennis) are blooming along the Ashuelot River in Swanzey, New Hampshire, along with yellow bird’s foot trefoil. The town has decided that this area will be a park, so the lupines and many other wildflowers that grow here will most likely be destroyed. How ironic that blue lupines are listed as a threatened species in New Hampshire.

 8. Maiden Pink

 Maiden pinks (Dianthus deltoids) get their common name from the way the petals look like they were edged with pinking shears. This European native has escaped gardens and can be found in lawns and meadows in many states in the U.S. Oddly enough, it is listed as a nationally scarce species in England. I think we could send them boatloads, just from the stock we have here in New Hampshire. A very similar plant is the Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria) but its flowers have much narrower petals.

 9. Blue Eyed Grass

There are several species of Blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium) that grow from coast to coast in the U.S. Though its common name says that it is a grass the plant is actually in the iris family. The flowers have 3 petals and 3 sepals and all are the same color blue. Blue eyed grass is an old favorite of mine.

 10. Oxeye Daisy

Ox eye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) bloomed early this year. If ever there was a flower that said it was June this is it, but I found a few blooming in May. This is another European native that escaped gardens and is now found in meadows in every state in the U.S. including Alaska and Hawaii. A vigorous plant can produce up to 26,000 seeds. In tests 82% of those seeds remain viable even after being buried for 6 years, so don’t look for this one on the endangered list any time soon.

 11. Heal All

Heal all (Prunella vulgaris) has just started blooming this week here. Its tiny purple flowers are always a welcome sight. Nobody seems to agree on where this plant originated because it is recorded in the histories of several countries before the history of travel was recorded. Maybe everyone should agree that it is a plant known since ancient times and leave it at that. It was once thought to be a holy herb sent by God to cure man’s ills. The name heal all comes from the way that It has been used medicinally on nearly every continent on earth to cure virtually any ailment one can name.

 12. Yellow Hawkweed

Yellow hawkweed (Hieracium caespitosum) flowers can rise to a height of up to 3 feet on wiry, leafless stems. The leaves are in a cluster at the base of the long stem and this makes photographing the plants in their entirety very tricky, unless you are an expert in depth of field. I’m not, so you get to see the flowers and not the leaves. This plant hails from Europe and is considered a noxious weed in many states. The common name of hawk weed came about because Pliny the elder wrote that hawks ate the plants to improve their vision. I wonder if Pliny himself had vision problems.

 13. Orange Hawkweed

Orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) doesn’t get quite as tall as yellow, but getting the entire plant in one photo is still a challenge. This plant is another that was introduced from Europe and is now considered a noxious weed. I like it for its color because orange isn’t seen that often in nature. One common name of orange hawkweed is Devil’s paintbrush. When I was a boy everyone called it Indian paintbrush even though true Indian paintbrush (Castilleja) is an entirely different plant.

None can have a healthy love for flowers unless he loves the wild ones. ~Forbes Watson

Thanks for stopping in.

Read Full Post »

I thought I’d get out of the forest and back into the garden again for this post. Flowers are beautiful no matter where they grow, so you’ll find a little of everything from everywhere here.

Pheasant Eye Daffodil-also called Narcissus poeticus. This is supposed to have been one of the first daffodils cultivated in ancient times, and this is the latest and most fragrant one to flower here. I’ve seen more and more of these in fields and along roadsides so they are naturalizing. The yellow center cup with a red fringe and the late blooming period are good ways to identify this flower. Azaleas are blooming heavily this year, with bushes so full of flowers that you would think they would topple over under the sheer weight of it all. This deep pink one is in my yard and is a dwarf evergreen azalea. All azaleas are in the genus Rhododendron, and evergreen azaleas are in the subgenus Tsutsusi.This is a deciduous azalea that is much larger than the previous one shown and very fragrant. It grows in a local park. Deciduous azaleas are in the subgenus Pentanthera. I’m eagerly anticipating the native azaleas that will bloom soon. This deep purple Beaded Iris (Iris germanica) was in the same park and looked almost black. I don’t know the name of the cultivar. I’m sorry about the harsh lighting in some of these photos, but with a full time job and home renovations on-going, I just don’t have the luxury of waiting for an overcast day to take pictures.I thought this white bearded iris (Iris germanica) was especially beautiful.  Too much shade will cause weak blooming in bearded irises and these that I found in a park were being shaded by trees and shrubs. If they were moved to a sunnier spot they would do better. This is a Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) that blooms before all other irises in my gardens. This native to northern Asia and Europe is such a tough plant that I usually use an axe to divide it into smaller plants. Partial shade doesn’t bother this iris. In fact, nothing bothers this iris. This yellow daylily (Hemerocallis) is very early, blooming just after the Siberian irises bloom. This plant was given to me many years ago by a friend who has since passed on and I have divided it many times for family and friends. Two things make this plant special: the early bloom time and the heavenly fragrance that smells of citrus and spices. I have a feeling this is a Lemon daylily (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus) which is a very old species brought to America in colonial days and originally from China and Europe.  The Greek Hemerocallis means “beautiful for a day,” and that’s how long each flower lasts. It’s a shame that many of today’s daylilies, bred for larger and more colorful flowers, have lost their ancient fragrance. Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) is a beautiful plant in the pea family. This is a native plant that is sold in nurseries because it is so popular. Its flowers resemble those of the lupine, which is also in the pea family. Native Americans used this plant to make blue dye. True indigo (Indigofera) comes from the tropics.The pink flowers on this horse chestnut tree were really beautiful. I found it in a park so I don’t know what cultivar it is, but I’d like to have it in my yard. Believe it or not this is a columbine-a double flowered variety. Interesting, but I think I like the ordinary, single flowered columbines more.

Ornamental perennial salvia is blooming already. The culinary form of salvia is the herb known as sage. I’m wondering what fall will be like this year. Everything is blooming so early; I wonder if there will be anything left to bloom in September. Dogwood used to be a tree that you saw only occasionally, but now you see them everywhere-even at fast food restaurants. That doesn’t mean they are any less beautiful though. The sepals on this one were beyond white-I think the whitest I’ve seen on a plant. In a post I did recently called Under Cultivation I showed a photo of this flower and said I thought it might be a button bush, but I couldn’t be sure. Now I’m sure; it’s a native shrub related to witch hazel and is called Witch alder (Fothergilla major.) I’ve never seen this before this year, but I like it because it is so unusual. Witch alder (Fothergilla major.) 

Seed head of the pasque flower (Anemone patens,) which is almost as beautiful as the flower itself. One is just coming into bloom in the upper part of the photo. I saw a flash of color in the corner of my eye as I was driving and what I discovered, after I backed up and jumped out, was a wisteria vine trying hard to make it all the way to the top of a cherry tree.  The problem is I don’t know if it is a Chinese or Japanese wisteria. It’s doubtful that it is the American species because that one isn’t supposed to be hardy in New Hampshire. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful, and I want to go back later and try to identify it. Wisteria can grow under siding and shingles and actually tear them off, so they should never be planted near a house. Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), though beautiful, can overrun a garden. These flowers grow from a bulb and are native to southern Europe and Africa. The bulbs contain toxic alkaloids and have killed livestock, so they are now listed as an invasive species.


The common purple Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is the state flower of New Hampshire so I guess I’d better include it here.  Their scent, along with the honeysuckle and autumn olive, makes doing anything outside so much more enjoyable. Lilacs were first imported into New Hampshire from England in 1750 and grown at the Portsmouth home of Governor Benning Wentworth. The original plants are still blooming today in that garden and are believed to be the oldest lilacs in America.

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.  ~Walt Whitman

As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what is blooming here in New Hampshire, and this day I hope you’ll forgive my forgetfulness! Thank you for stopping by.

Read Full Post »