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Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Knotweed’

1. Striped Maple

Some of the most beautiful things that happen in a northeastern forest are happening right now, and I hope everyone living in the area will have a chance to witness them. Bud break, when a plant’s bud scales open to reveal the new leaves within, can be a very beautiful thing, as we see here in the velvety pink buds of striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum.) The larger center bud’s scales have just opened and leaves will appear shortly. Bud break can go on for quite some time among various species; striped and sugar maples follow cherry, and birch and beech will follow them, and shagbark hickory will follow birch and beech. Oaks are usually one of the last to show leaves. That’s just a small sampling that doesn’t include shrubs like lilac and forest floor plants that also have buds breaking.

2. Horsetail

Even the lowly horsetails are breaking bud beautifully. The fertile spore bearing stem of a common horsetail (Equisetum arvense) ends in a light brown, cone shaped structure called a strobilus. Since it doesn’t photosynthesize at this point in its development the plant has no need for chlorophyll, so most of it is a pale, whitish color. When it’s ready to release its spores the cone opens to reveal tiny, mushroom shaped sporangiophores.

3. Horsetail Closeup

The whitish “ruffles” at the base of each brown sporangiophore are the spore producing sporangia. When the horsetail looks like the one in the photo it has released its spores and will soon die and be replaced by an infertile stem. Nature can seem very complicated at times but it always comes down to one simple thing: continuation of the species.

4. Horsetail Infertle Stem

More people are probably familiar with the infertile stems of horsetail, shown here. They grow from the same roots as the fertile spore bearing shoots in the previous two photos and they do all the photosynthesizing.  Horsetails spread quickly and can be very aggressive. If they ever appear in your garden you should remove them as soon as possible, because large colonies are nearly impossible to eradicate.

5. Bittersweet on Elm

Invasive Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is an expert at continuation of its species; not only does it produce berries that birds love; it also strangles the tree it uses to reach the most abundant sunshine. That can be seen here as this bittersweet vine slowly strangles an American elm. The vine is like a steel cable that wraps around the tree’s trunk and since the tree can’t break it, it often slowly strangles.

6. Cattail Shoot

Cattails (Typha latifolia) have just started coming up. Cattails at the edge of pond can grow faster than fertilized corn in a field and can create monocultures by shading out other plants with their dense foliage and debris from old growth. They are also very beneficial to many animals and birds and even the ponds and lakes they grow in by filtering runoff water and helping reduce the amount of silt and nutrients that flow into them.  Cattails were an important food for Native Americans. Their roots contain more starch than potatoes and more protein than rice, and native peoples made flour from them.  They also ate the new shoots in spring, which must have been especially welcome after a long winter of eating dried foods.

7. Male Mallard

A mallard swam serenely in the pond near the cattail shoots, so intent on something he saw on the far side that he didn’t even hear me walking on the trail.

8. Male Mallard

Or so I thought anyway. He knew I was there but my presence didn’t seem to bother him and he just swam along beside me as I walked the trail. I think he was as curious of me as I was of him.

9. Unknown Shoots

If you looked at the root of the aquatic arrowhead plant (Sagittaria latifolia) you’d see a whitish, chestnut size tuber with a shoot coming out of its top center. The shore of a local pond was littered with many shoots and since I know arrowheads grow here I’m guessing that’s what they were from. Though arrowhead plants are also called duck potatoes mallards eat only the seeds but muskrats, painted turtles and snapping turtles all eat the tubers. I’ve never seen a muskrat in this pond but I’ve seen many of both kinds of turtles here, so they may be the culprits.

10. Turtle

All of the sudden I’m seeing turtles everywhere, as if someone flipped a switch. This painted turtle let me get one photo and then it was gone. Fossils show that painted turtle have been here for about 15 million years. They can be found from Canada to Mexico and Maine to California and can live for over 50 years. Native Americans listened for the turtle’s splash into the water and used it as an alarm and one native legend says that Painted Turtle put his paint on to entice a chief’s daughter into the water. I don’t know about that but they have certainly enticed many a child into the water, and I was one of them.

11. Bullfrog

I doubt that painted turtles bother bullfrogs but I’d bet that snapping turtles do, and there are some big ones in this pond. I wondered if that was why this male bullfrog was sitting in the trail instead of in the water. He didn’t flinch when I walked to within a foot from him, and he let me take as many photos as I wanted. Bullfrogs are big; the biggest frog in North America, and the males do sound a bit like a bull. I’ve seen bullfrogs in the Ashuelot river that were so big they wouldn’t have fit in the palms of both hands held together.

12. Bullfrog

He let me walk around him to take photos of his other side without moving. Since it was just the two of us it’s doubtful that he though I couldn’t see him. Male bullfrogs have very large tympanic membranes that cover their ears. They sit slightly below and behind their eyes and are always bigger than the eye. Females have tympanic membranes that are the same size as their eyes, even though female bullfrogs can be much bigger than males. In some Native American tribes frogs were considered medicine animals that had healing powers and brought rain. Some, like the Chippewa tribes, had frogs as their clan animal. Clan members take their clan animal as their emblem, but they don’t believe that their clan is descended from that animal.

13. Robin

This robin looked like it had been eating very well. I’ve never seen as many as we have lately; large flocks of them. In the past I’ve felt lucky to have seen a single bird in spring.

14. White Baneberry

I love the movement in the young spring shoots of white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) and I look for it every spring. This example had what looked like a prehistoric hand holding its flower buds while the newly opened leaves gazed down from above, enraptured. I fell under its spell for a while myself; it was such a beautiful and interesting little thing. This entire plant is poisonous and its berries especially so. They are white with a single black dot that gives them the common name doll’s eyes. In summer the berries follow a raceme of white flowers that is taller than it is wide, and which will grow from the tiny buds seen in this photo.

15. Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) can be very beautiful as it spreads its new leaves to catch the sun. Unfortunately it’s also very invasive and almost impossible to control. I’ve seen Japanese knotweed shoots killed to the ground by cold in the past, and within 3 weeks they had come right back and grew on as if it had never happened. I’ve heard that the new shoots taste much like rhubarb but the plants grow into large, 4-5 foot tall shrub like masses that shade out natives.

16. Cinnamon Fern-2

Both cinnamon (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) and interrupted ferns (Osmunda claytoniana) have fuzzy shoots, called fiddleheads because of their resemblance to the head of a violin. Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) must be up as well, and fiddleheads from that fern are considered a delicacy in many restaurants. Last year I went with a professional fiddlehead forager and saw thousands upon thousands of ostrich fern fiddleheads. Cinnamon and interrupted fern fiddleheads are very bitter and mildly toxic. In fact many are toxic and shouldn’t be eaten unless you know them well or are buying them at a store or restaurant. .

17. White Ash Buds

The male flower buds of American white ash (Fraxinus americana) appear before the leaves and can sometimes be colorful and sometimes black as blackberries. The Wabanaki Indian tribes made their baskets from ash. Some tribes believed ash was poisonous to rattlesnakes and used ash canes to chase them away.

18. Sugar Maple Bud

The buds of sugar maple (Acer saccharum) have just broken on some trees and on others small leaves are already showing. The veins are prominent even on leaves that haven’t unfurled. Deer love to snack on sweet sugar maple buds and quite often you find only branch stubs and this time of year.

19. New Maple Leaves

Red maple (Acer rubrum) leaves live up to their name when they’re this young. The red color in spring leaves is caused by the same pigments that bring the reds of autumn, the anthocyanins. That covers the how but little is really known about the why. One theory says that it’s because deer and moose can’t see red and therefore won’t eat the new, tender leaves. Another says that the red color protects the leaves from cold temperatures and damaging ultraviolet rays, but nobody seems to know for sure. I like to think the colors are there just to make the world a more beautiful place.

I meant to do my work today, but a brown bird sang in the apple tree, and a butterfly flitted across the field, and all the leaves were calling. ~Richard le Gallienn

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1. Horse Chestnut Bud Break

Leaf and flower buds can look very different when they first open compared to when they’re fully grown. The colors alone can make them quite beautiful but sometimes there are other surprises. For instance, when the leaves on this horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) unfurled they revealed the flower bud that they had been protecting. It was as big as my thumb.

2. Beech Buds Breaking

Bud break is defined as “when the green tip of a leaf can be seen emerging from the bud,” but there is often far more to it than that. These beech buds turned a beautiful orangey color and the tension brought on by some cells growing faster than others caused them to curl. Any time now the leaves will begin to unfurl completely and they will look like downy, silvery angel wings for just a very short time.

3. Horsetail

Technically not a bud break but interesting nonetheless, the fertile spore bearing stem of a common horsetail (Equisetum arvense) ends in a light brown, cone shaped structure called a strobilus. Since it doesn’t photosynthesize at this point in its development the plant has no need for chlorophyll, so most of it is a pale, whitish color. When it’s ready to release its spores the cone opens to reveal tiny, mushroom shaped sporangiophores. The whitish “ruffles” at the base of each brown sporangiophore are the spore producing sporangia. When the horsetail looks like the one in the photo it has released its spores and will soon die and be replaced by an infertile stem. Nature can seem very complicated at times but it always comes down to one simple thing: continuation of the species.

4. Bitternut Hickory Buds aka Carya cordiformis

I was walking along an old rail bed and spotted an unbelievable shade of yellow. The strange color belonged to the buds of a bitternut hickory tree (Carya cordiformis), which is something I’ve never seen before. When I see something like this I wonder what the tree gains from having buds this color. It’s possible that it has something to do with keeping animals from browsing on the new shoots, but I don’t know that for sure.  It is said that the nuts from this tree are so bitter that even squirrels won’t eat them, so maybe the buds are too.

5. Box Elder Bud Break

The female flowers of box elder (Acer negundo) have bright green, hairy pistils with sticky stigmas that split in two. The winged seeds that appear after the flowers hang in clusters and will stay on the tree throughout winter, sometimes into spring. Some trees flower before growing leaves and some grow their leaves first and then flower. Box elders fall somewhere in between, with both flowers and leaves on the tree at the same time.

6. Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a hated plant because of its invasive qualities but in spring it can be very beautiful as it unravels itself from the bud. I’ve heard that these new shoots taste much like rhubarb. Maybe if we stopped fighting it and started eating it we could lick the problem of its being so invasive. Last spring we had a hard, late frost and Japanese knotweed shoots were killed to the ground, but within 3 weeks they had come right back and grew as if it had never happened.

7. New Ginger Leaves

Our native wild ginger (Asarum canadense) takes its time opening its new leaves. I’ve been watching these plants for close to three weeks now, since they first came up, and this photo shows the progress they’ve made in that time. I wonder if the small brown flowers will take as long to appear as the leaves take to unfold.

8. White Baneberry Buds

The opening buds of baneberry always remind me of a hand and it isn’t hard to imagine webbed fingers clawing their way out of the soil. Here they grasp the flower bud which will soon become a globular mass of tiny white flowers. The plant shown here is white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda), also called doll’s eyes, and by the end of summer its flowers will have become porcelain white berries with single black dots on their ends. These berries are beautiful and especially attractive to children, but are also very toxic. Fortunately their bitter taste keeps most children from being poisoned by them.

9. Sweetfern Catkins

Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina) sometimes hangs onto its old leaves even as it is making mew ones. In this photo last year’s leaves wrap around this year’s male catkins. I always run my hands over the leaves to release the fragrance that it is named for. Some compare it to soap, others to spices or fresh mown hay. It is a very unusual scent that smells clean and a bit spicy to me. Though its leaves resemble fern leaves it is really a deciduous shrub. Crushing a few leaves and rubbing them over your skin will keep mosquitoes and other bugs away.

10. Sweet Fern Female Flower

Further down the stem of the sweet fern not only are new leaves breaking, but the tiny scarlet female flower is waiting for the wind to bring pollen from male catkins. You can just make it out on the left, beside where the new leaves are forming. I think it is even smaller than the female flower of American hazelnut (Corylus Americana,) which means that it’s too small for these aging eyes to see. Getting a photo of it was simple luck.

11. Skunk Cabbage

Some of the biggest buds I know of are those of skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus.) As the leaves begin to unfurl they do look a bit like cabbage leaves but if you tried cooking them their odor would soon let you know that you weren’t dealing with cabbage! In this photo not only can you see the new leaves but the spathe and even the flower covered spadix in the broken spathe to the right of center. It’s the first time I’ve been able to get all of the different parts of a skunk cabbage plant in one photo.

 12. Sugar Maple Leaf Bud aka Acer saccharum

The late afternoon sun was doing some strange things to the veins on this emerging sugar maple leaf (Acer saccharum). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a new leave’s veins stand out from the body of the leaf in this way. I thought it was a beautiful sight but was surprised that a deer hadn’t eaten it.

When man gives his whole heart to Nature and has no cares outside, it is surprising how observant he becomes, and how curious he is to know the cause of things. ~William Davies

Happy mother’s day tomorrow to all of the moms out there. Thanks for coming by.

 

 

 

 

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This post is about firsts as much as anything else; the first post I’ve ever done in black and white and the first post that’s been about photography more than the subjects of the photos. This is also the first time I’ve had to see things so very differently, and for that I have Patrick Muir to thank. Patrick has a blog called Patrick’s Garden, which you can visit by clicking here. He saw the first black and white photo to ever appear on this blog and challenged me to do an entire post in black and white, so Patrick, this one is for you.

 1. Dead Tree in Ice

I thought I’d start at the beginning with this photo of a dead tree that I posted back in December. Though I admire photos by people like Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange I haven’t ever been very interested in black and white photography, but then I saw a black and white photo on Tootlepedal’s blog (another one worth a visit) and thought it might be fun to give it a try. I found out by doing this little project that color can actually be a distraction and a hindrance, and sometimes you don’t really see until you remove the distraction.

 2. Dim Sun

Often in winter the world is more black and white than anything else so it was no work at all to turn the photo above and the first photo of the dead tree to black and white. If I showed both the color and black and white versions side by side you could barely tell which was which.

 3. Pixie Cup Lichens

These pixie cup lichens (Cladonia asahinae) are the color of wood ash but many times they look almost white in a certain light. They have a granular, pebbly surface and the absence of color makes it much easier to see.

4. Japanese Knotweed Seed 

This is the seed pod of Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum). The plant itself is a terribly invasive weed that is almost impossible to eradicate, but its tiny whitish seeds have three wings that fly 120 degrees apart, and make up a papery husk around the seed. I never noticed the texture of their wings until I saw them in black and white.

 5. Icicles  in Black and White

Ice and water seem to make good candidates for black and white photography. The icicles are much easier to see.

6. Mushrooms on a Log 

Long time readers of this blog have probably heard me talk about my colorblindness at one time or another. The kind I have isn’t severe but, though I can see red and green traffic lights, if a red cardinal lands in a green tree he disappears. The above photo was rejected because it was (to me) monochromatic, showing only varying shades of brown. The mushrooms almost blended into the background but in the black and white version they really stand out.

7. Tree Wound 

Tree wounds can be interesting but this one seems even more so in black and white. The absence of color helps me to think more about shape and texture.

 8. White Poplar Leaf

If you find something that looks like a maple leaf but has a deep green upper surface and a pure white underside, it is a leaf from a white poplar (Populus alba). Making this photo black and white did nothing to the leaf-it really was as snow white as it appears in the photo.

 9. Mushroom Gills

I like how the texture of the oak leaf that this tiny mushroom cap is sitting on becomes almost reptilian when seen this way.

 10. Hoar Frost

The dark water and white hoar frost again meant little change when this photo became black and white.

11. Gray Birches in Winter 

This photo of gray birches (Betula populifolia) was another one that showed little change from color to black and white.

12. Lowbush Blueberry Blossoms 

Last September, on a very foggy morning, I climbed Mount Caesar in Swanzey and found a lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) blooming long after any blueberry should have been. I posted the color version of this photo then, but I like the black and white version more. The water droplets make sense because of the dense fog, but I still can’t figure out what would have caused the bubbles on these tiny blossoms.

This was a fun post, if for no other reason than forcing me to climb out of my comfort zone and try something new. I feel though, because black and white photography is very easy in the winter when the world is black and white, that I’ve cheated a bit, so I’ll do another black and white post in the summer or fall. I have a feeling that will be a real challenge.

To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul. ~ Andri Cauldwell

Thanks for coming by. 

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The temperature fell to 40 degrees one night this week. Soon the leaves will begin to turn and the scent of wood smoke will fill the morning air. This means that the season for photographing flowers is coming to an end and soon we’ll all be wondering what else to use as subjects. For now though, there are still a few here and there. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve seen lately.

 1. Pickeral Weed

Native aquatic pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) has had a long bloom period this year, but I’ve never paid enough attention to it to know if this is an unusual year for it. I like its fuzzy flowers.  Pickerelweed’s common name comes from the pickerel fish. They were once thought to breed only under this plant’s leaves. Once the flowers are pollinated and seeds form the flower stalk will bend over and drop the seeds into the water. They will have to go through at least two months of cold weather before being able to germinate.

 2. Turtlehead

Turtle head (Chelone glabra) is another native that likes water, but not enough to be considered aquatic. It will often grow right at the water’s edge along ponds and streams, so even the slightest rise in water level will put the plant’s roots under water. These flowers had almost gone by but the photo is a good representation of what they look like. The flowers are said to look like turtle heads, but I’m still not seeing it. The blossom in the upper left corner comes closest to the turtle look for me. Native Americans made medicinal tea from this plant and early colonials used it in the same way.

 3. Japanese Knotweed

All of the Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) plants in this immediate area came up too early last spring and were blackened by a hard frost. As the photo above shows, it didn’t even slow them down. This, along with purple loosestrife is one of the worst invasives, because it spreads so fast and so thickly that it chokes out all other plants. A viable plant can grow from as little as .7 grams of rootstock.

 4. Japanese Knotweed

The flowers are why Japanese knotweed was imported from England back in the late 1800s.

5. Lady's Thumb

Lady’s thumb (Persicaria vulgaris) gets its common name from a black / brown smudge on its leaves, supposedly left there by a mysterious lady we’ll never know. Small pink flowers crowd the flower stalks (Racemes) on this plant in the knotweed family. Each flower has 5 sepals but no petals. Flowers can be pink, red, greenish white, or purple. All of these colors sometimes appear on the same raceme. This plant is native to Europe and Asia.

6. Lady's Thumb

The “lady’s thumb print” on Persicaria vulgaris leaves.

7. Smartweed

Smartweed (Polygonum hydropiperoides) flowers look a lot like those of its cousin lady’s thumb, but the flower spikes are longer and usually droop like the one in the photo. They also usually grow in the water of rivers and streams and have narrower leaves that don’t have the “thumbprint” that lady’s thumb leaves do. This plant is also called water pepper for good reason-the name “smartweed” comes from the very sharp, peppery taste of the stems, which makes the tongue smart. Many ducks, birds and animals eat the seeds.

 8. Pale Jewelweed

 Pale jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) looks a lot like spotted jewelweed, but has larger, pale yellow flowers instead of orange.  This plant is rarely seen here, but I found several large plants growing beside a stream one day. Native Americans used the crushed leaves of jewelweed to stop the itching caused by poison ivy. I’ve used the plant’s juice for the same thing and it works well, and it also works on bug bites.

 9. Pale Jewelweed

The sides of this flower were spotted much like those of spotted jewelweed, but quite often this plant’s flowers will have no spots at all. The nectar spur is shorter and less curved on pale jewelweed flowers as well. I think if I had to choose between the two plants I’d prefer the deep orange spotted jewelweed flowers.

10. Sweet everlasting aka Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium

Native sweet everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium) looks a lot like pearly everlasting ( Anapahlis margaritacea) but its flower heads are narrower. The two plants are in the aster family, but aren’t closely related. These flowers are made up of a densely packed outer rim of overlapping bracts with many yellow disc florets in the center. The ‘everlasting” part of the common name comes from the way it lasts after it is dried. This plant is also called rabbit tobacco, but I’ve never seen one smoking it. Native Americans had many uses for it.

 11. Joe pye Weed

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) had a good year and this is just one of many large displays that I saw. Research into exactly who Joe Pye was has been ongoing for many years. The latest evidence says that Joseph Pye was a Mohegan sachem (chief) who lived in western Massachusetts and saved early European settlers from typhus by brewing a tea made from this plant. Joseph Pye was educated by Samson Occam, himself a Mohegan herbalist and Christian convert who kept an extensive diary. Those interested can read more about Joe Pye by clicking here.

12. Goldenrod

I usually stay away from goldenrod identification because even experts have trouble with them, but when I see one that looks like it’s been in a strong wind, with all of the flowers on one side of the stem I know it is gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis.) Native Americans used many goldenrods medicinally in the form of salves, syrups and teas.

 13. Purple Aster

The purple asters are beginning to peek out here and there among the whites, which are almost done blooming. I think this one is a bog aster (Aster nemoralus,) but there are so many different ones that it’s hard to identify most of them with any real certainty unless you want to spend half a day doing so. All I know for sure is that it isn’t a New England Aster, which has a much larger flower. These were about the size of nickels.

Flowers whisper “Beauty!” to the world, even as they fade, wilt, and fall. ~Dr. SunWolf

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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

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There are still flowers blooming now and some of them, like asters, goldenrods and an occasional Joe Pye weed are quite showy. Most of them though, are very small and not showy at all. In fact it’s easy to walk right by a lot of them without even seeing them. Here are a few of the showy and not so showy. The blue flowers crowded on one side of the long stem give away the identity of creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides.) This plant was introduced as an ornamental from Europe and has escaped to dry places that get full sun. This is a late bloomer but is usually finished by the time goldenrods have their biggest flush of bloom.  It is an invasive plant that is hard to get rid of once it has become established and will choke out weaker native plants.I didn’t need to crush a leaf and smell it to know this was wild mint (Mentha arvensis)-the flowers told me that-but I did anyway because I like the scent of fresh mint.  I found this plant growing in a semi shaded area in moist soil. I was surprised to find it in a nice, tidy clump instead of taking over the whole area. Mint is famous for spreading quickly, which is why it doesn’t make a good plant for the garden.Sweet everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium) isn’t a close relative of pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) but the flowers look somewhat alike. That’s most likely because they are both in the Aster family. Sweet everlasting has flower buds that are much narrower than those on pearly everlasting. These flowers are slow to open-I waited for them for close to two weeks before giving up and snapping this picture. Everlastings get their name from the way they last a long time as a cut flower. These white plants are easy to see against the browning grasses of fall. European native butter and eggs (Linaria vulgaris) bloomed for a while and then stopped, and now it’s blooming again. This yellow toadflax has a flower that is much larger and showier than any blue toadflax that I’ve seen. These flowers resemble snapdragons and last a long time as a cut flower. I think it’s one of the most beautiful weeds that I know of. Though books say they are common, I never saw a bicolor turtlehead flower (Chelone glabra) until I found this white one with a touch of plum colored blush on each flower. I grow one in my garden that is almost the same pinkish / lavender color, but over the entire flower. These plants like moist soil and will grow in sun or shade. This wild one gets a lot of hot afternoon sun and the plant I grow in my garden gets only an hour or two of morning sun. Both seem to do equally well.Carpet weed (Mollugo verticillata) is easy to recognize because of its whorled leaves, small white flowers, and ground hugging habit. This small weed grows very fast and in no time at all can cover quite a large piece of ground in a mat which has taken root at every leaf node. This plant originated in tropical America and is an annual, which means it grows new from seed each year.Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) was brought to Europe from Japan sometime around 1829. It was taken to Holland and grown in nurseries that sold it as an ornamental. From there it found its way across the Atlantic where we still do battle with it today. It is one of the most invasive weeds known and the only plant I have ever seen overtake it is purple loosestrife, which is also an invasive weed. Japanese knotweed is also a tough plant-the one shown in the photo was burned black right back to the ground last spring during an April frost and I thought for sure it was finished. As you can see, I was wrong. Nodding bur marigold (Bidens cernua) is unusually showy for a late summer /early fall wildflower. These native plants like to grow in wet soil and are common at the edges of rivers and ponds-I have even seen them growing in water. They really put on a show because there aren’t many other large yellow wildflowers blooming at this time. A nodding burr marigold (Bidens cernua) flower. This plant is also called beggar’s ticks because of the way its seeds stick to clothing. This plant is easily confused with Bidens laevis, the southern bur marigold. The late blooming period, serrated, hairless leaves and flowers that nod down toward the ground help with the identification of this plant.American water Horehound (Lycopus americanus) has clusters of tiny white flowers that ring the stem at the leaf axils. These small blooms never seem to all be open at the same time. This plant is easily confused with Northern bugleweed (Lycopus uniflorus) and wild mint (Mentha arvensis) which both blossom at the same time. Crushing and smelling a leaf will easily confirm that it isn’t wild mint. Northern bugleweed doesn’t have lower leaves that are deeply lobed like those on American water horehound, so deeply lobed lower leaves that don’t smell like mint are what to look for when trying to find this plant. All three like to grow near water. The Ancient Greeks believed that the goddess of love Aphrodite created marjoram as a symbol of happiness. They made wreaths out of the mild herb for marriage and funeral ceremonies. Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is a native of Asia and is closely related to oregano (Origanum vulgare.) It is easily confused with oregano but has a much milder flavor. Its leaves are also grayer and slightly hairier than those of oregano. You can find both growing in the wild occasionally.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks for stopping in.

 

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For this post science has bet set aside in favor of the beauty of things we might not think of as beautiful. Spring is certainly the time for wildflowers but there are many other things happening in the forest as well. One of those is bud break, when leaves of every kind begin to unfurl. Sometimes emerging leaves can be every bit as beautiful as spring flowers and sometimes not, but beautiful or not, it is always interesting to see plants at this stage.

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), Buds. These are often called candles in the nursery trade. New Norway maple (Acer platanoides) leaves. More new maple leaves. I think the contrast between the leaves of the red maple (Acer rubrum ) shown here and those of the Norway maple in the previous photo is amazing.

Japanese knotweed is an invasive species, but I thought its unfurling buds were very beautiful. Unfortunately this plant spreads rapidly and chokes out native species. It was imported as an ornamental in the 1800s from Japan. Maybe the side of it seen here was the reason why. New Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) leaves and flower bracts from last fall’s blooms. It takes a full year for witch hazel flowers to become fruit.

 New leaves of box elder (Acer negundo.)  The box elder is in the maple family and is the only maple with compound leaves. It isn’t hard to see why “stag horn” became part of this sumac’s name (Rhus typhina.) The fruit of staghorn sumac is an important winter emergency food for birds and other wildlife. I thought that these American beech (Fagus grandifolia) leaves were every bit as beautiful as a flower. They seemed to have a gray ‘aura’ along their outside edges, or maybe it was just the way the light was shining on them. These and many other plants are showing their leaves up to three weeks early. A hard freeze now would do a lot of damage, especially to fruit trees. Orchardists are anxiously waiting for mid-May when the danger will have passed. Emerging fiddleheads of Maidenhair fern. I think that these are the most beautiful and delicate of all the ferns, and are one of my favorites.  They grow in hardwood forests in soils with relatively high levels of moisture, nutrients, and high-quality organic matter, so they aren’t often seen in the wild. I have some growing in a shady spot here in the yard. At this stage they are a magical thing to see. What I think is cut leaved toothwort (Dentaria laciniata) seemed to be caught in a strong wind, even though there wasn’t even a gentle breeze blowing.  I was fascinated by the movement in these leaf buds as they opened and sat studying the plant for quite a little while, fully absorbed in its world and lost to my own.

“Now is the time of the illuminated woods … when every leaf glows like a tiny lamp.”  ~ J. Burroughs 

I hope that you have also had time to see the wonders of nature unfolding. Thanks for stopping in.

 

 

 

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