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Posts Tagged ‘Jimson Weed’

 

1-asters

I’ve seen the white of frost on rooftops a couple times but it was very light and from what I can see didn’t harm a single plant, so we’re still seeing a few flowers. Our average first frost date is September 15th, so we’re very lucky to be seeing them nearly a month later. I found this nice clump of what I think is purple stemmed aster (Symphyotrichum puniceum) growing on the shore of a pond recently.

2-asters

I’m seeing this aster everywhere right now. It has flowers that are quite small and grows at forest edges and other dry locations. I think it’s the late purple aster (Symphyotrichum patens.) It’s rough, hairy stems tell me that it isn’t the smooth aster (Symphyotrichum laeve.) Whatever its name is, it’s a beautiful small plant that’s loaded with blossoms.

3-globe-amaranth

I’m not sure why but as a gardener I never had much to do with globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) but I saw some recently in a town garden. It’s a native of Central and South America so it must have loved the warm weather we had this summer. I’ve read that blossoms can be purple, red, white, pink, or lilac.

4-globe-amaranth

This globe amaranth reminded me of red clover.

5-globe-amaranth

There was also a darker colored variety that I thought was pretty.

6-mum

It can’t be fall without mums (Chrysanthemum) and this pink one was given to me by a friend many years ago. It has grown well all that time with no special treatment and it’s very cold hardy; it has survived -35 °F (-37 °C.) I’m hoping that it will never have to again.

7-bottle-gentian

I had to walk out to where the bottle gentians (Gentiana andrewsii) grow in their moist, shaded spot along the banks of the Ashuelot River. I hoped to see plenty of them but just these 3 were left, so I’m guessing they’re done this year. I love their beautiful blue color but I wish they’d open like a fringed gentian. Bees have to pry them open to get inside. I’ve read that these plants won’t tolerate drought so we’ll have to see what next year brings.

8-viburnum-blossoms

I first saw this viburnum growing beside a box store a few years ago and have wondered its name ever since. It’s the latest blooming viburnum I’ve ever seen but since there are something like 150–175 species, I’m not surprised. I’m fairly sure after a few years of off and on research it must be a viburnum cultivar called “Dart’s Duke” (Viburnum x rhytidophylloides.)

9-viburnum-blossoms

Dart’s Duke is a big viburnum which can reach 8’ tall by 8’ wide in sun or shade.  It has large, showy white flower heads in May and can rebloom in the fall as I’ve seen it do for several years running.  The flowers are followed by bright red berries. The large, leathery leaves are said to be deer resistant.

10-dandelion

I’m still seeing dandelions but only occasionally. The very hot and dry summer seems to have knocked the wind from their sails.

11-queen-annes-lace

Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) sometimes has a second blooming period. Though the flowers are smaller and not as tall they can almost fool you into thinking that it’s summer again.  When freshly cut Queen Anne’s lace flowers will change color depending on the color of the water in which they are placed, so if you put a bouquet into purple water you’ll have purple Queen Anne’s lace.

12-blaxk-eyed-susans

I’m not seeing very many now but black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) still blooms here and there. It’s one of our longest blooming flowers, often blooming from June to our first hard freeze. I found this pair growing near a pond. Since the water is warmer than the air now the pond probably moderates the nighttime temperature. By October 19th the probability that we’ll have a hard freeze is around 90%.

13-sweet-everlasting

Sweet everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium) is another plant that won’t be finished until we have a freeze but it doesn’t start blooming as early as black eyed Susans do. I finally remembered to crush a few blossoms and smell them, and they really do smell like maple syrup. The plant’s common name comes from the way it lasts for years after being cut and dried. Usually the plant has many buds rather than open flowers, as this example shows. An odd name for it is rabbit tobacco, given to it by Native Americans because they noticed that rabbits liked to gather where these plants grew. Because of these gatherings they thought that rabbits must smoke the plant as a way to communicate with the Creator. They apparently decided to try smoking it too because it was and still is used in smoking mixtures by some Native people. I’ve never seen a rabbit near it.

14-datura-metel-fastuosa-double-purple-blackberry

The gazania blossom in my last flower post was a big hit so I went back to our local college to get more photos of other examples, but every blossom had closed up, so instead I got a shot of this ornamental Datura (Datura metel) blossom.  I’ve seen Datura many times, but never as beautiful as this. A little research leads me to believe that it is a black Datura hybrid called Datura metel Fastuosa “Double Purple Blackberry.” A native Datura found here is called Jimson weed, which is a corruption of the original Jamestown weed, signaling where it was first found. Each blossom opens in the evening and lasts until about noon the following day.

15-bee-on-datura

Bees were all over the Datura, but some were moving slowly and seemed confused. The blossoms are doubled with many ruffles and bees in the know crawled in from the side and then down into the trumpet, but a few like the one pictured just crawled around the outside looking for a way in. Datura contains several powerful toxic compounds and even the honey made from its flowers can sometimes lead to poisoning.

16-datura-seed-pod

Another name for Datura is thorn apple because of the spiny seed pods that appear on some varieties.  The seeds and flowers are the most toxic parts of the plant, but they were used in sacred rituals for many thousands of years by Native American shamans and the plant is still called “Sacred Datura” by many. Native Americans knew the plant well though, and knew what dosages would and wouldn’t kill. Many with less experience have died trying to test the hallucinogenic effects of the plant.

17-datura-seed-pod

The black Datura, Datura metal, has unusual seed pods but the seeds within are just as toxic as other varieties. If the plant wasn’t so toxic I’d hollow out a seed pod and dry it to see if it would hold its color and shape. It’s very unusual.

18-heal-all

Heal all has been known for its medicinal value since ancient times and has been said to cure everything from sore throats to heart disease, and that’s how it got its common name. Its tiny flowers have an upper hood and a lower lip which are fused into a tube. Tucked up under the hood are the four stamens and forked pistil, placed perfectly so any visiting bees have to brush against them. Native Americans believed the plant improved eyesight and drank a tea made from it before a hunt.

There are Botanists who believe that there are two varieties of heal all; Prunella vulgaris from Europe, and Prunella lanceolata from North America.

19-witch-hazel

In a recent post I said that witch hazels (Hamamelis virginiana) would bloom once the leaves fell off, but I should have said that the flowers would be easier to see once the leaves fell. The flowers are there now but most are surrounded by leaves and can be hard to see. Native Americans used the plant to treat skin irritation in the same way it is used to this day. The common English name witch hazel was given to it by early settlers after the Wych Elms (Ulmus glabra) that they knew in England. Wych means pliable or bendable.

20-witch-hazel-blossoms

Witch hazel flowers are our latest blooming native flower and are always worth looking for, starting in October. I can’t think of any others quite like them. It can be quite a surprise to come upon a whole grove of them on a cool day in November. I’ve seen them blooming as late as January in a warm winter.

A beautiful thing, though simple in its immediate presence, always gives us a sense of depth below depth, almost an innocent wild vertigo as one falls through its levels. ~Frederick Turner

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I’m still seeing wildflowers but this will most likely be the last post this season that is devoted entirely to them.

1. Spotted Knapweed

Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) might be a hated invasive but with such a beautiful flower it’s hard not to forgive it. This plant is native to Europe and Asia and was accidentally imported in a hay seed shipment in the late 1800s. One reason it is disliked is because it releases a toxin that can hinder and prevent the growth of neighboring species. It grows in all but 5 states.

2. Small Flowered Aster

Small flower white aster (Symphyotrichum racemosum) is a curious little plant that gets knee high at best but makes up for shortness by packing every stem with as many small white flowers as possible. Another name for this plant is fragile stem American aster, because its stems are brittle and break easily. Some websites say that this plant can reach six feet tall, but I’ve never seen it more than two.

3. Small Flowered Aster

One good way to identify small flower white aster is by the way its flowers all crowd onto one side of the stem. The flowers are small-maybe a half inch across. For some unknown reason the USDA doesn’t list this aster as one that grows in New Hampshire, but I see it everywhere.

 4. Jimson Weed

Jimson weed (Datura stramonium) is in the nightshade family and all parts of the plant are toxic to humans and livestock. Taken in small enough doses the plant is hallucinogenic, as British soldiers found out when they included Jimsonweed leaves in salad in Jamestown, Virginia in 1676. They were high for 11 days and had to be penned up to prevent them from hurting themselves. When the symptoms wore off they remembered nothing. You can read about the incident by clicking here.

 5. Jimson Weed Fruit

Jimson weed has many common names, one of which is thorn apple. The unripe seed pod in this photo shows how that name came about.

 6. Nodding Burr Marigold aka Bidens cernua

Nodding bur marigold (Bidens cernua) is a very late bloomer, often blooming just before frost. It is an annual plant that has to grow from seed each year so that might explain its late blooming time. As they age the flower heads nod down toward the ground. I find this plant growing on river bans. Mallards are said to love its seeds.

 7. Pink Turtlehead

Rose turtlehead (Chelone oblique) is very similar to pink turtlehead (Chelone lyonii), but this plant grows about a foot shorter and its flowers are a darker shade of pink. A friend gave me a piece of her plant many years ago and it still grows in my garden, getting morning sun and afternoon shade, with virtually no maintenance. All I’ve ever done with this plant is give pieces of it away and it blooms beautifully each fall.

8. Perennial Sow Thistle aka Sonchus arvensis

Sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) flowers look a lot like dandelions, but the rest of the plant doesn’t. Its flowers are held about 2 feet high on wiry stems, and its leaves have prickly edges. The seed heads look a bit like a dandelion seed head but are denser because of more seeds. This plant is considered a noxious weed in many places and comes from Europe and Asia. It was first reported in Pennsylvania in 1814 and is now in all but 8 states and most of Canada.

9. Self Heal

Heal all (Prunella vulgaris) is still blooming. Its tiny purple flowers always remind me of orchids. Heal all has been used medicinally since ancient times. It was once thought to be a holy herb sent by God to cure man’s ills and is still sold for medicinal use. Native Americans used it as a food and a medicine.

10. Deptford Pink aka Dianthus armeria

For a while this year I thought that black eyed Susan’s (Rudbeckia hirta) must be the longest blooming wildflower but I have since remembered that there are many others that bloom as long or longer. Deptford pinks (Dianthus armeria) like those in the photo start blooming much earlier than black eyed Susans, and are still blooming.

11. Red Clover

Red clover is another season long bloomer. This one was lighter pink than many I see. Clover first came to North America with the English settlers. Native Americans took to the plant immediately and found many uses for it. It has been used medicinally for centuries-since before recorded history, some say.

12. New England Aster

New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) flowers can be so many different shades of pink and purple that you have to wonder sometimes if they’re even the same plant. These plants own the roadsides now and in many areas are the only flower seen blooming. Asters don’t like hot dry weather and will start to lose leaves unless it is cool and moist-like it usually is in autumn in New England. This is the largest flowered aster, with most of its flowers about the size of a 25 cent piece.

13. Dark Colored Aster

This dark flowered New England aster shows the wide color range that can be found in this plant. It seems like for every thousand light colored flowers I find one dark colored one. One day I watched a bunch of bumblebees swarming around both light and dark colored flowers that grew side by side and the bees visited the lighter colors much more than the dark ones. That might help explain why there are more light colored plants than dark ones.

 14. Witch Hazel

Last winter the witch hazels (Hamamelis virginiana) along the river bloomed well into January. This year they are off to an early start. Extracts of its leaves, twigs, and bark have been used medicinally for centuries and witch hazel preparations can still be found in drug stores today. I remember my father using a witch hazel ointment on his hands.

The flower that smells the sweetest is shy and lowly. ~William Wordsworth

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This post is another of those that contain those interesting things I see that don’t seem to fit anywhere else.

Forked blue curl (Trichostema dichotomum) seed pods show four round, dimpled seeds. These are so small that it’s hard to see them without magnification. This plant in the mint family is an annual and depends on its seeds growing into new plants the following season. The beautiful blue flowers appear quite late in the season. 

It had to have been the light, but these Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) looked just as blue in the woods as they do in this photo. I can’t find any reference to blue Indian pipes, either in books or online. Even my color finder software sees blue. I wonder if anyone else has ever seen this. We don’t pay much attention to this plant once the flowers go by, but Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) has quite showy fruit. The plant’s common name comes from the flavor of its small root. The spiky seed pod on this jimsonweed plant (Datura stramonium) might be trying to tell us that its seeds can be very dangerous if eaten. It’s no wonder the plant is also called thorn apple.

I love the colors found on a sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis.) If you walk around to the backside of this tree where it never gets any sun, it looks totally different-nowhere near as colorful. Whenever I start to think that I understand nature I run into something like this tree, which reminds me that I really know very little. Is this tree’s bark a light color so it reflects, rather than absorbs heat from the sun? That’s just one of the questions I have about sycamores.

I’m glad I didn’t accidentally grab the branch this tussock moth caterpillar (Lymantriidae) was on. Many caterpillars in this family have hairs called urticating hairs that are very similar to those found on stinging nettles. It is said that their sting can be quite painful and last for several days. These caterpillars are supposed to be voracious eaters and can cause quite a lot of damage to crops. 

This turtle was really craning his neck to see what I was up to, so I took a couple of shots and left him alone. Turtles spend winter buried in the mud of the pond they live in. They also sleep there, and can breathe as well as absorb oxygen through their skin. I think it might be a painted turtle.

This great Blue Heron had his back to me and didn’t seem to care what I was doing. He flew off shortly after I took this photo though. I’ve seen this bird here many times and he always seems to be waiting for the sun to come up because when it does he flies off.

This great black Cormorant fishes at a local pond and another one-or maybe it’s the same one-fishes in a river near here. The sun was dropping fast and I had to almost shoot into it, so I really didn’t think I’d get a picture of this bird. It’s not the sharpest picture I’ve ever taken, but it is the only one of a great cormorant that I have. The feathers on this bird’s belly and leading wing edge look more like scales than feathers, and it has big webbed feet so it can really move quickly when chasing fish under water. They can also hold their breath for quite a while under water.

The partridge berries (Mitchella repens) are ripe. This one shows the two dimples left by the twin flowers whose ovaries fuse to form one berry. This small trailing vine can form colonies that are several feet across under the right conditions.

This mushroom had released its spores, making it look as if someone had spray painted the pine needles. Mushroom spores should never be inhaled. There are documented instances of spores actually growing in human lungs. 

Maple leaved viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) is also called arrow wood. Its beautiful white flowers turn into blue-black berries, which aren’t often seen. This plant’s fall foliage is some of the most colorful in the forest and I always look for it. The shrub is called arrow wood because its branches grow very straight and some believe that Native Americans used it for arrow shafts. 

Maple leaved viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) really lights up dark spaces in the fall.

If you have ever tried to get one of these spiky seed pods out of your dog’s fur you have a good idea of one reason rough cockleburr (Xanthium strumarium) is considered a noxious weed. The hooked spines on the seed pods get caught on just about anything and are why this plant has spread far and wide. I found this one growing on a riverbank, but they will grow just about anywhere.

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper ~Eden Phillpotts

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When I was a professional gardener I always assumed that we would have a frost between September 15th and September 30th. More years than not, that assumption was accurate. Then last year happened and all of that went out the window. We still hadn’t had a frost when we got about sixteen inches of snow on Halloween. This year-here we go again-still no frost here. In fact just yesterday it reached the mid-70s.  The heat I can handle, but I’m hoping there won’t be another Halloween storm like the last. In any case, the flowers love it and many are still blooming.

This nodding burr marigold (Bidens) found a home with a roof, so it won’t have to worry about a frost.

 On a recent rainy day I found a clump of native beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana) growing near the road. The Epifagus part of the scientific name means “upon the beech” and that is where these parasitic plants grow. They don’t produce chlorophyll to make their own food so instead they insert a root like structure called a haustorium into a beech root and take what nutrition they need to survive. Native Americans made a tea from this plant that was used to treat mouth sores.

Purple-brownish beechdrop flowers are very small and hard to photograph. Each flower is tubular and has two lip-like “petals.” They produce nectar and attract insects. Tiny, scale like leaves press flat against the stem and are very hard to see. These plants are found from Canada to Florida and west as far as Louisianna. 

Native Blue toadflax (Linaria Canadensis) is another tiny flower, but easier to get a picture of than beechdrops. I found this one growing in full sun on a riverbank recently. It had just about finished blooming. This plant resembles Kalm’s Lobelia (Lobelia kalmia) but the lobelia lacks the nectar spurs found in blue toadflax blossoms. Toadflax boiled in milk is said to make an excellent fly poison.

 Native small flowered water plantain (Alisma subcordatum) was also blooming along the river a couple of weeks ago. The blossoms have now faded but the plants still thrive. These small white flowers have only tree petals so they are hard to confuse with other plants. The egg shaped, thick, fleshy leaves are also unusual. There is also a large water plantain (Alisma triviale) with flowers that are about twice the size as those shown. These plants often grow in the water at the edges of ponds and rivers. Native Americans used to eat the dried root. 

It’s easy, especially at this time of year, to be fooled into thinking that this plant is an aster, but it is actually a chrysanthemum-another popular fall garden plant. I found this one growing in a local park. Its leaves give away its identity.

This is an aster that I found growing on the side of the road. I turned around and went back to get a picture because it was such a deep, dark and beautiful purple-much different than the lighter purple varieties seen.

 This jimson weed (Datura stramonium) is another roadside plant, but it was growing in a pasture along with hundreds of others. Jimson weed is considered poisonous to both humans and livestock so I was surprised to see it in a cow pasture.  This hallucinogenic plant in the nightshade family is also called loco weed and was used by Native Americans on spiritual quests. The original common name was “Jamestown weed” which was given to it after English soldiers in the Jamestown colony began to behave oddly after eating leaves of the plant. It is said that they “behaved like animals for several days.”  This plant is considered exceedingly dangerous due to poisonings and deaths by people trying to get high.

 I have a white flowered native obedient (Physostegia virginiana) plant trying to overtake my gardens and not too long ago someone posted a picture of a beautiful pinkish purplish one like the one in this photo. I told the blogger that I hadn’t ever seen that color obedient plant flower and then, that very day, I found this one. It seems like if I can’t find a plant all I need to do is say that I can’t find it on this blog and before you know it, I’ve found one. That has happened several times.

Red clover (Trifolium pretense) is looking a little bedraggled, but still blooms just about everywhere I go. Native Americans made a tea from the plant for use as, among other things, a cough syrup. Today scientists are researching its value as a cancer treatment and for respiratory ailments.

 I wasn’t surprised to find sand jointweed (Polygonella articulata) growing in pure sand along an old road but I was surprised to see it at all, because I had been watching for it for 2 or 3 weeks without any luck. These plants grow to about a foot tall but the thin, wiry stems and small white flowers easily blend into the sand and make them hard to see.  The leaves are small and lie against the stem so the plant appears leafless. The plant gets its name from the way the stems are jointed.

These sand jointweed (Polygonella articulata) flowers looked like they had a bit of pink in them. These plants seem very hard to photograph-I had to make 2 or 3 attempts before I got something I could live with.

 

It’s easy to see why sedum is such a hit in the fall. This pink one I found in a local park is probably a cultivar called “Autumn Joy, “which is an old favorite. I think it would be even more beautiful planted with some dark purple asters.

 When I took its picture I thought this was the last rose of summer that I’d see on my rose bushes. They had a hard time this year with the extreme heat and dryness, but once the rains started in they bloomed more and more until now they are loaded with blossoms. Last year it was still blooming in December.

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,

We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves ~ Humbert Wolfe

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