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Posts Tagged ‘plants’

1. Lilac Bush

Most states have a native as their state flower but in New Hampshire non-native purple lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) are the chosen state flower. They were first imported from England to the garden of then Governor Benning Wentworth in 1750 and chosen as the state flower in 1919, because they were said to “symbolize that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State.” Rejected were apple blossoms, purple aster, wood lily, Mayflower, goldenrod, wild pasture rose, evening primrose and buttercup. The pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule) was finally chosen as the state’s wild flower in 1991.

2. Lilac Blossom

Honeysuckles and autumn olives blossom at the same time as lilacs here in this part of New Hampshire, so the air is filled with their mingled fragrances right now. I remembered how as a child I would pick single lilac blossoms and suck the sweet nectar from them, so I tried to get a photo of a single flower.

3. Blue Bead Lily Colony

If you saw the leaves before the flowers appeared you might think that you had found lady’s slippers, but a closer look shows that the leaves of blue bead lily (Clintonia borealis) are really very different. I stumbled onto this large colony of plants last year by accident when I was out scouting for new plants. It’s a very healthy, thriving colony and, since it takes more than 12 years for new plants to produce flowers, is one that has been in this spot for a while.

4. Blue Bead Lily

A close look at the flower shows why blue bead lily is in the lily family. Each one looks like a miniature garden lily. The flowers give way to a single, electric blue berry, which is toxic. One Native American legend says that, when a grass snake eats a poisonous toad, it slithers in rapid circles around a shoot of blue-bead lily to transfer the poison to the plant. Blue bead lily seeds take 2 years or more to germinate, so growing this plant from seed would be a very slow process.

5. Four Flowered Star Flower

Starflowers (Trientalis borealis) bloom among the blue bead lilies and that’s where I saw my first four flowered one of this season. Now I’ll try to find one with five, if there is such a thing. Since books say that a plant will have no more than two blossoms I have nothing but faith to go on.

6. Pink Lady's Slippers

Our native state wildflower pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) have just turned pink from their off whitish / yellowish stage. I’m lucky enough to have a few plants growing in my woods so I don’t have to go too far to study or admire these beautiful orchids. Note that the leaves look very different than the smooth blue bead lily leaves seen earlier.

7. Perennial Bachelor's Button

I don’t think I could imagine more beautiful colors and shapes in a flower than those found on the perennial bachelor’s button (Centaurea). They make excellent low maintenance, almost indestructible additions to the perennial garden. I found this one growing in a local park.

8. Blue Eyed Grass

Native blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) with its small blue flowers is an old favorite of mine. Although it is a perennial each plant doesn’t live much more than a couple of years, but if it likes the spot it’s in it will re-seed itself year after year. In spite of its common name it is in the iris family and isn’t a grass at all. Its flowers close at night and at even the hint of a cloudy day, so getting a photo of an open one was a challenge this year.

9. Robin's Plantain aka Erigeron pulchellus

Robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) is the earliest of the fleabanes to bloom in this area. Its inch and a half diameter flowers are larger than many fleabane blossoms and its foot high stalks are shorter. One way to identify this plant is by its basal rosette of very hairy, oval leaves. The stem and stem leaves (cauline) are also hairy. The flowers can be white to pink to lavender and are made up of ray florets surrounding yellow disk florets in the center. These plants almost always grow in large colonies and often come up in lawns. They’re a good indicator of where the flower lovers among us live because at this time of year you can see many neatly mown lawns with islands of unmown, blossoming fleabanes.

10. Dogwood Blossom

Dogwood bracts have gone from green to white, but the tiny florets at their center haven’t opened yet.

12. White Baneberry Plants

Last fall I found quite a large stand of white baneberry in a forest near a local park and luckily I remembered to revisit it this year when the plants were blooming. The small white flowers form racemes, which in this case seem to be too heavy for the 2-3 foot stems to hold upright.

11. White Baneberry Blossoms

Each white baneberry flower will become a white berry with a black stigma scar on one end. In size, color, and shape these berries look like porcelain doll’s eyes, and that’s how this plant got its common name of doll’s eyes. The entire plant is very toxic but the berries are the most toxic part. Eating them can cause cardiac arrest and death, but fortunately their extremely bitter taste keeps all but birds from eating them.

 13. Kerria Blossom

Kerria japonica is blooming in my yard. This six foot shrub is called Japanese rose because it is in the rose family. In its natural form the plant has single, fragrant, 5 petal flowers like that in the photo. There is also a cultivar called Pleniflora with double flowers and one called Albaflora, which is pale yellow. This is a good shrub for people who want a low maintenance garden because it needs very little care. It thrives in shade and if it gets a little scraggly it can be cut right back to the ground, and it has no real insect or disease problems. You can’t ask for more than that from any shrub.

14. Native Azalea

Coming upon an eight foot tall azalea covered with blossoms is enough to take one’s breath away, so beautiful and rare is the sight. I found this native shrub in the forest last year but I was too late to see all but one wilting blossom. I made a point of visiting it early this year so I could watch it and, after visiting it probably a half dozen times, I finally saw its first blossom open just as its leaves began to appear. Now it has too many to count and is just too beautiful for words.

 15. Native Azalea Blossoms

All the signs plus the intense fragrance lead me to believe that this is the roseshell or early azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum), but azaleas can be hard to identify.  Whichever one it is, its most outstanding feature is its pleasant fragrance. Books describe it as “clove like” but it seems a little sweeter than that to me. It’s hard to describe a fragrance but it’s not hard to imagine that this must be what heaven smells like.

The serenity produced by the contemplation and philosophy of nature is the only remedy for prejudice, superstition, and inordinate self-importance, teaching us that we are all a part of Nature herself, strengthening the bond of sympathy which should exist between ourselves and our brother man. ~Luther Burbank

Thanks for coming by.

 

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Here are a few more of those things that never seem to fit in other posts.

1. American Hornbeam Fruiting

American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) trees are fruiting. Long, drooping, leafy bracts bear the seeds in pairs of small oval nuts, as seen in the photo. This tree is also called blue beech or water beech. It grows along rivers and streams and likes moist to wet soil. The wood of the tree ripples and looks muscular, so it is also called muscle wood. The wood of this tree is very hard and early settlers used it for spoons, bowls, and tool handles.

 2. Male Cones of Red Pine

I had a little trouble identifying the pine tree that these male, pollen bearing cones were on because I’ve never seen them before. Luckily when it comes to native pines, here in New Hampshire we don’t have a lot of choices-only 4 pines grow here naturally-eastern white pine, jack pine, pitch pine, and red pine. I’m sure that the cones in the photo aren’t eastern white pine, and jack pine and red pine each have 2 needles per bundle. Since this tree has 3 needles per bundle it has to be pitch pine, according to my tree book, so these are the male cones of the pitch pine tree (Pinus rigida.)

 3. White Pine Pollen Bearing Cones

These are the male pollen bearing cones of the eastern white pine (Pinus strobus.) When the female flowers are fertilized by this pollen they produce the seed bearing cones that we are all familiar with. Here in New Hampshire this pollen is responsible for turning any horizontal surface, including ponds and vehicles, a dusty green color each spring. It also makes some of us have sneezing fits.

 4. Black Willow Seed Head

Black willows (Salix nigra) are just starting to release their seeds. Female catkins produce clusters of capsules that split to release the cottony seeds. This is another tree that is common along pond and river banks. The bark of the tree contains salicylic acid, which is very similar to aspirin, and Native Americans once used it to treat headache and fever.

 5. Fringed Sedge Flowers Carex crenita

Many grasses and sedges are also flowering. These droopy fringed sedge Flowers (Carex crinite) make this one easy to identify, even from quite far away. They also make it attractive and this plant is often seen in gardens. It’s another plant that like moist soil and is usually found on riverbanks and wetlands. Native American used sedge leaves to make rope, baskets, mats, and clothing.

 6. finger Gall on Black Cherry Leaf

Finger galls on the leaves of black cherry (Prunus serotina) are caused by a tiny eriophyid mite (Eriophyes cerasicrumena.) Visually these galls aren’t very appealing but they don’t hurt the tree. They are small-maybe as long as a half inch. A blue butterfly called the cherry gall azure (Celastrina  serotina) lays eggs on these finger galls in May, and when they hatch the resulting caterpillars eat the galls-mites and all. The caterpillars also leave behind sweet secretions that attract ants. The ants, in return for the sweets, protect the cherry gall azure caterpillars from wasps and other predators. Imagine-all of this happens on the surface of a single leaf.

7. Orchard Grass

Orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata ) is still flowering and seems to be going all to pieces. Who could guess that grass could be so interesting and so beautiful?

 8. Poison Ivy Flowers

 I found this poison ivy vine (Toxicodendron radicans) growing up a shagbark hickory near a popular canoe and kayak launching spot on the Ashuelot River. It is very healthy and each one of its flowers, if pollinated, will turn into a white, berry like fruit. (drupe) there are many old sayings designed to warn people of the dangers of this plant and one is “Berries white, run in fright.” You might not have to run in fright but eating any part of this plant would be a very bad idea.

9. Sweetfern Fruit

This is the fruit of the sweet fern (Comptonia peregrine,) which isn’t a fern but a shrub. Sweet ferns are usually found growing in gravel at the edge of roads or in waste areas. They are small-about 3 feet tall-and have a mounding growth habit. The leaves are very aromatic and can be smelled from quite a distance on a hot summer day. It is said that crushing the leaves and rubbing them on your skin will keep insects away. There is a tiny nut enclosed in the spiky husk shown in the photo. Native Americans made tea from the leaves.

 10. Turtle

It seemed strange to see what I think was a painted turtle in the woods, off to the side of the trail, but there it was. It took off as soon as I approached it, and I didn’t chase it. Chase doesn’t seem the correct word since it moved so slowly. Maybe “followed” works better.

11. Jumping Spider

I was getting up off the ground after getting shots of a flower and saw this guy peeking around a leaf at me. He ran off almost as soon as I pointed the camera at him, apparently upset because my “eye” was bigger than all of his. I’ve learned a lot about spiders and insects by reading Mike Powell’s blog, and I think this might be one of the jumping spiders which, if I remember correctly, don’t build webs. It had yellow slash-like marks on its body. If you’d like to visit Mike’s blog, just click here.

 12. Tiger Swallowtail on Rhodie

Butterflies aren’t landing at my feet any longer but I’m still seeing them everywhere. This eastern tiger swallowtail was on the rhododendron in the front yard-still letting me know that the butterfly drought has ended.

 13. Purple Grass

 There are grasses called “purple top” and “red top” and even one called “purple love grass” but I think this one might be called reed meadow grass (Glyceria grandis.) This grass is common in moist places throughout the country. Its color is nice to see in a sea of green, swaying grasses.

 14. Rattlesnake Weed

I recently re-visited the only rattlesnake weed plant that I’ve ever seen and found that all of the purple color that the leaves had earlier in the spring had drained away, and now they are green with purple veins. I like this plant and wish there were more of them. It is in the hawkweed family but, even though hawkweeds are blooming right now, this is not. If it does I might try to save some of its seed to grow a little closer to home.

Every aspect of Nature reveals a deep mystery and touches our sense of wonder and awe. ~ Carl Sagan

Thanks for coming by.

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Last weekend we had enough rain to trigger flash flood warnings in parts of the state, so like any nature lover I went out to see the high water.

1. Waterfall

I had a tripod so I could practice my blurry water technique. This stream didn’t appear to have risen all that much.

2. Marshland

The water was quite high in several other places but I didn’t see any flooding. There were some clever ducks living in this marsh-they quacked so I could hear them, but stayed hidden so I couldn’t see them. They might have been nesting in the high grass.

3. Canada Geese Family

The geese weren’t quite so clever, but the mom and dad hurriedly herded the young ones away.  I took two quick photos and left them alone.

4. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Just after I commented on Jennifer Schlick’s blog that we were suffering a butterfly drought, this eastern tiger swallowtail dropped to the ground in front of me. This happens to me all the time-as soon as I say on a blog that I haven’t seen this or that I usually see it. Of course, when I say that I see a certain thing everywhere I go I might never see it again.  Does this happen to other people?

5. Lone Tree

I sometimes wonder if people realize how hard it is to get a photo of a single tree when you live in a place with 4.8 million acres of forested land. I saw this lone tree off in a pasture but I couldn’t tell what it was. It has the shape of a young American elm.

6. Cow

This magnificent example of bovine beauty and a waist high barbed wire fence kept me from getting any closer to the tree in the previous photo. She seemed to want her picture taken, so here she is.

7. Waterfall

After my encounter with the guard cow I headed back into the woods, where I found another small water fall that I hadn’t known about. I decided not to blur the water on this one.

8. False Hellebore

False hellebore (Veratrum viride) is about three feet tall now and all ready to bloom. This was a fine example. Usually they suffer a lot of insect damage and look quite ratty by this time of year, even though they are one of the most toxic plants in the forest.

9. Pink Lady's Slippers

Plenty of our native orchid pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) grew along this stream as well.

10. Painted Trillium

Painted trillium (Trillium undulatum ) also grows here, but they had just about gone by. It’s always good to find another spot where these plants grow, because they seem to be getting harder to find.

11. Ashuelot at Sunset

The setting sun was just kissing the top of the distant hills when I stopped at one of my favorite viewing spots along the Ashuelot River. The water was high but nowhere near flood level.

12. Ashuelot Rapids on 5-26-13

There was enough fast moving water in the Ashuelot to create some good rapids downstream.  I like watching the waves forming and crashing.  No two are alike-just like snowflakes.

There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky. ~Dejan Stojanovic

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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