Today I took a lap around my woods to see if I could find a decent-looking dewdrop. I found a couple of dewdrop blossoms, and photographed them, but none looked decent. The petals were not symmetrical, and the stamens were all twisted about. So I won’t be posting any of those today.

I continued my lap and found a pipsissewa in bloom! Here’s a shot of the whole plant.

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Some years these bloom and I miss them. I am far from certain, but I suspect pipsissewa blooms every other year.

The blossoms nod making it difficult to get a good shot of the flower. I had to nearly stand on my head for this shot.

Pipsissewa blossom - face on

Pipsissewa blossom – face on


(You’re welcome). That large black shape in the lower right is Penny. She thought I needed a stick for this photo.

Here’s another shot of the flower in profile.

Pipsissewa blossom in profile.

Pipsissewa blossom in profile.

This stuff is not terribly abundant on my place, but it’s not exactly rare either. There are patches of it here and there. I didn’t know about this patch until today.

I’ll be back again!

I took a walk around my property today and came across two more tiny evergreens. Here is the first:

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)


This is Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata), a close relative of wintergreen (which I posted last week). It makes some gorgeous flowers in mid-summer, and this is what they turn into by winter:
Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)


Nice.

As I headed back to the house, I walked by the tiny flower bed we have on the north side of the house. A couple of years ago a friend of mine brought in a plant that he had found in the woods. He wanted to know what it was, and I didn’t know off the top of my head. I did some research and determined that it was Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens).

Goodyera pubescens

Goodyera pubescens

He gave me the plant (in the orchid family), and I popped it in a shady spot at the north end of the house. It did OK all through the remainder of the summer and fall, but I thought winter did it in. It did not come up in the spring. I thought it was a goner. And now I see several of them close to where I planted it. I can only assume that these are its offspring. It did go to seed after all.

Here’s one more from yesterday:

Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)


This is a close-up I took of an individual from the colony of Christmas ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides) I saw on our walk to Devil’s Den yesterday. There was some question about the identity, and I think this should settle it. I was uncertain as to its id, and suspected it was Christmas fern. But I’m a bit more sure now. It’s laying on the ground, and the blade tapers near the base.

Also… it’s an evergreen.

Tonight I went walking in the woods and found some pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata) in bloom. I liked this shot the best, even though there’s some blow-out in the sky. The brilliance of the blossom overcomes that problem in my mind.

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

I also found several Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) in bloom. These seem to flower as soon as they sprout.

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora)


This plant does not photosynthesize, but rather, is parasitic on a fungus which in turn is parasitic on trees. The first time I ever saw one, I was convinced it was a fungus itself, but that is not the case. This is a flower, and it does make seeds.

Later, as I was putting Beth to bed, Penny started barking her fool head off. Va looked out the sliding glass door to see what the fuss was about and saw a white-tailed doe in the neighbor’s yard. I have about convinced myself that this is the very same individual I saw last week. I took this very unsatisfying shot through the window.

Hungry doe

Hungry doe


Yeah, it’s the neighbor’s yard, but it’s Beth’s upturned wagon. Our yard doesn’t look any neater. But yard-grooming aside. I slipped out the front door and waited 30 seconds for the doe to settle down. Va says that as soon as I closed the door, the doe raised her head and stared towards the front yard. I quietly walked towards the garage and peeked around the corner. The deer was screened from me by a clump of trees. I slowly stepped into the yard, and she jerked her head up again. I froze. After thirty seconds, she went back to eating clover. I took a slow step, and she jerked up again and stared in my direction. I froze. A mosquito landed on my forehead. I slowly raised my hand to squash it, and the doe bolted off, taking the same route she did when she escaped through the woods last week. I did not get a second photograph, which is why you get to see the awful one above.

I guess I would make a terrible hunter. But putting aside my stalking skills (or lack thereof), take a look at that deer. Her ribs are showing. I can’t imagine that that would be a good thing for her, since the forest and fields around here are lush with vegetation, and we’re just coming off a mast year for the acorns. She must be sick.

And now Penny’s barking and growling into the darkness out the glass door again. Maybe the doe is back.

Yesterday evening I noticed that one of the dewdrops (Dalibarda repens) in my woods had finally bloomed. It was missing two of its five petals, but since it was the first one, I got out the camera. As I was adjusting it, Penny came tearing along the path, doing 90 miles per hour. Since I was standing on the path, Penny veered around me and stepped right on the dewdrop. That took it down to a single, mangled petal. I did not take a picture. Instead, I went looking for more. There are three patches of this stuff in my woods, all within 50 feet of each other. Patch number two had no blooms, but patch number three had this one:

Dewdrops (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrops (Dalibarda repens)


This is hands-down my favorite flower. It is the species that taught me how to take photos of flowers, because I found it totally impossible to photograph using the automatic settings of my previous camera. I had to learn the manual controls. This is kind of a rare plant. It’s endangered in Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina and Rhode Island. Actually, I just pasted most of that sentence in from the Wikipedia article, but that’s OK, because I’m the one that wrote it there in the first place. I started that article and put together the initial content. The photo in the article is also mine, and I don’t think I have ever taken a better shot of anything. That, my friends, is my best work. I use it as wallpaper on my computer.

So now that I have established my love affair with this plant for you, you can perhaps understand why I was so pleased to find one in bloom yesterday. I’ve been keeping an eye on those three patches for a couple of weeks. They have bloomed a little later this year as compared to previous years. I would have posted this last night, but my other news had me even more excited.

So excited, in fact, that I didn’t get much sleep last night because I couldn’t shut off my brain. I woke up early thinking about it too, so I did something most unusual for me – I got up. It was about 5:15 as I recall. I got dressed, went downstairs, got Penny’s leash, and we set out for Sandogardy Pond. Along the way, I spotted some beaked hazelnuts (Corylus cornuta):

Beaked hazelnuts (Corylus cornuta)

Beaked hazelnuts (Corylus cornuta)


Sandy, if you’re still wondering if you found American or beaked hazel, this would be a good time to go check.

I also found some Pyrola along the way:

Pyrola (Pyrola spp)

Pyrola (Pyrola spp)


I’m not sure what species of Pyrola this is – they are all pretty close to one another. Maybe roundleaf (P. americana), but I’m just not sure.

It was quiet at the pond. Foggy too:

Penny wades

Penny wades


I walked along the beach and saw that the floating heart (Nymphoides cordata) was in bloom now:
Floating heart (Nymphoides cordata)

Floating heart (Nymphoides cordata)


It’s not hard to tell how it came about its common name, is it?

The swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris) had bloomed too:

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)


That can only mean that the pickerelweed should be blooming soon too.

At the end of the beach we turned right and headed into the woods along Cross Brook (which drains the pond). There is a patch of Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana) growing there, and it’s been in bloom for a while now. But I don’t think I have posted any photos of it this year, so here we go:

Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana)


This plant has a delicious tuber which tastes just like… yes – cucumber. If you don’t like cucumber, you should probably eschew Indian cucumber-root. I don’t eat much of it because there’s never much of it around.

Penny and I headed back home after that. I took a shower, and Jonathan and I headed to the office. I napped in the car a bit. I guess the walk helped me turn off my brain. :-)

When we got home I went out and admired my Dewdrop blossom again. Then I went to the catchment pond where there’s a bit of Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata) growing. This plant has been threatening to bloom for about two weeks now. But today, I found a single blossom open (out of about two dozen).

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)


This flower is pretty closely related to wintergreen and pyrola, but it looks a lot more like pyrola. And like pyrola, it doesn’t present its best side to humans. That privilege is reserved for ants. I tipped the blossom upwards to get a shot of its innards:
Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)


Nice!

Today Jonathan and I went to a deli a couple of blocks from the office for lunch. We walked back via the back allies. I wasn’t intentionally looking for blooms, but once you’ve trained your eye to do that, it’s hard to shut it off. I found an American nightshade (Solanum americanum).

American nightshade (Solanum americanum)

American nightshade (Solanum americanum)


I had always thought this plant to be deadly poisonous, but a new book I received this week – Nature’s Garden, by Samuel Thayer, says otherwise. Thayer holds that the ripe berries and the leaves are both edible and quite palatable. I will have to test his assertion later this year!

We soon ran out of alley and went back onto Main Street which has a row of Basswood (Tilia americana) trees. They were in bloom, so I stopped and snapped a shot.

Basswood (Tilia americana)

Basswood (Tilia americana)

We finished off the day, and then headed home. Penny was very excited (as she always is) and was more than ready to go outside and chase sticks and/or balls. I put down my laptop and headed out the back door with my camera bag still slung over my shoulder.

First I went to the woods in the back where I found that the partridge berry (Michella repens) had bloomed sometime during the past several days of rain.

Partridge berry (Michella repens)

Partridge berry (Michella repens)


I took several shots. It was still very cloudy out so the light was dim. This is not normally a problem except that the tripod mount on my camera is stripped. I packed it full of Quicksteel (a steel-infused epoxy) so that I could drill that out and re-tap it later. But later hasn’t come yet! Also, I’m not sure where I put my set of taps. As a result of this shameful state of disorganization, I had to take these photos with the camera either held in my hand, or sitting on a rock. Some of them turned out pretty OK:
Partridge berry (Michella repens)

Partridge berry (Michella repens)

I also checked in on the Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata). The flowers have still not opened for me, but they must soon!

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

These unripe blackberries are growing at the end of my driveway.

Blackberry (Rubus spp)

Blackberry (Rubus spp)


Then Beth called out to me with an irresistible question, “Dad! What’s this flower?” I rushed right over and saw my first Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris) bloom of the year:
Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)

Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)


While I was taking that shot, she also found some birdsfoot trefoil, but I’ve already taken shots of that this summer. I may even have posted them. Instead, I spotted some white campion (Silene latifolia) growing amongst the sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina):
White campion (Silene latifolia)

White campion (Silene latifolia)


and some sort of wild mustard (Brassica spp):
Wild mustard (Brassica spp)

Wild mustard (Brassica spp)


These are supposed to be good to eat as well, and mustard can indeed be made from the seeds. I’ll have to try that one of these days.

I then looked for some cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare) that has a habit of growing nearby. I’ve been looking for it already this summer, but hadn’t seen any until today:

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

And just for good measure, I took another picture of some whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia):

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)


By then Penny had chased her ball into the catchment pond (which is quite full again, thank you). When she saw that I was not going in after it, she did. And even though she was good and wet, I was ready to come in.

Luckily, she was just wet and not too muddy!

Tonight when I got home, I took a stroll around our property to see if I would find anything interesting to photograph.

Chimaphila umbellata

Chimaphila umbellata


I can’t remember the common name of this plant, but the binomial nomenclature is Chimaphila umbellata. It’s a type of winter green, and I missed seeing it in bloom last year. It’s almost ready to bloom now, so I’ll keep and eye on it until it does.

Strawberry!

Strawberry!


I caught a flash of red out of the corner of my eye and found this at the edge of the driveway. I didn’t know I had any wild strawberries there. I do know I have lots of dewberries there though, and those are almost indistinguishable from strawberries until they fruit. Dewberry fruits look just like blackberries, but the leaves and flowers look just like strawberries. Dad clued me in last year when I posted about this, that dewberries will have thorn-like hairs on the canes, while strawberries will not. But you really have to look close to see that! Let’s just say that I was totally surprised when I found this strawberry in my dewberry patch. Also, it was delicious!

After supper I decided to take a walk down to Sandogardy Pond. Beth was playing with a neighbor, and the boys were playing on the Wii, so it was just me and Penny. I enjoy walks when I’m alone, because that lets me set the pace without feeling I’m holding anyone up or going too fast. We headed for Sandogardy Pond.

Iris

Iris


When I got to the pond I found the patch of irises that grows near the dock in full splendor. Nice.

And speaking of Sandogardy Pond, back on the first of this month, I posted a picture of some oil at the edge of the Pond. I sent a photo to the NH Department of Environmental Services, and they got back to me almost right away. They didn’t think that was oil at all, but rather, an iron-reducing bacteria. I was not convinced, but they are the ones with degrees in biology, not me. Then today, I got another email from them:

Hi Jim- Thank you for the email.

Both the DES Biology Bureau and Oil Response received notice last week with similar concerns regarding potential petroleum products in Sandogardy Pond. As a result, DES inspected the site. Please see the following summary from an email response on 6/7 to Xxxx Xxxxx, another property owner on Sandogardy.

———————————————————————————————–

As discussed earlier today and confirmed during a follow-up site visit around 10 am this morning no petroleum products were detected at the Town Beach on Glines Park Road or along East Side Road (I met up with your neighbor, Xxxxx Xxxxxxx).

I had also forwarded your letter and discussed the issue with Ray Reimold, DES Oil Spill Response. Ray conducted a separate site inspection at 7:30 this morning looking for petroleum products but only found iron bacteria along the Town beach. He did not see any evidence of iron bacteria or petroleum products along the shoreline off East Side Road.

Please see the attached photos taken by DES this morning showing the iron bacteria and evidence of iron (reddish stain) along the edge of the pond near the beach.

In addition, please see the following DES fact sheet describing iron bacteria.

http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/bb/documents/bb-18.pdf

I tend to believe them a lot more when they send people out there to look at it. That’s pretty cool. I had no idea that bacteria could produce a rainbow slick.

While I was out that way with no one to tell me they wanted to go home or stay at the playground, or whatever, I decided to head down a trail that leads to the geocache Beth and I had planted in the woods near there. Penny is always willing to come along. This trail ends at a wetland which has at its center the creek that drains Sandogardy Pond. I washed the sand out of Penny’s leash and noticed some spatterdock blooming farther out:

Spatterdock (Nuphar lutea)

Spatterdock (Nuphar lutea)


I think Peterson calls these Bullhead Lily, and I have heard it called yellow pond lily too. The ones in the pond are not yet blooming, so this was a nice surprise.

I got home just before dark. That’s when I found seven ticks on myself! None had attached, so that was good. I always flush them, and poo-poo anyone who says that doesn’t kill them. Once they’re in the septic tank, I don’t think I need to worry about them any more.

What surprised me about finding seven ticks was that I had doused myself pretty good with some mosquito repellent. I took a second look at that stuff tonight, and I won’t be using it again. It has no DEET and claims only to repel mosquitoes. It says nothing (correctly!) about repelling ticks.

I changed clothes.

Earlier this week, Sandy, a fellow New England blogger, posted a photo collage of some forest floor evergreens. I love all those plants, and found another she could have included in that category (if it grows in her local neck of the woods – which I assume it does).

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)


This is pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata). I got home before dark today – probably for the last time for several months since Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend – so I took a walk around our property. I came across a scrawny specimen and thought about taking a photo, but since it was pretty banged up, I looked around a bit longer to find a nicer looking one. This is it.

It was cloudy, and nearing dusk, and in the woods, so the lighting was less than excellent. Because of that, I got out my tiny tripod and bumped the exposure time way up – 1.6 seconds if I recall correctly. I think I must have forgotten to put the camera in macro mode though, so even though I went through all that trouble (tripod, etc), the results are still suboptimal! All it takes is one error to wreck a shot. :(

Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.

The leaves are mostly down now, but the beeches do hang on all winter. Their leaves aren’t brown yet either, so it’s the most spectacular species I have at the moment:

Hanging on

Hanging on

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine from church described to me some plants he had seen in his woods. He wanted to know if I could identify them. One of them I nailed from the description as Wild Sarsaparilla, which I wrote about yesterday. The other two I couldn’t guess from the description.

Today at church I brought him a little of the tea I had brewed yesterday, and he brought in the two specimens which he (or his wife) had potted. The first was Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata).

Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)

Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)


I had never seen it before in real life, but I did know that it shares the Chimaphila genus with the pipsissewa (C. umbellata) I wrote about earlier this week. See how similar the flowers are?
Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)

Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)


Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

The second plant had me somewhat befuddled. It looked kind of plantain-ish, but the leaves were starkly variegated. He had described it as looking like a spider web, but his wife thought it looked more like snakeskin. If I had put two and two together, I would have had its id, but this is another I had never seen before:

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)


When I got home I found it in short order in one of my field guides: Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens). Nice.

He gave me the Rattlesnake Plantain, and I am going to plant it somewhere in my woods. I’m not sure where I’ll put it, but I will put it in the shade since that’s where he had found it.

From what I read about it, this plant is more common in southern New England. Also, because the leaves reminded the Native Americans of snake skin, they used it to treat snakebite (though not efficaciously). The shape or appearance of a plant being similar to a diseased organ (such as the liver in the case of liverwort) or a disease cause (such as a snake in the case currently under consideration) is not generally a reliable indicator of its pharmaceutical virtues.

When we got home from church, and after we had some lunch, Beth, David, and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. There were some new blooms there too:

Virginia Marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)

Virginia Marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)


Water Lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna)

Water Lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna)


Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)

Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)


I especially liked the way this last photo turned out.

Our vacation has not ended yet. Va, Beth, and I are on our way to Mt Crawford, VA to buy some books at the Green Valley Book Fair. That is one of the things she misses the most about living in VA. We were going to try to work it in to our trip to KY, but they are only open for two weeks at a time, and none of those times overlapped a time when Jonathan could break away from school. So we’re making a special trip.

Right now we’re in Mechanicsburg, PA. Beth and I just finished a nice “swim”. The pool was frigid, but the spa was nice and hot, so we spent all our time in there. I did take a lap around the pool, but that was quite enough for me!

We were home long enough for me to find some new blooms at the house though. The pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata) bloomed, and that’s one I looked for and missed last year. I never found a single one in bloom. Friday I found two.

pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

For some reason, I had it in my head that the wintergreen (which is closely related to the pipsissewa) had already bloomed. But I was very much mistaken in that notion. They were just starting to bloom Friday:

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

I was also a bit surprised to see that the goldenrod (Solidago spp.) was in bloom.

Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

Then at the foot of Mount Major yesterday, I spotted some jewel weed (Impatiens capensis):

Jewel weed (Impatiens capensis)

Jewel weed (Impatiens capensis)


This stuff is also called spotted touch-me-not, because when the seeds ripen, the slightest disturbance causes the seed pod to explode, flinging seeds out at a very high speed. I think I read it was one of the fastest plant motions on record.

A lot of people believe that the sap from this plant is an effective treatment for poison ivy, but science has shown this to not be the case. I was a little disheartened to be informed of its supposed healing powers yesterday by someone I had told about this last year. I guess she didn’t believe me.

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