I was in Kentucky last week visiting my family. I was shocked and amazed to see this at my brother’s place!

Bigfoot

He disappeared before I could get a better shot

After a nice afternoon nap, Penny talked me into taking her on a walk to Sandogardy Pond. We had been away for ten days visiting relatives in Kentucky, and she stayed here with David. She missed us!

Before we even got off our property, I stumbled across the largest colony of Indian pipe (Monoflora unitropa) that I think I’ve ever seen. This one looked especially nice against a backdrop of moss.

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

I was pleased to see some fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata) in the ditch along the road. There used to be a lot more of it, but the Japanese knotweed has been expanding along the ditch, forming a huge monoculture and displacing native species as it goes along. Here is one of the flowers, shot from underneath:

Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

And here’s what the plant looks like. Notice how the flowers nod:

Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

This patch of woods along th way was covered up with ripe blueberries. I stopped, picked, and devoured about a pint of them.

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Just before the pond, there was a batch of shinleaf pyrola. I think this was as nice a batch of them as I have ever seen:

Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica)

Shinleaf
(Pyrola elliptica)

We got to the pond, but I could tell there were a lot of people there picnicking and swimming. Not wanting to bother them, we detoured down the the stream that drains the pond, and Penny jumped right in:

Penny cools off

Penny cools off

We approached the pond from the other side, stopping to look at the bluebead lilies:

Bluebead lily (Clintonia borealis)

Bluebead lily (Clintonia borealis)

Over at the other end of the beach (the part that is somewhat overgrown with alder), I found one of the plants I was hoping to see – swamp candles. This was was blooming next to a wild rose:

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

The pickerel weed was also in bloom, but it was just starting – it will be more photogenic in another week or so. There was what I know is a variety of St Johnswort growing on the beach, and I think it might be dwarf St Johnswort. But I have not yet confirmed that.

Dwarf St Johnswort (Hypericum mutilum)?

Dwarf St Johnswort (Hypericum mutilum)?

We’ll go back again soon Penny!

I took a lap around my woods this evening. This was the most interesting find:

Dog vomit slime mold (Fuligo septica)

Dog vomit slime mold (Fuligo septica)


The identification is, of course, conjectural. It was the closest match I could find via a cursory Internet search.

I was also very pleased to find my painted trilliums (Trillium undulatum). There are a few growing in my woods, and I have not been able to find them for the past couple of years. I went off-trail this evening and stumbled upon them. They were far past the blooming stage, and the forest was pretty dark to begin with, so I didn’t bother trying to take their picture. But I did make some mental notes to their location – about half way between my tapping maple, and the fallen log where the trail bends in the southwest corner of our plot – but off the trail another 40 feet to the north.

If I forget again, maybe you can remind me…

Yeah, I know.  I haven’t posted anything here since September.  I don’t know when I’ll post again, as I have been tremendously busy of late, and that promises to continue through at least the end of the summer.  Don’t hold your breath for another – I don’t know when that will be.

Yesterday I took a lap around my woods trail and saw that the Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) and partridge berry (Mitchella repens) were in bloom.  I took some photos, and returned this morning for a few more.  Here’s what I got.

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)


These haven’t bloomed on my property in quite some time, and this is a new patch of them that I have never seen in bloom. I really like them!

Patridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Patridge berry (Mitchella repens)


I thought this shot of the partrige berry was pretty OK! Patridge berries generally have two flowers with four petals each, and fused at the base. They combine to make a single berry with two “eyes”. I was a bit surprise to see an unusual pair of them, one of which had five petals. I don’t recall having ever seen one that didn’t have four petals, so I had to document…

5-petaled partidge berry (Mitchella repens)

5-petaled partidge berry (Mitchella repens)

When I finished documenting that one, I saw another – this one had a pair sporting three-petals on one, and five on the other:

3-petaled and 5-petaled patridge berry (Mitchella repens)

3-petaled and 5-petaled patridge berry (Mitchella repens)


It was not a particularly good looking specimen, but I had never seen one with three petals either. So here’s the proof.

Word has it that we might see an aurora tonight, so I’ve been keeping an eye on the sky since sunset. That’s hard to do at my house since we live in the woods. Luckily, Sandogardy Pond’s beach is on its south shore giving a decent tree-free view of the northern horizon. So I drove over (it was dark!) to take a look there:

Sandogardy Pond

Sandogardy Pond

This was a 15 second exposure. You can see most of the Big Dipper there towards the left. But no aurora.

Sigh.

Here are two plants in bloom right now whose common name begin with “ground.” First, the ground nut (Apios americana)

Ground Nut (Apios americana)

Ground Nut (Apios americana)

This is a plant I searched for back when that’s how I tried to find edible wild plants. I would identify the plant from a book, and then go out looking for it. I never found it that way. Later, I switched to identifying what I had found, and this turned up in the backyard at the edge of the woods. It has an edible tuber, and I have eaten them on a few occasions. This is the only stand of ground nut that I know of, so I have been going easy on them. Over the past five years, they have spread by an order of magnitude, and I think that in a couple of years, I should be able to harvest them less conservatively.

The second “ground” plant is the ground bean:

Ground Bean (Amphicarpaea bracteata)

Ground Bean (Amphicarpaea bracteata)

The “amphicarpaea” portion of its binomial name means something like “two kinds of flowers”. These are the open flowers. The other type are closed, which may be above ground, or below ground. The closed flowers self-pollinate.

A lot of source call these “hog peanuts”, but I don’t call them that any more, as Samuel Thayer (an edible wild plant author) says it’s a racial slur against Native Americans. They used this plant as a food source, and the Europeans refused to eat them, insisting they were only fit for hogs. And by extension, by Native Americans. They were missing out on a good thing, as these beans are quite good. However, they are difficult to collect. The Native Americans let small rodents collect them on their behalf. The critters would squirrel them away in underground storage holes, and when the people found these caches, they would take half, leaving the rest for the hard-working rodents.

I have not had the fortune of finding a rodent cache of these, so the only way I can get them is by digging. The edible “beans” come from the underground flowers, and are therefore located underground. They are worth the effort though.

Beth and I took Penny to Sandogardy Pond today. I wanted to look for the late summer aquatics, and though we were able to find quite a few, I didn’t find all the ones I was looking for.

Before we got to the pond we found some Indian tobacco.

Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)

Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)


This is also called “puke weed” and I think that’s what I’m going to call it from now on. I suspect that “Indian tobacco” is a racial slur, as many plants with “Indian” in the name are. As in, “tobacco only good enough for Indians.”

Not far from the puke weed, we came across some hazel cuttings.

Beaked Hazels

Beaked Hazels


These are the shells from beaked hazels (Corylus cornuta) which were growing nearby. I have a lot of them on my property too, but have never really been able to harvest any. The squirrels and chipmunks tend to harvest them before they ripen. You have to be careful when gathering them too, because those husks are full of fine spines which have a tendency to stick in your skin and break off. Just imagine shelling one with your lips and teeth!

We got to the pond, and the first blooming plant I noticed was this spotted water hemlock.

Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)


It is important to be aware of this plant if you plan to eat wild carrots, because they are superficially similar, and spotted water hemlock is the most toxic plant in North America. One taste can kill.

Just offshore from the water hemlock, I could see the floating heart in bloom. I took off my shoes and waded out to it.

Floating Heart (Nymphoides cordata)

Floating Heart (Nymphoides cordata)


You have to be careful when photographing these, because the tiniest waves you make tend to wet the flowers, and when that happens, they turn from white to transparent. I have dozens of photos of transparent floating heart blossoms. I managed to avoid that this time.

Down the beach a little ways I found some Marsh St Johnswort.

Marsh St Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)

Marsh St Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)


I always have a hard time remembering the name of this one, because I keep wanting to put the “Virginia” part of the binominal name into the common name. Virginia St Johnswort? Nope. Virginia Swamp St Johnswort? Nope. Someday I might be able to remember without the aid of the Internet.

I had already put my shoes back on when I found some seven-angled pipewort. I didn’t want to take them off again, so I leaned way out and snapped this shot.

Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)

Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)


Leaning out doesn’t make the greatest photos, and we can see that here. I looked for these earlier this summer but could find no sign of them. But today, here they are.

A little farther down I found some square-stemmed monkey flower.

Square-temmed Monkey Flower (Mimulus ringens)

Square-temmed Monkey Flower (Mimulus ringens)


This plant got me into a little trouble once. A friend of mine breeds poodles and typically names them after flowers. Knowing that I was a plant-guy, she asked me to suggest a name for her next “keeper” dog. She was not pleased when I proposed square-stemmed monkey flower. I guess it just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

“Here, Square-stemmed Monkey Flower! Here girl!”

Nope.

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