Today after church, David, Beth and I took the canoe down to Sandogardy Pond. As soon as we got there, I realized I had left my camera at home. Bummer. We paddled around the pond, and I noticed several species of flowers that had freshly bloomed: pickerel weed, pipewort, swamp candles, and grassy arrowhead.
Not having my camera, I wrote them all down. But when we got home again, and after I put away the canoe, I decided I would go back. This time I would bring Penny (she needed the exercise) and the camera. Beth came too.
On the way, we found some ripe blackberries. To my surprise, Beth tried one. To my utter astonishment, she liked it. Pretty soon we came into a patch of raspberries too, and she gobbled a few of those down too. Then we saw some strawberries, and finally, some blueberries:
She had some of those as well, and they were very good! A little farther down, I noticed some Pyrola:
I don’t know the species (the genus is Pyrola though) as there are half a dozen or so in my field guides, and I have never been able to decide which ones I’m seeing. Three years ago I found a single specimen. This year, I noticed them by their foliage all over the place, but this is the first one I’ve seen in bloom this year. Then I saw some cow-wheat (Melampyrum lineare):
This is a plant that has been growing by a birch log I felled a couple of years ago. I’ve been looking for it this year, but have so far failed to find any (on my property). I was glad to see this.
We finally made it to the pond.
This stuff was growing where I saw it last year, but it has also spread out a bit. We saw it all along the banks of the pond as we paddled around. It’s also called “duck potato”, as the roots are very potato like and were harvested in quantity by the Native Americans. They would dig it up with their toes and it would float to the surface. I’ve not tried this, as I’ve never seen it in abundance. But if it continues to spread like it has this year, I might get a chance.
Another edible wild plant on the pond was this one:
These flowers make nut-like fruits in the fall that can be picked and eaten out of hand like granola. I’ve eaten plenty of this stuff and find it delightful. I read up a bit about the plant tonight and learned something new. It’s tristylous, meaning it comes with three distinct combinations of style and stamen length. These three varieties are tuned to various insects, so that the pollen is rubbed off the stamen on one type of insect, and then deposited on the style of another flower whose style length matches the male’s stamen length. The tuned lengths prevent the plant from self-pollinating. I thought that was pretty cool, though I’ve probably butchered the explanation.
These had popped up last time I was at Sandogardy, but now they have bloomed as well. Like the arrowhead, there were plenty more of these than in previous years. I managed to get a close-up shot of one of the flowers. They’re generally less than a quarter inch across:
Farther from the shore was a stand of Spotted Water Hemlock:
This is a highly toxic plant – possibly the most toxic one in North America. The big problem is that it can be confused with Queen Anne’s Lace, aka wild carrot. They’re not hard to tell apart, but confusing them could be a fatal error. The leaves are fairly dissimilar, and the flowers from Queen Anne have three-forked bracts underneath. The Water Hemlock has no bracts at all beneath the umbel.
We headed home after a while and I saw these on the road side:
This is wild sarsaparilla. I know that some part of this plant is edible, but I don’t think it’s the berries. As usual, when I’m not 100% positive, I don’t eat a wild plant. These berries were particularly brilliant though, so I stopped to get a fairly decent shot of them. I had my tiny tripod with me, and that really helped, especially since the light was failing fast (it was clouding up pretty good too).
We got home well before any rain started. In fact… I don’t think it ever did rain. I went out a little later and watered the tomatoes, and 15 of the 16 plants I set out are all looking pretty good. Maybe I’ll have some tomatoes soon.