Sunday morning I woke up kind of early, at least for me. After breakfast, I asked Beth if she wanted to walk down to the pond, but she said she was not interested. David had gone back to bed, as is his wont on Sunday mornings. So it was just Penny and I. I got the leash and we headed out.
We didn’t get too far when I found one of the blooms I had been looking for:
This is American Hog Peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata). I have a fair amount of it on my property near the catchment pond and along the driveway. None of it has bloomed yet, and indeed, none of it is looking very good. I think the lack of rain has affected it. But there was plenty of it in bloom along the road to Sandogardy.
Elderberry is a common plant that I only recently learned to identify. The berries are edible, and I had a handful before I took this photo. Maybe I should have waited until afterwards, but they looked so good, I was unable to resist. I’d love to harvest a bunch of this, but this is the only tree I know of around my regular stomping grounds.
The spotted jewelweed (above) is going full steam ahead about now. These are lovely flowers, and are said to have the fastest mechanism in the plant kingdom. Once it goes to seed, the seeds pods are highly sensitive – any disturbance will cause them to explode, scattering seeds everywhere. That’s where its other common name comes from – touch-me-not.
When I arrived at the pond it was only about 9:00am. There were several people there already: two girls on bikes (they had passed me on the road); a couple of guys fishing. I should get up earlier so I can have the pond to myself. Not that I mind sharing though, and these people all seemed nice enough. Penny even managed to convince one of them to throw a stick a couple of times. She can be very persuasive!
But I was savoring my solitude, so after a quick check for new blooms, and finding none (possible because the check was so quick), I moved on, plunging into the woods through which the stream draining the pond flows.
I was on the lookout for Clintonia (aka corn lily, aka blue-bead lily). There is a stand of it growing along the trail there. Before I got to it though, I came across some Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana).
This too is an edible plant, though the berries shown here are not. As the name implies, the root tastes like cucumber. I have sampled it in the past and would love to make a meal of them someday, but it just doesn’t grow abundantly enough to make that a realistic (or responsible) choice.
I found the stand of Clintonia, but it was past time for the blue beads already. I’m not sure when they fall off the plant, but it looked to me like it had happened well in the past. Since they sported no blue beads, I didn’t take any photos.
I crossed the bridge over the stream and took a look around there. I had been flipping through my Peterson’s Edible Wild Plants book the previous evening, and low and behold, I saw a cluster of berries that I remembered seeing in the book.
I couldn’t remember what it was though, so I had to look it up again when I got home. Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is another plant that is well known by many, but new to me. This is the first specimen I have found. Peterson describes the berries , but doesn’t say they are edible, so I assume they are not. The root however, forms a corm that he describes as quite good – so long as it is thoroughly dried first. Otherwise, it contains calcium oxalate crystals, which cause severe burning in the mouth. I’d like to come back and dig one up so I could try it, and you can be sure I will let it dry thoroughly first.
As much as I enjoy the company of my kids, it is nice to occasionally take a walk alone. What I like about solo hikes is that I can set the pace without worrying that I’m going too fast for someone – or more importantly, too slow. They are often more interested in getting to the pond as quickly as possible, and do not like to wait around while old Dad takes pictures of yet another plant. I go for the journey. They go for the destination. I think Penny goes in case someone will throw a stick.