June 2013


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!

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I took this photo in Virginia this week. I like the yellow stamens, and think they very much resemble a bunch of miniature bananas.

Carolina horsenettle (Solanum carolinense)

Carolina horsenettle (Solanum carolinense)


This one is growing next to a fire station close to where I am staying in Virginia. I had a hard time identifying it because I was certain it belonged to the Physalis genus (strawberry tomatoes, tomatillos). Check out the similarity:
Strawberry tomato (Physalis pruinosa)

Strawberry tomato (Physalis pruinosa)

Right family, wrong genus. The most obvious difference is the color of the flowers, but I understand they can sometimes be yellow in horsenettle.

The family itself is Solanaceae, which contains a mix of highly poisonous (nightshade) and quite edible (tomato, potato, tomatillo) plants. All members have poisonous parts due to the presence of solanine (which was named after this family). Solanine is an alkaloid, and the plant uses this as its primary defense against fungi and pests. Wikipedia has this to say about it:

Solanine poisoning is primarily displayed by gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, cardiac dysrhythmia, nightmare, headache and dizziness. In more severe cases, hallucinations, loss of sensation, paralysis, fever, jaundice, dilated pupils, hypothermia and death have been reported.

Nasty stuff!

Yesterday morning I “spotted” a giant leopard moth at the gas station.

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia)

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia)


Of course I didn’t know what it was when I saw it (other than that it was a moth). I had to look it up. The problem is I don’t have a good reference on moths (I do have a couple on butterflies, but not much on moths). Beth told me to look it up on the Internet, and I told her I’d try to find it in a book. That’s one way to tell old people from young people. She found it in short order, so this ID belongs to her.

It wasn’t in my book.

The Wikipedia article mentions that some of the spots near the moth’s head can be blue (and they have a few pictures showing that). I looked more closely at this one, and Bingo – some of the spots are indeed blue!

The eastern phoebes we found in that canoe a couple of weeks ago aren’t there any more. I don’t know if they met an ill end or if they have fledged and gone, but in their place we found these today:

Another Eastern Phoebe clutch

Another Eastern Phoebe clutch

I took a lap around my woods to see if the dewdrops had bloomed yet. A few had!

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

The wintergreen is still bearing last year’s berries. They seem to get bigger just before they drop. This one was about 50% larger (in diameter) than they are in the fall.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

I also found that the partridge berry was in bloom…

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

…as was the whorled loosestrife…

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

…and the cow wheat.

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

David and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I wanted to see if the sheep laurel was in bloom. It was. This might be the best shot I’ve ever gotten of it.

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

The beach at the pond was covered with these guys:

Pickerel frog  (Rana palustris)

Pickerel frog (Rana palustris)


I think they are pickerel frogs, but it could also be some other species. They were so small that David thought they were insects at first glance. I knew better because I’ve seen them here before. They were only about a quarter inch long, and as we walked along the beach they were jumping out of the way. There were thousands of them.

This afternoon saw a very rare occurance: Va joined me on a walk down to Sandogardy Pond. Jonathan came along too, as did Penny, in case there were any sticks along the way that needed fetching.

We walked along the creek that drains the pond (Cross Brook, or as I prefer to call it, Little Kohas Creek), and I plunged into the thicket and picked my way through the wetland to see if the false hellebore had bloomed. It had:

False hellebore (Veratrum viride)

False hellebore (Veratrum viride)

I was also pleased to notice a stand of jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and some buttercup (Ranunculus spp) growing where I had weeded out the garlic mustard this spring. Garlic mustard is an invasive alien that will take over an area if left unchecked.

Buttercup, species unknown

Buttercup, species unknown

I didn’t stop to take many photos since I had the rare pleasure of Va’s company on the walk. People don’t like to hang around while I take three minutes to set up a shot. So instead, I just enjoyed her company and took note of the flowers and plants.

When we got home we walked around to the back door to give Penny some grass on which to wipe her feet (she took a dip in the pond, and that makes the sand from the beach and road stick to her all the better). At the end of the garage I spotted an area resident:

Garter snake!

Garter snake!


I like having these around.

Miss Sally is one of the three wooden canoes I bought on behalf of the Pathfinders back in August. She is resting on a rack I built before winter set in, and I went out there today and noticed that she has some visitors.

Miss Sally's guests

Miss Sally’s guests

Miss Sally was in the best condition of all the boats (though Miss Nancy is in better shape now that she has been worked on). But since Miss Nancy is still in my garage, these birds picked the nicest apartment on the rack.

It’s a good thing Miss Sally doesn’t need to go for a paddle anytime soon!

Anyone know the species? I’ll keep an eye on them so when Momma comes back maybe I can tell.