This morning when we got to church I stepped outside to see if I could find some forked bluecurls (Trichostema dichotomum). Found some!

Forked bluecurls (Trichostema dichotomum)

Forked bluecurls (Trichostema dichotomum)


I had seen some out in the field earlier this week, but there were no blossoms, and I was pressed for time. This is one of my favorite late summer flowers. I have a better photo I had taken a couple of years ago – it can be seen on Wikipedia

After church I took a nap, and then Beth and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. Penny was beside herself with anticipation. She knows when we’re heading to the pond.

Along the way, I saw these asters. I don’t even try to place them in a genus any more. There are hundreds of asters, and they are very difficult (at least to me) to distinguish.

Asters

Asters

I also spotted a patch of these a little farther down.

Ground bean (Amphicarpaea bracteata)

Ground bean (Amphicarpaea bracteata)


This is most often called hog peanut, but it turns out, that is a derogatory name for this plant. It makes underground seed pods – beans really – and the Native Americans made frequent use of them. I have eaten them myself and find them utterly delightful. The White Man cast aspersions on them (and by extension, upon the people who ate them) by naming them “hog peanuts,” a suggestion that they were only fit for consumption by hogs. Samuel Thayer prefers to call them “ground beans,” and I have adopted that name for them as well.

It began to rain before we got to the pond. Beth was there to swim though. I can never pass up the opportunity to make a joke about her not being allowed to swim in the rain, because she might get wet.

She swam, and I walked along the beach looking for flowers and wildlife. Specifically, I thought I might find some snails.

Bingo.

Viviparid snail

Viviparid snail


I have tentatively placed this snail as belonging to the family Vivipadae. The name suggests that it bears live young, but I can’t seem to find any information on their life cycle. The photo above shows the snail’s operculum, which is like a front door. The snail can open and close this at will.

I set it down and took another photo to show a different angle.

Viviparid snail

Viviparid snail


With its portrait taken, I chucked it back into the water, pretty close to where I had found it.

I bet it would make a nice meal for a muskrat.

Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)

Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)


I took a picture of this wood frog (Rana sylvatica) on Tuesday. It apparently has an injured right eye, but I didn’t notice that until I downloaded the photo to my computer and zoomed in on the detail (I do that the assess image quality). Poor little guy!
Update: Maybe he just has mud in his eye?

I was out in the yard trying to decide how realistically I’d be able to teach the edible wild plants honor here at my house. It wasn’t looking that great if I got a big crowd of people. I still have blueberries and the blackberries are just coming in, but I need three berries. The wintergreen is in flower now, there just aren’t many berries out there. The partridge berries are still very unripe, as are the autumn olive and dew berries. So I can only manage two berries here right now. On top of that, all the hazelnuts I had seen earlier in the summer have been decimated:

Robbed!

Robbed!


Samuel Thayer, in Nature’s Garden holds that people can get to the hazels before the animals do – you just have to stay on top of them. Well, I’m going to have to contest that. I have been checking on them daily, and the ones I can still find are still not ripe. Maybe Thayer doesn’t have chipmunks. In fact, on Tuesday I picked one that I considered unripe and buried it in the mud (Thayer’s recommendation – this softens the prickly hull and makes it easier to get the nut out). When I did this, I counted about a dozen nuts on one small (but particular) tree. When I returned to that tree yesterday, there was not one nut still on it. I dug up the one I had buried, and I will open it soon to see if it was ripe or not. I don’t think it was though, as the color was definitely on the yellow end of the spectrum rather than the darker brown I would expect.

The bottom line is that I have decided to teach the Electricity honor instead. I just don’t have the quantities of plants needed here to support a troop of kids.

Beth and I took Penny for a walk down to Sandogardy Pond this afternoon after lunch. On the way I saw some asters in bloom.

Aster

Aster


I won’t even try to put a species name on these. There are hundreds of possibilities when it comes to asters, and I have not equipped myself to distinguish them.

When we got there, I went poking around the dock to see if I could find any arrowhead (Sagitaria graminea), and to my surprise, the floating heart (Nymphoides cordata) had bloomed.

Floating Heart (Nymphoides cordata)

Floating Heart (Nymphoides cordata)


I took several shots and then moved a little farther up the shore away from the dock when I saw a pretty large snake lying motionless in the pickerelweed. I watched it for a bit trying to decided if it was alive or not (it was so large I wasn’t even sure if it was real). I followed his body with my eyes until I found his head, and then I was sure that he was both real and alive, so I maneuvered my camera into position spooking him. So instead of a nice shot showing how big this guy was, all I could get was his head:
Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon)

Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon)

I went over to the other side of the dock and then walked up the shoreline where there was a lot of pickerelweed. I got these shots:

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)


And a close-up of one of the blossoms:
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)


Pickerelweed is trystylus, meaning that the styles (the female part of the flower) come in three distinct lengths relative to the length of the stamen (male part). Thus, when a bee comes by, it won’t transfer pollen from the stamen to the style of the same plant. I think that’s pretty cool.

I almost stepped on this little guy:

Bladderwort (Utricularia gibba)

Bladderwort (Utricularia gibba)


This is one that I first saw last year, and was somehow able to remember its name. If my identification is correct, this is a insectivorous plant. The blossom here is tiny – maybe an eighth of an inch across.

While we were there I also went looking for some Virginia Marsh St Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum). This is another plant that grows near water and blooms in the mid to late summer. It was in bloom the last time I went to Sandogardy, and I took several poor photos of it. Today I wanted to take some better shots, but I was hard pressed to find any with open blossoms. I did not think they quit flowering that quickly. I finally did find one with an open bloom:

Virginia Marsh St Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)

Virginia Marsh St Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)

Beth and I then headed back to the house, and I took a nice two-hour nap. Va woke me for supper, and after we finished that, David asked if I wanted to go to Sandogardy. But of course I did! He didn’t know Beth and I had already been, as he also took a nap after lunch – only he started his well before we did. Beth wanted to join us for a second walk too, and of course, Penny never turns down an opportunity like that.

So off we went. When we got there, I found that the prodigious number of Virginia Marsh St Johnswort that is indeed there had all opened their blossoms while I slept. So I took a few more shots.

T. virginicum

T. virginicum

This one came out half decent (though if I ever fix my tripod mount on this camera, I’m sure I could do better). Pretty much all my shots this summer have been hand-held.

The sun came out today. David, Beth, and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I had noticed on Thursday that the foliage was quite brilliant, and hoped that it would still be today – but I was disappointed. The high winds we had Friday took their toll. Most of the trees were bare.

The only thing I saw that was still in bloom were some asters. I took several photos and deleted almost all of them. The sky was overcast and low in the sky, plus there was still a fairly brisk wind blowing. Low light plus moving plants equals poor photos.

Eventually, I came across a small clump of asters growing low near the edge of the pond.

Asters at Sandogardy's Edge

Asters at Sandogardy's Edge


The water in the pond was up too, so normally, these asters would not have been in the water. There was a lonely bee working the blossom. She was a bit lethargic, but I suppose that was because of the low temperature (it was in the upper 40’s). I tried to move in closer to her to get a better shot, and she took off, did a loop, and landed splash in the water! She swam about for a bit, but it was clear to me she wasn’t going to make it. So I reached in and offered my fingers as a life raft. She climbed aboard without hesitation.
Rescued!

Rescued!


I looked at her a bit as she crawled around. I was pretty sure she would not sting, and I was correct about that. I moved my fingers back to the flower, and she made a “bee line” for it (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Back in Business

Back in Business

I had also noted that there was plenty of goose scat all over the beach, especially near the dock where these aster grew. After I rescued the bee, Beth pointed out the geese on the water. We were pretty far away though, so it was hard to tell if they were geese or ducks. David had forgotten his glasses so he couldn’t tell either. I zoomed in with the camera and took a couple of spectacularly bad shots. They were good enough to id the birds as Canada geese, but not good enough to post here! I also photographed a sample of the scat, and it turned out pretty good – but I’ll spare you!

Today the Woodland Sunflowers (Helianthus divaricatus) bloomed. I noticed one along the roadside on the way home, but I wasn’t sure that’s what it was. There’s a big patch of it growing at the end of my driveway, so I was on the lookout for it when I pulled in. Yup! Two and a half blossoms! I went in and got my raincoat and tripod. The two fully opened blooms were too high for my tripod to reach, and it was quite overcast, so I didn’t think I could free-hand a shot with out it. So I took one of the half-opened one:

Partially open Woodland Sundflower (Helianthus divaricatus)

Partially open Woodland Sundflower (Helianthus divaricatus)


I’m not 100% confident I got the species right, as there are 62 species of Helianthus in the U.S. Many of them are nearly indistinguishable, especially by an amateur like me. But that’s my best guess. Maybe later tonight I’ll go through all 62 and take a careful look at all the ones that supposedly grow in NH.

Speaking of genera with too many species, another one of those bloomed today. Some sort of aster.

Some sort of Aster

Some sort of Aster


The Aster genus is so confusing as to give professional botanists fits. Furthermore, they keep inventing new genera and moving plants out of Aster and into these new ones. In my Peterson’s Field Guide, he lists a couple dozen species of purple aster, and the closest one I can find there is Aster radula. But according to the USDA and WIkipedia, that one has been moved to a new genus – Eurybia. Those whacky taxonomists! I don’t see how I can ever hope to master the aster.