I took a lap around my woods when I got home this evening. There are several plants in bloom, and here is a sampling:

First up is the northern starflower:

Northern Starflower(Trientalis borealis)

Northern Starflower(Trientalis borealis)


There are a lot of these in my woods right now. You can hardly throw a stick without hitting one.

The Canada may-lilies have started to open now too:

Canada May-lily (Maianthemum canadense)

Canada May-lily (Maianthemum canadense)


Another name for this is “false lily-of-the-valley”, but as I’ve said before, I don’t like that name. There is nothing false about this plant, and like the starflower, it is quite abundant in my woods right now. It’s everywhere.

The wild strawberries have decided to come up in the backyard along the edge of the woods. These usually come up by the driveway (and they have again this year), but I don’t recall having seen them in the back until this year.

Wild strawberry (Fragaria spp)

Wild strawberry (Fragaria spp)

The sarsaparilla is blooming now too. Not all of these make flowers, but the ones that do often make two umbels, as this one did.

Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)


I always think of Bugs Bunny when I see this because in one episode, he and Daffy Duck were pitted against “Hassan” who was trying to remember the password to open the secret cave door. One that he tried was “Open sarsaparilla?”

Here’s another that popped up in a new place:

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)


Bunchberry is in the same genus as the dogwood tree, which has always struck me as odd. How can a forb be in the same genus as a tree?

Here’s an old stand-by:

Pink Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Pink Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)


I looked for this particular specimen earlier this spring because I know right where it comes up. It was almost four inches tall when I first saw it, but look at it now. Someday I know that Penny is going to take this one out with a stick, as it grows right along the edge of our path, and Penny tears through there heedless of the flora while carrying a stick in her mouth. There are another half dozen of these elsewhere in my woods though, and they seem rather abundant in other places too. But this is the only one I look for before it sprouts.

New Hampshire Gardener posted a shot of Wild Columbine today, and I lamented in his comments section that some used to grow near the catchment pond on my property (I don’t call it “my” catchment pond, because the city built and maintains it). I hadn’t seen any for three or four years. But I went out there tonight after reading his post just to make sure, and what do you know?

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)


It’s back!

Even though this blog is mostly about nature, I sometimes take a tangent. Sometimes for a while. It has been a little while since I’ve done any nature posts, so today I hope to set things right.

I took a lap around my property today and was surprised to see so many plants in bloom.

First up was goldthread.

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)


This plant is also called canker root because it was reputedly a cure for mouth sores. I don’t know how efficacious it was, but that didn’t stop the colonials. The rhizome is a bright gold color, which is where its other name comes from. The white “petals” are really sepals. The actual
petals are those yellow-orange club-shaped things in the center.

I turned off my trail to look for some ferns, but instead found this:

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)


Blueberries! This was the only plant (out of hundreds) on my property that I found to be in bloom. It borders the neighbor’s land where he cleared all the trees in preparation for building a house. Maybe the added sunlight made them bloom sooner.

I went looking for this one too:

Pink Ladyslipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Pink Ladyslipper (Cypripedium acaule)


It’s not in bloom yet, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. I looked for these last week (in this very spot) and didn’t find even a hint of it. I conclude therefore, that this is one week’s work for Lady Slipper.

I was in the middle of my woods looking for some trillium when I found this.

Sessile bellwort, or wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia)

Sessile bellwort, or wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia)


I did not sow them. They grew here by themselves. I didn’t find any trilliums either, but I’ll be camping with the Pathfinders this weekend, so maybe I’ll see some then.

This is one of my very favorites (though I say that about several plants).

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)


This morning I found a batch of them just exposing their petals, but the petals had not opened. This evening I found another batch with petals unfurled. This is such a fascinating looking flower. I know of nothing else even remotely similar.

Finally, there’s the dwarf ginseng.

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)


This plant has edible tubers, but it’s best to dig them after it goes to seed (because then the plant diverts its energy into the tuber for next year). The only problem is that the above-ground parts of the plant completely vanish, making these a lot more difficult to find. I have eaten them before, but not in quantity. I never harvest more than a plant colony can sustain, which in the case of this plant on my property is about four tubers per year. Not enough for a meal, but enough for a taste.

Today, the Pathfinders met in a shopping center parking lot in Concord to assemble for our first Memorial Day parade. We fell in behind the Rundlet Middle School band, and I was pretty impressed by them. They were about a hundred strong, and they played very well. Their director stopped and said “Hi” to us before the parade started. He told us to be ready for a car to pull in behind the band. That was their water car. He offered to give us water if we needed it, and for that I was thankful. This being the first time I have ever been in charge of a group marching in a parade, I didn’t even think of that.

I was in band during my last year of high school and during my sophomore and junior years at Murray State. I have marched in far more parades than I have watched from the sidelines. But again, this was the first time I was in charge of the group with whom I marched, and that definitely offers a different perspective.

Cheryl, the director who preceded me came out for the parade too. She served as our drill instructor last year. David has been doing that this year, but he was sick today. As we set out, I called “column left march” when I meant “column right march.” Oops! Cheryl offered to call the commands, and I immediately and gratefully accepted her offer.

She did ask me when she should call “eyes right” which is when everyone except the rightmost column looks to the right while the director salutes. I told her I’d like to do it as much as we could. It is usually reserved for the reviewing stand, but I didn’t know if there would be one (and there wasn’t). Instead, she called “eyes right” every time we passed a veteran. They were easy to spot because they were wearing VFW hats (or similar), and they would remove them and salute the US Flag we were carrying. “Eyes right!” Both Cheryl and I would thank them for their service. It left a lump in my throat to think of what those guys had done for us.

The parade took about an hour, but it seemed like it was a lot shorter than that. I had enough flags so that about half the kids were carrying one. So I had them switch halfway through so they wouldn’t get too tired, and so that everyone would have a chance to carry one.

We had a new banner (thank you Darlene!) that two kids would carry, a US, Pathfinder, and NH State flag, plus four guidons. That’s nine flags, and ten of the kids showed up (the one flagless kid and the guidons carriers swapped with the banner and big flag carriers).

In no time, we arrived at the capitol and Rundlet started loading their instruments on their buses. Our group walked back to the shopping center, and that was pretty much it. Joy asked me if I could assemble the kids (she had some cookies she had baked for the Baking honor). So I did and I told them how proud I was of them, and that they looked fantastic. Then I turned them over to Joy. She had a surprise for me – a dozen cookies! She also had a batch of brownies for the rest of the club. I was totally not expecting that. 🙂

When I got home, Jonathan was outside mowing the front lawn. Usually he and David each mow half the yard, but with David under the weather, and since the parade didn’t even come close to wearing me out, I took David’s turn. I mowed more than the boys generally do, including my paths through the woods, the edge of the driveway, and some “wild” spots here and there. Plus the yard.

Then I went in for a bit of rest, but Penny wouldn’t have any of that. She wanted to play (and the mower terrifies her). So I took her for a walk down to Sandogardy Pond. And I took my resurrected camera with me.

Here’s some of what I saw (and I can’t tell you how glad I am to be able to share photos with you again).

False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosa) with a visitor

False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosa) with a visitor


This was in my east woods along the freshly mown trail to the frog pond.
False Solomon's Seal (M. racemosa) sans visitor

False Solomon’s Seal (M. racemosa) sans visitor


This one was slightly more lonely.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)


The last time I went by this one, the light was failing and I didn’t have an operational tripod setup. This time the light was better and my tripod mount was fixed. It is a better result.

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)


My camera was out of commission when I first noticed this was in bloom on Saturday. It was nice to be able to capture it today.

Blue-bead (or corn) lily (Clintonia borealis)

Blue-bead (or corn) lily (Clintonia borealis)


The blue-bead lily, aka corn lily, aka Clintonia borealis is too far along now for nibbling on the cuke-flavored leaves. But the flowers sure look nice.

A Quartet of Pink ladies slippers (Cypripedium acuale)

A Quartet of Pink ladies slippers (Cypripedium acuale)


I saw these four ladies slippers Saturday too, but couldn’t share them with you until today. Penny patiently waited for me to finish taking their portrait so I could throw her a stick.

The path through the logged field

The path through the logged field


This used to be a forest with a trail through it until the owner logged it. That broke my heart, especially since the loggers left such a mess behind. It’s hard to walk over all the sticks they left strewn everywhere, but I can’t really complain since it’s neither my property nor the public’s. As you can see, the forest is trying to re-establish itself again (and coming along nicely).

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)


Most of the star flowers are finished now. I was surprised to see this one still looking so good. It’s probably the last one I will photograph until next spring.

Poison ivy blossoms (Toxicodendron radicans)

Poison ivy blossoms (Toxicodendron radicans)


Here’s one you don’t often see – poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) blossoms. I didn’t get too close, as I am most decidedly allergic to them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Here’s the haul from this evening’s lap around my property. We’ll start with more gaywings. I never get tired of these.

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

I don’t know if these close again after they open or if they just stay open. Either way, these weren’t open when I captured their picture.

Unopened gaywings (P. paucifolia)

Unopened gaywings (P. paucifolia)


I finally decided that this is lowbush blueberry rather than just generic blueberry. Highbush blueberries are, yes… higher bushes.
Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

I like the hairs on this one. I hadn’t every noticed that before.

Pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acuale)

Pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acuale)

We bought this at a nursery during our first spring here. I have no idea what kind of viburnum it is, and with cultivated varieties, it’s pretty hard to tell. It might be a Korean spice viburnum, but that’s really just a guess. It could (and likely is) also be some sort of hybrid.

Cultivated Viburnum

Cultivated Viburnum

I ought to pull up this ground ivy. If it takes hold, it could take over the whole yard, and then… all of Merrimack County.

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)


But it is pretty.

Saturday afternoon I took a walk around my woods to look for (and photograph) wildflowers. I found some.

I was looking specifically for some wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia), so I went to the places where I have found it in previous years. Yup. Found some in bloom.

Wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia)

Wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia)

This is another one I went looking specifically for.

Pink lady Slipper (Cypripedium acuale)

Pink lady Slipper (Cypripedium acuale)


This is not the same one I posted last week. I looked for that one too, but couldn’t find any sign of it. I have no idea what happened to it, but I guess that’s the way nature goes sometimes.

When I go out looking for blossoms, I look everywhere for surprises too. This was one of those:

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)


This will become a Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) flower. I don’t know that I’ve ever caught one in this stage before. I have dug up the roots of this plant and brewed it into a tea. I don’t think it was worth the effort though, so it’s not something I am likely to repeat.

This is one I was looking for. I saw a few when we went camping last week, and they do grow on my property too. So I looked in the usual places and found a few. I suspect I will find even more this week. I was fairly pleased with this photo, so bonus!

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

Here’s another three-leaf plant (trifolius) but with a different Latin conjugation. If I knew Latin, I would probably understand the difference between trifolia and trifolius.

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)


I posted an image of one of these last week too, but liked this one enough to repeat it. I do that sometimes.

Here’s another repeat. I set out to get a really nice photo of this one, and it turned out OK – not stunning, but OK. I suppose the light was a bit too harsh. It was mid-afternoon when I took the shot, and this one wasn’t in as shady an area as most of the others.

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

Right after shooting the gaywings, this fly alighted on my thumb. I haven’t tried to identify it yet, but I did think the photo came out pretty well. Better than the gaywings anyhow (even if it’s not as nice a subject).

Unidentified fly

Unidentified fly

The wild strawberries are still going gang busters.

Wild strawberry (Fragaria spp)

Wild strawberry (Fragaria spp)


It’s another repeat, but I think it’s worth repeating.

I still don’t have any bluets on my place, but I have seen vast swaths of them in fields from the car this week (and last). I might have to stop and get some photos soon. I’ve also been looking for wood anemones and hobblebush from the car, but no luck so far. I have yet to see a trillium this year either, and I know those are almost finished now. Maybe I’ll find some in Maine this weekend. I know I will be looking for them anyhow!

Close to the end of the workday today, Va dropped Beth off at my office. She wanted to load some songs on her iPod, and I have been storing those on my desk computer there. We took care of that, and then set out for the Haggett Farm where we camped last week. You might recall that I decided to leave the tents pitched so they’d have a chance to dry. Well, it was time to check them. I figured if any were dry, I could put them away, and if any were not, I could move them into our kitchen shelter where they would stand a fighting chance (the forecast is for showers every day for the next umpteen days).

Wet tents and a dry one

Wet tents and a dry one


The results were mixed. The tent in the foreground was dry, but the ones behind it were wet. As it turns out, they were the only wet ones of the lot, and their wetness was confined to the inside. You might be saying, “But I only see one tent in the background!” and I could not blame you for that. It was a big part of the problem (if not the sole cause). The girls who used these tents decided to join them together, which is something they were not designed to do. That prevented the flies from being pulled tight, which is a requirement for keeping the rain out. And since they were improperly pitched, they let the rain in, and that’s where it still was when I got there today.

I unstaked them and poured about a cup of water out of each one. Then I moved them into the kitchen. I’ll try again perhaps on Friday.

When we got home, I took Penny out for a lap around our wood lot. Our neighbor has been doing some work.

Change, it is a comin'

Change, it is a comin'


He is getting ready to build a house back here. The one on his lot is sort of a shack, and he is anxious to get into some better digs. His parents will be building a second house back there too. Unfortunately for me, this is going to let a lot of light into my woods and completely change its character. The flora I have along this edge of the property is completely different from the flora along the northern border. Down here, I have dewdrops (Dalibarda pratense), dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius), goldthread (Coptis trifolia), and a couple of others that I can’t think of right now. This is the only place I know where these plants grow, and I believe them to be shade lovers. With the neighbor’s woods opening up, I will no longer have the shade they need, so I expect I won’t be enjoying them much longer.

The dwarf ginseng was blooming today though.

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)


I will enjoy it while I can.

Farther up the trail (where the woods are more open), I found a pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acuale) shoot. This should bloom in another two or three weeks.

Pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Then I made my way around to the front of the house. Va’s phlox has bloomed.

Phlox

Phlox


It has not yet reached its full glory, but I expect it will by this weekend.

I also found some white violets.

Violets are white

Violets are white


I do not pretend to know which species this is, but the genus is almost certainly Viola. And the leaves are quite tasty.

At the edge of the yard I have several chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) bushes. This is one that I had misidentified initially, but had enough doubt that I sent a photo of it off to Mr Smarty Plants. They came back with A. melanocarpa.

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)


Samuel Thayer has lots of good things to say about this plant, and he stresses over and over again that it is chokeberry, not chokecherry. My bushes don’t produce enough for me to really get more than a taste of their berries.

As I continued my walk, I noticed a gaywing in bloom.

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)


I had seen several unopened blooms in the west woods, and took several shots of them. But hey! this one is open. So I chose to post a photo of it, rather than the others. By this time the light was failing. I put the camera on my little tripod (even though the mount is still stripped – guess I need to get a helicoil), backed the F-stop down to the minimum, and took this shot. It’s a little dark, and I don’t like the depth of field too much, but it’s still not too shabby.

Wild strawberry (Fragaria spp)

Wild strawberry (Fragaria spp)


As I emerged from my little forest and came out onto the driveway, I saw the strawberries in bloom. I have no idea which species of strawberry this is – probably F. virginiana. It is nearly indistinguishable from dewberries, which are in the same genus as blackberries and raspberries. For a long time I thought the dewberries were strawberries, until I found that they produced blackberry drupes instead of strwaberries. They both grow along the edge of the driveway. Dad taught me to tell them apart – dewberries have thorns (little tiny ones) and strawberries do not.

I headed back to the house and checked out the “turn-around” spot in the driveway. There at the edge of that was another violet.

Violets are also blue

Violets are also blue


Nice.

This afternoon Beth and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. Beth rode her bike, and I held Penny’s leash. I kept my eyes to the sides of the road most of the way there looking for flowers, and such.

Here is some “such”

Unknown Fungus

Unknown Fungus


I took a stab at identifying this little fungus, but came up empty-handed. There were three clumps of it growing in the ditch beside the road. Whatever it is, I like it!

Nearby, I spotted some False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) just beginning to bloom:

False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)

False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)


I have some of this on my own property, but it’s not as far along as this specimen. I guess I’ll be seeing more of it over the next couple of weeks.

We soon came to the Class VI road (meaning it is not maintained at all) that leads to the pond. About halfway down that road under a large white pine is the only place I know where I can find Lily-of-the-valley. I’ve been checking on it every time I go down there, and today I struck pay-dirt:

Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)


Too bad these flowers won’t last very long.

All along that road I saw plenty of pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acuale). Even though I’ve posted plenty of lady slippers in the past couple of weeks, I could not resist these triplets growing towards the end of that road.

Three pink lady's slippers (Cypripedium acuale)

Triplets!

When we arrived at the pond, I found a nice northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) in bloom. I’ve got plenty of the lowbush variety at my place (and all along the road and trails to the pond), but there aren’t very many highbush:

Northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

Northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

Then I checked one of the bunchberry haunts.

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)


These were spotted in Maine last week, so I knew I should find some here just any time now. Bunchberry is an interesting plant. It belongs to the same genus as the dogwood trees, but it sure seems pretty different to me. Also, those white petals are not petals at all, but rather, sepals. The petals are little tiny things in the center of the sepals.

I walked around the beach to the trail that follows the stream draining the pond. There, I found a large patch of indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) in bloom.

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)

A little farther down I came to the patch of corn lily, aka blue bead lily, aka Clintonia borealis.

Clintonia borealis

Clintonia borealis


These flowers will turn into blue bead-like berries later this summer. They look delicious, but are not edible. The leaves are supposed to be, but they should be picked before they uncurl. I think they’re well beyond that stage now. Maybe next spring I’ll try them.

The trail along the creek ends when it hits the class IV road. At that point, the road is much more a trail than a road, and there’s a small wooden bridge used by snowmobiles and ATV’s. In the marshy spot along the creek right there by the bridge is a stand of false hellebore (Veratrum viride). That’s a plant I learned only recently. Last year I tried keeping an eye on it so I could get a shot of its flowers, but I never saw any. So I continue with that this year. I’m getting close:

False hellebore (Veratrum viride)

False hellebore (Veratrum viride)


I don’t know if I missed them again, or if they’re about to open. I’ll try to get back again as soon as I can to check them out.