Last week the wild woodland sunflowers (Helianthus divaricatus) at the end of my driveway bloomed.

Woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)

Woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)


At least, that’s what I think they are. I always look forward to these, and now, here they are. I took this photo two days ago, but only got it off the camera a few minutes ago. It was a nice surprise. 🙂

Tonight after dinner Beth was complaining about “being bored.” I gave her the usual suggestions – clean your room, clean the living room, read a book, write a book, pick some berries (I offered to pay her the going rate for them), but none of those appealed to her. So she went upstairs.

The Internet was sluggish, and then I almost got bored too. 😉 So I proposed a walk to Sandogardy. She wanted to swim, and I wanted to get a picture of a bullhead lily (Nuphar lutea). So we leashed up Penny, and we were off.

I wasn’t expecting anyone to be there at 6:00pm on a Friday, but there was a family of four swimming, and two other groups in paddle boats. The swimming family was the one whose kids like to throw the sticks into deep water for Penny. Oh well – she needed exercise too. Beth swam, and I went looking for the bullhead lily. Before I found one, I came cross some swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris) still blooming (they are mostly done now, but these were still looking good). I brought my big tripod, since I wanted to photograph the bullhead, and they grow in a couple of feet of water.

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

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Turns out I needed the big tripod to get a decent shot of these too. While I worked with the swamp candles, I was also scanning for the bullheads. I found some not too far off shore, shed my shoes and socks, and zipped off the legs of my pants. Then I went in.
Bullhead lily (Nuphar lutea)

Bullhead lily (Nuphar lutea)


I liked this shot the best, but all of them came out to my satisfaction.

I waded back to shore and gathered up my shoes. Then I noticed some water hemlock (Cicuta maculata). It too could take advantage of the big tripod.

Water hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

Water hemlock (Cicuta maculata)


This is said to be the most poisonous plant in North America. It is superficially similar to the wild carrot (aka Queen Anne’s lace), but they are not difficult at all to distinguish. The leaves are completely different, as are the stems. The flowers and habit are the most similar, but even those can be easily distinguished. In my opinion, no one should ever eat a wild carrot until they have seen one of these and can tell them apart a million times out of a million.

This guy didn’t seem to care though:

Lady beetle on water  hemlock

Lady beetle on water hemlock

On Labor Day last week, Beth and I walked down to Sandogardy Pond in the pouring rain. I was in my rain gear, but Beth was not. She had already been playing outside in the rain, and I didn’t think she could possibly get any wetter. Penny came along too, and she didn’t mind the rain at all.

Unsurprisingly, the beach at the pond was abandoned. One of the first creatures I saw was this Sirenia crypticus (Or so I name it).

Sirenia crypticus

Sirenia crypticus


OK, that’s not really nature as I promised in my last post. But it should help us ease back into it.

Then on Friday I took a walk around my property. The weather was decidedly more clear, and I came away with some interesting shots. Here’s a mushroom (possibly some sort of chantrelle):

Inverted Mushroom

Inverted Mushroom


I liked the way the gills stood out on this one. I’ve been shooting a lot of mushrooms lately, as we seem to have them in spades. Also, there are not many flowers left (other than those in the Asterid family), so the mushrooms make an irresistible subject. I had Penny along while I was shooting, and she managed to kick me the ball just as I was taking this shot:
Penny, her ball, and an agaric

Penny, her ball, and an agaric


I usually manage to keep Penny out of my backgrounds, but when I looked at the composition of this one, I purposely framed her into the shot. The ball rolling by was a bonus.

Out at the end of my driveway by the road is a small stand of wild woodland sunflowers.

Woodland Sunflowers (Helianthus divaricatus)

Woodland Sunflowers (Helianthus divaricatus)


I have to be careful with these, as they are coming up smack dab in the middle of a patch of poison ivy. I haven’t done anything about the poison ivy though, because I don’t think I can eliminate it without eliminating my sunflowers as well.

Incidentally, Beth managed to get into some poison ivy week, as she has a small affected area on her right wrist. I expect she got that in the woods though, where she and the neighbors have been playing in the canopy of a fallen tree.

David, Beth, and I went down to Sandogardy yesterday too, but I’ll save those pics for another day.

Today I came home right after work instead of stopping at the church to work on the remodeling project. It’s really the first time I’ve had a chance to wander around the yard in the daylight since before we left on vacation on July 31. One of the first things I did was head for the neighbor’s yard to check out the fire damage.

Burn Pile

Burn Pile


I suppose it must have been pretty scary when it was happening, but it doesn’t look like the reports we had received were very accurate. For instance, it was on the other side of their property and not on our border. The fire never approached the stone wall between our place and theirs. The fire did expose a lot of trash and debris that had been covered with undergrowth, but I’m assuming that the new neighbors (who had not yet and still have not yet moved in) are going to clean the place up a bit (thus the burn pile). I sure hope they do anyhow.

While I was walking around my place, I noticed this chestnut tree.

Diseased Chestnut

Diseased Chestnut


The American Chestnut was wiped out early in the twentieth century by an introduced fungus that causes chestnut blight. We still have chestnuts here, but they don’t get taller than 20 feet or so, and the trunks never exceed three inches in diameter (like this one). These sprout up from dead chestnut stumps, grow for a few years, and then die off. I do not know for sure, but I’m guessing that the white powder on these leaves is the fungus. Nope. Chestnut blight is a fungus that attacks the bark. After having looked at several photos, I know I’ve seen bark like that on my chestnut coppices though. This leaf fungus could possibly be Sphaerotheca fuliginea though.

Woodland Sunflower

Woodland Sunflower


These are finally fully in bloom now too. It’s a Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus). By the time I took this shot though, the sky was pretty overcast and the sun was low in the sky (i.e., low light). To compound that, it was breezy, and the flower was swaying back and forth, so the shot is not what I was hoping for. It still turned out semi-OK though.

Beth and I picked about three pints of blackberries today. I’d like to make a pie from them, but Beth wants to do something else. She doesn’t know what that something else is though – just that it’s “not pie.” I’ll probably make pie anyhow.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine from church described to me some plants he had seen in his woods. He wanted to know if I could identify them. One of them I nailed from the description as Wild Sarsaparilla, which I wrote about yesterday. The other two I couldn’t guess from the description.

Today at church I brought him a little of the tea I had brewed yesterday, and he brought in the two specimens which he (or his wife) had potted. The first was Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata).

Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)

Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)


I had never seen it before in real life, but I did know that it shares the Chimaphila genus with the pipsissewa (C. umbellata) I wrote about earlier this week. See how similar the flowers are?
Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)

Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)


Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

The second plant had me somewhat befuddled. It looked kind of plantain-ish, but the leaves were starkly variegated. He had described it as looking like a spider web, but his wife thought it looked more like snakeskin. If I had put two and two together, I would have had its id, but this is another I had never seen before:

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)


When I got home I found it in short order in one of my field guides: Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens). Nice.

He gave me the Rattlesnake Plantain, and I am going to plant it somewhere in my woods. I’m not sure where I’ll put it, but I will put it in the shade since that’s where he had found it.

From what I read about it, this plant is more common in southern New England. Also, because the leaves reminded the Native Americans of snake skin, they used it to treat snakebite (though not efficaciously). The shape or appearance of a plant being similar to a diseased organ (such as the liver in the case of liverwort) or a disease cause (such as a snake in the case currently under consideration) is not generally a reliable indicator of its pharmaceutical virtues.

When we got home from church, and after we had some lunch, Beth, David, and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. There were some new blooms there too:

Virginia Marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)

Virginia Marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)


Water Lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna)

Water Lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna)


Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)

Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)


I especially liked the way this last photo turned out.