The whorled loosestrife has bloomed.

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Penny woke me up from a nap this afternoon, so I went outside (it was beautiful). I was tooling around the backyard when I noticed the loosestrife in bloom. As I was taking the picture, Beth was sneaking up on me. She’s been trying to do this for some time, but I usually detect her when she’s quite a way off. Not today. She was right there when she announced her presence. I think she was pleased with herself (I know I would have been).

Then she asked if I wanted to go to Sandogardy Pond, and of course I did, so we stopped in the house for Penny’s leash and then set out.

The bugs weren’t bad, and the temperature was right around 70, or maybe even below (it’s 66 now). She talked pretty much the whole trip, which I enjoyed. We picked up trash, and she couldn’t figure out why people would just throw it on the ground like they do. I have to admit that it boggles my mind as well.

When we got to the pond I walked along the edge of the water looking for pipewort, but found none. Instead, I found a plant that I did not know:

Stiff marsh bedstraw (Galium tinctorium)

Stiff marsh bedstraw (Galium tinctorium)


These flowers are tiny. I don’t think they’re even an eight of an inch across, and that made them pretty difficult to photograph. Autofocus couldn’t find them, so I had to whip out the tripod, put my finger next to the bloom, let it focus on that, move my finger, and then press the button (with a two-second delay since the exposure time was longish). This one came out semi-respectably. I found another clump of it further down the beach, and since it had a denser cluster of blooms, I took a shot of it as well.

Stiff marsh bedstraw (Galium tinctorium)

Stiff marsh bedstraw (Galium tinctorium)

Then I looked it up in Newcombs (3 for 3 petals, 4 for whorled leaves, and 2 for smooth leaf margins, or 342). That’s the same index number as trilliums, but the index number is really just to get you close. Bedstraw was on the next page.

This is an unusual plant in that it’s a 3-petaled dicot. Most plants with three or (six petals) are monocots (i.e., narrow leaves, with parallel veins in them, like corn and lilies). The dicots have broader leaves (in general) and have branched veins.

I can’t think of another 3-petaled dicot. I may have to open the books again!

In other news, I have finally gotten around to working on restoring those canoes again. Miss Nancy is ready to varnish. Once that’s done, I can make her a new thwart, attach it, and mount the two seats, and she will be ready to paddle. Miss Emma will need gunwales attached (I milled them last fall), re-varnished, and then she can get trimmed out with the thwart-seat combo I made last year, plus her two original seats. Miss Sally only needs a section of gunwale repaired, and then have her thwart reattached. That’ s pretty much all that’s left.

We might get to paddle them by September.

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I spent most of Sunday installing roof vents for the upstairs bathroom fans. When the house was built, they vented the fans out the soffits. That’s “standard practice” but that’s not the same as “good practice.” The problem is that when the warm steamy air is exhausted out the soffit, the next thing it wants to do is rise. So it does, and gets sucked right back into the attic via the soffit vents. This is exactly the same as venting the fans straight into the attic, and that will lead to a moldy attic. Which is what I have.

So I installed some vents in the roof which will solve that problem. When the steamy air exits the roof vents is rises into the sky rather than into the attic.

I didn’t take any pictures of that process. I was far more concerned with not falling off the roof, thank you. I did make a nice rope harness for myself and looped it over a vent pipe just in case. I didn’t end up needing it, but if I had, it would be a good thing to have.

Today I went into the attic and sprayed the moldy OSB with vinegar. That’s what the EPA seems to recommend. I should have waited one more day, because it’s raining now, and I wanted to check for leaks. Now there’s no way to tell rainwater from vinegar (I doused it pretty good).

Now on to more interesting things – wildflowers! These shots were all taken yesterday when I took a walk during lunch, or after I got home. We’ll start with this massive mullein.

Great mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Great mullein (Verbascum thapsus)


This was about three feet tall. They often get a lot taller than that when they send up their flowering spike, but this one hasn’t done that yet. This is all rosette, and I just haven’t ever seen a rosette this size.

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)


Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is blooming all over the place here now. The genus name Achillea comes from Achilles, who purportedly carried a large supply of this herb with him into battle because of its healing properties. I can’t vouch for its healing power, but I will say it’s delightful to behold.

Rabbitfoot clover (Trifolium arvense)

Rabbitfoot clover (Trifolium arvense)


Rabbitfoot clover is not native to North America, but was imported as fodder for livestock. It is invasive in some areas, but it doesn’t seem like much of a problem where I see it.

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)


This one is always delightful. The flowers are edible too, and I ate one of them (maybe this one!) before I left the area.

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp)

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp)


There’s a very long row of these along the railroad tracks. It is a hawthorn, but I don’t know which species. There are lots to choose from.

Some sorta sumac (Rhus spp)

Some sorta sumac (Rhus spp)


I have it in my head that this is staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), but I don’t know why (or if that’s accurate). I looked briefly at smooth sumac too, and haven’t ruled it out. It would probably be easy to tell if I went back with a field guide. Instead, we have to settle for guesswork.

Same sumac

Same sumac


This shot is from the same tree if not the very same blossom. Maybe we can tell from that.

Blue toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis)

Blue toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis)


I have no idea how this got the name “toadflax”. Apparently that’s also a common name for “butter and eggs” which we will see later in the summer (I promise!) – they are in the same family, and the blue toadflax was until recently considered to be in the same genus (Linaria) as B&E’s. I didn’t know any of that until this evening (thank you Wikipedia).

Now here’s one that I read was in bloom on someone else’s blog (don’t remember who!) so I went looking for it yesterday when I got home. Yup. Mine is just starting too.

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)


This is one of my favorites. I would have taken more time to set up the tripod and get a really nice shot, but the threaded insert I put in my tripod mount has popped out (taking with it a lot of camera body). I don’t know if I will ever manage a decent repair for that. Sigh.

When I came out of the woods I was surprised to find some whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia).

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)


This is one of the first wildflowers I learned when I set out to learn all the flowering plants on my property. I remembered that the name Lysimachia was interesting, but I couldn’t remember why. So I looked in a book I started a few years ago (I really need to finish writing that) and found this:

It is named after Lysimachus, one of Alexander the Great’s generals. He was said to have fed a member of the genus to a bull to calm it down. The colonists must have heard this legend, because they used to feed this plant to their oxen to make them work together peacefully.

All I need now are some oxen.

Today Jonathan and I went to a deli a couple of blocks from the office for lunch. We walked back via the back allies. I wasn’t intentionally looking for blooms, but once you’ve trained your eye to do that, it’s hard to shut it off. I found an American nightshade (Solanum americanum).

American nightshade (Solanum americanum)

American nightshade (Solanum americanum)


I had always thought this plant to be deadly poisonous, but a new book I received this week – Nature’s Garden, by Samuel Thayer, says otherwise. Thayer holds that the ripe berries and the leaves are both edible and quite palatable. I will have to test his assertion later this year!

We soon ran out of alley and went back onto Main Street which has a row of Basswood (Tilia americana) trees. They were in bloom, so I stopped and snapped a shot.

Basswood (Tilia americana)

Basswood (Tilia americana)

We finished off the day, and then headed home. Penny was very excited (as she always is) and was more than ready to go outside and chase sticks and/or balls. I put down my laptop and headed out the back door with my camera bag still slung over my shoulder.

First I went to the woods in the back where I found that the partridge berry (Michella repens) had bloomed sometime during the past several days of rain.

Partridge berry (Michella repens)

Partridge berry (Michella repens)


I took several shots. It was still very cloudy out so the light was dim. This is not normally a problem except that the tripod mount on my camera is stripped. I packed it full of Quicksteel (a steel-infused epoxy) so that I could drill that out and re-tap it later. But later hasn’t come yet! Also, I’m not sure where I put my set of taps. As a result of this shameful state of disorganization, I had to take these photos with the camera either held in my hand, or sitting on a rock. Some of them turned out pretty OK:
Partridge berry (Michella repens)

Partridge berry (Michella repens)

I also checked in on the Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata). The flowers have still not opened for me, but they must soon!

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

These unripe blackberries are growing at the end of my driveway.

Blackberry (Rubus spp)

Blackberry (Rubus spp)


Then Beth called out to me with an irresistible question, “Dad! What’s this flower?” I rushed right over and saw my first Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris) bloom of the year:
Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)

Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)


While I was taking that shot, she also found some birdsfoot trefoil, but I’ve already taken shots of that this summer. I may even have posted them. Instead, I spotted some white campion (Silene latifolia) growing amongst the sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina):
White campion (Silene latifolia)

White campion (Silene latifolia)


and some sort of wild mustard (Brassica spp):
Wild mustard (Brassica spp)

Wild mustard (Brassica spp)


These are supposed to be good to eat as well, and mustard can indeed be made from the seeds. I’ll have to try that one of these days.

I then looked for some cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare) that has a habit of growing nearby. I’ve been looking for it already this summer, but hadn’t seen any until today:

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

And just for good measure, I took another picture of some whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia):

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)


By then Penny had chased her ball into the catchment pond (which is quite full again, thank you). When she saw that I was not going in after it, she did. And even though she was good and wet, I was ready to come in.

Luckily, she was just wet and not too muddy!

Yesterday at lunch I took a walk through Concord. I hadn’t done that in a while, so there were a lot of blooms to photograph.

Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris)

Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris)


I was surpised to find some Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris), as it grows in a lot of places I can see from the car while I’m driving, and I hadn’t noticed any in bloom that way. I guess that shows why walking is better when you’re trying to see stuff. Incidentally, this clump was the only one I saw that was in bloom. I expect to see a lot more if it starting next week.
Mulberry (Morus spp)

Mulberry (Morus spp)


I was even more surprised to see this mulberry, as it’s right along the sidewalk and I must have passed it a thousand times before. Either I never noticed it, or I forgot it was here.

Rabbitfoot clover (Trifolium arvense)

Rabbitfoot clover (Trifolium arvense)


There was lots of Rabbitfoot clover in bloom too. I don’t know of any clovers that are native to North America. As far as I know, they were all (including this one) imported as pasture crops.

Solanum dulcamara

Solanum dulcamara


I didn’t list a common name in the caption of Solanum dulcamara, because it has way too many of them, and I have no idea which ones would be the most common. The intro from the Wikipedia article illustrate this point nicely:

Solanum dulcamara, also known as bittersweet, bittersweet nightshade, bitter nightshade, blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, climbing nightshade, fellenwort, felonwood, poisonberry, poisonflower, scarlet berry, snakeberry, trailing bittersweet, trailing nightshade, violet bloom, or woody nightshade, is a species of vine in the potato genus Solanum, family Solanaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia, and widely naturalised elsewhere, including North America, where it is an invasive problem weed.

It’s a poisonous plant closely related to tomatoes and potatoes. When the berries ripen, they even look like tiny tomatoes, but of course, it would be a very bad idea to eat them.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)


There is plenty of yarrow in bloom now. That’s another one that easy to spot from the highway. I checked beneath the umbels of all the specimens growing near this one looking for crab spiders (Misumena vatia), but I didn’t find any.

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp)

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp)


There’s a lot of hawthorn growing along the railroad tracks. I don’t know which species of hawthorn this is, and I don’ think it would be all that easy to narrow it down either, as the genus has hundreds of member species.

False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa)

False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa)


This plant has a stunning blossom, and I was not able to do it justice yesterday. It was a bit breezy, so the blooms just wouldn’t sit still for a nice portrait. There was only one of these bushes here along the tracks three years ago when I started logging blooms. Now there are at least a dozen. I read that it was an invasive alien, and after seeing this explosion in its population, I have good reason to believe it now.

Birdfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Birdfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)


This is another non-native pasture crop imported from abroad. The blooms always remind me of the head of a triceratops. The name comes from the shape of the seed pod. I must say it’s fitting too.

When I got back to the office there was an ambulance parked behind our office building next to Hermanos (a Mexican restaurant). I didn’t think too much of it then. When I went into our building though, I immediately noticed an incredible smoky stench! And found a couple of these parked outside my office window:

Surprise!

Surprise!


Just downstairs from my office is another restaurant/bakery. It’s not the first time they’ve ever burned anything, but it was by far more smoke than usual. Apparently, it was enough to fill our offices upstairs and set off our smoke detectors (though not theirs?) As it turns out, our fire alarm system does not automatically summon the fire department, so one of my coworkers ended up calling them herself. This comes as a pretty big surprise to me, especially since the FD pretty much forced our church to spend $8K upgrading our alarm system so that they would be automatically called. So they make 501(c)’s spend big bucks on that, but not commercial entities, like… bakeries? Shrug!

The firemen tossed the burning bread out into the street:

Source of the smoke

Source of the smoke


This pile of bread ended up closing the restaurant for a few days. The newspaper has an article.

When I got home, I was pleased to find that the Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia) was in bloom:

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

I love these things. They look exactly like weeds until they bloom. 🙂 This one is somewhat unusual though, in that it has six petals instead of the more typical five. Most plants with three or six petals are monocots with parallel veins in the leaves (think lilies and irises). Dicots have branching veins in the leaves (roses, asters, etc). So this particular blossom, a dicot looks like a monocot. Maybe it’s a teenager trying to fit in with its monocot buddies and making its dicot family angry. Nature’s own West Side Story?

Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)


I was wandering around the yard today and saw this Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia). I assume that the quadrifolia part of its binomial name comes from the fact that each tier consists of a whorl of four leaves.

I also went through my woods looking for some dwarf ginseng. I had read that it has some highly edible tubers, and I wanted to try them. Unfortunately, most of them have disappeared by now. I did find four specimens, but found no tubers. I’ll try again next spring I guess.

Our catchment pond is water-free again. I saw a bullfrog in it a couple of days ago, but there was no sign of him today. Luckily, the forecast is for rain all weekend.

I had been planning to take the Pathfinders to York Beach in Maine on Sunday, but with a forecast like that, I figured it was better to put them off a week,

Tomorrow is Investiture for both Pathfinders and Adventurers. That’s pretty much a graduation ceremony/end of year program. We will hand out insignia and awards. Luckily, that’s an indoor thing, so I can still be happy about the rain.

Today when I got home from work I putzed around the yard, the front half acre, and the back acre and took some pictures. For some reason, things worked out pretty well picture-wise today, and I got some really nice shots (in my opinion). I uploaded several of these to the Wikimedia Commons. I may or may not nominate them as Quality Images. Anyhow, you should be able to click on these and it will take you to the Commons where you can see a full-resolution version.

Juvenile Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)

Juvenile Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)


This is a juvenile Wood Frog (Rana sylvaticus). They grow up to be about two inches long, but when they’re young like this, they’re tiny. I didn’t think I could convey their tinyness without a reference, so I dug the only coin I had out of my pocket and put it in a clearish spot on the ground. First I tried putting it next to the frog, but it was pretty intent on not staying near me and would hop away. So I corralled it near the coin, but before I could get a shot off, it would hop away again. Eventually I resorted to capturing it, and plunking it down on the coin. I regretted that later, as I remembered I was wearing a pretty thick coating of Off (frogs breathe through their skin, so it basically ingested a heavy dose of deet. I hope it lives).

Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)


As I walked along, I noticed that the Loosestrife flowers were mostly off the plant now. So I went looking for some that were still attached and found this one. The only reason I took the photo was so I would remember to log it at the Bloom Clock. It might be my last log of the year for this species. But instead of a quick snapshot, the photo came out like this. I call that a keeper!

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)


The wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) first bloomed a couple of weeks ago when we were in Kentucky. Ever since then, I’ve been looking for a picturesque specimen, and I think I found one here.

Starflower (Trientalis borealis) in fruit

Starflower (Trientalis borealis) in fruit


This is a Starflower (Trientalis borealis) showing its fruit. These bloomed back in May or so and had flowers for only about a month. But lately I’ve been noticing them around the woods with a little nubbin on the end of the flower stem. Today I looked closer, and that is what I found. It looks like an ultra-tiny blackberry or something. I guess that fruit is about a 16th of an inch across. It’s pretty tiny!

Anyhow, I really like today’s photos, and I hope you enjoy them too.

I’ve been working on my Summer Flowers of Northern New England book some more. Today I added (among other things) Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrilfolia). Dunno why, but I love this plant, even though it looks so much like a weed. It is native, and to me, that makes it a lot less weedy. The only photos of this plant at the Commons were ones I had taken last year, and none of them were all that compelling. But it’s in bloom in my backyard right now, so I went out and took a dozen or two photos of it. This is the one I liked best:

Lysimachia quadrilfolia

Lysimachia quadrilfolia


I also found out a cool fact about the origin of the genus name Lysimachia. You’ll hafta look in the book to see it though.

The other thing I did today pretty much dispels any notion that I am not a complete dork. The other day Va saw me sitting in the floor in my sock feet and told me I had to throw away my socks. Yes, they had holes in them. But I am not one who can be commanded to part with an old friend so easily! I told her I would fix them. But would I use any tried an true method of fixing a sock? A method so ancient and revered that there is a special word for it? Maybe “darning”? Of course not! I’m a dork! I have to invent my own method of sock repair. I figure that the pioneers darned their socks because they had so much time on their hands, and they probably hadn’t even thought of the idea I had in my head. OK, they probably did, because the technology I intended to bring to bear on this problem was well known to them. It is also well known to the nomadic tribes of Mongolia, and has been for probably two millennia. Felting.

I had recently read about how felt is made. I had read about it a long time ago too, noting that the process was probably discovered when some poor sot wrapped his feet in wool before jamming them in his boots for a long, cold journey somewhere. Probably involving shepherding. When this guy got home, he had felt boot liners, yay!

Felt is made by compressing dampened wool fibers. In the shepherd’s case, the dampness was probably supplied by his sweat glands. But I figure, hey! I’ve got sweaty feet too! So yesterday I stopped at “The Elegant Ewe” and bought some raw wool. “I need some wool for felting,” I said, trying to sound as not gay as possible. And she fixed me right up. Dennis wisely waited outside, not wanting to be mistaken for the type of man who would go into a store with a name like “The Elegant Ewe.”

And just for the record, let me say that I think that name fails at Alliteration. Sure, “elegant” and “ewe” both start with an e, but alliteration is supposed to sound like alliteration, not just look like it. They should have named it “The Yellow Ewe” or something like that. In my opinion. But I digress!

This morning I picked out the rattiest pair of socks in my arsenal. An old pair of veterans with not just one, but two massive holes in them. One on the heel, and another on the ball. I got out one of my wads of wool (Hey kids! Alliteration!) and stuffed it into the sock, carefully positioning it over the ball hole. Then I wedged another wad of wool into position over the heel hole. I gingerly shod myself so as not to knock the wool out of place. I would imagine our shepherd did the same thing so many ages ago.

I checked on it at noon, and could see that the ball hole wool was felting nicely and integrating itself right into the sock as planned. The heel hole was not faring so well though. I doctored it up a bit and put my shoe back on. Everytime I went to the bathroom, or down the street to pick up lunch, or whatever, I thought to myself, “Nobody knows that I am busily mending my sock even now!”

I checked on it again in the late afternoon. The ball hole was looking fabulous. The heel hole was still not any better. Hmmm. I checked again when I got home, and it was still not working. But I have to say that the ball felt is working great. I assume that’s because it doesn’t slide around on the sock so much as the heel does? Who knows! The wool on the heel was felting OK, it just wasn’t bonding with the sock.

I figured I would have to intervene a little more. I got out a sewing needle and ran it through with no thread, hoping some wool would stick to the needle and get pulled through the sock. But that did not appear to happen at all. Then I tried again, but this time I used a dull needle. This is a needle that I had in the sewing machine this winter when I managed to untime it, causing the needle to bash into the bobbin several hundred times. That bent a nice little hook in the tip that really sucked for sewing – it would cause the cloth to pucker up and distort, almost as if I were trying to force a twig through the fabric instead of a needle. I figured that would be just what I needed. I jammed the needle through the sock and the wad of wool and pulled it out again. It brought the wool with it, right through the weave of the fabric. Yay! I repeated that maybe another two hundred times. Suddenly this is sounding like more work than the ancient art of darning, no?

So, now I’m wearing the sock again. I told Va I would probably have to wear this sock for about a week for the repair to be complete. Also, I will have to wear it to bed. And I will need to wear a shoe over it too so it will have a nice surface against which the wool will be compressed.

She just rolled her eyes, and I know exactly what she was thinking. “Dork!”