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!

Penny is such a funny dog. When Jonathan and I got home from work, she dashed out to greet me. I threw her a stick and headed to the front door. She fetched the stick and got to the door before I did, frantically pawing at the door to get in so that I could let her out the back door where I might throw sticks for her. Silly dog! We’re already outside! But no, she wanted to go outside, not just be outside.

I indulged her (and myself). Camera in hand, I did a lap around the woods looking for blooms. The trailing arbutus is still about the only thing in bloom, but there are others that will be in bloom very soon. Here’s one:

Canada Maylily (Maianthemum canadense)

Canada Maylily (Maianthemum canadense)


Another name for this is false lily-of-the-valley, but I have never been enamored with the idea of a plant being “false.” Yeah, it’s not lily-of-the-valley, but it is a Canada lily, so why not just go with that name?

I was looking for some goldthread, when I found this instead:

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius)

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius)


Cool. This is another I had been looking for ,and truth be told, there is a little goldthread leaf there in the lower center “photo-bombing” my dwarf ginseng shot (as well as another Canada may-lily right behind it).

But there we also a few goldthread plants here and there – none in bloom yet though.

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

And the whole time I was looking for blooms, Penny was looking for sticks. She found a few:

Penny (Canis lupus domesticus)

Penny (Canis lupus domesticus)


Which I dutifully threw for her. It wasn’t long after this that she found a vernal pool and plopped down in it to cool off. I guess gathering and chasing sticks is hot work even on a cool day.

These are shots I took mostly at my place this week. We’ll start with this little guy.

Eastern newt  (Notophthalmus viridescens)

Eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)


He didn’t want to hold still for me after I took this first shot, so it came out the best. It was overcast and rainy and heading towards sunset when I took it.

Starflower (Trientalis borealis)

Starflower (Trientalis borealis)


The starflowers have bloomed now. I’ve been watching them for a while, and this week was the first time this year I’ve seen one open. There are lots of them in my woods right now.

Here’s another one I’ve been watching, the Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense). This one has only partly opened, and that’s still farther along than most of them in my woods.

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

The dwarf ginseng is still in bloom for the most part, but this one has already fruited now. They aren’t in season for very long.

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolia)

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolia)


They do have edible roots, and I dug a few up and ate them last year. They were pretty good. These are along the stone wall bordering my neighbor, and he has cut a lot of trees (he’s getting ready to build a new house). So that lets a lot more sun into my woods, and I don’t know if these will bloom here again or not. They might get out-competed by sun-loving plants next spring. We’ll see.

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)


I guess I’ve done the gaywings about to death now, but I liked this triplet. So here you go again.

My chokeberries are blooming now. Most blossoms are still closed, but there are a few brave ones here and there.

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)


The red stamens fade quickly to pink, and then to brown. I like them best when they are red.

I’ve got plenty of wild sarsaparilla to go around. This one is just beginning to bloom.

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)


Not all of them make flowers. I’d say maybe a quarter of them do. I have no idea why that would be though. Maybe it’s the conditions here, or maybe they are dioecious (i.e., male and female versions).

Here’s another chokeberry. This one has nice and red stamens.

Another chokeberry

Another chokeberry

And finally, here’s another amphibian for you.

American Toad (Bufo  americanus)

American Toad (Bufo americanus)


If amphibians were bread, this post would be a flower sandwich.

Yesterday I went back to Devil’s Den for a short hike. All three of my kids came with me (as did Penny). I don’t know when this last happened, but I am very thankful for it yesterday.

I took the GPS with me too so I could add the trails to OpenStreetMaps, but I haven’t done that yet. I’ve been so busy lately I’m not sure when I will get to it.

Here is the first plant I saw that caught my interest:

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)


Yesterday was the first time I had seen any this year. Pretty soon they shoot out a spray of flowers and blanket the woods.

While we walked, we threw sticks for Penny, and she was so intent on that, that she missed this pair of mallards.

A pair of mallards

A pair of mallards


The mallards were clearly not comfortable with our presence there, but they never got agitated enough to fly away. By that I assume they had an active nest nearby. I made sure the boys kept Penny occupied with sticks while I too this photo, and then we moved on. Good for you Penny. Keep bringing us sticks.

A second mission (other than mapping trails) was to look for some ostrich ferns in the fiddlehead stage. I found some fertile fronds still hanging around from last year, but no fiddleheads. At least I know they are here though, so I can come back and gather some in the near future.

Instead of fiddleheads, I found a lot of this:

False hellebore (Veratrum viride)

False hellebore (Veratrum viride)


This is false hellebore (Veratrum viride). I had the hardest time identifying this a couple of years back. Some was growing along the banks of Sandogardy Pond, and I monitor it for months waiting for it to bloom. Most of my field guides are ordered by the color of the blossom, and without ever having seen the blossom, I had no idea which section to look in. I looked in all of them, but never managed to narrow it down. Until I finally did catch it in bloom (it has green flowers).

Armed with that information, I was able to get an id and then I was able to read all kinds of cool stuff about the plant. It looks absolutely mouth-watering, but it is fairly toxic. If ingested, the body will react with an overwhelming desire to expel it via emesis – which is a fancy, scientific way of saying it’ll make you want to puke. It’s best to give in to that urge, or the results could well be fatal.

Native Americans used to employ this plant as a way to choose between multiple candidates for chief. The candidates would eat a prescribed amount, and the last one to puke was the new chief! Not all candidates survived the ordeal, and I imagine they lost a lot of well qualified men this way.

Our hike led us along the banks of the Winnipesaukee, and I went down to the edge to check out some red maple blossoms that had fallen off the trees and washed up in the mud. I found this while I was there.

Raccoon (Procyon lotor) tracks

Raccoon (Procyon lotor) tracks

We continued the hike and soon came to Devil’s Den.

David was not impressed

David was not impressed


David was not impressed with the size of the “cave.” I think his exact words were “I’ve seen cardboard boxes bigger than this.” Still, I think it’s a pretty cool place. I expect it would have been more impressive had it not been for the prodigious amount of cans and bottles scattered all over the area. Even if that wouldn’t make the cave any bigger.

All three of my kids climbed up on the boulders, as did Penny. After all, that’s where the stick throwers were, and she had found even more sticks!

Boulder scrambling

Boulder scrambling

Beth posed for me:

Beth strikes a pose

Beth strikes a pose


Not the greatest photo, but the woods were a bit dark and the sky was prett bright. I opted to blow out the sky rather than silhouette my model.

Soon, we rounded the end of the loop and were headed back. We crossed a small stream, and I found what I think is some liverwort:

Liverwort

Liverwort


I still do not have a good book on liverworts. I have one in mind to buy, but it’s a tad on the pricey side, so it will wait a little longer. But since this doesn’t look like a lichen, moss, or fern, I’m going to go with liverwort.

We finished our hike and returned home, where I disposed of two ticks that had hitched a ride with me. After that I kept feeling phantom ticks, so I finally broke down and took a shower, just to be sure I had washed them all off. Then Va, Beth, Jonathan, and I headed to the church. We are having a series of seminars there, and Va and Beth are running the childcare, I was helping with registration, and Jonathan was running the PA system. That was night two. We had also been there Friday for the first night, and tonight (Sunday) for the third. Those make for some long days, especially when other things are going on too.

When I got up this morning it was bright and sunny outside. I took Penny out for a walk after breakfast and saw a brilliant stand of lowbush blueberries. So I went over to have a look. To my astonishment, some of them had bloomed already:

Wild blueberry blossoms!

Wild blueberry blossoms!


I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised. According to my records from last year, I observed the first blueberry blooms in 2011 on April 15 as well. Huh.

We had a Pathfinder meeting from 1:00-4:00 today. The big thing that happened during that was more cardboard boat building. I forgot my camera, so I don’t have a single photo of that. I was a bad director today. I looked at my watch and noted that it was 3:30 and thought “Good, we have another 15 minutes.” The next thing I knew, Va was pulling in and it was 4:00. Quitting time! We had cardboard strewn all over the place, glue pots everywhere, and half a dozen paint brushes sitting in them. But it was time to go, so I had to dismiss the kids. That left me to deal with the mess. Because the time sneaked up on me, I was not able to give the kids final instructions before our campout next week or pass out the packing list, or tell them to bring $20 to cover food. Of course I thought of all that while I cleaned up the mess. Sigh.

I sent Va, Jonathan, and David to go on and eat without me. I kept Beth with me, because one of my Pathfinder staff asked me to watch his daughter between the meeting and the seminars. He gave me some money to feed her. I asked her where she wanted to eat, and she said “Wendy’s” but I heard “Friendly’s” – so we went to Friendly’s.

Then we came back to the church. I changed clothes and manned the registration table. And now I’m home again and pretty tired! The rest of the week promises to be just as busy, so I need to shuffle off to bed soon.

I took a walk to the grocery store during lunch, and was surprised to see several new blooms. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised – these things are fairly predictable! Here’s some of what I saw:

Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus)

Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus)

Cherry (Prunus spp)

Cherry (Prunus spp)


I’m not sure what kind of cherry tree this is. In fact, it might even be some sort of crabapple. I really ought to learn this.

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)


This spiderwort grows in a little garden by our main entrance. There was also a bit of salsify about open up, but the photos of that were not really postable.

When I got home I put on my rain gear and headed into my wood lot. Penny came along in case there were any sticks out there. I think it was raining lightly, but with rain pants and a good rain coat, it was hard to tell. Actually, I was also wearing my replacement Tilley! It came in Saturday when I was in Maine. That was a lot quicker than I was expecting, and of course, I am delighted. Here’s what I found around my yard and in the woods:

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)


The other name for this is “false lily-of-the-valley.” But when I found it had a more honorable name, I adopted that instead. It’s a beauty in its own right, and I don’t think “real” lily-of-the-valley holds anything on this one.

Pink Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Pink Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)


I had to venture off my path for this shot. Pretty much all the lady slippers along the path have been mowed down. I think it was probably Penny carrying a five-foot stick in her mouth as she chased down a basketball and brought it to me. Whodathunk she could wipe out so many beautiful flowers so quickly?

Starflower (Trientalis borealis)

Starflower (Trientalis borealis)


The starflowers are in full-force now. They don’t seem to hold up to rain too well though, as it makes them all nod a bit. These two were facing up more than the rest, so I chose them to represent their species today.

Striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum)

Striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum)


All the blooms on this tree were at least seven feet off the ground. The tree has several branches on its west side that are four feet high, but none of them had any flowers. I had to hold the camera up over my head for this shot. Hard to hold it still that way, so none of the shots were very impressive. I tried to frame the shape of the leaf in the photo.

Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)


This is a rare thing on my property – a cultivated plant.

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)


I posted some photos of these at an earlier stage of development last week. Carl Strang of Nature Inquiries correctly identified them as aspen aments (catkins). If I’d have waited another week I might have been able to figure it out on my own, but it sure is nice to have Internet friends speed things up for me. I arranged these three aments in order of development. It’s easy to see why the poplars (including aspens) are also called cottonwoods.

Azure Bluet (Houstonia caerulea)

Azure Bluet (Houstonia caerulea)


I found three tiny batches of bluets. These things grow in profusion around here in a lot of places, but they just barely hang on in my yard. These grow right under Carl’s aspen (which is what I will call that particular tree now).

I stopped at the spring in Canterbury on my route home today so I could get some pictures of the hobblebush while it is still in bloom.

Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides)

Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides)


When the branches of this species of viburnum droop down and touch the ground, the branch takes root at that point. This creates loops of branches rooted at both ends. If you (or a horse) are walking through a thicket of this stuff, it would be pretty easy to trip on these loops. Thus the name “hobble bush”. The large, showy flowers along the outside are sterile. The fertile flowers are those smaller ones in the center.

Canterbury Spring (which is what I call it – I have no idea if it has some other name) is a pretty cool place. There’s a pipe coming out of the side of the hill where there is an artesian spring. People stop here to fill up jugs of drinking water all the time. It’s some really good-tasting water. I’d estimate that I see someone doing that at least twice a week, which is roughly one trip in five past this spot.

Canterbury Spring

Canterbury Spring


In fact, someone was there filling a five gallon jug when I got there, but since I was there for the hobblebush and not the water (this time), I pulled in right behind her. She was curious about what I was doing so I told her about the hobblebush. It’s only in bloom for maybe two weeks, so you’ve got to look at these when you’ve got the chance.

When I got home I decided to see if I could get a better photo of the gaywings (Polygala paucifolia) from yesterday. As I figured, there were a lot more of them open today as compared to yesterday, so I wasn’t limited by slim pickin’s. I liked this shot because I get two plants in the same shot. The gaywings are showing off for the Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) which will probably bloom this weekend. Or maybe later next week, I’m not sure.

Gaywings (P. paucifolia) and Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Gaywings (P. paucifolia) and Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Here’s a solo shot for the gaywings:

P. paucifolia

P. paucifolia


These always make me think of an airplane, complete with wings, fuselage, and propeller.

Several species of flowers made their first blooms of the year here today. I noticed five between my office and Sal’s (a pizza place) during lunch (that was about a two-minute walk through mostly paved areas). I was with people from work though, so I couldn’t just stop and take pictures. I made a couple of quick snapshots on the way back, but nothing spectacular. Here’s a list of what was blooming though:

  • Western Salsify (Tragopogon dubius)
  • Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)
  • Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
  • Curly Dock (Rumex crispus)
  • Sandspurry (Spergularia)

Celandine (Chelidonium majus)

Celandine (Chelidonium majus)


Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)


Those were the city flowers. When I got home, there were several country flowers waiting for me. The first was some Columbine:
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)


I harvested some seed from one of these last fall and sent it to my uncle, but it never came up for him. This was growing by the frog pond pretty close to the same place as last year, but not quite (it is an annual, so it depends on where the seeds land).

I went into the woods and found some False Lily-of-the-valley finally opened up:

False Lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense)

False Lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense)


I had to shade this one with my hat. The sun was blowing out the white spray of flowers, and I took several unshaded photos like that. But by the time I set the exposure quick enough for the petals to not saturate, everything else looked like the middle of the night. So I shaded the bloom and tried again with a longer exposure. It came out much better.

Again I tried taking photos of the Pink Lady’s Slipper, Starflower, and Gaywings, and even though some of them came out OK, I’m still not satisfied. They were shaking ever-so-lightly, but the afternoon in my woods are pretty shady, so that motion translated into blur. Maybe I’ll try it in the morning, I dunno.

Jonathan took his last final this morning, so his semester is finished. He’s gearing up for Brussels now, and leaves Saturday evening.

Beth came in from playing early tonight, laid down on the couch, and went to sleep. My first thought was that she must be sick, and that thought was correct. She was running a fever. I didn’t take her temperature, but I’d guess it was around 102 or so. I went to the store and bought some Ibuprofin for her.

So with Beth sick and Jonathan done with school, I’m going to have a hard time getting myself out of bed in the morning, since I’ll be commuting alone.

Mom’s still in the hospital. Dunno when she’s coming home. I do know that at least three nurses tried to insert an IV into her today, and failed three times. That must notta been too much fun for anyone involved.

Va’s Dad and his family are staying in a hotel now courtesy of the Red Cross. Their house caught on fire yesterday and it is currently uninhabitable. They get three nights, so I hope they can find new quarters soon. The house was rented, and they think it was the A/C that caught on fire. It had not been working well, and had been making unsettling noises. They called the landlord, but nothing was done. So the A/C took matters into its own hands. Or so the theory goes.