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!

Today I spent a little time in the woods behind my house. Pnny came along in case there were any sticks that needed retrieved. There were.

Here is a wintergreen (some call it teaberry, but I prefer to call it wintergreen) in bloom. This stuff is thick at my place, and I like that.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) in bloom

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) in bloom

I strayed from my trail and cut across the woods in hopes of seeing something different. Score! We have purple mushrooms:

Purple!

Purple!

And orange ones too:

Orange!

Orange!

At several points in my “walk” I would kneel down in the forest and just look at my surroundings, scanning only about three feet in each direction. Sometimes I find neat things that I would miss if I were just walking through with my eyes nearly 6 feet from the ground. This is the kind of stuff you can find when you do that:

Starflower (Trientalis borealis)

Starflower (Trientalis borealis) fruit


I recognized it immediately as a starflower. They have pretty flowers in the early spring, but I find their fruit even more interesting. This one was only about a 16th of an inch across (which is typical). The shot is cropped, but not not scaled much. I think it looks like a blue soccer ball.

In the front woods I checked out the hazel.

Beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta)

Beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta)


Not many nuts on them this year. I have tried harvesting them in the past with little luck. The squirrels and/or chipmunks here tend to harvest them before they get ripe, leaving none for me. The husks are covered with tiny prickers. If you grab one and pull you will be rewarded with a handful of spines. They detach from the husk and are so tiny that makes them nearly impossible to remove from the skin. But if I see a ripe one, I will pick it anyway. If I can ever get them in quantity, I’m sure I could figure out a good way to avoid the prickers.

We also have some Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata) growing here:

Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata)

Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata)


It is the lobelia I see most often, and it’s fairly prolific around the edges of the yard.

Maybe next week I will go to Sandogardy Pond to look for aquatic lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna).

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!

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.

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).

When God sent bread from heaven to the Israelites, they called it “Manna” which means “What is it?” If I stick to the literal interpretation of manna, I guess I could apply it to this:

What is it?

What is it?


There are a couple dozen of these at the edge my yard, and I have no idea what they are. Are they purely plant matter, or were those nodules made by insects? I opened one up to see:
The innards of my "manna"

The innards of my "manna"


The white fibers make me think these are purely plant matter, but I am not confident enough in that to make the call. I assume they fell from the canopy above, but I didn’t see any of them in the woods. There is a young (but tall) oak right on the edge of my woods, and its canopy does cover this edge of my yard, so that could be the source. But it’s nothing I recognize.

I did take some photos yesterday of some things I do recognize though. My pink lady slippers have finally opened.

Pink lady slipper (cypripedium acaule)

Pink lady slipper (cypripedium acaule)


This blossom is a bit on the pale end of the spectrum. I have a bunch of these along my trail, but many of them have been injured before they could bloom – the flower stems have been decapitated or bent over. I have no idea what did that, but kids and a dog are prime suspects. Not much I can do about that though, so there’s really no point in fretting over it.

The wait for blooms is also over for the star flower (Trientalis borealis).

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)


I expect to see many more of these in the coming days, and hopefully I can get a better shot than this.

I’ve been fighting with my camera of late. Last year I stripped out the tripod mount. I can still get the camera on my tiny tripod, but it’s pretty wobbly. It takes a lot of effort to get it pointed at the objective, because when I let go, it flops around a little. Then I set the camera to delay for two seconds before making the shot, so it can settle down after I touch the shutter button. What I’ve found myself doing instead is bumping up the ISO a couple notches so I can use a quicker shutter speed (1/25 sec or so). I can sometimes manage a halfway decent hand held shot at that speed, and it is quite a bit easier than arguing with the tripod mount. But the results are most definitely inferior.

I am planning to attempt a repair on the mount, so hopefully things will improve again after that. We’ll see!

On Saturday, I took a hike down to Sandogardy Pond with Beth, David, and Penny. I took photos along the way and while there, but haven’t gotten around to getting them off the camera until tonight. I also have been walking around in my woods snapping away over the past couple of days. Here’s what I’ve found:

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)


Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) was once considered a premium cough remedy. It has not proven to be effective by modern science.

False Hellebore (Veratrum viride)

False Hellebore (Veratrum viride)


The photo above is False Hellebore (Veratrum viride). It looks like it would be really good to eat, with all those leafy lush greens. But that would be a mistake as it’s pretty toxic, causing the body to reject it almost immediately via emesis. Failure to purge is fatal. Some Native American tribes used this as a bravery test when selecting a new chief. The candidates would eat some, and then bravely try to keep it down. Last one to barf would be named the bravest, and thus, the new chief. But sometimes such bravery proved fatal, so they would have to go with the second-bravest-but-slightly-wiser candidate instead.
Violet (Viola spp)

Violet (Viola spp)


I’m not good a identifying violets down to the species level. There are a lot of them to choose from. This was in my backyard.
Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)


The blueberry blossoms are almost ready to open.
Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris)

Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris)


This little beast is carnivorous. The leaves exude a mucus that catches bugs. And here I thought all carnivorous plants were exotic and probably tropical. Never expected to find them in my backyard.
Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius)

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius)


When I saw these on Saturday, I knew it was spring.
Goldthread (Coptis groenlandica)

Goldthread (Coptis groenlandica)


I think this is about the most stunning wildflower in bloom at my place right now. The white petals are actually sepals. The actual petals are those yellowish clubs hanging out between the stamens. This plant gets its name from its roots which look like little gold threads. Chewing on them is purported to be an effective treatment for mouth sores, which is where its alternate name – canker root – comes from. I took a lot of shots of these. Here’s another:
Goldthread (Coptis groenlandica)

Goldthread (Coptis groenlandica)


None of the leaves around this flower belong to this plant. I didn’t take any shots of the foliage today (shrug), but they usually show up as three wedge shaped forms joined at a central point with jagged edges on the opposite side. The leaves here are from the star flower (Trientalis borealis), but those aren’t in bloom yet.