This morning I took a lap around the property with camera in hand. Here’s what I found.

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)


The “regular” milkweed is in bloom now. I have a lot of this stuff on our land now. When we first moved here, there were only three or four plants, but I let it grow. This year there are about a hundred of them. I’ve been eating them too, and like them very much!

But not as much as these:

Blueberries! (Vaccinium angustifoilium)

Blueberries! (Vaccinium angustifoilium)


There are a lot of lowbush blueberry plants here, mostly in the woods (as were these). They do not produce a lot of fruit though, probably because they are in the woods where they don’t get a lot of sun.

The dewdrops are still blooming:

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

And the sarsaparilla’s are producing fruit:

Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) fruit

Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) fruit


The roots of sarsaparilla can be used to make a root beer, but the fruits are not edible.

The berries on the wintergreen plants that still have them are huge. They are about the size of a pencil eraser most of the year, but these two were the size of dimes.

Huge wintergreen berries

Huge wintergreen berries

The wintergreen is getting ready to bloom. This one was the farthest along of any I saw today. I expect that by the end of the holiday weekend, they will open.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) ready to bloom

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) ready to bloom

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This morning I took Penny for a lap around the property. I brought my camera along.

In bringing the camera from the air-conditioned house to the humid, sweltering July heat, the lens fogged up. I took a few “soft” shots courtesy of this effect, but the mosquitoes were trying to carry me off. So I set the camera on the deck, went in, and grabbed some Off. After applying it liberally, I grabbed the camera and tried again. By then the lens had warmed up and the fog on it had lifted. Here are the results.

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


I finally found some dewdrop flowers that were not horribly misshapen. I am relatively pleased with this shot.

We’ve been getting a lot of rain for the past couple of weeks, and as a result, I have several pools of standing water in the woods (which explains the mosquitoes). Smack in the middle of one puddle was this blueberry bush bearing a modest amount of berries. I ate them after taking this shot.

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

The wintergreen is starting to bloom. I didn’t see any with open flowers, but they are very close. I like this shot because it shows two plants – one with flowers, and one still sporting a berry. Wintergreen hangs onto its fruit through the winter and even to the point when it flowers (as shown here).

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

I liked this mushroom. I haven’t tried to id it.

I don't do mushrooms, but here's one anyhow.

I don’t do mushrooms, but here’s one anyhow.

I was hoping to see some Indian pipe, and was not disappointed. This is the second of two clumps I found (the other clump being a solitary flower).

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora)


These plants are parasitic on the roots of other plants, and they produce no chlorophyll of their own. That’s why they are white.

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)


The loosestrife is still going strong. I thought this shot in full sun came out pretty OK!

Saint John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Saint John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)

As did this shot of some common Saint John’s wort.

Mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella)

Mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella)

This might be garlic mustard, or it could be some other mustard. I pulled it up after photographing it, as I don’t want it taking over.

Some kind of mustard (Brassica spp)

Some kind of mustard (Brassica spp)

There were several clumps of white campion here and there about the yard, but this one was in the shade giving a softer light more conducive to photography.

White campion (Silene latifolia)

White campion (Silene latifolia)

This one surprised me. I haven’t seen it growing on my property before. Samuel Thayer adamantly avows that these are quite edible (they have a reputation for being poisonous). However, he has eaten them many times, and they are a staple in many places (Africa, for one). Thayer thinks their reputation come from people who misidentify it and eat something else in the Solanum genus that is poisonous (but I don’t remember what). There are lots of Solanum’s out there, and many are poisonous.

Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

Here’s some spreading dogbane. You can distinguish is from “regular” dogbane (A. cannabinum) by the way the petals recurve.

Spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

Spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

I also found some heal-all in bloom.

Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)

Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)


It’s been in bloom for a while, but this was the first time I had time to shoot it.

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.

Three years ago David and I dug a lovo – that is, and underground oven. By doing so we killed two birds with one stone. He had to cook a “foreign” food for school, and by doing it this way, the two of us earned the Pathfinder Cultural Food Preparation honor. I wanted to eventually do this with the whole club, and our chance came last weekend.

My friend Ken hosts an annual harvest party at his farm sometime in October. Or September. This year, he was constrained to host it while the Pathfinders were at a Camporee. To make up for it, he invited the club to his house for another one.

I did not get any photos of our lovo this time. It was dark. We had some “yams” – at least according to the grocery store. Most of the time in the U.S. yams are really sweet potatoes. But the two are actually distinct. I don’t know which one I really had. I also bought something labeled “sweet potatoes,” twenty ears of corn, a package of Brussels sprouts, and two butternut squashes. We were going to use banana leaves to wrap them in, but that didn’t quite pan out. We had the banana leaves – but they were in Worcester, MA, and my staff member who secured them for us did not have time to fetch them from there. So we used foil.

What I learned this time was that four hours is not enough time to pull this one off. The hole took longer to dig than I thought it would. We had pine for wood, and that doesn’t get as hot as hardwood, nor does it burn as long. So the rocks didn’t get as hot as they needed to. The final stroke was that we didn’t have time to let the food sit buried in the hole long enough to fully cook. We dug it up at 8:30pm, realized that it was not quite done, and put it in the bonfire we had going next to it.

All of the food was pretty good, but the Brussels sprouts were particularly excellent.

While we waited for the food to cook Ken took us for a hayride.

Ken on his tractor

Ken on his tractor

The kids had a good time, and that’s what I was going for. So we can chalk it up as a success even if the lovo didn’t quite work out. We’ll try it again sometime when we have more time.

On Sunday I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I hadn’t been there in a while, so it was nice to take that stroll. I cut through the mowed-down forest on the way. I used to think it was terrible that they did that, but I have come to realize that the field as it is now is an ideal habitat for the Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) – which is threatened in New Hampshire. Fish and Game have been incenting landowners to create cottontail habitat just like this. I don’t know if that’s what happened here or not.

But what I do know is that I saw some lowbush blueberry plants (Vaccinium angustifolium) in bloom. Yes, in November.

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

I had been thinking that if you looked up the word “unusual” in the dictionary, it will say something about blueberries blooming in New England in November. But this is not exactly the only place it has happened. Fellow blogger New Hampshire Gardener saw the same thing last week.

I took several shots of the one I’ve posted here, because I thought it must have been something else entirely. After all, blueberries don’t bloom here in November. I was going to try to identify it. But it is without a question Vaccinium angustifolium. We live in strange times.

Last night (and this morning) we had a Nor’easter blow through here. We got about an inch of snow at my house. It’s gone now (the snow turned to rain). I like that winter is starting to show its face. I think Penny was glad too.

Penny waiting for a stick

Penny waiting for a stick

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.