Category Archives: Flora

Birch

This birch, too close to neighbor hemlock, grows leaning, finds sun where it can. This wet pale October shows little more color than this birch scar.

Maple splashes yellow here and faraway there. Squalls alternate sun, blue and wet across the sky. Playful youngsters now, they’ll mature as real cold sets, getting running starts from west of Erie.

Almost snow today, cold to soon come. Any last colors will present, dry and fall as seasons deepen.

American Dagger Moth Caterpillar

This fellow made his way across the bluestone recently. I gave him a pretty wide berth – close enough to get a photograph, far enough that his spikey hairs didn’t touch me as they are somewhat poisonous and will cause irritation.

Wikipedia reports:
Acronicta americana, the American dagger moth, is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It was originally described by Thaddeus William Harris in 1841 and is native to North America.

Then, I noticed that nature had copied the pattern of his yellow starlike fur in green on the forest floor.

Oak Sentinel

At the right time of year, it’s almost impossible to not notice the abundance of acorns in places near the top of Elk Mountain.

On a walk several years ago, I gathered, and planted a few in the side yard.

Now, this tree and a few of it’s kin planted nearby, conspicuous seasonal sentinels, splash the last glimpses of color as autumn fades, nods toward winter.

Dragon tongue bean

Dragon tongue bean

Curiosity got the better of me earlier this summer, when I came across a small plastic envelope labelled “Pole beans” that had hid in a kitchen drawer for the better part of a decade.

Uncertain if they were still viable, on a whim, I planted them expecting flat green beans. I became pleasantly surprised as the seeds sprouted into dramatic Dragon tongue beans.

Wikipedia reports:

Dragon tongue bean is a flavorful, juicy bean whose seeds are encased in a buffed colorful pod with mottled burgundy patterns throughout the shell’s surface. The shelled beans are pale pistachio green in color, their size, petite, and their shape, ovate and slightly curved.

Dragon tongue bean can be harvested, picked and used for their pods as well as for their seeds like a green bean (snap bean) or allowed to mature into a shell bean for using their seeds only.

Climbing Nightshade

Climbing Nightshade

Wikipedia reports:

Solanum dulcamara, also known as climbing nightshade, bittersweet nightshade, blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, felonwood, poisonberry, scarlet berry, snakeberry,… 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.

Solanum dulcamara has been valued by herbalists since ancient Greek times. In the Middle Ages the plant was thought to be effective against witchcraft, and was sometimes hung around the neck of cattle to protect them from the “evil eye”.

John Gerard’s Herball (1597) states that “the juice is good for those that have fallen from high places, and have been thereby bruised or beaten, for it is thought to dissolve blood congealed or cluttered anywhere in the intrals and to heale the hurt places.”

Mock Orange

This blossom, and a bunch of it’s kin has populated a bush in the yard. Not that they’ve not done so other years, but this bush doesn’t seem to blossom but every few years.

When it does, however, walking past it on trips to the mailbox are delightful!

The blossoms emanate a wonderful scent, just days after the Black Locust blossoms have peaked.

Even with midsummer’s night still days away, it’s hard to imagine the woods and the forests getting any thicker, greener, or more lush.

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Philadelphus coronarius (sweet mock-orange, English dogwood) is a species of flowering plant in the family Hydrangaceae, native to Southern Europe. It is a deciduous shrub growing to 3 m (10 ft) tall by 2.5 m (8 ft) wide, with toothed leaves and bowl-shaped white flowers with prominent stamens. In the species the blooms are abundant and very fragrant, but less so in the cultivars. It may resemble, but is not related to varieties of the similarly named dogwood, which is the common name for Cornus in the family Cornaceae.

Philadelphus coronarius
The specific epithet coronarius means “used for garlands”.

Black Locust

Many years ago during a Summer drought when mowing the yard became unnecessary for a couple of weeks, this tree became prominent in the yard.  When rain returned and the yard wanted mowing, on a whim, I cut around the tree and let it grow.

Now, taller than the house it grows north of, this tree has become somewhat of an indicator of just how fast decades pass.

Wikipedia reports:

The black locust is native to the eastern United States, but the exact native range is not accurately known as the tree has been cultivated and is currently found across the continent, in all the lower 48 states, eastern Canada, and British Columbia. The native range is thought to be two separate populations, one centered about the Appalachian Mountains, from Pennsylvania to northern Georgia, and a second westward focused around the Ozark Plateau and Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Black locust’s current range has been expanded by humans distributing the tree for landscaping and now includes Australia, Canada, China, Europe, India, Northern and South Africa, temperate regions in Asia, New Zealand, Southern South America.[8]

Black locust is an interesting example of how one plant can be considered an invasive species even on the same continent it is native to. For example, within the western United States, New England region, and in the Midwest, black locust is considered an invasive species. In the prairie and savanna regions of the Midwest black locust can dominate and shade open habitats.[9] These ecosystems have been decreasing in size and black locust is contributing to this, when black locust invades an area it will convert the grassland ecosystem into a forested ecosystem where the grasses are displaced.[10] Black locust has been listed as invasive in Connecticut and Wisconsin, and prohibited in Massachusetts.[1]

In Australia black locust has become naturalized within Victoria, New South Wales, South, and Western Australia. It is considered an environmental weed there.[8] In South Africa, it is regarded as a weed because of its habit suckering