Wild Sarsaparilla


In the ginseng family, which explains why the bloom looks so much like dwarf ginseng, but with three umbels at the top of the stalk, and leaves that tend to grow umbrella-like over the flowers. Will have purple-black berries, which are edible and a little sweet. This is not “true” Sarsaparilla. 1-2 feet tall. Native.

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

Cinnamon Fern


Native. Likes bogs and other moist habitats. The leafy parts are sterile; the cinnamony part is a fertile, spore-bearing frond. This kind of fern is considered a living fossil because it occurs in the geologic record 75 million years ago, among the oldest of ferns.

Cinnmon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

Canada Mayflowers

DSC_0004 DSC_0003These are the plants whose leaves carpet the woods, just little leaves standing vertically out of the ground. The flowers are fragrant. During the summer the flowers are replaced by small speckled red berries. Lily family. Native perennial.

Canada Mayflower, Two-leaved Solomonseal (Maianthemum canadense)

Cow vetch


Okay, locally we have at least three kinds of vetch to keep straight. This is cow vetch, and the other two are common vetch (which is magenta and looks like a sweet pea) and crown vetch (pale pink and shaped like a crown). This is similar to a pea in habit, with tendrils that fasten on to (and can strangle) other plants. Widely used as forage for cattle. Pea family. Origin: Eurasia.

Cow Vetch, Tufted Vetch, Bird Vetch, Boreal Vetch (Vicia cracca)

Pink Lady-slipper

Pink LadyslipperDid you ever notice lady-slipper always has just two leaves and one flower? Also that the blossom is mostly closed, but has a small opening in front to admit pollinating insects, who have to find a different exit to bust out (brushing past the pollen-covered stamen). Lady-slippers can live to be twenty or older! Photo taken May 22, 2013.

Pink Lady-slipper, Moccasin flower (Cypripedium acaule Ait.)



This looks like some kind of wild hydrangea, but based on the way it has these large flowers opening around the edge, I think it’s Hobblebush. The showy outer flowers are sterile, the tiny inner flowers are fertile. Later will have fruit changing from red to purple. Has low hanging branches that put down roots where they touch the ground, forming webs of roots that hobble walkers—supposedly that’s the origin of the name. Honeysuckle family. Native.

Hobblebush, Witch-hobble, Moosewood (Viburnum alnifolium)