This is a wildflower I admired in the garden of Dr. Wesley Whiteside, and he gave it to me. What a generous plantlover, sowing his spectacular garden into other people’s modest yards… (Shot April 23.)
It looks like a perfect little lotus or water lily. More common: the single version, below. A “spring ephemeral.” Has only basal leaves which wrap around the flower stalk as it begins to bloom. Then the leaves open fully as the flower withers. The flowers bloom only one or two days each, with a fragrant scent. The foliage contains a red juice (which was used by native people to make dye). It’s toxic and usually avoided by herbivores. Native to eastern North America. Poppy family.
We had a snowstorm that took out power in our neighborhood, so suddenly we had to quit working and also couldn’t do all our various other projects that require computer-staring. So we hunkered down, made a fire, (cheated by going out for dinner)…. but after the storm was over, the sun came out for an orange sunset on the sticky snow. We drove to the South Street bridge and it was so gorgeous…
Then the heat came back on during the night (yay!) and at dawn, we immediately went out to look for beautiful photographs. The sun comes over the ridge and touches the treetops first…
This last scene had a glassy surface, but my boot slipped into the river and made this rad ripple! A day of stunning sights. These are all of the Charles River as it divides Needham and Dover, MA… and all within five minutes of our house, which is so GREAT! And now, grateful for heat, light, and a way to upload my photos! Time to make some hot chocolate.
And if you’re wondering about the wildflower report: yes, skunk cabbage is up, blackened tops showing through the snow in some places, and plump and green in the swampy spring at Ridge Hill.
This year, we had a double puffball event in our yard. When I noticed them they were smaller than baseballs and then were visibly larger every day. Finally B picked one and ate it, after a brief “Alas, poor Yorick” moment, and then there was one. Last photo with a slice removed, to show its solid interior, with the slice like a piece of soft cheese or a delicate wedge of memoryfoam pillow.
Indian Pipe is not a fungus. It’s a flowering plant related to Rhododendrons and blueberries, which sounds very improbable. This plant does not have chlorophyll to make its nutrients, so it lives parasitically by tapping into fungi that live in the soil (and are obtaining THEIR nutrients from tree roots, usually beech and pines). So they can grow in the dark because they don’t use the sun. And, they can’t be transplanted, because they need their connection to the underground fungus, which needs its tree roots. There is a Cherokee story that the Great Spirit was displeased with a council of elders who had quarreled with each other, and changed the old chiefs, with their bowed heads, into these flowers to remind the people to make peace. Native.
Indian Pipe, Ghost Plant, Corpse Plant (Monotropa uniflora)
The bonus picture, totally unrelated: B’s boss had been given some sweets by a friend who had just been in Paris. He was having trouble giving them away at the office! B brought them home to me. First I saw the label: Ladurée Paris! Only the world’s most famous maker of macarons! And that’s what they are!
Another marsh plant seen at Lake Waban in Wellesley, MA. Grows with its feet in water, can be one to three feet tall with big arrow-shaped leaves. Very attractive to insects because it has 25-40 stamen and can hold loads of pollen. Ducks feed on the tubers and seeds. Muskrats eat them too. Native. Water Plantain family.
Common Arrowhead, Duck Potato (Sagittaria latifolia)
This plant is slightly furry with purple leaves which appear fused together around the stem. It grows in low wet areas. (I shot this from the boardwalk at Lake Waban.) It’s in the sunflower family! Native people used it to break fevers by heavy sweating, and it was a very commonly used medicinal plant in the 19th century for all kinds of ailments. The latin name perfoliatum comes from the way the stem appears to perforate the leaves. Native.
Common Boneset, Thoroughwort, Agueweed, Feverwort (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
I wondered how this heron nest could possibly weather the severe winter we had, but I was glad to see it still there and occupied this spring. I believe these are the young ones, looking a bit like bowling pins til they turned their heads…
Herons lay 2-6 eggs in a clutch, in March and April. The eggs incubate about a month. Then they fledge when they’re about two months old. They still come back to visit for a few weeks.
This photo is from early May in Dr. Whiteside’s garden, and as it turns out, it is not native to New England. I think it’s a rare variety native to parts of the Appalachian mountains in the southeastern United States. Lily family.
Here are a couple more shots from that day, also of some varieties not wild in New England: some very fragrant and unexpectedly pink! lilies of the valley, and a variety of Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium). There are 11 species of Lady’s Slipper native to the U.S., but I think this one might be a hybrid instead of a wild variety. (Cypripedium: Cypri- refers to the island of Cyprus, where Aphrodite was born, and -pedium means shoe or foot.)