The first showy spring flower was Lesser Celandine. (Shot April 20.) There is an occasional brook at Centennial Park in Wellesley, MA, that is enough moisture in this bit of dry valley that a big field of yellow erupts there in spring.
The blossoms follow the sun during the day and close in cloudy or cold weather. The name Celandine is derived from the Greek word for swallow (chelidon), because the early flowering time was also when the swallows arrived (and the flowers faded when they left). It is not native, found throughout Europe and west Asia. Eight petals and leaves that resemble wild ginger. Don’t eat it: “Unsafe in any quantity.” Buttercup family.
Possibly the best flower name we’ve had so far. All manner of insects use the nectar and pollen, the leaves, the stem. But the leaves are nasty so it’s avoided by mammals. A member of the Aster family. Native
This year we were members of the Powisett Farm CSA and we loved it. When the season was over we signed up for winter shares, which was about 4 pickups in November and December. People would ask what could we be getting in mid-December?! This was the last share: squash and beets, carrots and sweet potatoes, parsnips and garlic, potatoes and kale, turnips and radishes, kohlrabi and celeriac, cabbage and onions and hot peppers! Love that place!
This is one of the first wildflowers to appear here after Skunk Cabbage leads the way. (Photo from April 22.) It’s Lesser Celandine to distinguish from Celandine, a larger wild poppy. It follows the sun during the day and closes in cloudy or cold weather. The name Celandine is derived from the Greek word for swallow (chelidon), because the early flowering time was also when the swallows arrived (and the flowers faded when they left). It is not native, found throughout Europe and west Asia. Don’t eat it: “Unsafe in any quantity.” Buttercup family.
This is a common weed that offends all over my yard. I never wondered what it was called… until I noticed it blooming! So I had to identify it and it has a rather fancy name: Three-seeded Mercury. I can’t find an explanation of the name. It’s an annual, it can have a two-foot deep taproot, flowers in the axils, it has clear sap, can be a mild allergen, mourning doves like the seeds, deer like the leaves. The latin name Acalypha comes from the Greek word for nettle — Linnaeus thought the leaves resembled nettles. Native. Spurge family.
It’s September already. Makes me want to think about a day in July, in the Meadow of Wonders, when it was so full of flowers! Mostly yellow coneflowers, bee balm in many colors, mugwort, thistle, crown vetch… Lucy looks like she’s enjoying the fragrance of the flowers, but she’s probably carefully considering the question, “When did a deer last pass by here?”
This is a case of a shockingly fast-moving invasive, Common Dodder. Last year, it was not in this location, and this year, suddenly it’s draping and strangling a fairly large area — very striking. It looks like a great load of angelhair pasta ladled out on the landscape. But if you look closely, it’s twined tightly around the stems of the host plants.
The first thing we noticed about it is that it has no leaves, and at first, no flowers — just a thin yellow vine. They’re annuals that grow from seeds every year. The seed germinates in the spring and must find a host. The seedlings find a host by slowly waving their stems in a clockwise direction until they feel a plant to grab! They twine on and have specialized “roots” that digest their way through the host’s stem and establish a vascular system between the two plants so that the dodder can suck its nutrition right out of the host (since dodder has basically no chlorophyll and no roots that go into the ground for feeding itself). When the connection with the host is established, the lower part of the dodder dies and there is no connection with the ground at all. And it grows and grabs other nearby plants, usually not killing them but weakening them.
In summer, they put on tiny white flowers and then fruits containing seeds which can lay dormant for up to 5 years, waiting for the right time to pop! The seeds in the ground appear to wait if a good host (they have preferences) is not nearby. (What!?) It’s on the USDA’s list of 10 most problematic weeds.
Alert Flowerophile Donna has contacted the trails commission to let them know (and I did too). We hope they come collect it out of there because it has made such inroads in only one year, I would hate to see the long-term effect on this field full of so many wildflower varieties. Destroy!
Okay, when you’re identifying wildflowers, one clue is the positioning of the leaves: are they opposite each other as they climb the stem? Do they alternate? Or do the leaves encircle (whorl) the stem? It’s easy to see the whorled leaves on this plant, and the distinctive way the flowers radiate from the axils. Can be about three feet tall. Native. Primrose family.
I was going to a conservation area in Dover that I hadn’t visited in a long time, accidentally took the wrong road and happened across a small wood I hadn’t been to, which had this beautiful little flower. This is the first time I’ve seen it and in fact I thought maybe it was some kind of escaped domestic; it’s reminiscent of squill. But it’s wild! Native. Lily family. (Photo taken June 3, 2013.)
Yellow Star Grass, Common Goldstar (Hypoxis hirsuta)
Another cinquefoil, but distinctive because the blossoms are paler and larger than the others. Also it’s the tallest (1 to 2 feet tall). Heart-shaped petals. 5-7 lance-shaped leaflets on each palmate leaf. Native to Europe and Asia. Rose family. Photo: June 4, 2013.