Wreath of Indian Pipe

Axie Breen Photography BostonIndian 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!


Ovate-leaved Violet

This is a glory time for wildflower watching. Noanet Woodlands is peppered with blossoms. Plus I just found a wildflower I’ve never seen before, in the years I’ve been paying attention: a woolly sort of violet. (very exciting!)

Ovate-leaved-violetwThe leaves are a different shape and the whole plant has a downy surface. I’m surprised to see it’s rated “common”! Generally found in dry, open spaces (but I found this plant in the woods). Native.

Ovate-leaved Violet (V. fimbriatula)

Bonus pictures: Lucy making short work of the horse jumps at Noanet Woodlands. I especially like the second one, where she appears poised for takeoff.

Lucy-leap1 LucyLeap3 LucyLeap4

False Solomon’s Seal (fruiting)

False Solomon's Seal fruitIn the spring, white flowers. In the fall, red berries. (The berries can have a laxative effect. Also, apparently native people made a tea of the leaves for use as a cough medicine and a contraceptive!) Ruscus family. Native.

False Solomon’s Seal, Treacleberry, Solomon’s plume, False Spikenard (Maianthemum racemosum)

Smallspike False Nettle

False NettleFalse Nettle 2

When I saw this I wondered if it had a disease or a parasite, but it turns out these are tiny green flowers. This plant is in the Nettle family, but has no stinging hairs. Can be about 3 feet tall. Likes wet and shade. Attracts moths and butterflies.

Smallspike False Nettle, Bog Hemp (Boehmeria cylindrica)

Jack in the Pulpit (fruiting)

Jack in the Pulpit fruitAs we roll into the end of summer, flowers are turning to fruits and seed pods are popping. Those charming jacks in their pulpits transform into fat (poisonous!) red fruit clusters (which are eaten by some birds). Each berry has 1 to 5 seeds. Next spring, with luck, they’ll each produce a plant, which will need at least 3 years of growing before it’s big enough to flower. They can live to be 100 years old! Native.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Bog Onion, Brown Dragon, Indian Turnip (Arisaema triphyllum)

Below: the scene in spring…

Jack in the Pulpit



One I did not spot last year! And truly blue, which is unusual. Also known as “carpenter’s herb” because it was thought to help stop bleeding. Evidently makes a good groundcover for shade if you don’t mind that it can be invasive. Native to Eurasia, escaped from cultivation. Mint family.

Bugle, Carpet-bugle (Ajuga reptans)

Rough Cinquefoil


Okay, this cinquefoil is similar to the previous one, but each leaf has three leaflets instead of five. Also it’s non-trailing and has a fuller fancier flower with green calyx lobes showing between the petals. What makes it “rough”? Perhaps the hairy stems. Rose family. Photo: May 28, 2013.

Rough Cinquefoil (Potentilla norvegica)


Jack in the PulpitThe first Jack in the Pulpit of the season, a very dramatic black and green striped and slightly ruffled one! Some folklore from Wikipedia: “One account from the Meskwaki Indians states that they used it to determine the fate of the sick by dropping a seed in a cup of stirred water; If the seed went around four times clockwise, the patient would recover, if it went around less than four times they would not.” Native. Photo: May 3, 2013.

Jack in the Pulpit, Indian Turnip (Arisaema triphyllum)

Dwarf Ginseng

DSC_0024This is not the ginseng used in herbal medicine but it’s the same family (Ginseng). Native. They bloom for about three weeks in mid to late spring. Has yellowish clustered berries in July to August. US Forest Service: Native Americans “used tea of the whole plant for colic, indigestion, gout, hepatitis, shortness of breath, fainting, and nervous debility. Its distinctive tubers can be eaten raw or boiled.”

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius)

Sessile Bellwort

Sessile Bellwort

Sessile means sitting or resting on the surface —  these have sessile leaves, which means the leaf comes directly out of the main stem, but the leaf itself has no stem of its own. Lily family. Native. Photo taken May 3, 2013.

Sessile Bellwort, Wild Oats (Uvularia sessilifolia)