Red-osier dogwood

Red-osier DogwoodIn the gray and brown landscape of early spring, it’s heartening to see these clouds of red stems. They like wetlands, and these are in the wetland border along the Charles. The  bark responds to the increased light of spring by becoming brighter red. Native people used it for all kinds of things, like making dye from the inner bark and brushing teeth with peeled twigs. Native throughout northern and western North America.

Red-osier dogwood, red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea)

Eastern Wahoo in Autumn

Eastern Wahoo in AutumnAll the wildflowers have gone to fruit and seeds. This shot is from November 19. Wahoo is a Dakota term for this plant, which means “arrow wood.” Native to North America, related to bittersweet and also to the non-native invasive kind of euonymous.

Eastern Wahoo (Euonymous atropurpureus)

Maple-leaf Viburnum


A shade-tolerant deciduous shrub common in New England. Will have blue-black berries that ripen to red in late summer. Native.

Maple-leaf Viburnum (Viburnum acericolium Linnaeus)



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)

Sumac is the first to change

A couple of weeks ago, the trees were green, but I noticed that the sumac was sporting a few red leaves… (Lucy’s white feet are in the background of that shot.) But now there is no denying that the leaves are changing. Lots of yellow leaves everywhere.

Swamp Rose Mallow

Oh man, these are looking great around the arboretum pond, where the pickelweed used to be in bloom. My height, with showy blossoms about 6 inches across. This is also growing in the local river marshes alongside the purple loosestrife for a major show. Native.

Swamp Rose Mallow, Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Bonus picture: if you turn around from photographing the mallow, you see Matt, who came for tai chi class and then stayed to add ambience to the arboretum.



This is apparently a variety of Snowberry, a shrub in the honeysuckle family. Will have white berries. The inside of the berries looks like sparkling snow. A winter food supply for birds, but poisonous to humans. Native to North and Central America. (Photo by A.F. Aaron.) (He was kind enough to include a bonus Dogbane Beetle, Chrysochus auratus.)

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Bonus bug munching on Milkweed leaves: it’s a Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes femoratus)


Staghorn Sumac

3-10 feet tall. This is an early stage of blooming. Foliage bright red in autumn. The fruit can be made into a lemonade-like drink, but make sure you aren’t using the related plant, POISON sumac. The leaves and berries were mixed with tobacco and smoked. Also used as a dye. Cashew family. Native.

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Great Laurel

This big plant and several others, all blooming, are around an area that’s usually swampy but this year it’s dry. I was surprised to see it because all the ones in people’s gardens finished blooming weeks ago. Beautiful! This is the same woods that has the regular mountain laurel. Heath family. Native to eastern North America.

Great Laurel, Great Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum)

Bonus picture: The rhododendron was along a shady trail, a very short walk from a sunny field full of fleabane, black-eyed susan, and red clover.

Black Raspberries

I missed these when they were flowering. A shrub with arching thorny canes. Native to eastern North America. Delicious!

Black Raspberries (Rubus occidentalis)