Velvety leaves in a gradation of purple to green, with orchid-like little blossoms. Called deadnettle because even though it looks like a nettle, it doesn’t sting like a nettle. Apparently the flowers, leaves and stems are edible, raw, cooked or dried. Mint family. Native to Europe and Asia.
Purple Deadnettle, Red Deadnettle, Purple Archangel (Lamium purpureum)
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.
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.
It was a mild winter. The skunk cabbage seemed to just survive the snow, with frost-blackened tips. In early April, creatures were waking up. Here, a skunk cabbage hood (spathe) showing the spadix inside (the flower head).
Also a garter snake adventuring, and best of all, there were a glorious few days of peepers. When I recorded this, they were so loud, and there were so many layers of sound, and individual voices. Wonderful. Not long after this, we had a spate of severe cold and snow and the peepers were noticeably quiet.
Still discovering wildflowers in my familiar haunts that I haven’t identified. This one has tiny, snapdragon-like blossoms. The most distinctive thing is the dense spiky whorls of blossoms growing in the axils– between the leaves, all up and down the stem. This is an annual, dependent on seed production to flourish, native to Europe and Asia. In the Mint family.
Hemp Nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit)
Bonus picture: There is a gentleman in our neighborhood who has transformed his suburban property into a delightful farm, with fruit trees and bees and all kinds of berries and vegetables. We stopped and bought some peaches off his front porch, and he gave us a short tour, including these elderberries. Describing how he cooked with the white flowers, and all the delicious things you could make with the berries. He has a passion for his plants.
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
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 photographed this lily, but look closely at who else is in this shot!
That’s right, a little frog has its nose stuck up there. And when we started looking for them, we saw loads of little frogs, still wearing their tadpole tails, enjoying their new ability to breath air, sunning themselves on the lily pads. (I can’t help but think, heron snacks.) I think these might be juvenile bullfrogs. There was a bullfrog at this pond with a call like a great foghorn.
Water Lily (Nymphaea sp.)
Bonus photo: Lucy investigating the beaver lodge, which is about twice as big as last year.