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

Pasque Flower

PasqueFlowerAn early-blooming prairie flower. I took this photo while visiting Illinois and have discovered that Illinois is the southeastern edge of its range. (So it is not to be seen naturally in New England, but is cultivated in gardens.) It’s fairly rare in the wild because it requires an undisturbed prairie ecosystem, won’t grow in a plowed area. Buttercup family.

Pasque Flower, Prairie Crocus, Cutleaf Anemone (Anemone patens)

Skunk Cabbage Leaves

SkunkCabbageLeavesThe first wildflower of the season is transitioning from flowers to leaves. The maroon flowers/spears come up through the snow. They’re kind of like mammals; they convert glucose to heat so they can emerge in the late winter months. Then the spadix and spathe wither away and these stout green leaves emerge. Native to the wetlands of eastern North America

Skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus

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)


DSC_0015Lucy and I were walking at Charles River Peninsula and I was surprised to see a vining wildflower running rampant that hasn’t been there for the last two years, the years I’ve been paying attention. It’s a vine with showy pink clusters of flowers, growing in the moist edges of the meadow. Why did it appear this year?

It has edible tubers (similar to potatoes but apparently way more nutritious) and beans! The shoots and flowers are edible too. It was a staple food for Native Americans, who called it Hopniss, among other things… They prepared it boiled, peeled and dried, made into sweet preserves with maple syrup, or as seasoning… many ways! Apparently Europeans learned all about using groundnut as a food source from Native Americans and it was a major help for those early (1600s) colonists like the Pilgrims. It’s commercially farmed in Japan.


DSC_0013Thoreau: “In case of a famine, I should soon resort to these roots.” Maybe we’ll need to try them. The best time to harvest them (for sweetest flavor) is after a frost, but before the ground freezes. Native.

Groundnut, Wild Bean, Potato Bean, Indian Potato, Hodoimo, Hopniss (apios americana)

Sweet White Trillium

DSC_0126This 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.

Sweet Trillium, Jeweled Wakerobin, Confusing Trillium (Trillium simile)

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.)


Jack in the Pulpit


They’re so distinctive. There is something very proper and elegant about them, like they would never consider leaning, or demanding attention by being colorful, or blowsy and over-large. The most ornament they care to sport is some tasteful stripes.

This is from May 5, 2014. (I have quite a backlog of photos.) These are native to the east and midwest.

Jack in the Pulpit, Indian Turnip (Arisaema triphyllum)

White and blue violets

violetsIt’s been a good year for violets! This is a variable species that can occur as white or purple. Photographed in Dr. Whiteside’s magical Illinois garden, but also native all over New England.

Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)

Bonus pictures from my trip to the Midwest: we went to a concert in Lafayette, Indiana but had some time before the concert, so we checked out a wolf park surprisingly nearby. Beautiful animals.

DSC_0034 Wolf face

Wild Blue Phlox

DSC_0002I found this growing by a dusty country road outside Charleston, Illinois, but apparently it is native from western New England to Michigan south. Fragrant flowers, pollinated by bees with long tongues, like bumblebees.

Wild Blue Phlox, Wild Sweet William, Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Cypress Spurge

Spurge in hand Spurge with treesSpurge A hardy groundcover — tolerates poor soil, dry conditions, deer, rabbits, pollution… Has a milky, poisonous sap that repels herbivores. Forms a dense fluffy blanket about a foot tall. Tiny flowers that start lime-green and yellow, and age to red. Has narrow-leaved foliage reminiscent of cypress trees, hence the name cypress spurge. (The common name “spurge”  comes from the Middle English/Old French word “epurge”, meaning “to purge”, because these plants were used as purgatives. (Poinsettias are spurges!) Native to Europe, introduced to North America in the 1860s as an ornamental, and is now a harmful invasive that has really colonized Charles River Peninsula.

Cypress Spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias)