Friday, July 24, 2009

Sweet Pepperbush

Sweet Pepperbush will always impart to me a special feeling. Back in some of the earliest posts, I struggled to identify this species. It was my first experience with the difficulties of identifying species--bushes that I'd never given the slightest attention. Maybe this was their payback!

As the posts have rolled along, the ID blues have never left my side. Just yesterday I popped through with a couple of new IDs. There were days of work behind the breakthroughs. To me, it is a labor of love and I consider myself lucky to have stumbled upon such an endeavor.

So here we finally get to see flowers! They have been long coming--I have been shooting buds for weeks, always anticipating a quick blossom. This is a very patient bush.

From A Guide to the Wildflowers:

"One of the joys of the late season is the bursting into bloom of the clethra. Its delicate blossoms and the intense fragrance that it sheds about recall again the early spring days of timid flowers and soft green leaves which have later become sadly overheated or dusty beyond recognition. It seeks its home in shady lanes along the coast, where the air is moist, and which is undoubtedly the reason of its freshness so late in the season, and of the vigour of its dark green leaves. It remains in bloom a long time. When bruised the foliage emits a peculiar odour."

Lounsberry, Alice. A Guide to the Wildflowers. New Yor, 1899. 308. Web. Google Book Search. 23 Jul 2009.


  1. When I first began to keep my nature journals, they quite often resembled a script from an old (emphasis on old) Saturday Night Live routine called "What the H*LL is that Thing?". I've gotten better, but I still have tons of photos of things that I have yet to ID. Like you, it sometimes takes a round of seasons or more to get a positive ID... that is if I am lucky.
    I am placated by Thoreau's own frustrations at not being able to name all the plants- but he expressed this inability as the force which kept him interested- he felt if he knew everything, what would be the point of his daily walks? It's the thrill of the hunt, as "they" say!
    From Thoreau's own journal, 11.23.1860:
    "Most of us are still related to our native fields as the navigator to undiscovered islands in the sea. We can any autumn discover a new fruit there which will surprise us by its beauty or sweetness. So long as I saw one or two kinds of berries in my walks whose names I did not know, the portion of the unknown seemed indefinitely, if not infinitely great".

  2. Gretchen, thank you for such a lovely comment!

    My unknown photos are growing so that at some point I must pull them all together. I figure it will be a good winter project to pore over them knowing that at some point I will trip over an ID in one of my manuals.

    Your Thoreau quote is so timely. He has interesting comments on the Groundnut--the topic of tomorrow's post.

    Thanks again,

    -- John