Monday, August 31, 2009

Virginia Meadow-Beauty

The weather broke nicely Sunday afternoon, leaving me fine opportunity to collect on new species. As usual, I have discovered the completely unknown so there's much research to be done this week.

I found the Virginia Meadow-Beauty, Rhexia virginica, growing in the same spot as the Plymouth Gentian--it does look somewhat similar. The level of the lake has been down significantly, even with all the recent rain, leaving about a half dozen of these growing along the receding shoreline. Pretty, isn't it?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Red Oak

Just a different look at an old favorite. The weather was so rainy that I couldn't get out for new photos but the storm did send down bits and pieces from the oak overhanging my deck.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bull Thistle

Bull Thistle, Circium vulgare, looks like the thorniest of the local thistles. Aren't plants just so amazing? I mean, the diversity in leaves, stems, and flowers is so incredible. Why does our world produce such variety?

This species is a biennial and reminds me of the growth pattern of mullein--first year basal rosette and second year full blown plant that we see here.

By the way, this species goes way back to one of the very first posts.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tyrol Knapweed

Knapweeds look a good deal like the thistles, but without the thorny structures. I'm pretty sure this is a Tyrol Knapweed, although it could be a Black. Documentation seems to conflict...

A new ID book arrived today: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide by Lawrence Newcomb. I also have Peterson's Wildflowers. In the case of knapweeds, I found greater detail with Peterson's, although I think I like better the more delicate illustrations of Newcomb's. Perhaps these guides will work out to be complementary--time will tell.

As well as these guides, I get a lot of use out of Connecticut Botanical Society's flower gallery, particularly when browsing flowers by color. Many an ID has come from viewing actual photos, and by simply poking through the photos, I've familiarized myself with flowers that I've then gone on to discover.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Strolling...

Yesterday I picked up a couple of new species but these shots...I just like 'em.

I think this could make it in a Rorschach test.

Here I liked the colors and the delicate vs massive motif.

Tomorrow we're back to a regular species post with the Tyrol Knapweed, a very cool and spikeless thistle.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Out For A Stroll

I began assembling this post last week and then a few species posts crowded it out. So here it is now--a little glimpse at to what pops up in my sight and mind as I wander around the lake.

This little bunny is often hanging in this spot. I think it's a second litter cottontail.

Catbirds are usually heard more than seen and don't often let me get too close. And yet, they seem curious. I've tried more that once to pull off a short movie with mewing--persistence will pay off...I hope...

Just a little reminder that some leaves are indeed already turning.

The recent hot weather seems to be responsible for the white pine cones weeping sap.

Plymouth Gentians are surprisingly long-lasting flowers.

Regarding waterfowl, most times I see only Canada Geese but there are ducks from time to time.

And in general, it's hard to describe just how pleasurable it is to simply wander with my camera. Just what was I doing before this blog? :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


George de Mestral arrived home with his dog from a hunting trip in the Swiss Alps. As he pulled burrs loose from his clothing and his dog's fur, he took the time to study a burr under his microscope. This was 1941. By 1955, with manufacturing perfected and patents in place, Velcro was introduced to the world.

I found Common Burdock, Arctium minus, growing in the same field as the Black-eyed Susans from Sunday's post.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Signs of Change

A couple of weeks ago when the weather was cooler, I began to anticipate Fall. And then the brutal heat took over, melting any thoughts of summer's early demise. Regardless of how the temperature fluctuates, daylight is noticeably shrinking and plants are showing the wear and tear of a full summer season.

I've been enjoying art exhibits, particularly botanicals. My latest adventure took me this past weekend to the South Shore Natural Science Center for the "Beyond the Garden Gate" exhibit. Although botanicals were only part of the complete exhibit and none took prizes, there was indeed some lovely work there.

Here's a nice article on the first place winner.

Second prize did go to a photograph. Alas, there is no image available to show but it was an iris printed to matte paper. Softened edges yet with a fine clarity--I really liked it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Black-eyed Susan

Here's the Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta. They grow sparsely in a few select spots around the lake...

... although I did find a field full of these with daisies and wild carrots.

Towards the north end of the lake, I ran across a little group already gone by.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Black Willow

Black Willow, Salix nigra, is another shoreline species. In fact, this willow stands about ten feet from yesterday's crabapple.

Willows don't mind getting their feet wet and in fact seem to enjoy it. They are also very easy to root. I remember when I was little that my Dad simply plugged a branch into the ground and it rooted up quickly just fine. Another time a pile of four foot logs cut from a fallen willow started spontaneously sprouting new branches.

It feels like it lends an oriental art touch. This shot reminds me of ink and brush bamboo leaves.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Here's a nice little crabapple tree that grows shoreside at the south end of the lake.

From Wikipedia:

... crabapples are an excellent source of pectin, and their juice can be made into a ruby-coloured jelly with a full, spicy flavour[4]. A small percentage of crabapples in cider makes a more interesting flavour.[citation needed] As Old English Wergulu, the crab apple is one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century.

Crabapples are widely grown as ornamental trees, grown for their beautiful flowers or fruit, with numerous cultivars selected for these qualities and for resistance to disease.

Some crabapples are used as rootstocks for domestic apples to add beneficial characteristics.[5] For example, varieties of Baccata, also called Siberian crab, rootstock is used to give additional cold hardiness to the combined plant for orchards in cold northern areas[6]

I've noticed that birds seem to frequent this tree, perhaps because it offers quick protection on their way to and from a drink at lake's edge. And of course, in due time they will dine on the fruit.

"Malus." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 3 Aug 2009, 00:57 UTC. 3 Aug 2009 <>.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

American Toad

Isn't this American Toad, Bufo americanus, such a beautiful creature? The myriad earth tones, the lovely eyes, the gentle nature...

From The Frog Book:

Toads choose cool, moist places in which to live. They are often found in cellars, under porches and sidewalks, and in various dark or damp hiding-places. They seek such locations not only for the shelter, but also for the moisture. A toad never has the pleasure of drinking water in the usual way. All the water that he gets is absorbed through his skin. A toad kept in a dry place grows thinner and more distressed-looking, and is likely to die within a few days; whereas one provided with plenty of moisture remains plump and contented as the weeks go by, even when there is a scarcity of food.

It would, however, be a great mistake to think that a toad does not take pleasure in drinking. He sprawls out in shallow water or on a wet surface and has a contented expression in his wonderful eyes as he literally " soaks in " the water. In the country in midsummer, when pools and springs are dry, toads very often travel long distances to spend the night on the wet ground about a well of some sort.

Dickerson, Mary Cynthia. The Frog Book. New York, 1913. 78-9. Web. Google Book Search. 19 Aug 2009.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


There is lots of Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, around here. Of course, until today I never knew its name.

From Wikipedia:

The North American jewelweeds are often used as a home remedy to treat bee stings, insect bites, and particularly Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) and Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) rashes, but there has not been controlled research to support this application.

An oft-repeated folk saying, "Wherever poison ivy is found, jewelweed grows close by", is not true. Poison ivy grows in a wide variety of habitats, while jewelweeds are restricted to moist bottomlands and valleys with rich soil. The reverse is often true on the other hand: wherever jewelweed is found, poison ivy is usually close by.

The Orange and the Yellow Jewelweed (I. pallida) have been subject to various scientific studies as regards their alleged effect against Poison Ivy contact dermatitis. Save for one study conducted in the 1950s[3], no significant and lasting antipruritic effect was found compared to other commonly-used treatments[4].


Dainty enough to grace a lady's ear,
Thousands of blossoms swaying to and fro
In the light wind, and countless butterflies
In the bright sunshine softly come and go
On honey bent. The flowers are orange-hued,
And orange-hued the feasters on their sweets.
So like the two that pretty doubts-intrude
Anent this wonder that my vision greets.
For half I deem the flowers are butterflies
That on the flowerless stalks have come to stay,
And half, or more, that the bright butterflies
Are blossoms that the wind has blown away.

"Impatiens." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Aug 2009, 14:47 UTC. 5 Aug 2009 <>.

Chadwick, John White. Later Poems. Boston, New York, 1905. 140. Web. Google Book Search. 18 Aug 2009.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


My best guess of Buckthorn species is the European Buckthorn, Rhamnus frangula. I suppose when the web provides conflicting information that the best policy is to rely on my library. The Shrub Identification Book by George W.D. Symonds again comes to my rescue.

My apologies to Feedburner email subscribers regarding yesterday's post. It looks like Vimeo doesn't play well with Feedburner. Blogger presents just fine as does Google Reader. In the future, I'll include a link to the movie. Here's the Dragonfly link.

Monday, August 17, 2009


That's an odd name, isn't it? Pilewort, Erechtites hieraciifolia, distilled to its essential oil, is used to treat hemorrhoids. So, I guess it makes sense. But why it has a synonym of Fireweed might make me feel a bit concerned about its application...

Going in another direction, here's a glimpse of a dragonfly in action. It's my first try at macro movie making, slow motion editing, and working with Vimeo.

On Sunday I sadly bid goodbye to my fine neighbors, Jim and Jill. Long time readers will remember Jim--he helped me get maple blossoms shots back in early spring. Best of luck in your new home, folks. You've been great neighbors! :-)

And lastly, this weekend for a real treat I visited a couple of botanical art exhibits:
NESBA Flowers Of Summer
Sarah Roche at Paul Pratt Memorial Library
I am a huge fan of botanical art and am so amazed by the work of artists. For interested locals, both exhibits are running through the month of August.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

This male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, seemed to enjoy the Butterfly Bush in my yard. One coloration of the female has an area of blue in tail area between yellow and black. See the text below for more on this species' dimorphism.

From Every-Day Butterflies:

"This is, indeed, one of the most interesting examples of dimorphism known, since it is limited not only sexually, but geographically. It is found only where the insect develops more than one brood a year: at first, farther north, where there are but two annual broods, in a feeble way; but farther south, and apparently only where a third brood becomes common, to such an extent that nearly or quite all the females share it, and the species becomes completely antigenic, i. e., all the males are of one color and all the females of another. Yet though it appears to require the occurrence of a third, or at least of a second, brood to develop this antigenic quality, the feature is not at all confined to the later broods, but occurs to an equal extent in the spring brood. From its geographical limitation to regions where the species is more than single-brooded, we should naturally presume that this variation first arose in a summer brood ; that it should have extended so as to include the spring brood to an equal extent, and yet never to include the male, nor to have spread to regions where the species has but one brood, is certainly surprising. Weismann presumes this to be a case arising from sexual selection, but there seems to be not the slightest ground for such a belief. May it not be compared rather to those cases of mimicry, or of protective resemblance, often confined to the female sex, as the most needy object ? The black female must be a less conspicuous object than its gayly banded sister; and its restriction to the south is in keeping with the greater prevalence there of insectivorous creatures."

Scudder, Samuel Hubbard. Every-Day Butterflies. Boston, New York, 1899. 158-9. Web. Google Book Search. 15 Aug 2009.