I completed my Maine Master Naturalist Program training last week. It was such a great experience and I can't believe how much I've learned over the past year. I will certainly miss the people in the program and the regular structure, although it is a great relief to not face homework anytime in the near future.
I thought I'd bring a little of what I've learned--and what I will continue to learn--over to the blog with a regular post featuring wildflowers in bloom during the preceding week. Selfishly, I hope this will give me practice keying and photographing flowers (and help me remember them!)
First up, a couple of flowers of open areas, and two of my favorites. I love it when the blue-eyed grass appears in our "lawn." Something about this plant reminds me of the west and prairies. I hadn't realized there were multiple species when I photographed this guy. I'll have to go back next time I'm home in the daylight to key out exactly which one it is.
The pussytoes growing in our neighbor's field have already gone by (or been mown down), but we still have a sweet little row of them growing along the edge of our gravel pit. These I think are field pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta).
Late May into early June is the time for woodland flowers to bloom--before the trees have completely leafed out and blocked all of the sunlight. Canada-mayflower (Maianthemum canadensis) is one of the most common flowers we have growing on the forest floor.
With starflower (Lysimachia borealis) running a close second.
Feathery false Solomon's seal has just come into bloom in the last week or so. I hadn't realized it was related to Canada-mayflower until I saw the Latin name, but that makes so much sense when you look at the flowers. Edited to add: I just realized I forgot to include the Latin name, for you to see for yourself. Good thing I reread my own blog. Feathery false Solomon's seal is Maianthemum racemosum).
This is a new flower to me this year. I think it's a blunt-leaved grove-sandwort (Moehringia lateriflora).
We have a lot of violets growing on our property. I've never taken the trouble to key them out before. This one is an American dog violet (Viola labradorica).
More elusive, and so very strange and beautiful, is the Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). One of my fellow naturalist graduates told us that she read that scientists think Jack is evolving to become a carnivorous plant, due to the long and complicated route of pollination he entices flies into. How cool is that?
On one of my off-trail wanderings, I came across a pink lady's slipper (Cypripedium actual) hiding out in our woods.
I've never seen one of these enchanting orchids on our land before. I stomped around the area quite a bit more, hoping to find others, to no avail. And then I took a walk on our trail and found a pair of them growing right next to the path, and then another pair, and another single orchid. Farther along the trail I found two more and in an off-trail foray, I found an eighth one.
Are the lady's slippers new migrants to our land, just appearing suddenly this year? Or have they been there all along, and we never noticed them, because our attention hasn't been on the ground at our feet (or because we avoid the woods during black fly season)? Even now that I know they are there, I still have to look closely to find them, so I can see missing them, but I'm astounded we've missed them for 13 years. And I'm delighted I finally found them.
My main source for keying out wildflowers is Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. But because Newcomb's is out of date, I use GoBotany to cross-reference the Latin names (and also to cross-reference against photographs).