Last weekend was another interesting and profitable one, flower-wise. At or near the family cottage in NY state:
- large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) (lily family) – I found my first trillium ever on the island, and when I told my mother about it she showed me a hillside near Chimney Bluffs which was crawling with them, including strange mutant varieties with green stripes.
- wake-robin (Trillium erectum) (lily family) – also called “birthroot”. Presumably there’s some sort of medical connection, but I haven’t really found a good reference for tracking this down yet.
- cursed crowfoot (Ranunculus sceleratus) (buttercup family) – not only buttercup family, as was obvious to me from the shiny petals and general shape, but buttercup genus. This one was growing down on the shore on the island. Purple deadnettle and hemp dogbane were growing nearby, but it’s not as scary as it sounds. I wonder what the “cursed” is all about – the Latin ‘sceleratus’ has a feeling of guilt or villainy to me. Pissed off farmers?
- small-flowered crowfoot (Ranunculus abortivus) (buttercup family) – I saw about a billion of these growing along the island paths. Pretty straggly looking and the flowers aren’t much different from the cursed crowfoot, but it has round basal leaves while those of R. sceleratus are deeply lobed.
- hooked crowfoot (Ranunculus recurvatus) (buttercup family) – only saw one of these, growing right next to the couple wooly blue violets I saw.
- thyme-leaved speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia) (figwort family) – growing everywhere along the paths, in with the small-flowered crowfoot, but more inclined to the drier parts. I knew I’d seen this before, and when I got back home I remembered that it’s all over my backyard in Somerville. “Serpyllum” is Latin for thyme. Also when I got home, I made the flying leap of deduction to find the actual thyme growing in my landlords’ front garden. Spicy as hell!
- wooly blue violet (Viola sororia) (violet family) – yet another violet! At first glance I thought it was a regular ol’ dooryard violet, but it’s paler and the flower is bigger. It is distinguished from the Northern blue violet by the lack of fuzz on its bottom petal, so I can only assume that its other parts are fuzzier than the Northern. I always feel a bit naughty when I’m distinguishing violets, since you really have to get all up in their shit.
- jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema) (arum family) – Newcomb’s guide splits this into three species but claims that some authorities treat it as a single species. Just as well since I didn’t have a chance to key it out. Ever since I started wildflowers I’ve been on fire to see this, since it’s one of the wildflowers I remember my mother pointing out when we’d go canoeing on Hemlock lake long ago. I’m pretty sure that’s actually how I learned what a pulpit was – mother had to explain to heathen Desi. It’s an inconspicuous, hidey sort of character, which I saw on the hillside with the trilliums. Very neat to be with my mother when I finally came across this one.
- false solomon’s seal (Smilacina racemosa) (lily family) – easily distinguished from the real deal by the raceme: real solomon’s seal’s flowers dangle from the axils.
- smooth yellow violet (Viola pennsylvanica) (violet family) – another violet! This was on the rich, rich trillium hill. I didn’t have time to key it out, but the downy yellow violet seems to prefer dry woods, and the halberd-leaved violet seems more southerly.
I also saw and heard a house wren for the first time (princeling of all birds at best), and heard what I could have sworn to be a northern flicker.