A Day in the Life…Part 21

As we approach the end of May, the spring wildflowers are slowly giving way to the green of summer. Some of the azaleas are still in good blooming condition, but the Pink Lady’s Slipper and Showy Orchis are fading fast. The late show of spring flowers includes Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) seen below. Aquilegia is from Latin and refers to the petals that resemble an eagle …you might have to squint to see it!

At the other end of the color spectrum is Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana). The genus name of this plant honors J. Tradescant, who was Charles I’s gardener.
As the spring flowers fade we turn our attention to the ferns. Below is Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea). Osmunda was a Celtic deity. The species name refers to the color of the fertile frond, which is cinnamon colored. Too bad it does not smell or taste like the spice.
 We have three upcoming Fern Walks, so check the program section of the blog for dates and time.
One of the more unusual wildflowers is Squawroot (Conopholis americana). Because Squawroot lacks chlorophyll, it must “borrow” food energy from a host plant- making it a parasitic plant.
 In this case the host is oak trees, particularly those in the red oak group.

One flower that is proliferating now is Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis). Dame’s Rocket is kin to Garlic Mustard and both are considered invasive species that were introduced to North America. Both produce large numbers of tiny seeds in slender pods. Look along the roadside fences to see this flower everywhere. It is often confused for Garden Phlox which has five petals and blooms later. Dames Rocket has four petals.
In animal news, the third pair of Canada Geese hatched only one gosling. A female Wood Duck was seen Friday leading her brood across the driveway from the open pond to more secluded environs up stream in the area near the boardwalk. The Bull frogs are cranking up, and their “jug-o-rum” call can be heard from all corners of Lake Odonata. We have been catching lots of tiny crayfish with our school groups. The damselflies and dragonflies are now filling the air and feasting on all the other insects.
I’ll leave you with the best quote of the week by Laurelville Elementary 4th grader Hayden. Hayden was enjoying all that Wahkeena has to offer when all of a sudden he announces- “I want to be a naturist or whatever it is that you are!”  
Hope springs!
Posted by Tom

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