Tonight I was eager to get out with my new camera, perhaps a little too eager as I didn't notice that it was missing a memory card until I got to the wildlife management area 20 minutes from my house. Forty minutes to Target for a card and back up I went, arriving nearly at dusk.
I decided to take a short trail that winds along the bottom of a slope alongside the back of a large pond, more of a lake really, except for the lack of depth. It's mostly an evergreen forest back there, with interspersed deciduous trees. At the far North end of the lake is a crazy microclimate where I've found six inches of snow when there's no snow elsewhere! It can be unbelievably cold there in the winter. From this small, cold pocket, the land curves out into almost a small peninsula with beautiful evergreens overhead. From there you have to turn around because you hit a small damn.
My favorite part of the trail is about half way along where there's a big, beautiful beaver lodge right on the side of the shore. My dog has climbed all over it trying to figure out where the door is. That doesn't seem to bother the beavers. Tonight Mama and baby were swimming together, rubbing noses, and then mama swam directly up, about 10 feet from us, and stopped to say hello.
But this is a flora journal not a a fauna one...
Here are a few plants I found tonight.... I'm trying to focus on plants I don't know and/or digging deeper into the botanical taxonomy and family characteristics of the plants. It's really interesting to take the information out into the field and I was especially excited at how well the trillium photo reveals the characteristics of a monocot.
Latin: Veratrum viride
Common names: Indian poke, Indian hellebore, green false hellebore, false hellebore
Family: Melanthiaceae aka "bunchflower" because "Most plants in the Bunchflower family have bunches of little white or greenish, lily-like flowers with 3 sepals and 3 petals that are identical in size and color, plus 6 stamens, and a 3-parted pistil. In most species the pistil has 3 styles which have not completely fused together as they have in the Lily family" (Elpel). Melanthiaceae used to be classified as part of the lilly family.
Monocot: flowers will be in 3's or multiples of 3's; leaves are linear and leathery; sprouted with one seed leaf
Habitat: wet woods, swamps
Uses: Most melanthiaceae, including Veratrum viride are highly poisonous although the Native Americans did have some uses for the root of this plant.
Common name: raspberry
Family: Rosaceae, the rose family
Dicots: sprout with two leaves; woody stem and a tap root system; flower parts are in 4's 5's or multiples
Uses: The fruits of course are delectable; leaves are a tonic herb full of nourishing minerals and especially beneficial for nourishment of the uterus during pregnancy.
Raspberry or blackberry? The underside of a raspberry leaf will be very pale, almost white whereas the underside of a blackberry leaf will be only slightly lighter. Furthermore, blackberry canes (the woody stems) contain much larger thorns that more closely resemble the large thorn you'd identify with many roses (though some roses have smaller thorns like these). These thorns are very thin, almost hairy looking.
Strangeness! This plant was found at the edge of a wet marshy area; raspberries don't typically like wet feet! Also, the leaves look extraordinarily toothy to me in contrast to pictures of raspberry leaves found online. But I can't figure out what else it could possibly be.
Common names: red trillium, wake robin, purple trillium, stinking Benjamin, Beth root
Family: Lilliaceae This might be debated as one of the sources I read about Veratrum viride (the false hellebore above) mentioned trilliums as a part of the melanthiaceae family. However, most sources say it's in the lilly family, and, unlike the false hellebore, it is not poisonous as seen below.
Monocot: In this photo you can see the multiples of 3's common to monocots. There are 3 petals (the red), 3 sepals (the thin green between the petals). A litle harder to see, there are 6 stamens, the yellowish green parts going around the outside of the center of the flower. In the absolute center is the pistil which has 3 stigmas on it.
Habitat: woodland wildflower
Uses: the leaves can be eaten as a sald green or pot herb; roots were used to balance hormones, ease childbirth, boost immunity and may even be beneficial as a treatment for cancer
Sepals: the part of the flower that closed up to make the casing of the bud
Petals: the floral, fragrant, insect-pollinator attracting part of the flower (though sometimes sepals are colorful and attractive as well)
Stamens: male reproductive organ of the flower; contains the filament or long slender stalk and the anther at the top of the filament which is where pollen is produced
Pistil: the female ovule producing part of the flower; the mature ovary is a fruit containing the mature ovule or seed
Stigma: the sticky part on the pistil for holding the stamen's pollen; from the stigma, the pollen goes down the style to fertilize the ovary which produces fruit and seeds.. voila! plant reproduction!