BladderwortBladderwort. What a weird name. What is it?

It’s a floating, carnivorous plant found in waterways throughout North America.

Come to Audubon in July and August and you may see our ponds be-speckled with the snapdragon-like yellow flowers produced by this plant.

Floating?  Yup.  It doesn’t put roots into soil.  Most of the plant is an underwater and stays near the bottom of the pond until summer when it floats up to the surface, produces a whorl of fleshy leaves and a bright yellow flower.

Carnivorous?  Yup.  The underwater network of leaf-like stems contain tiny bladders.  Here’s the best explanation I found for how the bladders work, from the US Forest Service site listed below:

Hairs at the opening of the bladder serve as triggers, and when contacted, mechanically cause the trap to spring open, drawing in water and organisms like a vacuum. Enzymes and /or bacteria inside the traps aid in digestion.

Ain’t nature cool?

Bladderwort and Duckweed

Learn more:

Summer Wildflowers

Blue Vervain      Blue Vervain
Blue Vervain (aka Swamp Vervain)
Verbena hastata

Canadian Burnet     Canadian Burnet
Canadian Burnet (aka Canada Burnet)
Sanguisorba canadensis

Bull Thistle     Canada Thistle
Left: Bull Thistle (aka Common Thistle), Cirsium vulgare
Right:  Canada Thistle, Cirsium arvense

Meadowsweet     Meadowsweet
Meadow-sweet, Spiraea latifolia

The Scarlet Pimpernel

When I think of the Scarlet Pimpernel, I think of the French Revolution.  I think of secret societies, and of intrigue.  I think of old movies and Leslie Howard.  Oh yeah, and there’s that flower… important in the story because the hero signs his notes not with a name, but with an image, a flower:  a Scarlet Pimpernel.

I never thought to look for the flower.  It never occurred to me that it might grow around here – or even on this continent.  Then, after seeing  tiny reddish-orange flowers in the paths at Reinstein Woods and discovering (via my Flickr friends) that they were Scarlet Pimpernels… and looking them up in my various field guides and reading how “widespread” they are and that they bloom from June through August along roadsides in sandy soil, in “wasteplaces” (like lots of our summer aliens)…  well, I just began to wonder how I could have lived to be more than a half-century old and never see this flower?

Scarlet Pimpernel 1

OK, in my defense… it is only 1/4″ wide.  And it grows in sunny places – and only opens on sunny days… (and if you know me at all you know that from June to August – you’ll find me in the shade… I only venture out on cloudy / rainy days!)

Still, now that I’ve seen them… I’ll be braving the sun to look for more.

Got Milk(weed)?

Today I was out early checking my bird boxes.  Some of them sit in a really lovely large patch of Common Milkweed.

Common Milkweed 2   Common Milkweed 1

Since I have been seeing Monarch Butterflies, I decided to check the plants for eggs or caterpillars.  I didn’t find any Monarchs at all.  But I found plenty of other stuff!  Take a look:

Milkweed Bugs
Milkweed Bug - Youngster   Milkweed Bug - adult

Harvestman on Milkweed


A Snail
Snail on Milkweed

Somebody Hiding in a Rolled Up Leaf
Milkweed Leaf Roll from back

and my favorite:  Virginia Ctenucha Moth!
Virginia Ctenucha Moth 4

Bells in the Woods – Part I

I had half an hour between appointments and while it was a tad breezy, the light was perfect.  I headed to College Park to see if any new spring flowers had popped open.

Yellow Mandarin

Yellow Mandarin is also known as Fairy Bells.  The Latin name I found in the most places was Disporum lanuginosum which is most likely what your flower field guide will list.  The USDA also lists Streptopus lanuginosus and Prosartes lanuginosa with the latter being the preferred name.  How’s that for confusing?  At any rate, they all seem to agree that Yellow Mandarin is in the Lily family.

Yellow Mandarin

The yellow-green bell-like flowers dangle beneath the leaves and would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for them.  In late summer, if all goes well, you’ll see bright orange-red berries where the flowers used to be.

Yellow Mandarin

I could find no reference to this berry being edible by either humans or animals.  Strange… Usually you can find someplace that will tell you who eats it!

Yellow Mandarin   Yellow Mandarin Range Map from eFloras

More bells tomorrow…


There is a large patch of Yellow Clintonia at Jamestown Community College’s “College Park” – also known as the 100-acre lot.  Well, there was… Until a big old tree snapped off and fell on it.

Tree Crashed Down on my Yellow Clintonia

There are a few plants that didn’t get squished and I’ll keep watching them.  They are still sporting tight little buds.  I found them in bloom May 27th in 2007:

Yellow Clintonia - Closeup

So many things are happening early this spring that I thought I should keep an eye on them if I want to try pictures again this year!  But no… still buds.

While investigating the fallen tree, I happened to find a rather large patch of Wild Sarsaparilla – also still buds:

Wild Sarsaparilla

I think that’s my first time finding this plant anywhere… which is embarassing, since Newcomb’s calls it “very common.”

Always Something New…

I don’t get around much…  I hike the same old woods over and over… and over.  Still, I manage to find something new to learn about all the time.

Yesterday I took the dog to College Park for a brisk walk.  OK, not that brisk… I did put on my rubber boots so I could check out flowers in the muck.  And I did have my camera, even though it was late and the sun was going down…

And, as I’m trying to walk briskly, there on the side of the trail is a tiny shrub with dangling trumpet-like flowers.  What?  Not Wild Oats.  Not Solomon’s Seal.  Not Trout Lily.  A creamy, white dangling trumpet-shaped flower on a small shrub with woody stems.  WHAT?

American Fly Honeysuckle

Despite poor light and a novice’s understanding of my new little point and shoot, I snapped a whole bunch of pictures hoping to have enough information to key it out in my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide.  When I got home, strangely enough, the book practically opened itself to the page:

American Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis) is a shrub of cool woodlands.  It is recommended by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center as a native alternative to planting the alien invasive honeysuckles Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle), Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s honeysuckle), Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian honeysuckle), and Lonicera xylosteum (Dwarf honeysuckle).

By the looks of these flowers, I’d say I’m a few days too late!  But they were in good enough shape for a positive ID:American Fly Honeysuckle

JCC American Fly Honeysuckle    JCC American Fly Honeysuckle

Sad, isn’t it, that I can readily identify the non-native varieties which have become so common…