The nice thing about working at a nature center is that when you need a break from your computer work or your training or whatever… you can take a walk – and it counts as professional development. At 3:15 today, I needed a break. It wasn’t hard to talk Sarah and Kim into following me out to figure out some flowers that needed names.
The first is Canada Thistle, a lovely dusty-purple bloom on stout stems that also sport prickly thistle-style leaves. The Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide calls it “a bad weed of pastures and waste places, difficult to eradicate because of its creeping underground stems.” I just think it’s pretty. Funny that it’s called “Canada,” yet there is an asterisk – meaning it’s alien. The Peterson guide tells us that in Europe, it is called “Creeping Thistle.” That makes sense.
The second purple flower was blooming right by the mailbox at Audubon. I had to stop the car this morning to take a closer look… Similar to a mint, square stem… but bristly all over… Turns out this one is called Hemp Nettle. It is in the mint family and is common along roadsides and in wasteplaces… alien, of course.
I didn’t get the greatest of pictures of my third new flower… it’s pretty difficult to photograph, actually. Tiny, tiny flowers made me wish I had had my closeup lens with me. The leaves were medium sized, though. We worked through the Newcomb’s guide to discover it is White Vervain. Of course it is! Once I heard the name, I realized it did have some similarities to another of my favorites, Blue Vervain.
The last flower is the one referred to as “plus one” in my title. I had already figured it out, so it wasn’t new to me… but it was new to Sarah and Kim. There is a LOT of this stuff growing along the roadsides now – some of it taller than Kim! It’s called Wild Parsnip. Newcomb’s guide calls it “the wild state of cultivated parsnip.” The Peterson Field Guid to Edible Plants says you can eat the taproot of first year plants. It’s in the parsley family, and it’s pretty.
Your turn to write a blog on 3 new things!