Wednesday, June 5, 2013
It's Wildflower Wednesday again and I have more "finds" to share with you, from a walk last Friday. Some weeks I know I will struggle to find something new to show but not this week!
First- one of my favourite late spring bloomers - Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense). I have heard this referred to as "wild rhododendron" - not sure if this is accurate, but it makes sense to me. It is part of the Heath family (Ericaceae) which also includes the ornamental Azaleas and Rhododendrons, and Blueberry, Huckleberry and Cranberry shrubs. This deciduous shrub usually reaches a height of between 2 and 3 feet. It blooms in this area in late May and early June, often in boggy areas and ditches. The showy flowers are a purpley pink and where there are a number of plants close together, they make quite a spectacular display when in full bloom. There are
a number of them in an area not far from my home and I always watch for their blooms at this time of year. Do you know this shrub/plant by another name? A friend who was with me when I photographed these told me he knew these as "June flowers" when he was younger. (I wonder if that was because they closely follow the blooming of what we call "Mayflowers"? (proper name Trailing Arbutus . I had hoped to find Mayflowers in bloom on this walk, but was too late. I'll go looking earlier next year!!) No doubt if you live in the Maritimes, you have seen this plant as it is fairly common in this area.
The next plant I found in flower was just a few feet from the Rhodora and it is one you likely recognize. It is the wild Blueberry plant, also a member of the Heath family. The blossoms are quite small - 1/4" - 1/2" and are white and urn-shaped, usually in clusters. Of course in several months these bushes will be hanging with delicious deep blue/purple blueberries, which are a favourite in this house for pies, muffins, crisps and blueberry shortcake! Yummmm. I can almost taste them now!! I have included a photo from last summer of ripe blueberries - just so your mouth can water too! lol
I am not 100% sure about my identification of this next one, but I think it is Sheep Laurel. If any of my readers can identify it for sure, please leave a comment! It is also a member of the Heath family. It fits the description in my trusty Wildflower guide - "an evergreen shrub with small deep pink saucer-shaped flowers in dense clusters around the stem. Flowers 1/3"-1/2" wide, 5 petals and 10 stamens." Edit- My friend Pamela has confirmed this is Sheep Laurel. Also known as Lambkill, this small shrub is poisonous to livestock.
Lastly I leave you with some Lady's Slippers. I was so excited to find many on my walk, and not too far from where I live either! Woohooo! You can be sure I'll be visiting this area again next spring to see more. I hadn't seen Lady's Slippers in many years, until my friend Gail told me last spring there were some in the woods by her cottage. I braved the voracious bugs to photograph them, but it was SO worth it!! And now I find them within a few miles of my home! The bugs there were once again out for blood, so these were snapped pretty quickly.. nothing fancy schmancy - just "record shots"... but aren't they beautiful? They belong to the Orchid family, and are one of the largest native orchids. You can read more about this beautiful wildflower on last year's post here, in particular the symbiotic relationship they have with a certain fungus, and why you should not pick them or try to transplant them to your garden at home. The Pink Lady's Slipper blooms can vary from a deep pink to a paler pink to a white - I found all three!!
That's it for this week. Who knows what treasures I might find for our next Wildflower Wednesday... Stay tuned....
"In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous." ~ Aristotle