Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em

I am always pleasantly surprised, when tromping through the woods, to come upon Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) in full flower. I have fond memories exploring the Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) woods as a boy behind my grandparents’ backyard on Cape Cod. Large stands of Pink Lady’s Slippers grew in the duff under the pines.Continue reading “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em”

A Black-winged Red Bird

Some birds are always a treat to see, whether they are brilliantly colored or less common. One of my favorites is the Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea). Males are the reverse in coloration from the male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). A male Scarlet Tanager is a deep red all over except for jet-black wings. The femaleContinue reading “A Black-winged Red Bird”

A Traprock Ridge Specialty

Imagine walking in what is now central Connecticut 200 million years ago, when magma rose through cracks in the land as the great supercontinent Pangaea split apart. In the New Haven area, the magma cooled and formed intrusive, or underground, diabase rock. For millions of years the softer sandstones that later were deposited above this rockContinue reading “A Traprock Ridge Specialty”

Put a Little Spice in Your Life

On a walk recently I noticed one of the first native shrubs to flower this spring—Spicebush (Lindera benzoin). Its small, yellowish-green flowers really stood out among the sea of bare branches. Spicebush is dioecious, with male flowers on one plant and female flowers on another. If you find this plant, you can really only identifyContinue reading “Put a Little Spice in Your Life”

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em

Last summer I pulled up a bunch of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) that has invaded the edges of my property with a vengeance. It is rather easy to pull the entire plant, roots and all. But what I didn’t realize was that I was also pulling up its 50-year seed bank and that one plantContinue reading “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em”

Marsh Marigold, or Perhaps Not?

I look forward each year to looking along streams to find one of my favorite spring wildflowers soon to be in bloom—Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris). But it has an exotic cousin, a look-alike that threatens its existence and that of other native spring ephemerals such as Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) and Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica).Continue reading “Marsh Marigold, or Perhaps Not?”

A Powerful Pollinator

Last fall I planted snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) and crocus (Crocus spp.) to have very early blooms available for the first pollinators that hatch in the spring. Even though these are not native, they do provide early nectar and pollen sources for native solitary bees. This would be before native plants such as Pussy Willow (SalixContinue reading “A Powerful Pollinator”