Wild edible: Common Milkweed

Wild edible: Common Milkweed

Despite the white, latex-like sap, from which their name derives, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a delicious wild edible. Found in fields, along roadsides and other open areas, common milkweed is native to almost all of New England.  It typically grows 3 to 4 feet tall, on stout straight stems, with thick, broad, opposite leaves and is topped with round, slightly drooping clusters of pinkish-purple flowers. Before the flower buds bloom, they somewhat resemble pinkish-green heads of broccoli. In bloom,…

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American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

While adult American Robins (Turdus migratorius) may be a common sight, their nests are often tucked away in thickets and hard to access areas. Today, however, while performing a wetland delineation for work, I stumbled across this nest. The female robin chooses the nest site and is primarily responsible for building the nest itself, although males will help to collect nest materials.  Nests are typically situated on one or more horizontal branches hidden in or just below a layer of…

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White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis)

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis)

While hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains this weekend, I explored half a dozen waterfalls. These ranged from the 10 foot high Lower Falls of the Swift River along the Kancamagus Highway to larger falls, such as  Winneweta Falls (40 feet) and Arethusa Falls (176 ft – the highest single drop waterfall in New Hampshire). At each location, in addition to the beauty of the falls themselves, I was surprised and delighted by the number of butterflies flitting about. The…

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Wildflower Wednesday: Whorled loosestrife

Wildflower Wednesday: Whorled loosestrife

In honor of the summer solstice, I thought I’d highlight a sunny yellow flower:  the yellow whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia) are blooming seemingly everywhere right now. Whorled loosestrife is native to much of eastern North America, and can be found in a wide variety of habitats, from woodlands to dry fields to roadsides. In the last few days, I’ve seen them along forested trails in Bourne and Falmouth, as well as along the side of my driveway. Yellow whorled loosestrife….

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Princess Pine (Lycopodium obscurum)

Princess Pine (Lycopodium obscurum)

Like the Canada mayflower and star flower described in a recent post, Princess pine (Lycopodium obscurum) is another common forest understory plant in Bourne’s forests. Also called flat-branched tree-clubmoss or ground pine, Princess pine is a North American species of clubmoss. The names “clubmoss” and “ground pine”, however, confuse L. obscurum’s  position in the plant world, being neither moss nor a low-growing conifer.  They are instead more closely related to horsetails and ferns.  Princess pines do, however, have the appearance…

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Wildflower Wednesday: Pink Lady Slipper

Wildflower Wednesday: Pink Lady Slipper

The Pink Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule), sometimes called the Moccasin Flower, is one of the largest native orchids in eastern North America, and is fairly common in the woodlands in Bourne. In fact, I have some growing at the wooded periphery of my yard. Each Pink Lady Slipper plant has two basal leaves with conspicuous parallel veins and a center stalk with a single hanging bulbous pink slipper-like flower. The pouch formed by the flower’s petals is actually an ingenious…

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Northern Moon Snail (Lunatia heros)

Northern Moon Snail (Lunatia heros)

While walking along Nauset spit in Orleans, I encountered this Northern Moon Snail (Lunatia heros) that had been caught out on the sand as the tide retreated. It was just starting to dig down into the wet sand to keep from drying out, as well as to avoid predators, such as gulls. Moon snails also burrow to find their prey: bivalves. Since many clams are found more than 6 inches below the surface, moon snails must burrow to find them….

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Mole crabs (Emerita talpoida)

Mole crabs (Emerita talpoida)

Until this weekend, I hadn’t seen mole crabs (Emerita talpoida) since I was a child. The lack of sightings was less to do with an absence of the crabs and more to do with the fact that I no longer dig holes and build sandcastles at the beach. My boyfriend and I were discussing these interesting little crabs as we walked down the beach yesterday and he wanted to see one. My suggestion: dig a hole in the wet sand….

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Wildflowers: Canada Mayflower and Starflower

Wildflowers: Canada Mayflower and Starflower

There are two abundant but potentially easily overlooked wildflowers blooming in the forest right now. Both are relatively small plants with simple white flowers, but both can be found in relatively extensive patches on the forest floor if you look around. The first, and one of my personal favorite wildflowers, is the Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense).  Canada Mayflower, also known as False Lily-of-the-Valley, is a small plant between 2 and 6 inches in height.  It begins with just a single…

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Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine

Dandelions are a common wildflower in New England.  Although native to Europe, they have spread nearly worldwide.  Common dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) have bright yellow flowers 1 to 2 inches wide on top of hollow stalks, which extrude a milky latex-like liquid when broken.  The stalk is surrounded by a ring of basal leaves that are variously cleft and lobed.  While many home owners consider them unwelcome in their lawns, other seek them out as an early season wild edible. Due…

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