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Spring Wildflowers


Hepatica, a member of the Buttercup family, is one of the first woodland wildflowers to appear in the spring, sometimes when there is still snow on the ground. It is currently flowering in northern New England, as much as a month earlier than usual.  Hepatica’s stem and flower buds are covered with dense, glistening, silvery hairs.  Some botanists theorize that these hairs may, in fact, help the plant retain heat during cold March and April days and nights.  Others see them as a deterrent to crawling insects, such as ants, which steal their nectar, given the chance — flying insects, including early flies, bees and butterflies, are more efficient pollinators. (Even if Hepatica isn’t visited by insects, it can fertilize itself.)  Named after the Greek word for liver (“hepar”),due to its three-lobed, evergreen leaves which resemble the shape of a human liver, Hepatica, also known as Liverwort, was thought to be effective in treating liver disease.



Naturally Curious wins National Outdoor Book Award

I am delighted to be able to tell you that this morning I learned that NATURALLY CURIOUS won the Nature Guidebook category of the 2011 National Outdoor Book Awards.  I’m honored and humbled by this recognition.

National Pollinator Week (June 20 – 26)

Five years ago the U. S. Senate designated the last week of June as “Pollinator Week” in honor of all the bees, bats, butterflies, beetles, birds and other creatures responsible for transporting pollen from one plant to another plant of the same species for over 75%  of all flowering plants (wind does most of the rest). In the U.S. pollination produces nearly $20 billion worth of products annually – think chocolate, almonds, apples, coffee, blueberries, etc.

Painted Trillium

There are several species of trillium in the East, but painted trillium is my personal favorite. The deep pink center truly does look as if it were painted on its white petals. Being a member of the Lily family, many of painted trillium’s parts (leaves, petals, sepals, stamens and carpels) come in sets of three. It has just started blossoming in central Vermont and New Hampshire – look for it in acid woods and bogs.


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flower deserves to be looked at under a hand lens, but perhaps none more so
than Miterwort, also known as Bishop’s Cap (Mitella diphylla).  The delicate arms radiating out from the
flower’s center bear an uncanny resemblance to a 4-pointed snowflake. The fruit
of this member of the Saxifrage family resembles a mitre, or bishop’s cap;
hence, its common names.

Spring Ephemerals

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in the spring, before trees leaf out and shade the forest floor, and when the ground
is nutrient-rich and moist, spring ephemerals – wildflowers that bloom and
disappear within a month or two – appear.
These beautiful woodland wildflowers take advantage of this time of year,
before competition begins in earnest.  In
order of appearance, the photographs are of:
BLOODROOT, Sanguinaria canadensis; BLUE COHOSH, Caulophyllum
thalictroides; CUT-LEAVED TOOTHWORT, Cardamine concatenata; DUTCHMAN’S
BREECHES, Dicentra cucullaria; HEPATICA, Hepatica nobilis; LARGE-FLOWERED
BELLWORT, Uvularia grandifolia; PURPLE TRILLIUM, Trillium erectum; TRAILING
ARBUTUS, Epigaea repens; TROUT LILY, Erythronium americanum; WILD GINGER,
Asarum canadense.


Coltsfoot, one of our earliest wildflowers, is in bloom! These roadside-loving plants bear a remarkable resemblance to dandelions. Both are in the Composite family, and thus, what looks like one flower is actually a cluster of many small flowers (florets). Dandelion florets are all strap-like “ray” florets whereas the center florets of coltsfoot are tubular “disk” florets, surrounded by ray florets. In addition, coltsfoot blossoms well before its colt’s foot-shaped leaves emerge, while dandelions produce flowers and leaves at the same time.