4-Leaf Clover substitute!

flower field sorrel 6 petal

Instead of finding a 4-leaf clover I found a 6-petal sorrel blossom! I’ve never seen a 6-petal sorrel before!!!

Not sure if this is called field sorrel or wood sorrel. AKA oxalis. Wild edible weed. Lemony flavored shamrock-like leaves. Flowers good too.

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Blue flowers in autumn

Flower VA Dayflower

The Virginia Dayflower is one of my favorite blue flowers in autumn. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, native to the mideastern and southeastern US. It is important to count the blue petals. The Virginia Dayflower has 3 blue petals. The Asiatic Dayflower has only 2 blue petals, plus a tiny white one. They bloom now too, often close to each other in wet soil,  and are a deeper blue.

Death by Water Hemlock

Flower water hemlock

In 399 BC Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death. He chose hemlock as his means of death and he was required to drink the poison by his own hand. Water hemlock is one of the most deadly poisonous plants in North America. It is extremely beautiful, very similar to Queen Ann’s Lace, but prettier. It grows abundantly in damp soil in southern Maryland and often guides people to springs during droughts. I picked a wonderful bouquet of it in Great Falls, VA, arranged it in my best Mission vase and then looked it up in my flower ID book. Oops.

Blooms in August. Wait until next year… unless you know where to dig up the tubers now.

Flower Groundnut

Sorry I’m late sending photo of groundnut vine. Wonderful little bunches/balls of reddish-brown/maroon and cream, dense, pea-like blossoms grow in moist soil in August It’s still out there to be found in September but it is going to seed now. It is proof that Native Americans lived around here. It is edible and should be harvested in early November. It is considered an invasive by cranberry farmers.

Per Tamara Dean in Orion Magazine article, “Stalking the Wild Groundnut”:

Indeed, for centuries Apios americana was a staple in the diets of many Native Americans, which explains why it grows profusely where they once encamped. Almost every part of the plant is edible — shoots, flowers, the seeds that grow in pods like peas, but, most importantly, the tubers. These tubers (the groundnuts) are swellings that form along a thin rhizome, like beads on a necklace. They can be small as a fingernail or, rarely, large as a melon. And as with other root vegetables, they sweeten after a frost and overwinter well in a cool, damp place, offering sustenance in a time when the land provides little other food. Pilgrims were taught to dig and cook groundnuts by the Wampanoags, and these “Indian potatoes” probably spared the newcomers from starvation. Henry David Thoreau knew and ate the tubers. He wrote in his journal, “In case of a famine, I should soon resort to these roots.”

However, neither Thoreau nor the Native Americans nor the Pilgrims could have known how healthy groundnuts are. Like potatoes, they are high in starch. But they’re also relatively high in protein, containing up to 17 percent — about three times as much as potatoes. In addition, studies from at least two U.S. universities reveal that groundnuts contain a significant quantity of isoflavones, chemicals linked to a decreased incidence of prostate and breast cancers. Plants for a Future, a British organization that educates the public on “edible, medicinal, and useful plants for a healthier world,” ranks Apios americana as the fourth-most-important plant in its database of seven thousand.

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Wildflowers of Aug/Sept: Water Pepper

Flower Water Pepper

Water pepper, AKA marshpepper knotweed grows in southern Maryland in damp areas. It is also called smartweed, though I thought smartweed was pink. The little white blossoms and seeds were used by colonists as a spice similar to what you might use in chili. If you taste one, you will discover they are HOT! Some say they taste similar to Sichuan pepper. They are enjoyed by ducks, small birds and small mammals.

Wildflowers of August: Thoroughwort (I know it’s September but…)

Flower Thoroughwort

Thoroughwort blooms in southern Maryland in August and September in damp soil. It’s a member of the aster family and is also called white boneset, feverwort, agueweed and Indian sage. It is beloved by butterflies, wasps and bees which can cover the blossoms so completely that you can’t see the flowers. Has some medicinal uses but should be avoided because it can be toxic and is poisonous to humans and livestock.