Winter flowers

flower ironweed 2

Ironweed seedheads are our winter flowers in southern Maryland.

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Lumberjack’s Toilet Paper still blooming in southern MD!

Flower mullein boquet

I now have a bouquet of Lumberjack’s Toilet Paper, aka Common Mullein, in my kitchen in December! Hard to believe it is still blooming here in southern Maryland. We’ve had several frosts.

Sedges have edges!

flower Sedge

Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, Grasses are hollow, What have YOU found?

This may be a type of umbrella sedge. (If you know what it is, please let me know!) Possibly the most wonderful thing about sedges is their triangular stem. When you feel the cross-sectional stem of a member of the mint family, its four edges create a square. When you feel a sedge stem, there are three edges, creating a triangle. How often have you encountered a plant with a triangular stem? Crazy! Also, if you look closely at the photo, you will see spider webs with tiny gnats caught in them.

Other related verses:

Sedges have edges, rushes are round, Grasses have nodes all the way to the ground.

Sedges have edges, rushes are round, Grasses wear robes all the way to the ground.

Proud owner of Backyard Bees of North America poster!

Insect bee on horse nettles 2

In spite of my poster on Backyard Bees of North America I have not identified this one yet. The poster shows side views of bees, not top down. Plus I didn’t find this bee in my backyard. Oops. I was on the road again.

Insect bee on horse nettles

But I can tell you the flowers are horse nettles . If not, hopefully someone will correct me! Meanwhile, don’t touch them!

 

Wild Lettuce may really be “wild”!

flower wild lettuce 1

I tried eating the leaves of Wild Lettuce and wondered why it was named wild lettuce since it didn’t taste like anything you’d want to include in a salad. But because it is pretty easy to recognize, I thought I’d share a photo or two. Then I Googled it. Now I know why Wild Lettuce is called “wild”!  Another name for it is Opium Lettuce! Since you’re supposed to swear you are over 18 to get necessary details, I will leave further research to you other than to say I learned that some Indians use the herb to enhance the vividness of dreams. They believe that induced dream states provide more information about reality than the conscious waking state.

flower wild lettuce 2

It’s a tall, sturdy plant with cool seeds. Both the flowers and the seeds look like they belong on a dandelion. So they must be related.

Creeping Charlie gets the last laugh!

Flower ground ivy teeth

Careful examination of Creeping Charlie, aka.ground ivy and Gill over the Ground, reveals a flower with an impressive mouthful of teeth and baleen (a tough material that hangs down from the upper jaw of whales without teeth and is used by the whale to filter small ocean animals out of seawater).  What else would you call it? Instead of filtering small ocean animals, my guess is this baleen’s function is to tickle insect wings and backs.

Flower henbit 3

Here is the promised Henbit photo in better focus. And finally a new spring flower:

flower speedwell

Meet the hairy Speedwell! I think it’s called Creeping Speedwell, Threadstalk Speedwell and Whetzel weed. I don’t think it is Persian Speedwell, Veronica persica, Veronica Speedwell, Common field Speedwell or Bird’s-eye Speedwell. Invasives from the lower slopes of Asia’s rainy mountains, they are all members of the Plantain Family. You’ll be introduced to more Plantain as it gets warmer. Since Speedwell usually flowers from June through September, my bet is this is the Winter Speedwell. The flowers are very small. What you’ll see from a standing position is a tiny, obviously blue dot on the ground. After you bend over for a better look, check out the kidney-shaped leaves.

 

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I know it’s out of focus but check out that color!

Flower henbit

Henbit is an early spring-blooming edible member of the mint family. Members of the mint family have square stems. (Feel them!) The flowers look like fairy orchids. Hens love them. They also provide urgently needed nectar and pollen to early arriving hummingbirds and honeybees.  I will get a better photo. They often grow near chickweed and are regularly confused with dead-nettles.

flower dead nettles

Dead-nettles are also members of the mint family. Their blossoms peak out from under fuzzy, edible leaves.  The leaves turn reddish-purple as the season progresses. It’s Greek name, Lamium purpureum, means “the purple monster’. Sometimes they cover a plowed field, turning it completely purple. Watch along the road as you drive through farmland.

Flower Creeping Charlie

No, it’s not a Johnny-Jump-Up! Too early for violets here but not too early for Creeping Charlie. Often called ground-ivy because of the way it covers the ground, this edible member of the mint family has many names: Creeping Charlie, gill-over-the-ground, alehoof, tunhoof, cat’s foot, field balm and run-away-robin.  It was among the first herb and edible plants brought to North America by early settlers.