The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Archive for the ‘Wildflowers’ Category

I Make an Awesome Discovery!

Elizabeth and I went for another of our off-road walks in the woods the other day. Fortunately, she took her camera along with us.

The Mouse's Trail Markers

We delved deep into the North Sector of the Estate. At a high point, the trees opened up and we found this system of trail markers undoubtedly laid out by mice so they wouldn’t lose their way.

Usually when I go into the North Sector, I’m on patrol. I don’t take a lot of time to view the scenery. I’m too busy chasing bad guys. I had a tough time walking through on a lead. I was distracted by lingering scents, and sounds of potential intruder activities were drifting across a nearby bay. Relaxing was a bit of a challenge.

At one point, Elizabeth had to stop and untangle me and some trees. While she was busy, I just happened to look somewhere I’d never looked before.

Jaw-droppingly Awesome

And I saw something jaw-droppingly awesome!

Just take a look at this:

Erratic Garden

Isn’t that just the most amazing watching rock you’ve ever seen? Look! It even has a bed ready-made on top!

I asked Elizabeth if we could take it home. I even said please.

She said no, it was much too heavy to move.

She told me it was an ‘erratic’ left behind by a glacier that covered this area a long time ago during the last Ice Age. It may have been carried from a long, long way away before it dropped out of the thawing glacier about – get this – 10,000 years ago. That’s human years, not dog years.

Those were the days, eh? Imagine. An Ice Age. Sounds wonderful!

I could tell that the boulder has been there for a while because the moss on top has taken a long, long time to grow. But Elizabeth pointed out something else that you might find interesting: the plants growing out of the moss on top were some of our most prehistoric, too.

These are Polypody Ferns - Polypodium virginianum.

These are Polypody Ferns – Polypodium virginianum.

Ferns don’t have flowers, so they don’t produce seeds like most of the other plants we’ve shown you this summer. They are sort of like mushrooms and fungi in that they use spores to reproduce. And these ferns were busy making lots of spores. They had them all stored up in special cases. Elizabeth took a photo so you could see:

See the round spots on the back sides of the leaves? Those are spore cases!

See the round brown spots on the back sides of the leaves? Those are where the Polypody spores are!

You can be sure I have noted the location of this erratic for future visits. I must try it out one day when I just need to take a little watchful rest time….

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Wildflower Wednesday 14

Things are winding down in the Wildflower world, but we found a few to show you yet this week.

Remember the Dandelion wannabe we mentioned last week? It’s dusty from the Big Gravel Path, but we took this photo of it for you:

Narrow-leaf Hawkweed - Hieracium umbellatum. You can see the tell-tale leaves in this photo.

Narrow-leaf Hawkweed – Hieracium umbellatum. You can see the tell-tale leaves in this photo.

I know you’ve already seen this flower here, but this picture illustrates its main identifying feature better than the last one we showed you. See the peculiar teeth along the leaf margins? Those are only found on the Narrow-leaf Hawkweed.

Generally, thistles have a basal whorl of leaves (like an inverted Christmas tree skirt) as well as smaller leaves growing up the stem. Hawkweeds are missing the basal whorl and are less sturdy looking plants.

Fireweed - Epilobium angustifolium, so called because it often grows prolifically in post burn areas. There aren't as many growing on the 'Estate' as usual this year.

Fireweed – Epilobium angustifolium, so called because it often grows prolifically in post burn areas. There aren’t as many growing on the ‘Estate’ as usual this year.

These beautiful flowers grow up so high that I have trouble seeing them. You can see in the photo on the left that they are as tall as Tansy, even taller sometimes! This one was over a meter high.

Here's a close-up of the flower for you to look at. This one has already started to develop some seed pods lower down. You can just see them at the bottom of the photo...

Here’s a close-up of the flower for you to look at. This one has already started to develop some seed pods lower down. You can just see them at the bottom of the photo…

The Fireweed is the territorial flower of The Yukon. It isn’t quite as tall there, Elizabeth says (she’s seen it when she’s been to visit her brother), and the colour is more intense. She says that with such a short growing season up that far north, it needs all the power to attract pollinators it can muster!

Way back eleven weeks ago, we showed you the Bunchberry flower. This week while we were out on a Wildflower Safari, we found some berries to show you:

Bunchberry - Cornus canadensis Berries.

Bunchberry – Cornus canadensis Berries.

There always seem to be Buttercups growing, right through the summer. We haven’t shown you any this year because they catch the wind so much, and it has been a very windy summer. But this week we managed to find a flower that was in a sheltered spot:

Here is the flower of a Tall Buttercup - Ranunculus acris. buttercups all have those shiny petals, but if you look closely at the flowers, you can often tell what type of buttercup you are looking at. We'll show you the different ones next year, perhaps.

Here is the flower of a Tall Buttercup – Ranunculus acris. Buttercups all have those shiny petals, but if you look closely at the flowers, you can often tell what type of buttercup you are looking at. We’ll show you the different ones next year, perhaps.

Already there are frost warnings popping up in the overnight weather forecasts for very near here. Elizabeth is hoping that her garden gets a bit more time for ripening. But a frost will put an end to the wildflower season, too. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Wildflower Wednesday 13

Last week, if you remember, we found a new type of clover. It was hard to see the details in the more artsy photo Elizabeth took, so I asked her if she would take one to help you identify the Rabbit-foot Clover if you were ever to run across it yourself. These are better:

Rabiit-foot Clover - Trifolium arvense. This is growing low to the ground and has narrower leaves than most of the other clovers we've found in our area.

Rabiit-foot Clover – Trifolium arvense. This is growing low to the ground and has narrower leaves than most of the other clovers we’ve found in our area.

The flowers are really different, too. They even feel like fur... very soft and fluffy, not unlike Yours Truly!

The flowers are really different, too. They even feel like fur… very soft and fluffy, not unlike Yours Truly!

We didn’t get flower photos of this tree for you this year, but the cherries are ripe now. Unfortunately, our trees are too tall and spindly for Elizabeth to gather the fruit. The birds will enjoy fattening up on them, though.

Chokecherry - Prunus virginiana fruit. This makes wonderful jam, jelly or wine but you never want to chew on a handful straight from the tree. They are called Chokecherries for a very good reason! They dry your mouth and throat out almost instantaneously.

Chokecherry – Prunus virginiana. This fruit makes wonderful jam, jelly or wine but you never want to chew on a handful straight from the tree. They are called Chokecherries for a very good reason: they dry your mouth and throat out almost instantaneously!

But back to flowers…

We found some lovely ones, and some interesting ones for you this week. Oh, yes, and one of those blasted composite flowers that look like dandelions but aren’t dandelions at all.

A lot of two-leggers around here call these Bluebells, but they aren't. They're Harebells. Bluebells are something entirely different! (Doing this series with Elizabeth is turning me into quite a wildflower snob, isn't it!)

A lot of two-leggers around here call these Bluebells, but they aren’t. They’re Harebells – Campanula rotundifolia. Bluebells are something entirely different! (Doing this series with Elizabeth is turning me into quite a wildflower snob, isn’t it!)

As you can see from the flowers, we went out early this morning for our wildflower safari. I wanted to run through the cool, wet plants, but Elizabeth had me on the silly red leash thing and kept telling me to wait while she took pictures. She was having trouble seeing to take the pictures because the lenses of her seeing enhancers kept fogging up. This meant she had to keep taking photos in case the focus wasn’t what it should be. BORING.

We found this yellow one down the road from the Harebells. It belongs to the Goldenrod family. We both like these flowers because they indicate that autumn is coming soon. Autumn is Elizabeth’s favourite season. It’s my second favourite. My favourite season is, of course, winter!

Gray Goldenrod - Solidago nemoralis. There are almost as many types of Goldenrod growing around here as yellow composite Dandelion imitators. This one is not called Gray because two-leggers have difficulty distinguishing between grey and yellow, but because it's leaves are a greyish-green colour. You can tell it from the others by this but even better by looking at the flowers. Although there are many little branches of them, they are really short and all come the flowers seem to be on the same side of the stem.

Gray Goldenrod – Solidago nemoralis. There are almost as many types of Goldenrod growing around here as yellow composite Dandelion imitators. This one is not called Gray because two-leggers have difficulty distinguishing between grey and yellow, but because it’s leaves are a greyish-green colour. You can tell it from the others by this but even better by looking at the flowers. Although there are many little branches of them, they are really short and all the flowers seem to be on the same side of the stem.

We headed off road shortly after taking that shot. At last I could feel the dew on my paw pads. Aaaaaah! That’s living!

~:o}=

On our way, we saw a number of other signs that autumn is coming soon. If you don’t want to let go of summer, then you’d better close your eyes for this part.

The lack of rain over the past couple of weeks has stressed the Paper Birches into thinking it's time to change colour.

The lack of rain over the past couple of weeks has stressed many Paper Birches – Betula papyrifera into thinking it’s time to change colour.

We found this Wild Sarsaparilla - Aralia nudicaulis putting on quite a show. I liked lying in the moss while Elizabeth photographed in this spot.

We found this Wild Sarsaparilla – Aralia nudicaulis putting on quite a show. I liked lying in the moss while Elizabeth photographed in this spot.

And here is some precocious Labrador Tea - Rhododendron groenlandicum.

And here is some precocious Labrador Tea – Rhododendron groenlandicum.

Okay. You summer two-leggers can open your eyes now.

Off we headed, into the sunrise (which was well under way by this point). Elizabeth was still having difficulty seeing for some reason, and she walked into several of these nasty things on our way to the next flower subject:

Is it possible to see an echo?

Is it possible to see an echo?

Now I’ve seen this next one many times, but I didn’t realise it was actually a flower!

These plants were as tall as Elizabeth, but she says that under ideal conditions, they can grow to be over 2 m tall!

These Narrow-leaved Cattail plants – Typha angustifolia – were as tall as Elizabeth, but she says that under ideal conditions, they can grow to be over 2 m tall!

I think they should be called the Narwhal Flower. Elizabeth says that there is usually a gap above the brown part of the flower, then a ragged looking dead-grass coloured flower part begins. You can see this on some of the flowers in the general photo if you look closely, but this one has lost the upper fluff part for some reason.

I think they should be called the Narwhal Flower.

There is usually a gap above the brown part of the flower, then a ragged looking dead-grass coloured flower part begins. You can see this on some of the flowers in the general photo if you look closely, but the close-up one has lost the upper fluff part for some reason.

It is a good time for these to be blooming here from a photographer’s perspective. The water in this marsh has all dried up! Elizabeth was able to walk in without getting her shoes soaked. I kind of missed the splash part of our safari, though.

On slightly higher ground, we found these Christmassy plants:

I don't know if Bears actually eat Bearberries - Arctostaphylos uva-ursi.... I think, judging from what they leave behind, that they prefer Blueberries, which are much tastier.

I don’t know if Bears actually eat Bearberries – Arctostaphylos uva-ursi…. I think, judging from what they leave behind, that they prefer Blueberries, which are much tastier.

Some plants look lovely in the early morning light. We found this lonely, faded Common Mullein – Verbascum Thapsus watching the sunrise, too.

Isn't it lovely? It's almost as tall as the Cattails.

Isn’t it lovely? It’s almost as tall as the Cattails.

From here we turned onto a deer path that led into the deep woods. We didn’t expect to see much there today; we were just taking a short-cut to the road, where it is easier for Elizabeth to walk me on the silly leash. To our surprise, we found something Elizabeth recognised, but hadn’t found on the ‘Estate’ before. Now, if you thought those Cattails made strange flowers, wait ’til you see this one!

The flowers of the Spurred Gentian - Halenia deflexa are very small and easy to miss. But aren't they just the coolest little flowers you ever sniffed out?

The flowers of the Spurred Gentian – Halenia deflexa are very small and easy to miss. But aren’t they just the coolest little flowers you ever sniffed out?

Next to it, we found one of those Dandelion wannabes, but Elizabeth needs to think about it a bit before we show you a photo. Maybe next week, she says.

We showed you a Jewelweed flower last week. This morning, however, we found one that was more intensely coloured. And there was no wind here, so I think Elizabeth was able to get a better photo for you to look at.

Jewelweed - Impatiens capensis

Jewelweed – Impatiens capensis

By this time, we were late for breakfast. It’s hard to hurry when you have a camera in your hands, Elizabeth says. I wouldn’t know. But we got home just in time to find Kay pulling out of the driveway in the Growly Beast. “Well,” she said, “no one was here for breakfast so, I thought I’d go get some groceries!”

Elizabeth has been busy atoning all morning in the kitchen which has, apparently, been renamed: THE DOGHOUSE!

 

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