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Volume 5 Spring Number, 1939 Number 1




Oakesia sessilifolia - Lily family.

An inconspicuous May blossom of the rich moist evergreen woods.

Root Slender, creeping.
Stem Leafy, 10"-12" high, curving above the middle and bearing one or two nearly terminal flowers.
Leaves Alternate, oblong-pointed, rough-margined, parallel-veined. Not clasping the stem as in Bellwort. l-1/2"-3" long.
Flowers Pale yellow, lily or oat-like, drooping and often hidden by the leaves, 3/4" long, six parted.
Fruit Capsule containing rounded seeds.

The common name, False Oat, indicates the resemblance of the flower to the drooping oat. The scientific name is in honor of William Oakes, an early New England botanist.



Early June.

Barbarea vulgaris - Mustard family.

A path of yellow in field, meadow, and waste places.

Root Long, fibrous.
Stem Erect, 1'-2' high, simple, smooth.
Leaves Lower leaves 2"-5" long, toothed, lobed, the terminal divisions much larger than the lateral ones. Upper leaves sometimes clasping.
Flower Bright yellow, four petals, six stamens, 1/3"-1/4" across.
Fruit Pods, spreading, 1" long.

A similar appearing plant is Brassica nigra, page 37, a widely-branched species, hairy, never with clasping upper leaves.

This plant is one of the commonest spring weeds that bloom in fields, waste places, and along roadsides. In ancient times it was known as the herb of St. Barbara.



Late May - Early June

Brassica nigra - Mustard family.

Another yellow weed of field, meadow and roadside.

Root Fibrous.
Stem Freely and widely branching, hairy.
Leaves Lower 2"-5" long, toothed, deeply lobed, terminal lobe large. Upper leaves lance-shaped and not clasping.
Flower Bright yellow, 1/4"-1/2" broad.
Fruit Pods, pressed against the stem, 1/2" - 3/4" long.

This plant bears the scientific name of the Cabbage.

A very common field weed.



Early June-July

Clintonia borealis - Lily family.

Along the borders of woodland streams in the cool moist shade of the evergreens grows the lily-like Clintonia.

Root Slender and deep.
Flower Stalk 6"-16" high, bearing 2-6 flowers, sheathed by basal leaves.
Leaves 2-5 leaves, oblong pointed, 4"-7" long, dark glossy green.
Flower Yellow, slight green tinge, 3/4" long, nodding. Six petals, six sepals, six stamens, ovary 2-celled.
Fruit Round blue berries on upright stems.

Many plants bear the name of some well-known botanist or famous person. Clintonia is in honor of DeWitt Clinton, once Governor of New York and an ardent amateur botanist.

The blue berry of the Clintonia fruit is a rare case of pure blue color in nature. The purplish tinge usually found in blue colors is absent here.


"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."




May - June

Lonicera caerulea var. villosa - Honeysuckle family.

Common on low ground and in bogs, also frequent on mountain slopes and summits.

Stem Erect, shrub-like.
Leaves Elliptical or oblong, rarely slightly oval, toothless, light green above, paler beneath, conspicuously net-veined, 1"-2-1/2" long.
Flowers Pale honey yellow, five-lobed, honeysuckle-like, about 2/3" long, in pairs at base of leaves.
Fruit Ovaries unite and form a single cadet blue or gray-black berry, 1/5" in diameter, ovoid-spherical, with two eyes; edible.

This plant is a relative of the common honeysuckle of cultivation which is usually cross-fertilized by the larger long-tongued bees, moths, and butterflies, as well as the humming bird.




Medeola virginiana - Lily family.

Found in the cool, moist, shaded woodlands.

Root Fleshy, 1"-3" long.
Stem 1'-2-1/2' tall, bearing a lower whorl of leaves above the middle.
Leaves Of the lower whorl close to the stem, 2-1/2"-5" long, 1"-2" wide, pointed at the apex, narrowed at the base, 3-5 nerved and net-veined; leaves of the upper whorl 1"-2" long, 1/2"-1" wide.
Flower Yellow umbrella-like cluster of 2-9 flowers, nodding, appearing spidery.
Fruit Erect, dark purple berry.

The crisp, juicy root tastes somewhat like cucumber and was relished by the Indians, hence the common name.



Early June

Potentilla canadensis - Rose family.

Abundant in dry fields, on hillsides and along roadways.

Roots Long slender runners from a leafy tuft, 3" to 2' long.
Stem Long, smooth.
Leaves Five thin, coarsely-toothed, finely veined leaflets; oblong in shape, narrowed toward base; lighter on under side, 1/2" to 1" long.
Flowers Yellow, single flower; 5 broad, oval petals; numerous stamens; petals notched at apex.

The name "Potentilla" is derived from potens, refers to the medicinal properties of some of this meaning powerful and group.



Early June.

Ranunculus acris - Crowfoot family.

One of the common buttercups of field and meadows.

Root Fibrous.
Leaves Hairy, branched and less hairy above, deep green, 2'-3' high, hollow and stout.
Leaves 3-7 stemless divisions divided into linear segments, cut and slashed, only upper ones showing simple 3 parted figure, 1"-4" long.
Flowers 1" broad, 5 broad petals, overlapping, set on long stem, bright yellow, inner surface glossy, outer, dull and paler.

Naturalized from the old country.

Acrid juice, if stem carried in mouth, causes blisters to appear on the lips and tongue. Hence, it is sometimes called Blister Flower.

The scientific name is from the Latin, rana, meaning "a small frog", applied by Pliny because ome of the Crowfoots grew where frogs were plentiful.



May - August

Ranunculus bulbosus - Buttercup family.

Open sunny fields and meadows are often dotted with the yellow cup of this plant.

Root Bulbous, thickened at base.
Stem Erect, hairy.
Leaves Deep green, three divided, decoratively cut, wedge shaped, 1-1/2" long, 1"-2" wide.
Flower Yellow, 1" across, green sepals bent downward, petals roundish.

Over fifty species of insects visit the common buttercups.

The buttercups abound undisturbed in pastures and fields, for a very interesting reason. Certain relatives of Aconite and Larkspur have poisonous qualities, and the kinship is evident in the acrid, caustic juice of the buttercup. Because of this juice horses and cattle intentionally avoid the buttercups and leave them free to abound in any pasture land.

When dried as hay, the buttercup loses its acrid juice and makes good fodder.



Late May - September

Taraxacum officinale - Composite family.

Found in fields and waste places.

Root Thick, deep, 10" long, bitter.
Flower Stalk Erect, hollow, milky.
Leaves Oblong to spatulate, acute, coarsely toothed, 3"-10" long, 1/2"-2-1/2" wide.
Flowers A head, golden yellow, solitary, 1"-2" across, containing 100-150 tiny florets; sepals united into a tube, petals strap-shaped, stamens, 5.
Fruit Seeds ribbed, rough, soft, silky, hair-like projections at apex of each seed.

The dandelion blooms early and late in all kinds of soil.

The name Dandelion is said to be a corruption of the French "dent-de-lion", meaning lion's tooth and referring to the leaf outline which is said to resemble that of the lion's tooth.

"Dear common flower that grow'st beside the way
Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold."




Late May - June

Pedicularis canadensis - Figwort family.

Usually found in meadows and along stream banks, occasionally in very open moist woods.

Root Tough, fibrous.
Flowering Stalks Several springing from the center of a leaf cluster, 6"-18" high.
Leaves Soft, hairy, dull dark green and finely lobed, 3"-5" long and fern-like.
Flowers Greenish yellow and crimson. Each complete flower resembles the head of the walrus, even to the tusks.
Fruit A sword-shaped, flat capsule.

Looking straight down on the blossom one immediately notices the rip-saw symmetry. The name Pedicularis means louse and was applied by farmers who thought that when sheep ate the plant they developed lice. The plant belongs to a family of nearly 2,700 species, most of them yielding narcotic poisons.

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