ACADIA NATURE NOTES
April - May
Amelanchier canadensis - Rose family.
Found in swamps and moist soil.
Throughout New England this plant is knovn by the common name Sugar Pear. It is frequently gathered to make jelly. As well as providing food for people, it is also food for many of the birds, especially the thrushes.
Other species of this vicinity and of similar aspect are A. laevis, A. oligocarpa, and A. oblonifolia.
PUSSY-TOES or LADIES TOBACCO
Late May - Early June
Antennaria plantaginifolia - Composite family.
Perennial, found in dry fields, hillside pastures, and open woods in early spring.
Antennaria is named from the resemblance of the flower husk, after fruiting, to the antennae of certain insects.
The flowering heads differ in appearance. Some are small and pointed (A; others larger and rather flat at the top (B). The smaller (A) which bear pistils only, are silvery white; the others are creamy white with brownish, orange-tipped stamens, which give a brownish color to the heads (B). After those heads have shed their pollen, which happens by early June, they droop, the stems wither, and a general collapse sets in. Their work is done. The others, the pointed pistillate heads, wax strong, the stems grow high, keeping level with the grass and their heads take on a tinge of color. By July the seeds are mature and the plant becomes lost in the surrounding foliage.
Aralia nudicaulis - Ginseng family
Perennial. Rich, shady, moist woods.
Pollinated by flies and bees.
The true plant stem hardly gets above the ground. The aromatic root is used as a substitute for the true sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis of Mexico and South America). It is popular as a general remedy for various aliments.
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi - Heath family.
On exposed, rocky ledges usually. on mountain slopes.
Largely restricted to mountain tops on Mt. Desert Island.
The scientific name means literally "a bear", "a berry".
MOUNTAIN SANDWORT or STARWORT
June - September
Arenaria groenlandica - Pink family.
Found on dry rocks, usually on mountain tops.
This common resident of the Cadillac Mountain summit is a native of Greenland and Labrador and was probably carried down to New England on the last continental ice sheet, 25,000 years ago.
May - September
Capsella Bursa-pastoris - Mustard family.
A common weed growing in fields, waste places and along roadsides.
Shepherd's Purse is one of the hardy weeds that send up seedlings in the autumn. The seedlings withstand the cold winter and bloom in the early spring.
The long blooming period from May to September is due to the fact that all the blossoms grow from the side of the stem, hence the growing tip, which never bears a blossom, can grow on as long as climate will allow.
The Latin name is literally a "shepherd's little purse".
Cerastium arvense - Pink family.
One of the commonest weeds of field, meadow and lawn.
The scientific name "Cerastium" is from the Greek "horn", referring to the shape of the pod.
This plant might be confused with Stellaria media. page 25. The differences are:
Cerastium arvense - petals longer than the sepals.
Another species found in this region is the Hairy Chickweed, C. vulgatum, which, true to its name, is very hairy throughout.
The little cares that fretted me
Late May - June
Chamaedaphne calyculata - Heath family.
Typical of bogs.
The scientific name is from the Greek meaning "laurel on the ground".
Along the edges of Mt. Desert's many fresh water ponds grows this dainty blossomed heath, occasionally standing in the water.
Late May - June
Chiogenes hispidula - Heath family.
Common in cool damp woods and peat bogs, frequent on hill-tops.
The name (Greek) means "snow-offspring"; it is appropriately dainty.
The Creeping Snowberry is found on Mt. Desert in very moist Sphagnum bogs.
Late May - June
Coptis groenlandica - Buttercup family.
Peeping through the wet, mossy floor of the evergreen forest is the Goldthread.
Named from the Greek "to cut", referring to the divided leaves. The golden root easily identifies this plant.
This root was used by the Indians for making a dye.
The dried root brewed as tea is also used for the treatment of mouth canker.
How lovely is the forest deep
DWARF CORNEL or BUNCHBERRY
Cornus canadensis - Dogwood family.
Common in cool, moist woodlands.
The blossom is a copy of that of the Flowering Dogwood, having a similar, great white involucre whose four leaves look like four white petals, so that the blossom, which is rather unusual, looks like a single, large, white flower with a greenish center. This greenish center is really a bunch of tiny green tubular florets, each of which will in autumn produce a bright scarlet berry.
The berry, considered edible, has a rather dry, pulpy taste.
Fragaria virginiana - Rose family.
Found in rough dry pasture lands and fields.
Scientific name from the Latin, fraga, meaning fragrant.
Whittier crystallized a well-remembered experience when he spoke of the "Barefoot Boy":
"With thy red lips; redder still
BLUETS or INNOCENCE
May - July
Houstonia caerulea - Madder family.
Growing in tufts in grassy places both moist and dry.
Pollinated by flies, bees and butterflies.
Houstonia, named in honor of Doctor William Houston, an early English botanist.
The blossoms are set on the tip of the stem, where they nod in the bud, but are erect in bloom. In color they fade from sky-blue to white, but the yellow eye remains. The flowers are extremely sensitive to atmospheric conditions; at night and in rainy weather the blossoms bend down, to become erect again when sunshine appears.
Late May - Early June
Ledum groenlandicum - Heath family.
Found in bogs and on rocky mountain slopes in moist situations.
The leaves of this plant are astringent and frequently used as a substitute for tea, hence the common name. When crushed the leaves give off a slight turpentine odor.
Late May - June
Perennial. Open woods and roadsides.
The Canada Mayflower appears in open, sunny woodlands where the soil is thin and composed largely of leaf-mould, and gathers about the trunks of trees or upon the few inches of soil above rocks. These leaves have a certain likeness to those of Smilacina and of Solomon's Seal but are shorter, more rounded, and heart-shaped at base.
The fruit is a favorite food of the Grouse.
TRUE SOLOMON'S SEAL
Polygonatum biflorum - Lily family.
Found in woods and thickets.
This plant was formerly used in healing bruises, wounds, and skin eruptions particularly about the eyes. It has also been used in the manufacture of cosmetics. The berries are reputed to be poisonous.
The scientific name literally means "many knees", referring to the joint of the rootstock. The scar left where the stem breaks away from the rootstock is said to resemble King Solomon's Seal, hence the common name.
Prunus virginiana - Rose family
Grows in all types of soil in field, meadows and along roadsides. On Mt. Katahdin up to 4,000 feet altitude.
This plant is often called the Bird Cherry, because such birds as the thrushes, vireos, and sparrows eat the fruit.
Make me a home in the forest,
Pyrus arbutifolia - Rose family.
Common in moist situations and in woods.
Also found on the mountains here is Pyrus melanocarpa, a lower shrub with very dark, almost black fruit.
The name Pyrus is the classical name of the common pear of cultivation, Pyrus communis, and the common apple, Pyrus malus.
The common name indicates the power of the berry to constrict the throats of those who eat it because of its astringent quality.
Rubus triflorus - Rose family.
Found in meadows, fields and open woods.
The name Rubus is close to the Roman "ruber" meaning red.
This plant is a relative of the common raspberry and blackberry, but unlike these has a rather strong acid taste, and consequently is not picked for eating.
Sambucus racemosa - Honeysuckle family.
In rocky places, along roadsides.
Another species not so common here is Sambucus canadensis, which has broad flat flower clusters.
The berries of this plant are sometimes used to brew a wine.
Saxifraga virginiensis - Saxifrage family
Exposed rocks and hillsides in both moist and dry situations.
Name from saxum, a rock, and frango, to break, referring to the habit of several species of growing upon rocks.
The roots of this plant grow down into the crevices and cracks in the rocks and assist in the process of weathering, which makes soil from rocks.
FALSE SOLOMON'S SEAL, WILD SPIKENARD
May - June
Smilacina racemosa - Lily family.
Perennial herb of moist woods and thickets.
Pollinated by bees, flies and beetles.
Each tiny flower of the plume has six white sepals, six stamens, and a pistil. In midsummer a cluster of speckled, pale-red aromatic berries crowns the stem and invites the birds.
Three-leaved False Solomon's Seal
Late May, Early June.
Smilacina trifolia - Lily family.
Found in bogs or wet woods.
Canada Mayflower is often confused with this species, the essential differences are:
This plant grews in cold bogs from Labrador to New Jersey and westward to British Columbia.
Stellaria media - Pink family.
In waste places, meadows and weeds.
The chickweeds are reputedly good for birds especially the canary.
The scientific name of the plant is from "stella", meaning star and referring to the star-shaped flowers.
Late May - June
Trientalis americana - Primrose family.
The star flower seeks the cool moist shade of the evergreen forest.
This graceful star of the woodland produces no nectar, and is a rare instance of floral parts appearing in sevens. Usually floral parts appear in fives, threes or multiples of these.
The name "Trientalis" means a third of a foot and refers to the usual height of the plant.
Go slowly; we have hurried for so long
May - June
Trillium undulatum - Lily family.
In the shady damp woods dwells this commonest of the Mt. Desert trilliums.
Common name for the beautiful coloring of the petals. "Trillium", meaning "three" since all the parts appear in threes.
This is the only Trillium common on Mt. Desert, the other, Trillium erectum, being very rare here, but common on the mainland.
This is one flower that should not be picked because picking means the destruction of the entire plant, leaves, stem and blossom.
SWEET or LOW BLUEBERRY
Vaccinium pennsylvanicum - Heath family.
Open, exposed, rocky places.
The valuation of the wild blueberry crop reaches approximately millions of dollars annually. In blueberry districts the yearly shipment from one small town often brings in about ten or twenty thousand dollars.
Ordinary plants would die of poison or starvation in the very acid soil demanded by the blueberry.
Viburnum alnifolium - Honeysuckle family.
The Hobble Bush is common in cool, damp woods.
The branches often droop to the ground and take root, forming loops which may trip up a careless wayfarer; hence the common name.
Another species, Viburnum cassinoides, Withe-rod, blooms on mountain slopes later in June.
Late May - Early June
Nemopanthus mucronata - Holly family.
In damp, cool woods on mountain slopes.
This plant should not be confused with the mountain holly of New York State (Ilex monticola) which is frequently a tree 20' to 25' high and 6" to 8" in diameter.
The red fruit of Ilex verticillata (winterberry) is very similar to that of the mountain holly, except the fruit of the latter is on long slender stalks.
The Holly family is generally characterized by small inconspicuous flowers and the colorful fruit which makes one of our prettiest Christmas decorations.
SWEET WHITE VIOLET
Viola blanda - Violet family
Swamps and moist lands.
This is the smallest of the violets and also one of the earliest to bloom, a tiny creature of the spring nestling in a mossy or grassy bank. In the type the small white petals are broad and rounded, but the type varies into varieties; one with upper petals long, narrow, and somewhat recurved, often boarded and less distinctly veined; another with broader leaves, loving woods and thickets, the white blossoms beardless and veined. All are white, all stemless, and all most attractive and beautiful.
Other species found here are the lance-leaved V. lanceolata and V. palleus, similar to V. blanda.
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