Monday, July 31, 2017

A few native wildflowers

Most roadside wildflowers aren't native to North America so it makes a nice change of pace to point out a few that are actually natives

Canada Fleabane(Conyza canadensis)

Spreading Dogbane(Apocynum androsaemifolium)

Milkweed(Asclepias syriaca)

Some Pink and Purple July Flowers

Himalayan Balsam(Impatiens glandulifera) likes moist areas like the banks of Pinecrest creek

Deptford Pink(Dianthus_armeria) is a delicate little flower

Bitter-sweet Nightshade(Solanum dulcamara) is quite poisonous

Lady Bells(Campanula rapunculoides) are pretty but very hard to manage

Burdock(Arctium minus) have pretty flowers but are better known for their very large leaves

Chicory(Cichorium intybus)

Thursday, July 27, 2017



Gray catbird

These guys make quite a racket when you go by.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Three Clovers

There are three common clovers along the average roadside. White clover is the common clover in mowed grass with white flowers and a white chevron on the leaflets. Red clover which to my eyes really has purple flowers is much larger and grows in unmowed areas and verges. the leaflets of red clover is more diamond shape and a more irregular blotch in place of the clear chevron of white clover. The third clover is called Alsike clover, but I think of it just as pink clover as its flowers are pink. It also grows best in unmowed areas but it isn't as large as red clover. Its leaflets do not have a white mark on them

White Clover(Trifolium repens)

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Alsike Clover(Trifolium hybridum)

The roadside test-plots look to be testing Alsike clover as a roadside ground cover. Currently the area is left unmowed and many of the test-plots are rather weedy. The plots really look like a bit of a mess with a load of weedy flowers growing up to man height and some of the clover is turning brown. Perhaps some of the particulary weedy plots are control test plots. The nicest bit of the test plots are along the edge of the test-plots where the unmowed yarrow is blooming and smells like honey. In the picture below the honey bee is really appreciating the banquet the test plot is providing.

Honey Bee on Alsike Clover in test plot area

Friday, July 21, 2017


I've been meaning to find out the identity of these tall dandelion like flowers for years. They are a very common road-side flower and on the way up to the Laurentians last week the roadside was covered in them. The one in the above photo is growing in the experimental area beside Hunt-club, but there has been a patch of them by the 2011 planting area for years. They don't seem to spread easily into established grass or meadows as they haven't expanded into the 2011 planting area since the mowing stopped

Flowers of Smooth Perennial Sow-thistle(Sonchus arvensis) with Sow-thistle Aphids

Lower leaves of the perennial sow-thistle

As can be seen in the top photo they grow quite tall. There is another shorter spiny annual sow-thistle species that is less than a meter tall and has smaller flowers. A whole bunch of it is growing in one section of the experimental area but it has already finished flowering so I didn't get a picture. A picture of the leaves is below.

Leaves of the Spiny annual sow-thistle(Sonchus asper)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Misidentified flowers

This blog is really a journal of my progress learning about the natural world around me. Sometimes I make basic errors, thinking I know more than I actually do. Looking at the above picture I would have said I could identify all the flowers there, as I see them all the time. They are the common mix for god's roadside garden in July: Queen-Anne's Lace, purple vetch, birds-foot trefoil,philadelphia fleabane, and yarrow. But I wasn't quite right on at least two of those IDs. My field guide is sometimes quite stingy with pictures and the main page on fleabanes highlights the philadelphia fleabane not the Annual fleabane(Erigeron Annuus) which is a better match for the common flower around here. As for purple vetch, well that is what I've always called that since I was a young lad, which is a perfectly good descriptive name, unfortunately that name is taken by another species of vetch and the common vetch we have around here is called Tufted vetch(Vicia cracca). I've still got lots to learn.

Annual fleabane(Erigeron Annuus)

A bumble bee on Tufted vetch(Vicia cracca)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Black Medic

I've never been exactly confident on my identification of this common lawn plant as Black Medic(Medicago lupulina) since my guide book doesn't give a good sense of its size and there is another common flower that is very similar but with flowers that are 2 to 3 times larger. So in the above photo notice the tiny syrphid fly; those little guys are a bit smaller than mosquitoes. Around here, this is a "weed" in lawns that thrives where the grass doesn't do well, like by the sidewalk in my lawn. As it's green and can be mown, it is welcome in my lawn any time.

I finally took the time to go through and figure out what it was using the web. There are 3 species of hop clover that are very similar to black medic. Since it isn't the right time of year to see the seedpods the identifying feature that nailed it for me was the tiny spike at the end of each leaflet on Black Medic. A couple of websites pointed this out as a way to distinguish black medic from its look-alikes. The look-alike I find around here (that really doesn't look very similar when you compare the real thing side by side) is Hop Clover(Trifolium aureum). Below are close-ups of the two flowers

Black Medic (Medicago lupulina)

Hop Clover (Trifolium aureum)

Friday, July 7, 2017

More rain

I visited the north side of the berm today for the first time in a few weeks and got caught in a sudden thunderstorm while wandering around checking out all the new growth. This has been a very wet spring and for about a week at the end of June there wasn't a day without a good rain. I'm sure the trees aren't complaining but I'm ready for a dry spell. In one particularly damp, mosquitoey area there is a bumper crop of buttercups flowering.

Buttercups as far as the eye can see

The timothy grass was in bloom and it was attracting some sort of fly. About half the grass stalks had their own fly hanging out on them, presumably feeding. In previous years I've noticed that this grass is very popular with the two-spotted plant bugs (one is out of focus at bottom of photo) , but I hadn't noticed these flies before.

A fly on timothy grass

Rough-fruited Cinquefoil(Sulfur Cinquefoil)