Rhymes With Fuchsia

Monday, May 17, 2010

Makeup Monday

No, not the kind you wear: you may wear it, but I don't. But last week I had no Eye Candy Friday nor Saturday Sky; in my defense, I was somewhat preoccupied. I'm pleased to say that it's been six whole days since Taz has had any scary seizures — he's had a few, but they've been quite short, well under a minute, and presented with typical (for him) symptoms. Fingers crossed that the meds have kicked in, and let us have no more of this 20-minute nonsense.

Meanwhile, I'm playing catch-up, shape-up, makeup, now that I feel up to the task. Yesterday I took a lovely woodland ramble and visited many old springtime friends and one I didn't expect to see.

Starflowers (Trientalis borealis) and I have been friends almost as long as I can remember; they are so small, common yet elegant, part of the forest-floor springtime tapestry. They bewitch me also by their vagaries of number. Canonically the starflower has the unusual feature of being constructed in sevens: above its seven-leaf circle it bears one or two flowers, each having seven petals and seven sepals. I say canonically because, while most of them do conform to this fortunate pattern, some just have to be different. In the top picture above we have a good typical example, being kept company by an even more common flower, Maianthemum canadense, known variously as false lily of the valley, two-leaf Solomon-seal, and Canada mayflower. The middle picture shows a six-petal starflower above what appear to be six leaves; I did see one six-petal one crowning eight leaves, but I can't find the picture now. In any case, I find the bottom picture above the most interesting of all: one plant, eight leaves, two flowers, one with eight petals and one with seven.

Some of the eight-petal flowers look very well formed, like the example above, while on others two of the petals are slightly out of alignment and look as if a single petal split in half. This makes me wonder (again: alert readers may recall a previous post on this topic, proving that some of my obsessions can be quite long-lived) if flowers would really prefer to make even numbers of petals. Let's leave the starflower, however, and wander onward...

to another favorite, the jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). They are extremely common in our local woodland and elsewhere, but I think they are some of the coolest flowers around: one giant modified petal (or is it a sepal?) cleverly concealing a proud spathe that becomes a red-berried staff in autumn. One of these days I will find a way to knit one.

This moth seemed to be resting and drying its wings, which it refused to open for me, before moving on to whatever moths do in the daytime when there are no lamps to hover around. On a less sunny day or a slightly darker trunk I might not have seen it at all.

I have met this little critter before, but only here and there, Polygala paucifolia, fringed polygala or Gaywings. I stumbled over a whole colony of them yesterday, quite close to home. Later I will see if I can get a decent picture of the whole flock of them, looking like tiny, strangely proportioned airplanes with very odd propellers.

What would New England woods be without the pink ladyslipper (Cypripedium acaule)? I remember my mother's telling me very sternly that I must never ever pick them, and she and other mothers did their work well, for it seems to be out of danger at least in these parts.

All in all, it was a green and gold afternoon to restore my soul. I hope it gives you a little lift as well.


  • We have some wildflowers in common -- the starflowers grow here, although not commonly, and we have loads of the Canada mayflower on our property. They smell soooo good in spite of their almost inconspicuous size.

    No pink lady slipper here; I have never seen one. The showy lady slipper is the state flower of MN; never seen one of those either. When we lived in northern MN when I was a teenager we had yellow lady slippers growing in the woods between our house and the lake.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:16 AM  

  • A ladyslipper? How very,very cool! What a splendid, healing ramble.

    SO glad to hear the good news about Taz! Keeping you in my thoughts none-the-less.

    By Blogger Roxie, at 8:46 AM  

  • Thank you for all the beautiful pictures. So glad to hear things are back on an even keel again.

    By Blogger Joan, at 11:55 AM  

  • A pink lady slipper...so beautiful. Spring is restorative.

    By Blogger margene, at 1:45 PM  

  • So, the Arisaema is very cool because it CHANGES SEX! The plants start as male, and then at some point when they reach some size (can be smaller in some pops and bigger in others, I think it depends on the population size and sexual structure), they change to female. Wacko and cool, eh?

    And good gawd, it is lady's-slipper season at work. EVERY day, phone calls and emails about the rare flower they found. Well, sorry to disappoint, but it is not rare here. AND, in Maine, plants are private prop of the landowner, and there is no legislation regarding them, even the rare ones, so they can be picked or transplanted (though this typically doesn't work well w/ the orchids). However, Kat's showy lady's-slipper IS rare here, though not as rare as our ram's head lady's-slipper.

    Laws in other states vary though, so take care!

    More info here, http://www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mnap/faqs/cypripedium.htm

    By Blogger Lisa/knitnzu, at 6:16 PM  

  • Such beautiful flowers. We live on a 12-acre slice of old farm, but at the very edges it has bits of the old woodland, with trilliums and jack-in-the-pulpit, wild Canada ginger, and so on.

    Oh, but I love the picture of the creek and the green!

    By Blogger Alwen, at 7:26 PM  

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