Flower of the Day: Bunchberry


Cornus canadensis; Cornaceae (dogwood family)

Now I’m cheating.  According to the USDA, bunchberry can be found in Maryland.  But it’s a northern plant that doesn’t like the heat and humidity of mid-Atlantic piedmont summers (I should know, I’ve tried growing it often enough), so you won’t find it in the Potomac gorge.  You might be able to find it in the westernmost part of the state (Garrett County), at the higher elevations. Or maybe not; it’s endangered there, as well as in Indiana and Illinois.  And it’s threatened in Iowa and Ohio.

This one I found on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, in September (very unusual for it to be blooming so late in the year), in the boreal forest region.

Really looks like our common flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), doesn’t it? But it isn’t a tree or shrub; it’s a groundcover, standing less than a foot high.



More Seeds

Milkweed (Asclepias).  Didn’t see the plant in flower, so I can’t say which species.  October 28, Shenandoah National Park, parking lot at Riprap Hollow trailhead.


closeup of seeds








unripe pods not quite ready


fly!  be free!






I just love how they form little balloons as they’re getting ready to go…





…and embrace the sky


Flowers may be done blooming, but some plants are still beautiful.



These three pictures are of fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), which I found in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick this past September.  As you can see, it was already done flowering, but I couldn’t resist taking some close-up shots of the seeds.

Fireweed is in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae); it’s found in Canada and a few northern US states. 20140913-DSC_0186


Late in the afternoon of October 23rd, as I was starting to cook dinner, I remembered that a partial solar eclipse was about to begin.  I turned off the stove, threw a lid on the pot, grabbed my camera bag and dashed out the door just as Steve was coming home from work.  “Dinner in an hour or so, okay?”  I drove to a nearby spot, parked the car, then jogged a half mile to the riverbank and quickly set up my tripod.

If I had remembered sooner I could have reached a more scenic area.  But it was a cloudy day, and the eclipse wasn’t visible, and my hopes for strange magical evening light were dashed.  Still, I managed to get this: