Another Blue Thing

Forked bluecurls (Trichostema dichotomum) is a small annual forb in the Lamiaceae, easy to miss because the flowers are small, too. It’s worth stopping to take a close look, though, because the color is stunning, and mint family flowers are just nifty.




For detailed information about forked bluecurls, see this post from 2016.Many thanks to my friend B for posting about this find on social media; I hadn’t seen forked bluecurls in years, and dropped everything to go photograph them.

“It Sounds Seussian”

My friend P wrote that when I posted a picture of purple-headed sneezeweed (Helenium flexuosum) on social media. I included a few pictures in my August 7 post here, but want to share a few more. It’s such a photogenic flower!  That’s a pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos) sitting on the flower head.

Here are a few more pictures from my August ramblings on the banks of the Potomac.



fogfruit, aka frogfruit (Phyla lanceolata; Verbenaceae)





blue vervain (Verbena hastata; Verbenaceae)








riverbank goldenrod (Solidago racemosa; Asteraceae)




tall meadow rue (staminate flowers; Thalictrum pubescens; Ranunculaceae)



Another “Swamp” Plant

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata; Apocynaceae) is found in habitats similar to swamp candles (see previous post).  They’re pretty easy to distinguish from common milkweed (A. syriaca): the flowers are a richer, more saturated pink color, and are borne in flatter, sparser clusters; also the leaves of swamp milkweed are much more narrow.

I don’t have much of anything new to say about them (see this post from 2017); I just wanted to share a few pictures from early August.

Click on each picture to see it better.



Seven years ago while taking an evening walk along the Potomac, Steve spotted a yellow-flowering plant lighting up the dusk.

This year I went back to the same place and was happy to find that swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris; Primulaceae) still bloom there.

This species grows up to three feet tall, preferring wet soils. Various authorities state that flowers are borne on terminal racemes, but I often see axillary racemes growing sideways, as shown in the top photo.

Swamp candles are native to eastern North America, ranging from Manitoba to Newfoundland and south to Georgia; they’re also found in a few places in the Pacific northwest, apparently introduced by accident*.

Whenever I see plants like this in wild places, I wonder why they aren’t common in horticulture. This is a handsome plant with beautiful flowers that last a reasonably long time. Surely there’s some place for it in the home landscape.

*the Native Plant Trust’s gobotany website