Breezy Monday Morning

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) is just starting to bloom along the river

It’s ten o’clock Monday morning, and although the temperature is only about 82 °F on the Billy Goat B trail, I’m pouring sweat from the high humidity.

Verbena urticifolia (white vervain) deigned to hold still for a split second





Fortunately, there’s a nice breeze blowing to keep me cool.

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (narrow-leaved mountain mint) starting to open






Hiker Elizabeth with her sixteen pound daypack loves it.

Ruellia caroliniensis (hairy wild petunia) peeking through some Chasmanthium latifolium (woodoats)






Photographer Elizabeth, trying to get nice flower pics, is deeply annoyed.

Circaea lutetiana (enchanter’s nightshade)






Seemed like I couldn’t get good pictures of anything. I had gone to shoot enchanter’s nightshade, a medium-sized, shade-loving forb with a wispy stem and tiny flowers, easily moved by the breeze.




The flower has an unusual structure, with only two petals, so deeply cleft that they appear to be four, two sepals, two stamens, one style, and an inferior ovary.

an unusually colorful fleabane (probably Erigeron annuus)


Other plants currently blooming include:

  • fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)
  • white avens (Geum canadense)
  • trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans)
  • honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis)
  • bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix)
  • water willow (Justicia americana)
  • lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus)
  • blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
  • common cattail (Typha latifolia)
  • and even a few goldenrod! (Solidago species)

Monotropa uniflora (ghost pipes) turn fully upward towards the end of blooming

Enchanter’s Nightshade, When the Petals Have Fallen


Circaea lutetiana; Onagraceae

As I’ve written before, there’s a lot of beauty and interest up close.  And it isn’t just about the flowers.  Pictured above is a section of the raceme* with the ovaries left after the petals drop, all covered in tiny hairs.  Isn’t that neat?


*a raceme is an unbranched stem bearing flowers that are attached by pedicels

Flower of the Day: Enchanter’s Nightshade


Circaea lutetiana
aka Circaea quadrisulcata


Standing one to three feet tall, this woodland forb has tiny, white, two-petaled flowers. The petals are so deeply cleft that you’d think there are four.


Enchanter’s nightshade’s native range is from the Great Plains east to the Atlantic, north into Canada, and all the way south (except Florida).

The USDA Plants database shows two other species of Circaea in North America; one (C. alpina) is a much shorter plant found throughout much of the US (not the southern Mid-West or deep South) that is endangered or extirpated in several states; the other (C. x intermedia) is a naturally-occurring cross between C. lutetiana and C. alpina.

I spent awhile surfing the internet looking for some interesting facts or trivia about this plant, and came up with nothing, other than confirmation of my observation that summer-flowering woodland plants tend to have very small white flowers.  Enchanter’s nightshade isn’t going to knock your socks off with its beauty, unless you pause long enough to get a good, close look at the flowers.


I actually do find it enchanting.

ps – look closely at the upper sepal in the top photo; see the aphids?