Newfoundland: A Few More Wildflowers

And, back to Newfoundland, with a few more wildflowers I found in various locations,

Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea; Asteraceae) is found in Canada, New England, the northern Mid-Atlantic, the upper Mid-West, and the mountainous West; in Maryland it’s only in a few scattered locations.


Oyster plant (Mertensia maritima; Boraginaceae) is found on beaches in northern North America and parts of Europe. I found it in Iceland last summer and specifically went looking for it when driving past Birchy Cove. It’s closely related to our showy native Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica).

Roundleaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia; Droseraceae) is a carnivorous plant with circumboreal distribution; in the US it’s found in New England, the Appalachians, the upper Mid-West, scattered locations in the West, Canada and Greenland. In Maryland it’s found in Garret County and parts of the Coastal Plain. Look for it in sunny wetlands (bogs, fens, and so on).

Gall-of-the-earth (Prenanthes trifoliata, formerly Nabalus trifoliatus or N. trifoliolatus; Asteraceae) is found in a variety of dry habitats in eastern Canada, New England, and south through the Appalachians. It’s endangered in Ohio, and though not on the RTE list in Maryland, is only known in Talbot County. Apparently it (and/or other Prenanthes species) was used in folk medicine, and has an exceedingly bitter taste, hence the common name.

Scots lovage (Ligusticum scoticum; Apiaceae) grows in rocky areas along the coasts of northern North America and Europe. It’s endangered in Connecticut and New York and special concern in Rhode Island. Supposdely it’s edible, tasting like lovage, which is to say like really strong celery.

Striped or creeping toadflax (Linaria repens; Plantaginaceae) is an alien found in only a few spots in North America. It’s native to Europe, and closely related to the more commonly occurring alien weed known as butter-and-eggs (L. vulgaris).


I spotted this Myosotis species (Boraginaceae) and photographed it from a great distance; there was no way to get close enough for a better picture or identification. The forget-me-nots are notoriously difficult to identify, as are their close relatives the phacelias, about which I’ve complained many times in this blog. But that borage blue is a beacon.

Yellow pond lily (Nuphar variegata, sometimes N. lutea ssp. variegata; Nymphaeaceae) is widespread in ponds across the northern US and Canada; it’s endangered in Ohio. The USDA PLANTS Database shows it present in Maryland but the Maryland Biodiversity Project has no records for it. The closely related spatterdock (N. advena) is found all over Maryland, though, including water pockets in cliffs in the Potomac Gorge.

In the same family is fragrant water lily, Nymphaea odorata. As you can see from the picture, I found both species growing together in one of the inunmerable ponds in the center of the Bonavista peninsula. Frgrant water lily can be found in almost every state and province of the US and Canada.

American burnet (Sanguisorba canadensis; Rosaceae) is native to the eastern US and Canada as well as the Pacific Northwest; sadly, it’s threatened or endangered in nine states, including Maryland. It’s an eye-catching plant with its tall, fluffy spikes of flowers. Look for it growing in bogs and other wet areas (including roadsides).

Roseroot (Rhodioloa rosea, formerly Sedum rosea; Crassulaceae) is a subarctic plant found in a few parts of northern North America as well as in Iceland and Europe. I saw this one specimen flowering near Spillar’s Cove and am really kicking myself for not taking the time to get better pictures.

Open for Business

Today “Elizabeth’s Wildflower Blog” is really “Elizabeth’s Native Plant Blog”, because although Chelone glabra is common and found almost everywhere in Maryland, I’ve never seen it in the wild. These photos are of a specimen in my garden.

Also known as white turtlehead, this plant is in the Plantaginaceae, or plantain family. Older sources and many on-line sources place it in the Scrophulariaceae, but that family was gutted by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group.

The plants stand two to three feet tall, often with a single central stem but sometimes with a branch or two. As you can see, pruning (by rabbits, darn them) seems to encourage branching. The flowers are borne on terminal spikes, and have two petals, the upper one forming a hood over the lower one, which sometimes has two or three faint lobes.

White turtlehead like wet soils in open woodlands, and ranges east of the Mississippi River from the upper South northwards into Canada; west of the Mississippi it’s found in parts of Missouri and Minnesota. It’s listed as exploitably vulnerable in New York.

Not only have I never seen this plant in the wild, I’ve also never seen a Baltimore checkerspot. I had hoped to, because white turtlehead is their host plant. Fortunately turtlehead also attracts bumblebees. They crawl all the way up into the flower and stay for a minute or more. You can’t even tell there’s a bee in a flower except for the shaking that happens as the bee does its thing.

The Alien Speedwells

There are a lot of low-growing, blue-flowering aliens out there now, like the periwinkle I wrote about two days ago, or the mint family weeds I’ll be writing about next. Among these are the speedwells (genus Veronica, in the Plantaginaceae).

Of the 30 or so species of Veronica that can be found in North America, about two-thirds are alien. There may be as many as 17 species in Maryland; of these one may be native (sources vary), another is a fairly common native, and a third is a listed S1/Endangered native.

So if you find a speedwell in the field, it’s likely an alien. They can be pesky to distinguish, since in many cases close examination of the tiny leaves is necessary.

Trying to differentiate between bird’s eye speedwell (V. persica, pictured above) and ivy-leaved speedwell (V. hederifolia, sometimes spelled V. hederaefolia) was making me crazy, so I finally collected a few samples. In this picture, ivy-leaved speedwell is on the left, and bird’s-eye speedwell is on the right. The main differences are in the leaves. The former has leaves with 3-5 palmately compound lobes, hairy margins and hairy tops. The latter has much smoother leaves that are deeply indented (crenate or dentate).


This is V. hederifolia. Click on the picture for a closer look at just how hairy the leaves are.



This pretty awful picture from a few years ago shows just enough detail to identify the plant as corn speedwell, V. arvensis. The giveaway here is that the uppermost leaves are elongated, almost triangular in outline, with entire margins. The lower leaves of this species are rounder and toothed. Note its size compared to the blade of grass cutting across the upper left corner.

Here’s another old picture. Without details about the rest of the plant, I can’t say for certain, but it sure does look like the inflorescence of common speedwell, V. officinalis. As an aside, take a look at the flower. If you didn’t look closely and tried to key it out using Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide*, you could easily fall into the trap of calling it radially symmetrical, with four petals. But the bottommost petal isn’t the same shape as the others, which means it is bilaterally symmetrical; in Newcomb’s key it falls under “irregular”.

Last one. Again, I’m not certain, but the longish, smooth-margined, sessile leaves in pairs (more visible in other but worse pictures that I have) lead me to ID this as water speedwell, V. anagallis-aquatica. Another clue is habitat: I found it in a very wet, mucky area along the Potomac. It could also be American brooklime, V. americana, but in that species the leaves have more pronounced teeth along the margins, and the leaves have very short petioles.

I’m not an expert and had some trouble learning this genus, so if you disagree with any of my IDs please leave a comment!

*Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide is one of the best ID books for eastern North America flowers; the first question in the key is about symmetry.



Culver’s root
Veronicastrum virginicum
(formerly Scrophulariaceae)


I’m partial to tiny, subtle flowers, but it’s hard not to love a plant like this. Although the individual flowers are small, they’re crowded into dense spikes up to eight inches long. The spikes occur in whorls in the upper nodes, surrounding a towering central spike. The whole effect is spectacular, especially when you find a plant that’s as tall or taller than you are.



seen from a distance; notice the Baptisia australis growing to the left


I first saw Culver’s root two years ago, growing along a slope so steep I had to almost climb to get to it. Earlier this year I saw a few plants growing next to the blue false indigo I was obsessed with; later I reported that they’d been browsed by something. But a few days ago they had bounced back, tall spikes filled with buds.



a little closer


To my delight I spied a third patch on the peninsula I visited (post from July 3), and interestingly the plants were growing right next to a big stand of blue false indigo. Clearly they enjoy they same growing conditions: wet soils in full sunlight. Culver’s root would be lovely in the back of a rain garden, maybe alongside joe pye weed. It’s a hardy, adaptable plant that is available in the nursery trade.



a whorl of spikes and leaves at the uppermost node


Worldwide there are about a dozen species of Veronicastrum, but V. virginicum is the only one in North America. It’s found in the eastern half of the US and Canada, as far west the the easternmost portions of the Great Plains states. It’s threatened in Massachusetts and New York and endangered in Vermont. In Maryland in grows in the Piedmont and part of the Coastal Plain (and in Garret County).


Small But Showy


lesser mohavea, aka golden desert snapdragon
Mohavea breviflora


And back to Death Valley…

Like so many other flowers I saw in Death Valley, lesser mohavea is found in the Mojave Desert of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. It’s an annual, growing to about eight inches tall.

Of course the common name makes me wonder, is there a greater mohavea? Apparently not. There’s only one other species in the genus (M. confertiflora), and its common name is ghostflower.



Bigelow monkeyflower
Mimulus bigelovii


While there are only two Mohavea species, there are 70 some Mimulus species, all but four of which are found in the western US. (I wrote last July about Allegheny monkeyflower and winged monkeyflower.) M. bigelovii has about the same range as lesser mohavea, stands at about the same height (though it can flower when much smaller), and is also an annual.