Meanwhile, Back in Cabin John…


horsebalm, aka richweed, horseweed, stone root
Collinsonia canadensis

I’m not sure that there’s anything particularly special or interesting about this plant.  It has some medicinal uses.  It’s found throughout most of the eastern US and Canada.  It’s endangered in Wisconsin.  There are three other species of Collinsonia in the US, none of which are found in Maryland.  I’m not sure what else to say about it.


Except this: even if it’s supposedly a fairly common plant, I have only ever found one stand of it, which makes it special.  There are perhaps three or four plants in this stand, growing atop a boulder alongside Cabin John Creek, almost but not quite above my head.


This makes them tricky to photograph.  Because of nearby large vegetation, the plants are always in shade. Since they’re so close to the creek, they’re always being blown around a little.  It’s easy to deal with motion or with lack of light, but not both at the same time, especially if you want to zoom in close to see the fascinating little details.


The flowers are quite small.

And intriguing.

Flower of the Day: Horse Balm

Collinsonia canadensis; Lamiaceae (mint family)

20140807-DSC_0111  20140807-DSC_0112

The Cabin John Trail irritates me.  It’s overused and in poor condition, treacherous when wet, sometimes smelling from the sewer main it follows… and yet I’ve found some great plants there.  On August 7 I walked along the stream looking for goatsbeard (FOTD June 9), wanting to see what it looked like in seed (still pretty impressive), when I spied something else growing out of the rocks over the creek.  Something I’d never seen before, or even heard of.

I love when that happens.

Horse balm is a big plant, growing to five feet tall and three feet across.


The leaves have a pleasant scent (as so many mints do); the plant was used medicinally by Native Americans and settlers.  It’s native to eastern US and Canada, and endangered in Wisconsin.

Here’s what the goatsbeard looked like, by the way: