Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dull Day, Brilliant Blooms

Well, the Glorious Fourth did not have very glorious weather here in Saratoga: cloudy, windy, and cool. But that didn't stop some mid-summer flowers from bursting into glorious bloom.

I found these splendid Canada Lilies (Lilium canadense) growing along the path at Bog Meadow Nature Preserve. I used to find a whole meadow of them, in all their colors from yellow through orange to pinky red, in a wet meadow near Ballston Lake. But then somebody mowed the whole field. Sic transit gloria flora (or something like that). I hope the mower got stuck in the mud. I do see these lilies now and then along roadsides, and thankfully, every summer now at Bog Meadow. They dangle from their stalks like lanterns, so you have to tip them up to see their pretty freckled faces.

The season for Willow Herbs (Epilobium sp.) has just begun, and except for Great Willow Herb (E. angustifolium), which showily blazes across acres of burned-over land, most of our native species of this genus are quite small and delicately colored. But the non-native Hairy Willow Herb (E. hirsutum) pictured here is anything but. Bushy and tall (often over six feet), it bears bright magenta blooms over one inch across, and puts on quite a show for a common roadside weed.

But when it comes to showiness, Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) has got to take top prize. As brilliant an orange as orange can be, it's a favorite of (what else?) many butterflies. I found masses of these Milkweed Family plants thriving in a clearing of the Skidmore Woods.

Speaking of milkweed, I once again found a bug entrapped by the snares of Common Milkweed flowers. (See post for June 26) Look close and you'll see a lot of tiny hairs littered about. Looks like this critter has denuded its legs in the struggle. This time I tried to free its legs by carefully pulling the flower apart, without pulling off the bug's legs at the same time. It worked! Bug didn't stop to say thank you, but flew off in a hurry. Happy Independence Day, little bug! Now watch where you put your feet.

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