Now that we are into the third week of July, the flowers of May and June are quickly ripening into fruits. Red baneberry (Actaea rubra) and twisted stalk (Streptopus amplexifolius) plants for instance are both sporting brilliant scarlet, red berries in the forest currently. Do not consume the baneberry!
Although fruits are quickly developing from the ovaries of former flowers, new summer flowers are also emerging. While many of us are familiar with the summer flowers of meadows and lawns such as clovers, milkweed, etc, there are also small woodland wildflowers and orchids that develop amongst the deep shade of our deciduos forests. Partridge-berry and pyrola flowers are starting to emerge. The flowers of the pyrola or shinleaf are a personal favorite of mine. A cluster of white flowers with long orange styles tops the slender green stalks of these plants, growing above shiny round shaped leaves. The flowers have a delicate smell reminiscent of lilys and they look quite wonderful alongside the trails in deep woods. Also to be found alongside the trail in shaded woods are the tiny, twin white flowers of partridgeberry. The flowers are sweet smelling and smell a bit like wintergreen. Look closely and you may find tiny insects devouring the sweet nectar on these flowers.
The fact that all of the flowers on partridgeberry come in pairs is quite interesting. In one flower the anther (male part) is shorter than the pistil (female part) while the other flower has the opposite arrangement. This is apparently to present self pollination, fostering genetic diveristy within the species. Quite a smart flower!
Pyrolas on the other hand have flowers with ten stamens and one pistil on opposite ends of the flower. Could this also be a strategy to prevent self fertilazation and thus favor the all important prservation of diversity? Just a thought. So get out and observe for yourself during these beautiful July days in the mountain forests.
Top Photo: Red baneberry
Bottom Photo: Partridgeberry in flower
AMC Naturalist Guide
Joe Dodge Lodge