A Different View for Wildflowers

Cold weather has delayed the arrival of traditional, early spring wildflowers. This has led me to look up rather than down, searching for the lesser known flowers of trees and shrubs. They can be stunning, but often require magnification to be appreciated.

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One of the many species of shrubby willows (Salix); a critical food source for bees in early spring

 

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Red maple (Acer rubrum) in full bloom

Photos by NB Hunter. ©All Rights Reserved.

 

Meadows on Fire: Monarchs and Goldenrods

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Many of the goldenrods are going to seed now and temperatures are falling 20 – 30 degrees at night. Fall is arriving .. and butterfly season is coming to an end. Monarch sightings in September are now a special treat. Warm, sunny afternoons find them nectaring with a purpose and sense of urgency, fluttering from flower to flower, goldenrod to aster, in a fast-paced and unpredictable manner.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Goldenrod Meadows and Summer’s End

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Goldenrod honey in the making

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White Admiral

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Cabbage Whites planning ahead

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A Cabbage White butterfly caught in the web of life; one of two

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Monarchs: a species at risk; one of two

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Fruiting Bodies!

Woodlands come alive in late summer as fungi and related plants respond to warm, moist growing conditions with visible forms of their life cycles. Fruiting bodies of myriad shapes, sizes and colors appear, sometimes overnight (they thrive in darkness!). The show can be every bit as rewarding as the spring flush of wildflowers…and just as fleeting too.

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Mushrooms emerging through a layer of spruce needles

 

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Coral Fungus

The Ghost Plant (Indian Pipe) made its way into this series on fungi because it lacks chlorophyll and can grow in the dark. In reality, it is a non-photosynthetic flowering plant that parasitizes the beneficial mycorrhizal fungi associated with tree roots.

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The Ghost Plant (Indian Pipe)

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Spindle Fungus

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Hummingbirds in Late Summer

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Our hummingbirds will be gone in a month so I’m savoring every moment with these little marvels. Numbers have peaked, boosted by the young of the year, and all are feeding voraciously in preparation for the long journey to the Gulf Coast and Central America.

They’re devouring sugar water in feeders, in some cases swarming like bees and constantly fighting for position.

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Gardening for hummingbirds is a more natural and satisfying method of attracting and feeding hummers. Red and orange tubular flowers like this Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ can be dietary staples.

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Perches near feeders are my favorite setting for observing and photographing hummers. Portraits that capture the nuances of perching behavior shed an entirely different light on a species best know for its aerial magic!

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When out and about in the summer months, I often think about hummingbirds foraging in natural areas, apart from the direct influence of man and artificial feeding practices. Are there tubular flowers blooming in the wild now? If not, what are the hummers feeding on? Three native species come to mind: Bee-balm (Monarda), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia) and Jewelweed (Touch-me-not; Impatiens).

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Jewelweed or Touch-me-not (Impatiens) in early August

Photos by NB Hunter. All Rights Reserved.