I’ll be working in the garden.

I may not have any posts for the next few days.  I’m too old to keep up with my job, garden, photography and blogging.  It seems that the most important thing right now is my new granddaughter.  Norah Grace was born April 1st.  She was 4 weeks early – but she is catching up fast.  she is now over 8 pounds and eating quite well.

She is the beautiful flower that I’ll be concentrating on in my spare time.

Keep checking in ——  I’ll get more photos posted to Flickr and work on some posts for the blog n the next couple of days.

Garlic Mustard – Alliaria petiolata

Thers are a lot of these plants in our local woods. Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata was brought to the United States in as a culinary herb in the 1860′s. Since that time it has escaped from the garden to grow wild in much of the U.S.A.  In Ohio it has become very invasive and is choking out the native wildflowers that can not compete with its vigor.

Unlike most other invasive plants, once it has an introduction into a new location, it persists and spreads into undisturbed plant communities. In many areas of its introduction in Eastern North America, it has become the dominant under-story species in woodland and flood plain environments, where eradication is difficult. The insects and fungi that feed on it in its native habitat are not present in North America, increasing its seed productivity and allowing it to out-compete native plants.
In Europe, where it is native, there are many insects and fungi that eat, attack and live on this plant. Therefore it does not become invasive. A number of states in the U.S. have listed it as a noxious or restricted plant.

tons of garlic mustard
The leaves, flowers and fruit are edible as food for humans, and are best when young. They taste like a combination of both garlic and mustard, and are used in salads and pesto. Many find the leaves very acrid. When I have tasted them they were rather mild. They were once used as medicine.

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

I may update this again later – but that’s it for now.

Marsh marigold

Marsh Marigold – Caltha palustris

This is probably one of the showiest of all of the early blooming wildflowers. It is found in marshy areas and wet woods. It has 5 large bright yellow sepals (no petals), many yellow stamens The flowers are about 1 and 1/2 inches across. It forms loose clumps of large kidney or heart shaped waxy leaves, with hollow branching stems 12 to 18 inches tall. It is also known as Kingcup (especially in Great Brittan). The scientific name, Caltha palustris, comes from Caltha, from the Latin, “cup” — palustris, from the Latin, paluster, “boggy, marshy” It is from the order of Ranunculales, which includes the Buttercups.

Marsh Marigold - clump

The flowers are visited by a great variety of insects for pollen and for the nectar secreted from small depressions, one on each side of each carpel. Carpels form into green sac-like follicles to 1cm long, each opening to release several seeds. It flowers early April and is very valuable to insects at this time as they provide nectar and pollen to them.
Marsh Marigold - flower and buds

As a medicinal herb the marsh marigold has been used in treating warts, dropsy, and anemia. It is also said to have expectorant and pectoral properties that made it a valuable ingredient in cough remedies. It is quite delicious and nutritious as a boiled green. The uncooked flower and greens, however, are quite pungent and acrid in taste. They contain a poisonous glucoside which is expelled by boiling. The dark green leaves contain high amounts of vitamins C and A. the leaves are also quite high in iron.
Marsh Marigold - looking close

It appears that the only safe use for the marsh marigold in its raw state is as a home remedy for warts. A drop of the caustic juice is squeezed from the leaf or stem of the plant onto the wart every day until it disappears. Does it work – who knows! Often warts, especially on children, come and go for no apparent reason.

Marsh marigold was once used for the treatments of ‘fits’. This was the term used for some convulsive disorders that we now generally lump together under the term epilepsy. It was apparently used successfully for ‘fits’ in both children and adults. Dr. Withering, the famous English physician of the 18th century was responsible for lifting digitalis from old wives’ herbal remedies to an important medicine that is still used today, also experimented with the marsh marigold for treatments.
He suggested this strange use:

“It would appear that medicinal properties may be evolved in the gaseous exhalations of plants and flowers, for one large quantity of the flowers of Meadow Routs (a common English name for the marsh marigold at the time) being put into the bedroom of a girl who had been subject to fits, the fits ceased.”

Euell Gibbons suggests that the unopened flower buds of the marsh marigold make an excellent Marsh Marigold Condiment-Pickle that can be used like capers. It is as follows:
Gather only the still-tightly-closed buds from the marsh marigold. Wash them, then cover them with boiling water. Bring the water back to a boil, and immediately drain them. Add more boiling water and repeat the process. Drain the buds well and put them into a pint jar. In a saucepan combine 1 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of sugar, a tablespoon of salt, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, and a teaspoon of celery seeds. Boil this mixture for 10 minutes. Pour the boiling mixture ofer the buds, seal the jar. let them set for a month. Then use the buds as you would capers, and discard the liquid.

Marsh Marigold - in the woods

Trillium Sessile – Wake Robin – Toadshade

Trillium sessile

This is another trillium found in Ohio and other states of the northeast and central U.S..  Generally, I find very few of these flowers on my stomps through the nearby woods.  This year I was amazed to see very large numbers of these short maroon-red flowers.

Trillium Sessile

This is a perennial spring wildflower that blooms several weeks earlier than the large white trillium. It is a small trillium (generally not over 5 inches tall).  This trillium is sometimes given the name of toadshade because it is short and has a bad smelling flower.  It displays a single reddish, stalkless, flower nestled in the middle of its three, usually mottled leaves. The three maroon petals, maintain a “closed” posture and never fully open.  Its species name comes from the Latin word sessilis which means low sitting, and refers to its stalkless flower.

trillium sesssile close-up

Because the flower blooms so early here in northeast Ohio and the weather is generally quite cool here — my nose is stuffed or running and I don’t smell the aroma of dead animal tissue.  Fortunately, the beetles and flies are attracted to the odor and serve to pollinate the flowers.

It is a clump-forming plant with stems arising from thick, underground rhizomes which will spread slowly if left undisturbed. Foliage will usually die to the ground by mid-summer. It is a classic spring-blooming, woodland wildflower. It is quite beautiful when massed in a shaded woodland garden, naturalized area or wildflower garden and mixes well with other spring wildflowers and ferns.This flower does not transplant well and should not be dug in the wild. Although I have found it blooming abundantly here in our woods this year it is threatened in Michigan and endangered in New York.
trillium sessile close

The plant is supposedly edible, but only in an emergency. Naturally it is too rare to be eaten in most areas and  the entire plant, and especially the root is known to induce vomiting.  A poultice of the bruised leaves and crushed roots has been applied as a treatment for boils.

Trillium grandiflorum

Trillium grandiflorum – large white trillium – Wake Robin- Birth root

This is one of the most striking Spring wildflowers in the Ohio woods.  It is hard to miss this when it is in bloom in April and early May. In 1986, the Ohio General Assembly made the white trillium Ohio’s official wildflower. The white trillium is also known as the wake robin, the snow trillium, the great white trillium, or the large white trillium. The General Assembly selected this flower because it exists in all of Ohio’s eighty-eight counties.

Single trillium after the rain

 

The name trillium comes from the Latin word tres, meaning three. The flower’s parts are found in sets of three – three petals, three sepals and three large leaves. Trilliums are also called wake robins, which suggest that their flowering signals the robins’ waking in spring, an idea consistent with eighteenth-century beliefs that northern birds hibernated.

Three trilliums

Trilliums are perennials which sprout each season from small (two to three centimeters) deeply buried, irregularly shaped rhizomes. Like all spring woodland flowers, their early growth takes advantage of spring’s abundant sunshine before forest trees leaf out. During this brief time in the sun, the trillium must create enough energy for growth, flowering and seed development, as well as store sufficient energy in the rhizome for next season’s start. 

All trilliums are favorite food for deers.  The white trillium in their most favorite. Like many forest perennials, Trillium grandiflorum is a slow growing plant. Their seeds require double dormancy, meaning they take at least two years to fully germinate. Like most species of Trillium, flowering age is determined largely by the surface of the leaf and volume of the rhizome the plant has reached instead of age alone. They only receive the sun they need for energy in early spring – before the leaves of the trees shade them from the energy of the sun. Because growth is very slow in nature, it often takes seven to ten years in optimal conditions to reach flowering size. Browsing by deer and picking the flowers and the leaves will setback the flowering of the plants for years.


 

Trillium is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants and mice. Trillium seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they can be protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant garbage. This is an example of a plant whose seeds are spread through myrmecochory, or ant-mediated dispersal.
Lots of Trilliums

The trillium was used as food and medicine for the Native Americans and the early pioneers.  Today it is not used for food, because it takes so long for the plant to grow and reproduce. The young edible unfolding leaves are an excellent addition to salad tasting somewhat like sunflower seeds. The leaves can also be cooked as a pot herb. The root has been used as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, emmenagogue (to promote menstruation), and ophthalmic. The plant contains Tannin, resin, glycosides trillin and trillarin, traces of essential oil, saponin, fatty oil and starch. It has been used externally and internally for female problems, and by the Native Americans as an aid in childbirth — hence it’s common name of Birth Root.

 Old  trillum -  closeup

As the large white flower ages it turns to pink.

BlogCatalog

Photo Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Common Chickweed

Most will consider the chickweed a pest. It is a weed that infests many lawns.  Don’t l get out the 2-4-D and poison the lawn to kill it.   Take a closer look.  Give some respect to this  common herb and its tiny flower.  This chickweed was one of the first wildflowers I found blooming   this spring (March 27). It was blooming in the moss on the path I take to the woods.

Common Chickweed (without the finger)

The common chickweed ,  Stellaria media, is not native to the U.S.. It is probably from Eurasia, but the species is found worldwide. It is found in fields, lawns, waste lands, gardens and woods throughout the United States and most of the world.  You will find it blooming in the Central United states nearly every month.

It is a unique annual  in that it begins growing in the fall, survives the winter (even in the North), starts blooming in the late winter, and often completes its seed production in the Spring.  It gets it  common name of chickweed because young chickens and small birds love it.  They eagerly eat both the leaves and the seeds.

Chickweeds exhibit a very interesting trait, (they sleep) termed the ‘Sleep of Plants,’ every night the leaves fold over the tender buds and the new shoots.   At first it appears to have 10 white petals – but if you look closely at the photo above (or below), you will see that there are only 5 petals – each of the 5 petals are deeply lobed to nearly appear as two petals.

Size of chickweed flower

Chickweeds are Medicinal and edible, they are very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals. They can be added to salads or cooked as a pot herb. When cooked they taste somewhat like spinach. They are also an addition to healthy  ‘green drinks’ that are liquefied in blenders and juicers.

The major plant constituents in Chickweed are Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Coumarins, Genistein, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Flavonoids, Hentriacontanol, Magnesium, Niacin, Oleic-acid, Potassium, Riboflavin, Rutin, Selenium, Triterpenoid saponins, Thiamin, and Zinc.
Chickweed is also listed as a medicinal herb.  It is a demulcent, emollient and a  refrigerant.  It was used as an external poultice for treating boils, inflammation, indolent ulcers, carbuncles, and external abscesses.  The fresh herb was covered with boiling water, then allowed to cool enough to be applied to the affected part.  It was then bound loosely and changed.  The affected area was also bathed frequently in the the water in which the herb had been steeped.  An ointment was also made bybruising the new leaves in fresh lard and applying this to skin irritations.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.