Along the Air Line... 2002 - July, Part 1
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo

 


In the ten days that I was away on vacation, enormous changes have taken
place on the trail. As expected, the Pickerel Weed and Milkweed are in full bloom, but many other flowers have blossomed as well.

Meadowsweet's (Spiraea latifolia) tiny flowers clearly place it in the Rose family (Rosaceae). Insects love it.

Early July saw temperatures in the high ninties, with humidity to match.
Whitetail Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) sought the margins of Raymond Brook Marsh for browsing, cool water, and temporary relief from the pesky Deer Flies
(Chrysops sp.).

A pair of spotted fawns were more intent on their mother than on me.

Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) is related to Milkweed. It shares the characteristic milky juice (full of toxic alkyloids) and elongate seed pods.

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata).

Perhaps most striking of the early July flora are the mature berries of Swamp Fly-Honeysuckle (Lonicera oblongifolia).

Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) is the wild form of our edible carrot. Pull one sometime and see the white carrot-like root.

The buds of Queen Anne's Lace show a touch of pink before unfolding into the flat umbel of the the mature inflorescence.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a member of the Asteraceae. This family of plants is also known as the Compositae as what appears to be a single flower is actually composed of hundered of flowers tightly clustered together. The outermost ring of "ray" flowers each has a single showy petal - yellow in Black-Eyed Susans, white in Daisies. The brown center consists of many tubelike "disk" flowers. Here you can see yellow pollen on the disk flowers that have opened. Others will open towards the center of the disk over the next several weeks.

Tall Meadow-Rue (Thalictrum polygamum). The flowers lack petals, consisting instead of showy stamens. The plant is three to eight feet tall with leaves divided and lobed much like Rue-Anemone to which it is related.

Rabbit's-Foot Clover (Trifolium arvense). Common in waste places and often ignored as a weed, the flowers are quite beautiful close up.

Seed heads of Peppergrass (Lepidium sp.).

Showy Tick-Trefoil (Desmodium canadense) is a member of the Pea family (Poaceae or Leguminosae, depending on who taught you Botany - and when). Later, you'll find the "sticktight" seeds firmly attached to your clothing should you brush by the plants.

I count three varieties of Milkweed along the trail. This is probably Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The milky juice transfers its toxicity to Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterflies, protecting them from birds.

I suspect this is Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).

July 7th at 9:00 A.M. and our sky is hazy with the smoke of forest fires in
Quebec.