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

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Stan Malcolm Photo


August began with a burst of color - the vibrant red of Cardinal Flower
(Lobelia cardinalis).

New York Ironweed (Veronia noveboracensis) is at its peak.

Summersweet or Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) added a heady scent to
the Raymond Brook Marsh.

The Raymond Brook Marsh portion of the trail offered a solid mass of blooms - starring Tick Trefoil, Goldenrod, Evening Primrose, and Summersweet - with a supporting cast of Milkweeds, Joe Pye Weed, Ironweed, Cardinal Flower, Rabbit's Foot Clover, Queen Anne's Lace, and Boneset.

Showy Tick Trefoil (Desmodium canadense) is well along in setting its distinctive seeds, the "ticks" we'll soon find attached to our clothing as we brush past the plants.

Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium sp.)...

...and its close cousin, the white-flowered Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum).

Note how Boneset's leaves fuse around the stem. This characteristic gave rise to the belief that an infusion of the leaves would help in healing fractures. In the Middle Ages, believers in the Doctrine of Signatures asserted that God left clues to the medicinal uses of plants in their shapes.

Follow these links to learn more:

Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare). (Are those bagpipes I hear in the distance, laddie?) Note the camouflaged pale green crab spider lurking just below the purple head.

Smartweed (Polygonum sp.), one of many similar species in our area.

Groundnut (Apios americana), a vine climbing over bushes in the Raymond Brook Marsh. It is a member of the Pea family.

Wild Clematis or Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana) is in the Buttercup family.

Northern Arrowwood (Viburnum recognitum) had clusters of small white flowers in the spring, now replaced by these clusters of slate blue berries.

A rare plant along the trail, this is Downy Rattlesnake Plantain
(Goodyera pubescens). Unmistakable leaves!

A close look at the flowers confirms the plant's membership in the Orchid family.

Although not rare, this Indian-pipe (Monotropa uniflora) is certainly inconspicuous. Lacking chlorophyll, the plant feeds on decaying material in the soil - making it more animal-like than plant-like.

(Thanks to Barb and Mike Emmons for identifications
of Summersweet and Arrowwood.)