Walking along the trails this week showed lots of green. It is punctuated with some color, but green is what you see predominately–especially speeding by on a bicycle. There are still the pink/purple of the Wild Geranium, white of the Canada Anemone and the occasional blue of Blue-eyed Grass (if you look closely) and yellow from the later Buttercups and the lovely Golden Alexander. Introduced species like Yellow Sweet Clover and Red Clover and the white Oxeye Daisy are also blooming. Blue Flag Iris has finished blooming in some areas and is still blooming in others, depends on the sun, shade, and temperature conditions.
Stitchworts and Veronicas can still be seen with tiny blooms in grassy mowed areas. Evening Lychnis (Bladder Campion) is also starting to bloom. Fleabanes are sporadic with their small pink daisy blooms. Some years we see fields of these. For the last two years, we only see them occasionally.
The Bedstraws are busy blooming with their tiny white flowers over 4-8 whirled leaves. There is Sticky Willy–which got it’s name from the way it clings to everything–including you and your clothes. Then there is Northern Bedstraw and Fragrant Bedstraw, which are more refined and clumping. There is Rough Bedstraw which can be mistaken for Wild Madder–because both have tiny flowers and small leaves. And the Sweet Woodruff sold in garden centers is a European variety that has escaped. Very hard to tell apart, mainly by number of leaves, hairiness, stickiness and size–darned if I can recognize which (except for Sticky Willy) each is.
Most of the Cresses have finished blooming (another in Mustard family with 4 petals). Spring Cress, Early Winter Cress, Penny Cress have gone to seed. There is still the occasional Winter Cress blooming.
The Hawkweeds are blooming–Common Yellow and Orange Hawkweed appear in isolated groups, having larger flowers in small clusters. Field Hawkweed and Pale Hawkweed form colonies of plants along the edge of the rail trail. Both are referred to as “King Devil”. A flower that is similar to a Yellow Hawkweed is the Salsify plant or Yellow Goat’s Beard. It grows taller and has grasslike leaves with a single large flower and a dandelion like seed head.
The most spectacular blooms are the Invasive, tall Dame’s Rocket (in white and purple). I love to hate this flower. Invasive and non-native, but beautiful for early June. Often mistaken for Wild Blue or Woodland Phlox, this relative of mustard puts on quite a show, especially where clearing has made way for it. It shows up along Main street in Midland and along the Utility right-of-ways like the one between 7 and 8 mile on the trail. You can tell it from Wild Blue or Woodland Phlox in several ways. It has 4 petals while phlox has 5. It is tall (2-3 ‘) while phlox is short (1’). Phlox blooms in late spring and Dame’s Rocket blooms shortly after, once it gets a little warmer. Leaves on Dames Rocket are Alternate on the stem, while Phlox leaves are Opposite on the stem.
There is Alfalfa among the other Clovers along 7 mile and in other areas near farms. Beautiful escapee and loved by the insects. There are also numerous Vetches and Vetchlings as well as Crown Vetch. All will be coming into bloom soon with white, pink and purple flowers.
Most deciduous trees are finished blooming, but evergreens (like Pines) are sending out flowers with their new growth candles. Maple-leaf and Cranberry Viburnum are blooming and Ninebark is starting to bloom. Grey and Silky Dogwoods are still waiting. Other dogwoods are already setting berries. Blackberries continue to bloom happily as do the Wild Strawberries. Many of the Wild Grapes are setting the fruit, but more are still to bloom.
Check out the green and the occasional colorful set of flowers!