Wildflowers on the RailTrail

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Summer Heat and Rain

02 July

Summer heat and rain have really greened up the rail trail.  Some flowers have bolted to bloom and set seed.  More and more butterflies are joining the bees and flies in pollinating tasks.  We saw Swallowtail, Checkerspot, Monarch and many small butterflies on Sunday.

The Ninebark is really setting seed fast–some are the bright red that I love, others are a chestnut brown.  Berries are evident on the Alternate Leaf and Red Twig Dogwood as well as the Black and Pin Cherry trees.  The Grey and Silky Dogwoods are blooming now as well as the Elderberry, so there is still the wave of white in the shrubby undergrowth.  Lots of Multiflora rose is still blooming.  Blackberry/Raspberry plants are setting fruit.

The first Black-eyed Susans are blooming along with the Oxeye Daisies, some St John’s Wort and Field Thistle.  The pink Crown Vetch and bright yellow Bird’s Foot Trefoil are brilliant accents along the trail and the highways. If you look carefully you will find some Hog Peanut blooming along with the Hedge Bindweed, twirling around the taller plants. The Jewelweed is up and ready to bloom and the Milkweeds are starting to bloom.  Related Spreading Dogbane and Indian Hemp Dogbane have started to bloom as well.

Along 7 and 8 miles on the trail, the Meadow Rue is in full bloom.  I also saw it along the roadside as I traveled up Stark Road.  This is a great year for the Meadow Rue.  Canada Anemone is still blooming, but the Thimbleweed is setting the eponymous heads.  Near the Railside Restaurant in Sanford, I saw tall Cow Parsnip and the shorter, yellow Wild Parsnip.  Both can be mistaken for the very dangerous Giant Hogweed, and Cow Parsnip can irritate the skin.  Cow Parsnip (1st picture) is only 5-8 feet tall and has a ridged stem while Giant Hogweed is 8 feet or more and has a purplish stem.  Both have large white umbel flower heads and palmate leaves.  The Wild Parsnip (2nd picture) has yellow flower heads and is only 3-5 feet tall with a lobed elongated leaf.  There is also the much finer leafed and smaller Water Hemlock blooming as well as the Queen Anne’s Lace to make matters more confusing

Behind the businesses in Sanford are many different colors of Spiderwort.  There are the dark blue/purple, light blue/purple and even a bright pink.

Most of the Iris have finished blooming and the cattail are starting their bloom period.  All of the grasses have wonderful seed heads–in various configurations–makes me wish I knew more about grasses.

Keep looking out for wildflowers and being amazed at their variety and beauty.

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