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May 14, 2008 / Bo Mackison

Wildflowers, Out and About

Here are a few of the wildflowers growing in my neck of the woods this second week of May.

White Campion

The White Campion, brought over from Europe, is now naturalized across much of the North American continent. The flowers open at dusk and close in the morning; they are pollinated by night-flying moths. This photo was taken about seven in the evening, so the petals aren’t fully open yet. They have an unexpected sweet fragrance. I used to ‘pop’ the bladders of these flowers when I was a kid, and hadn’t yet learned the rules of the forest.

Wood Anemone

This is a Wood Anemone and I think probably one of the last ones blooming this season. It needs sunlight to grow, and the plants are deep in the woods – the sunlight is now getting blocked by the opening tree canopies. This guy is somewhat poisonous, though I did read that the Ojibwe used the roots in a remedy to clear the throats of singers. I wouldn’t recommend it – maybe try a nice honey lozenge instead. 🙂 Or not sing.

Jack in the Pulpit

Here’s another Jack; sometimes he’s called an Indian Turnip as his taproots were gathered as a vegetable by Native Americans. It is said to cause a strong burning sensation if eaten raw, but tastes peppery when well steamed. (I’ll pass on that, too.) I probably saw a thousand Jack in the Pulpits in the woods in a two hour period. I’ve never seen so many in one place – I was off path and kept nearly trampling them.

White Baneberry

I had to search several guides to ID this rather quiet wildflower, though I’m pretty certain it is White Baneberry. The leaves are the give-away clue, because there are several plants with very similar flower clusters. I’ll come back in mid-summer and see if there are white berries growing – then I’ll know for sure. Supposedly the plant was once called Dolls’ Eyes because its berry has a black spot and looks like the eyes once set in china dolls.

Mayapple, the Wildflower Umbrella

I found four huge, densely-packed colonies of May-apples. Their umbrellas are fully opened now – in my photo of May-apples on May 2nd, they were still shriveled like puckered fingertips that have been in dishwater too long. No flowers as of yet. Native Americans used the roots to treat hepatitis and fevers and now a derivative of this plant is being used as a cancer treatment. It’s commonly known as poisonous though, and can kill a man in just a few hours after ingestion. BTW, its fruit isn’t poisonous and tastes like a banana-lemon mix. Odd.


  1. amelia / May 14 2008 1:08 am

    These are all great wildflowers. Looks like it’s a fun thing to do – hiking and taking pictures. Have you done wildflowers for a long time.

  2. Gandalf / May 14 2008 8:47 am

    I enjoy hiking to find wild flowers. I treat it like a scavenger hunt – marking down the newest blossom I’ve found. My trillium rank #1 on my love to find list. Next I favor the pink & yellow lady slippers. The lady slippers aren’t in season yet, but will be. I enjoyed this post. I’d like to see the Mayapples all in a sequences once they bear fruit.

  3. jeanabaena / May 14 2008 9:54 am

    ooh, i really like the first picture. the flower just pops out of the background. v. nice.

  4. Robin / May 14 2008 2:53 pm

    Beautiful shots, Bo. And once again I learned a few things along the way. 🙂

  5. montucky / May 14 2008 5:55 pm

    Nice finds and nice photos! I love to see them from your part of the country!

  6. organicsyes / May 15 2008 9:44 am

    Great walk:) Thanks for taking me along on the journey! off to find the jack in the pulpit that are in my yard!

  7. aullori / May 15 2008 11:25 am

    I completely love all the information about your completely unique wildflowers! Bravo! The Jack in the Pulpits just amaze me… hard to believe you fall over what I’ve never laid my eyes on. Over here my New Yorker husband calls swamp lanterns, Jack in the Pulpits and I have to remind him two completely different plants. However, in his defense, he grew up around your version. I’m thrilled to see the leaf structure of your wood anemone because I think it’s the only flower we actually share out of all of these. Hopefully I’ll be so lucky as to run into them myself. Beautiful post Bo! Your shots are amazing and keep those facts coming they are fascinating!

  8. amuirin / May 16 2008 11:33 am

    I was interested to see the Wood Anenome. Kinda cool to have a flower guide 🙂

  9. mon@rch / May 21 2008 7:45 pm

    I just love those White Campion flowers and I never seem to be able to remember their name. Maybe this year I will remember! Thanks

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