Daylilies in Bloom

Daylilies are in full, blooming glory along our Pennsylvania roadsides now. I always assumed, because of their location, that these were the native variety. I was wrong (not for the first time, mind you).

According to daylilies.org (hey, where else was I going to look for answers?) daylilies that dot roadsides “escaped” at some point–that is, they are a hybridized version of the wild/native and the domesticated varieties which have been around since the 30s.

Underground bulbs of the wild lily reproduced vegetatively or were dispersed by hungry rodents. Native Americans also ate the bulbs, boiled; Cree referred to the species as “mouse-root” because of its association with voles. (Mind you, the lily family contains species not safe to consume).

Hemerocallis is the genus name meaning “beauty” and  “day”, hence the name “daylily” (each flower lasts only one day). However, I’ve learned through my online research that each daylily clump can produce 200-400 flowers in a season. Multiply that by the hundreds of clumps in any roadside stand of daylilies and you’re in for a spectacular show lasting throughout the better part of the summer!

Bloodroot is Beautiful

Beautiful Bloodroot is a woodlands flower that blooms, for us in Pennsylvania, during the first or second week in April. Large, lovely palm-sized leaves envelop a single white flower—the bloom lasting a mere week or so. Once the petals have fallen, the lush, green foliage heartily remains through the warm months.

Before I go any further, let me mention: Bloodroot is TOXIC. Do not consume any part of the bloodroot plant.

Certainly, a name like “Bloodroot” deserves a little research, don’t you think? 

It’s not surprising the name refers to its orange-red root. Stems will “bleed” this color when broken and Native Americans used the juice for everything from face and body paint (which lasted for days) to dye.

Root teas were fashioned to combat asthma, laryngitis, coughs, etc. Topically, Bloodroot poultices were used to treat eczema, warts, and skin cancer—its “active ingredient” is sanguinarine.

According to the ACS Chemistry for Life website, “Sanguinarine is an antimicrobial used in mouthwashes and toothpaste to guard against inflammation brought on by gingivitis. It has also been found to protect against skin cancer by enhancing the production of proteins that induce the death of cells damaged by UV-B radiation.”

There is so much information online about this unique, singular, almost “reclusive” woodlands plant!

I hope you are lucky enough to be able to observe it in the wild (it’s protected in many states so please abide by this when observing Bloodroot in its natural habitat).

Wildflowers – Webisode 2

Our host, Tracy Toth, completes our tour of a riparian buffer while demonstrating how native plant species can support a healthy ecosystem.

Blog Post About Our Wildflowers Webisodes

  

The third summer we were here I noticed cars slowing and occasionally stopping on the road nearer the pasture. I thought, for the longest time, they were looking at our animals.

  

One day, while I was out back noticing the tremendous number of butterflies, it dawned on me. The cars were slowing to take in the activity on the wildflowers—all the pollinators that had found their way to the native species we had let “come back.”

I hope this webisode, in particular, serves as a simple lesson in conservation: that something so easy as letting native species propagate a waterway buffer can naturally accomplish so many vital “tasks” that are necessary for a healthy ecosystem. That, and you get to enjoy one heck of a butterfly show!

Wildflowers – Webisode 1

Our host, Tracy Toth, demonstrates how providing an opportunity for native plant species to propagate a waterway buffer can naturally accomplish so many vital “tasks” that are necessary for a healthy ecosystem.

Childhood “Triggers”

We all have them, to varying degrees. It can be a smell or a sight that conjures up one’s earliest memories. For me, the blooms of chicory and Queen Anne’s lace call up memories of stone bruises, calloused bare feet, scabby knees, popsicle-stained t-shirts, a cane pole, rusty fishhooks, and can of worms.

We had a lake behind our house when I was growing up. It was called a “lake” but to see it now, it’s more like a pond. I spent endless afternoons catching bluegill and the occasional bass out of that lake but had to make my way through a small meadow to get to it.

The stiff chicory always withstood my direct steps and there was nothing else in that whole open “bouquet” that matched that periwinkle blue color. I used to bring mom big handfuls of Queen Anne’s lace which she displayed proudly despite her terrible pollen allergy.

I see the flowers blooming now, in early August, on the sides of roads and in our meadow. Too many people call them “weeds.” Let me just grab my cane pole. I’ll meet you at the lake.