‘Tis the season for lots of wildflowers to start blooming here in New Hampshire!
Wild sarsparilla, or Aralia nudicaulis, is a common sight in the woods these days. They are quite easy to identify, with three groups of (usually) five leaves, with two stems with (usually) three flowers each below them. There are folks that do forage for the roots, as they can be used in place of real Sarsaprilla, Smilax ornata, a tropical plant which you are definitely NOT going to be finding in the woods around here.
Future goal: make homemade root beer out of wild sarsparilla roots!
Next, Solomon’s seal. There are two usual subjects with the term “Solomon” in the name here in New England. Above you will see Polygonatum pubescens, or Hairy Solomon’s-seal. “Pubescence” means hair, and there are, indeed, hairs on the undersides of the leaves. Easy peasy.
Maianthemum racemosum, or feathery false Solomon’s-seal. Although the leaves look somewhat similar, the flowers (and eventually fruit) are at the end of the stem, rather than hanging below it. Both Polygonatum pubescens and Maianthemum racemosum are native to New England, and neither are ranked.
Keith’s pretty awesome picture of Capnoides sempervirens, or pink corydalis. Not to be confused with the Corydalis genus, whose flowers look a bit similar. We usually see these on rock ledges, and are certainly a welcome sign for the beginnings of summer!
Red columbine! Aquilegia canadensis, another early summer favorite (with some early Hairy Solomon’s seal in the background, to boot!). You will find these guys blooming all over New England in May, June, and sometimes even into July! There are a few garden varieties that you will be able to recognize by the unique flower shape. Red columbine is the only species native, however.
According to 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells (one of my favorite books, and SUPER cheap on Amazon!), the name “columbine” comes form the word “dove,” and in many old paintings columbine was used to represent the dove of peace. So sweet. However, in the 17th century columbine began to represent cuckoldry (prostitution, oohhh), and a woman was given a bouquet of these only if it was thought she had “loose morals.”
I don’t know. I really love these flowers. A bad rep might be worth it.