One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Do you recognize this tiny flower? (That’s a hint!) You might have seen it in your ‘lawn’ if you’ve allowed it to ‘go wild.’

Give us your guess!

I’ll be back later to check in.

~~~

We had two correct guesses today! This little plant that often turns up in lawns, or as one commenter’s common name suggests, as a ‘wayside’ plant, is in the Veronica family, commonly known as speedwell.

It’s easier to tell in this photo that the flowers are on little stalks, so Miz Flora believes it is Persian Speedwell, Veronica persica. Do note that one of the four blue petals is smaller than the others, which is typical in this species, but also several others.

We had thought it was a native plant, because it’s so widespread, but alas, it is introduced from Eurasia. It blooms from spring until fall, with tiny 1 cm blossoms that can be easily overlooked.

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Just in case…

Just in case you think we’ve missed a day in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge, Sundays are free days.

That’s because there are only 26 letters in the alphabet and 30 days in April. Check out their schedule here. (And we are not back to our regular mystery posts–sorry!) In the meantime, enjoy some spring flowers!

L is for Lenten Rose

No, it’s not a native, but Lenten Rose does grow nicely with a naturalized look. Even better it adds a very early, long-bloomer to your garden that will help bees and other insects when little else is blooming. And Miz Flora says here’s a tip you human gardeners will like: Deer and rabbits don’t like to eat Hellebores. Their leaves produce a poisonous alkaloid that tastes bad–but note this might bother humans with sensitive skin.

May flowers are here!

Well, Hickory took the week off and I’m…late. Can you tell the rain has thrown us squirrels off schedule? But the wet has brought out the leaves to their fullest and sped flowers!

Don’t you humans have a saying that “April showers bring May flowers” ?

spring aster

I think it’s an aster, but Miz Flora rarely bothers identifying composites because they’re difficult. If any of our readers know, please feel free to speak up! It’s that kind of day.

Hooray! A reader wrote to tell us it’s Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron annuus. Asters only bloom in the fall, whereas the fleabanes start in late spring and bloom through to fall. If you look carefully in the photo’s background you can see this plant kind of popped up next to some day lilies. The Daisy Fleabane apparently does that–just grows in waste places and open fields.

I suppose if the humans in our suburbs didn’t mow so much we’d see more of them.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

With the effort of completing our Blogging From A to Z Challenge, I–Hickory squirrel–considered skipping out on today…but couldn’t let you down. Also, it’s an anniversary for this column!

Our Mystery column has been running on Sundays for 4 years, having started in April of 2012. We have taken some Sundays off and take a winter hiatus, so today is the 150th mystery I have posted.

In honor of that, here is the first mystery I posted.

mystery #150

No cheating by looking back! (Ha, but who can stop you?)

I’ll check in later with your answer!

~~~

We had a correct guess today! Yes, these are oak catkins, all dried up and blown together in a heap along our streets.

 

‘Catkins’ are the male flowers, in this case of oak trees, that carry the pollen. If the wind blows the right direction, sending the pollen grains to the female flowers on the branches, they will eventually make acorns.

White Oak

With this many catkins we’re sure it will!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s our day off from the Blogging From A to Z Challenge, but things are still sprouting in the woods.

Mystery #148

Any idea what it is?

Give us your guess, and we’ll check in later with the answer.

~~~

Did you try to guess our mystery today?

Heh. It’s a difficult one. Spring blooming. The leaves only rise from the base and are single with the veins running the length of them. Does that help?

This type of leaf means the plant is a member of the Orchid family. Yes, we have wild orchids in Virginia!

In a few weeks, they will look like this:

Pink Lady's Slipper

Pink Lady’s Slipper, Cypridedium acaule, is a hard-found, native spring wildflower. But once you humans do find a plant, or more, it’s one you seem to keep track of and flock back to visit each May. Their favorite trees to grow under are pine, but also oak, sweetgum and Red Maple. In fact, Miz Flora has heard tell that the tree roots attract a fungus in the soil that is necessary for these local orchids to grow. You can’t just dig up an orchid and expect it to grow anywhere! So please don’t try.

Pink Lady's Slipper

We squirrels do admit the Pink Lady’s Slipper is a spectacular one, and has a great story! The odd-shaped slipper flower has a small entrance–at the top–which forces bees to touch the flower parts–and be coated with pollen! Of course, going to the next flower pollinates it and a seed will grow. Once the seed falls to the ground, it has no extra parts to supply energy to germinate. The fungus in the soil grows over the seed, cracks it open and in attaching to the seed, supplies the food for germination.

So here’s a plant that is up to two different kinds of tricks. You’d think it was related to squirrels!