1.1 Acre Project – May
In May we saw the area really fill out with foliage. If you compare the two vista shots, you can see the subtle differences. Also, skunk cabbage has almost completely covered any barren ground in the wetlands. A few plants of note:
Jack in the Pulpit, a.k.a. Devil’s Ear
Also known as Parson-in-the-Pulpit, Lord-and-Lady, Cuckoopint, Lady-in-a-Chaise, Aronskelk, Indian Turnip, Iroquois Breadroot, Memory Root, Bog Onion, American Arum, Pepper Turnip, Dragonroot, Wake Robin, Plant-of-Peace, Cobra Lily and Cooter-Wampee.
Quite a plant of contradictory names, but those names certainly give some clues about it. Some names describe its appearance, where the spadix seems to hover within the shelter of the spathe, like…a parson in an elevated pulpit? A lady in a chaise? Other names, such as Indian and Pepper Turnip, point to its possible edibility. There is contradictory information as to whether Native Americans did cook and eat the corms or roots of the plant. But names like Dragonroot and Devil’s Ear should warn you that it is not a good choice for casual foragers. Supposedly the name Memory Root was earned because if one ate it, one would remember never to do it again! Much of the plant is toxic and has oxalate crystals that burn the skin. And lips. And mouth. And everything. Yikes! Bog onion gives you a hint about where it grows. Now I have no idea why it’s called Cooter-Wampee. Anyone?
In the fall, look for the cluster of red berries on the female plants. Interestingly, the plants can change from male to female. A Lord and Lady both! Arisaema triphyllum is also in the Arum family, like skunk cabbage. Read more about the plant here.
Still flowering! Now here’s a plant that is invasive, sounds uninviting but is a great plant to forage. Read more about how it got here and what to do with it at Eat The Weeds. Our invasive plant removal volunteers also pull it out every Friday, along with other troublesome invasives.
False Solomon’s Seal
In the Lily family. Distinguished from true Solomon’s Seal by the flowers: the true have small whitish-green flowers that dangle below the stem, where false has a raceme of small white flowers on the end of the stem. Hence the name, Maianthemum racemosum. (It’s sometimes called by another scientific name, Smilacina racemosa — so much for the scientific names being definitive!) Anyway, those flowers, after being pollinated by a variety of small bees, flies and beetles, become small berries. They ripen into red fruits that are consumed by many types of birds. The leaves are not particularly tasty, and thus the plant has avoided being overgrazed by deer and other herbivores. Native Americans had medicinal uses for the plant. More information is available at Penn State Extension and The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, both excellent online resources.