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Long Bike Ride

Out on the Minuteman trail as usual, to the Bedford train station and back. It is curious that I have yet to be bitten by a mosquito this year – I’m pretty sure that by this time last year I was being eaten alive. The ride was exceedingly pleasurable. A bit of rain, which felt liberating, and got me good and filthy. I recognized a killdeer’s call for the first time, and saw it flying far above.  Heard a very clear and close wood thrush, too.

  • pale hawkweed (Hieracium floribundum) (composite family) – this, and two other species, are all referred to as “king devil”. The differences are pretty subtle. This had hair on its stem, so it wasn’t smooth hawkweed, and the leaves didn’t seem hairy enough (they had a bloom to them) to be field hawkweed. I continue to be annoyed by the family compositae, which seems far too fixated on the one trait of composite flowers and groups a lot of very distinct plants. A good reason to learn more about systematics!
  • tower mustard (Arabis glabra) (mustard family) – I can’t believe I didn’t notice this last year – it’s everywhere. The first place I saw it was at the tick patch, but it’s to be found along the bike path pretty much all the way out. It is definitely glabrous, with a marked bloom to it. I’m not 100% positive on my ID here, since the leaves seemed entire to me, but I guess they are probably subtly toothed. The drawings in Newcomb’s look entire-leaved, anyways, and everything else matched. While I was at the tick patch, I noticed that the black locusts are starting to bloom. I’m very excited to see more of the pea family as the summer goes on.
  • black cherry (Prunus serotina) (rose family) – This is much like the chokecherry, but more of a tree, and with blunter teeth on the leaves. Once I’d caught its in-flower gestalt, I was able to see that it’s really extremely common by the tick patch and the railroad-path heading out from there. It’s pretty much the only tree around now with racemes of roselike flowers. I’m not sure what the “serotina” in the name is about – the only context I know “serotinous” in is that of pine cones which don’t drop seed immediately, e.g. those of the pitch pine, which want fire to do that trick.
  • rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa) (rose family) – This is a nice, big purple rose. Wicked spiny at the top of the stem. I suppose the “rugosa” refers to the leaves, which have sunken veins. The flowers smell lovely. I’d seen it a lot last year, but never got further in identifying it than calling it a rose. Which, being a rose, it is.
  • hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium) (honeysuckle family) – Again, not entirely sure about the ID here. I have not been having great luck distinguishing viburnums. This one had the ring of huge, sexless flowers around the flower cluster, but they were not symmetrical as hobblebush’s seem to be. I suppose this could have been a cultivated viburnum. The leaves are also sorta reminiscent of alder leaves, which suits the “alnifolium”.

In that general area, I also saw some members of the pink family starting to show their faces – white campion and bladder campion. I was surprised to see the latter, which I think of as later than the white. On the way out, I scratched my bike to a quick halt on the dirt path when I saw a large snake lying across it (and this but six feet or so from the Alewife parking garage!). It made no attempt to move, and I was getting out my camera when some jackass came barreling by on his bike. I thought he’d run the snake over, and was angry, but it slithered off seemingly OK. I think it was just a garter snake, about two feet long.

Out to Lexington…

  • bluets (Houstonia caerulea) (madder family) – These were forming a gorgeous cloud over a lawn. They’re also known, charmingly, as “Innocence” or “Quaker Ladies”.
  • wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) (geranium family) – These are also known as spotted cranesbill (the leaves are maculate and the seed pod looks like guess what). I first saw a single specimen of these near the bluets. It was small and irregular, and in a patch of poison ivy, so I wasn’t able to determine more than that it wasn’t likely a musk mallow, which is what I’d thought at first sight. Later on I found a nice patch right by the side of the bike trail. As I was trying to key them out, a guy rode past and yelled out “It’s an aster!”. Desi (hard of hearing lately): “What?”. Guy: “An aster!”. Desi (at the now distant biker’s back): “Too early!” He turned back and I keyed it out and finally found it. He asked which flower book I have, and said he liked it, but it was for all the wrong reasons – he said it had a good color key. He hated garlic mustard and invasive weeds.
  • cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) (mustard family) – This is a sloppy sort of sprawling plant. Also called “lady’s smock”. It was growing along an extremely wet trailside, along with some Gill-over-the-ground and
  • creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens) (buttercup family) – I saw this one last year a lot. It’s the one with the mottled leaves.
  • ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) (pink family) – Also called “cuckooflower”, though “cuckoo’s flower” would probably be better. I love that I saw two flowers with this name in one day. This is a plant I saw last year, but only once. This year it seemed reasonably common along the bike path – I saw at least 20 of them.
  • birds-eye speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) (figwort family) – This is by far the most beautiful of the speedwells I’ve seen. The flowers are big, like almost 1/2 inch, and intensely blue.
  • large-leaved white violet (Viola incognita) (violet family) – the name pretty much says it all. I thought the top petals were a bit recurved, but they were by no means narrow, and in every other respect it matched the description in Newcomb perfectly.
  • one-flowered cancerroot (Orobanche uniflora) (broomrape family) – Also known as ghost pipe. This is apparently parasitic, and doesn’t bother developing chlorophyll.

5 Responses to “Long Bike Ride”

  1. Mansion House Florists Says:

    youre right the birds eye speedwell is very pretty and a lovely coulur blue although the intense blue is only seen at the very end of each petal after the white viens from the centre stop.

  2. Franklin janjin Says:

    It is very interesting reading through your blog. Going through, I just want to go back riding my bike which I retired from long ago. Giving a pictured description of nature, touches me form the bottom of my heart.

  3. Willis Dubill Says:

    not bad not bad.

  4. Computers Says:

    who I enjoy flickr

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