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Archive for June, 2007

Wachusett Mountain

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

This trip was more about hiking than naturalizing, but I busted out the books during one rest break.

  • Red Elderberry (Sambucus pubens) (honeysuckle family) – Growing all over. Delicious! I only sampled a couple, since my books didn’t really say anything either way about their edibility. But they were awesome in small quantity, and it’s always nice to have more wild nibbles. I could even see these, given how plentiful and tasty they are, being a nice jelly choice.

    Wikipedia has Sambucus in the newfangled moschatel family (adoxaceae), according to modern genetic evidence. It looks like that’s how the viburnums roll these days too. But I have them in the caprifoliaceae here for consistency, since I’ve been giving family names from Newcomb’s; I find an antiquarian charm in learning plants with the old-fashioned taxonomy, and I’m sure I’ll also pick up the new stuff as I go along.

  • Fringed Bindweed (Polygonum cilinode) (buckwheat family) – I hate to deprecate one of God’s creations, but to my eye this was just another charmless polygonaceous bindweed, distinguished mainly by how common it was along the trails. The convolvulaceous bindweeds rock harder.

Middlesex Fells, June 10th

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Actually most of the cool stuff I saw was at the big park which runs along the North bank of the Mystic. I didn’t write anything down and feel sure that I’ve forgotten some interesting things, but here’s what I remember:

  • Garden Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) (pea family) – I’ve seen this streaking past when I’ve driven on the pike, but the Mystic-side park was the first chance I had to sit down and look at it. It was between a paved path and some riverbank type stuff; phragmites, I think.
  • Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana) (lily family) – In the northern part of the Fells, probably along the Crystal Springs trail. Nifty flowers, vaguely holisticly reminiscent of bittersweet nightshade or something. I didn’t want to look at the root, since there were only a few and I don’t much like pulling anything up anyways.
  • Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea) (parsley family) – These were growing in a lovely meadow, deserving of many hours’ further exploration, in the Mystic-side park.


  • Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica) (cashew family) – This stuff smelled awesome. It was growing on a path-edge at the Mystic park, next to some staghorn sumac. I got a picture of them together to blow my own mind.