By mid-June, the spring wildflowers of a month ago are just a memory. With true ephemerals, they are completely fading and as we get further into summer, we will not be able to see that they were ever here.
Their place in this shaded forest is taken by a few shade-tolerant wildflowers, some of which may last through the month, and during July, the tall lush thick growths of ferns dominate.
At the edge of the woods where more sunlight is available, we can find flowering plants of blue-bead lily, bunchberry, vetchling, Solomon’s-seal, false Solomon’s-seal and meadow-rue. This marginal existence give the plants needed light and moisture, but it is plants in direct sun, further from the trees, that are now thriving.
Many of these plants out in the open — fields, meadows and roadsides — are quite colorful and we often note the blooming orange hawkweeds, yellow hawkweeds and tall buttercups and white daisies while the clovers add plenty of purple. Occasional blue vetches and red Indian paintbrush glow here, too.
But maybe it is the large patches of deep purple-blue flowers of lupine that stand out the most. Plants are a couple of feet tall and filled divided leaves among the florals. But there are other open sites with flowers as well.
In addition to these fields, we have an abundance of bogs and swamps in the region. Though bogs are usually defined by the presence of spruce and tamarack with sphagnum moss, other unique plants also grow here.
First to flower of the bog dwellers is leatherleaf. Rows of small white flowers hung from their leafy branches, already blooming in May. Blueberries and cranberries follow with their small flowers; both plants are better known by the berries.
A couple of pink-purple flowers are in the bog now; both will stop us to take a closer look. More in the open is bushy bog laurel, while in shaded sites, the moccasin flower (stemless lady’s slipper orchid) shows its attractive flower. The abundant Labrador tea opens its cluster of white flowers while nearby tufts of white cotton grass thrive.
Visiting a swamp at this time, I see more open water than in the bog and in this aquatic scene, yellow pond lily floats its elliptical leaves with yellow flowers rising above the surface. But it is along the edge that I stop for a closer look. Here, I note the big purple flowers of the irises (sometimes called blue flag). Emerging from the shallow water near the shore, I see the whites of water arum.
Also known as water calla, these plants may reach more than a foot above the water’s surface. Leaves are a rather pointed oval shape. Rising from the same site as the stem is the unusual flower. A white component makes up most of the floral arrangement; also oval in shape.
In the center of this is a greenish structure that holds many tiny flowers. Water arum is in the same family as jack-in-the-pulpit. And like this well-known plant of the forest floor, it has similar components.
No mention of petals and sepals — the white flower part is called a spathe, while the green central growth is the spadix. Plants are quite common here along the edge of this swamp. I regularly see them flowering, usually starting in May and continuing for weeks into June.
Like jack-in-the-pulpit, they eventually form a cluster of red berries by late summer. Now, in June, their white flowers add more to this swamp scene.