As the season turns

Posted on August 14, 2010


The farm markets are bursting with good food. Fat haybales dot the landscape.  Even I have a shiny row of home-canned apricots on my shelves!  We are blessed.  But wait, wait—from a plant’s perspective, it is not all about us! It is about making more plants, and this is planting time.

In search of better photos of our tiny mystery plant from a couple of days ago (Flora on the Bay), I caught the seeds exploding from their pod.  I’m pretty sure they’re going to grow up to be some kind of Willowherb (Epilobium).  Here’s the whole plant.

I have it narrowed down to two possibilities: American Willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum) and Marsh Willowherb (Epilobium palustre).  You can compare them at Nature Notes and see more E. ciliatum at Skye Flora: American Willowherb. Keep in mind that those sites are in the UK and “introduced” there might well be something “native” here.  The whole invasive species thing is pretty confusing when you start thinking it through.

I tried to provide useful scale images, but Miss Sadie and the Cowboy are not all that interested in botany, and refused to pose. 

Meanwhile, over in Tiny World, seeds dropped off by obliging birds have grown into Giant Invaders.  I have no idea what they will become.  The leaves and stems are downy, if that tells you anything.  Underneath the alien canopy, the liverwort garden is doing just fine.  Liverworts are exceedingly adaptable, and do not seem to trouble themselves overmuch about the issue of invasive species.

Boats are cruising up and down Torch Lake, beach towels are drying on the deck rails, we’re tracking sand into the house and complaining about how hot it’s been the last few days. Still . . . the days are shorter. A few dry leaves swirl in the road. The tops of maples are beginning to turn.

Every year this happens. Every year we say The leaves are turning already! We’re going to have an early fall! 

Unlikely. Probably fall will come in its own good time, right when it usually does. There will be time for another picnic, time for another swim, time to slip the kayak into the Bay one more time.

But there is no denying the little signs. It’s time to gather up acorns against the coming winter.