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By farmerdill on Apr 18, 2015 4:31 PM, concerning plant: Broccoli (Brassica oleracea 'Lieutenant')

Erect plant that develops few side shoots. Dark green smooth heads.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 11:23 PM, concerning plant: Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana uses the synonym Sagittaria variabilis. She remarks that "among our water-flowers none are more delicately lovely than those of the arrow-head". However, she gets a little sexist, proclaiming that it is fortunate the "ugly and inconspicuous female flowers grow on the lower whorls, while the male ones, with their snowy petals and golden centers, are arranged about the upper part of the scape."

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 11:12 PM, concerning plant: Nodding Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes cernua)

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana says this orchid is found in great abundance in September and October. While the author notes that "botany relegates it to wet places," she has spotted it in dry upland pastures and low-lying swamps. She uses the common name of "Ladies' Tresses" but says the plant's former English name was actually "Ladies' Traces" due to a resemblance "between its twisted clusters and the lacings which played so important a part in the feminine toilet." She also says that in parts of New England, people call it "Wild Hyacinth."

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 11:07 PM, concerning plant: Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris)

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana notes the invasive quality of this species even back in 1922. The author states the plant was brought from Europe and first naturalized near Boston. At the time of the book's publishing, the plant had become wild in different parts of the country, "quite over-running some of the farm-lands which border the Hudson River, and whitening the roadsides of Berkshire."

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 11:01 PM, concerning plant: Arrowleaf Tearthumb (Persicaria sagittata)

Since there is little information on this plant, I'll add what is in the book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana. She gives a full common name of "Arrow-Leaved Tear-Thumb." The stem is four-angled, erect, or somewhat climbing by its prickles. Leaves are arrow-shaped and short-stemmed. Flowers can be white or pale pink and are small and clustered. The calyx is usually five-parted and white or pale pink. There are usually eight stamens and no corolla. There is one pistil with three styles. The fruit is sharply three-angled. The author also states that the plant is rather noticeable, is common in low grounds, and is called "scratch-grass" in some areas.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 10:56 PM, concerning plant: Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana gives the author's personal experience with this plant. She says it so well, I'm going to quote the passage in its entirety.

"To one whose childhood was passed in the country some fifty years ago the name or sight of this plant is fraught with unpleasant memories. The attic or wood-shed was hung with bunches of the dried herb, which served as many gruesome warnings against wet feet, or any over-exposure which might result in cold or malaria. A certain Nemesis, in the shape of a nauseous draught which was poured down the throat under the name of 'boneset tea', attended such a catastrophe. The Indians first discovered its virtues, and named the plant ague-weed. Possibly this is one of the few herbs whose efficacy has not been overrated. Dr. Millspaugh says, "It is prominently adapted to cure a disease peculiar to the South, known as break-bone fever (Dengue), and it is without doubt from this property that the name boneset was derived."

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 10:47 PM, concerning plant: Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium)

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana gives the common names of "Thorn-Apple" and "Jamestown-Weed" to this plant. I've always heard it called either Devil's Trumpet or Jimson Weed, but I suppose that's why we have Latin names to keep us all straight.

The author states that the showy white flowers are found in waste places during the summer and autumn, "a heap of rubbish forming their usual unattractive background." She considers the plant to be rank and ill-scented. She also notes that it was introduced from Asia and "was so associated with civilization as to be called the 'white man's plant' by the Indians." She warns that this genus possesses narcotic-poisonous properties.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 10:41 PM, concerning plant: Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana has the author appreciating this plant for always being where it is supposed to be. She remarks at finding flowers that are supposed to be in wet places being found in dry sites and vice versa. But not the Turtlehead. She states that she does not ever remember seeing a Turtlehead "which had not gotten as close to a stream or marsh or a moist ditch as it well could without actually wetting its feet." She considers the flowers more striking than pretty and calls their common name "fairly appropriate". She also tells of hearing "unbotanical people" calling them "white closed gentians."

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 10:34 PM, concerning plant: American Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana)

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana gives the common names of "Traveller's Joy" and "Virgin's Bower". The author states that the plant blooms in July and August, while "later in the year the seeds with their silvery plumes give a feathery effect." She also makes note of experiments Darwin conducted with Clematis. Whether she is referring to this particular species or the whole genus is unknown, but she lists it under this species. Anyway, she states that Darwin was conducting experiments regarding the movements of the young shoots of the plant. He discovered that "one revolved, describing a broad oval, in five hours, thirty minutes; and another in six hours, twelve minutes; they follow the course of the sun."

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 10:25 PM, concerning plant: Mock Bishop's Weed (Ptilimnium capillaceum)

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana uses the synonym Discopleura capillacea. She also gives it the common name "Mock Bishop-Weed". The author notes that the plant blooms all summer in wet meadows, both inland and along the coast. She says it is especially common in the salt marshes near New York City. She speculates that the common name comes from the "fancied resemblance between the bracted flower clusters and a bishop's cap."

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By jmorth on Apr 17, 2015 10:19 PM, concerning plant: Jonquilla Narcissus (Narcissus 'Golden Echo')

Golden Echo was bred by Brent Heath of Brent and Becky's Bulbs. They have this to say about it:

"One of our own seedlings, longer than usual golden yellow cup melts down on its creamy white petals, a strong grower; wonderfully fragrant and great in pots; one of the longest lasting in bloom; mid-spring, 12 - 16" ."

Winner of the ADS Wister Award, given to good growing cultivars, w/ many blooms, and terrific performers under various climatic conditions. Cultivars so awarded are considered show quality, though the emphasis is on garden performance.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 10:15 PM, concerning plant: Spotted Cowbane (Cicuta maculata)

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana states that this plant's root is said "to contain the most dangerous vegetable poison native to our country". It is commonly confused with wild carrot, sweet Cicely, and other white-flowered members of the Parsley family. The author notes that it can usually be identified by its purple-streaked stem, which several pictures on this page show us. Furthermore, she says, "The umbels of the water hemlock are also more loosely clustered than those of the carrot, and their stalks are much more unequal." It is commonly found in marshy ground and blooms in midsummer. She uses the common names "Water Hemlock" and "Spotted Cowbane" which both refer to its poisonous properties.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 9:55 PM, concerning plant: Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)

The book, "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana, gives the common name of "Queen Anne's Lace" and also "Bird's Nest" and "Wild Carrot." She says it is one of the peskiest weeds the farmer has to deal with. The book notes that "in late summer the flower stalks erect themselves, forming a concave cluster which has the appearance of a bird's nest." Some of the photos on this page can attest to this phenomenon. The author also states that she has heard that there is a species of bee that makes use of the "nest" but has never herself seen "indications of such an occupancy." I would be interested to know whether that is true or scientists have discovered proof in the nearly hundred years since this book was published.

As a butterfly gardener, I can attest that this is a host plant for the Eastern Black Swallowtail. This plant does not grow where I live in Florida, but I have seen it used by caterpillars in West Virginia and Kentucky. Eastern Black Swallowtails can be something of a pest to herb gardeners as they use parsley, fennel, dill, and rue. Queen Anne's Lace is a good plant to have nearby if you want to transfer the caterpillars so they can become butterflies without eating your herbs.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 9:42 PM, concerning plant: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

The book, "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana gives us many uses of this plant from all over Europe. She gives the common names of "Common Yarrow" and "Milfoil". As you can probably tell from the genus name, tradition claims that it was used by Achilles to cure the wounds of his soldiers. As of the book's publishing in 1922, the author says the plant still formed one of the ingredients of an ointment valued by the Scotch Highlanders. Early English botanists called the plant "nose-bleed" because if you put the leaves in your nose it would cause it to bleed. She quotes another writer, Gerarde, as saying men would chew the leaves (especially green) to cure a toothache. The pungent leaves also earned it the name "Old Man's Pepper". In Sweden, its name means "field hop" and refers to its use in manufacturing beer. Linnaeus considered the beer thus brewed to be more intoxicating than beer brewed with hops. The old women of the Orkney Islands believed "milfoil tea" had the power to dispel melancholy. In Switzerland, a good vinegar was said to be made from the alpine species.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 9:31 PM, concerning plant: Colic root (Aletris farinosa)

The book, "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana advises that this plant can be found in low, wet meadows and in grassy woods. She notes a superficial appearance to "the twisted spikes of ladies' tresses" but says the "flat rosette of lance-shaped leaves from which springs the white wand of flowers is a distinguishing feature of the colic root." She also describes the blossoms as "wrinkled and rough outside." They have a look of being dusted with white meal, which is where they get their genus name, Aletris, a Greek word meaning "a female slave who grinds corn." She also describes the fragrance as faint and raspberry-like.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 9:18 PM, concerning plant: Wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata)

The book, "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana tells us that this plant is an ornamental climber which bears its flowers and fruits at the same time. She says it grows in rich soil along rivers in parts of New England, Pennsylvania, and westward. As of the book's publishing in 1922, she says this was frequently cultivated in gardens and made an effective arbor vine. The genus name derives from two Greek words which mean "hedgehog" and "bladder" which references the prickly fruit, according to the author. She also gives it the common name of Wild Balsam Apple.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 9:13 PM, concerning plant: Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)

The book, "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana also gives the common name of White Alder to this plant. The author says the genus name of Clethra is the ancient Greek name for alder, which this plant somewhat resembles in foliage. The author also speaks poetically of the fragrance of this plant and appreciates that it blooms in August when many flowers are showing "the effects of the long days of heat and drought." She also notes that it grows in "the cool thickets which line the lanes along the New England coast."

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 9:05 PM, concerning plant: Adder's Violet (Goodyera pubescens)

The book, "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana gives the common name of Rattlesnake-Plantain and makes some rather outrageous claims. She says the plant has been reputed as an infallible cure for hydrophobia and snake bites. In fact, she says, "The Indians had such faith in its remedial virtues that they would allow a snake to drive its fangs into them for a small sum, if they had leaves on hand to apply to the wound."

Melanie hopes the Indians were suckering people for money and using non-venomous snakes. Still, don't ever use a plant for medicinal purposes without consulting a doctor. Also, don't handle snakes with the intention of letting them bite you. In a more pleasant description, the author notes that the flowers appear in late summer and are less conspicuous than the tufted, white-veined leaves.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 8:54 PM, concerning plant: Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

This plant nearly always grows in wetlands or moist areas. In Florida, that usually means swamps and wetlands, but in West Virginia I've seen it growing right on the edge of a small lake. Wherever I've seen it, it is an absolute butterfly magnet. It attracts the larger Swallowtails, the smaller Skippers, and everything in between. It generally blooms in May in Florida, but when I visited West Virginia it was blooming in July.

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By mellielong on Apr 17, 2015 8:47 PM, concerning plant: Common Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

The book, "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana gives us quite a bit of historical information about this plant. The author notes that the plant borders the lanes and streams and blooms in early summer. Later in the year, the plant produces dark berries from which "elderberry wine is brewed by the country people". The fine white wood is easily cut and used for pegs and skewers. She also claims a decoction of the leaves can protect delicate plants from caterpillars. Regarding the name, she says the "white pith can be easily removed from the stems, hence the old English name of bore-wood." She further explains that the name elder is probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon "aeld" meaning fire, and refers to the use of the hollow branches in "blowing up a fire".

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