Is It Only What’s Visible That’s Knowable

Go ahead and ask : what principle
animates the natural : owl pink Lady’s Slipper
orchid white-tailed deer woodchuck :
is it only what’s visible that’s knowable
— from “Long After Hopkins” by Brian Teare

On the first day of June — a day among a stretch of about a dozen or fifty when it rained, often all day long — we got out on the Clark Pond Trails in New London, NH in just the slightest intermittent sprinkling, motivated to see what we knew from past experience would be dozens or even hundreds of pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) blooming.

And we were not disappointed.



I especially like the pale yellows of the some of them, and the light shining through others, and the really dark, rich pinks. There must be more than a hundred just in one intersection of the Allen and Norman trails. And then there are maybe a hundred more scattered hither and thither along those trails and the Dancy trail.

They’re pollinated pretty much only by bumblebees, which is fortunate for them this year because until yesterday, our high temps have been in the 50Fs, when most bees aren’t active, but bumblebees can become active at temps as low as 40F (honeybees not until temps reach at least 60).

There were still a few painted (and red) trilliums around, and a couple of Jack-in-the-Pulpits.



Just starting to bloom in abundance are the Clintonia borealis (blue-bead lily), with a sort of waxy yellow flower.


This one has a white-striped black moth (Trichodezia albovittata) on it, and a fly of some kind:



The Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) is starting to become more obvious in the woodland understory and to get buds. One was quite tall, about 2.5 feet.



Bunchberry (Chamaepericlymenum canadense, formerly Cornus canadense) is also making itself seen, with some of the flowers looking more pale green than bright white. Plants with six (sometimes seven) leaves flower; plants with four leaves usually don’t.



The starflower (Lysimachia borealis) is also blooming now.



Around the streams and brooks there are colonies of false hellebore (Veratrum viride), which, as Go Botany notes, is a plant “composed of eastern North American populations that are widely separated from western North American populations.” It’s mostly coastal, found as far west as Tennessee and Ohio and then as far east as California, Idaho, and Montana; there are none in the middle of the continent: “It is hypothesized that continental glaciation produced this distribution.”



Tiarella cordifolia (foam-flower), a garden favourite of mine, is also blooming now in the woods.



Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides) has finished blooming here but an attractive flower head remains.



Besides the white-striped black moth, shown earlier, I also came across this dragonfly, Leucorrhinia, maybe hudsonica (Hudsonian Whiteface) …


… and this duskywing (Erynnis; possibly a dreamy duskywing, Erynnis icelus) butterfly, a kind of skipper.



I especially like the mosses (including club moss, or lycopodium spp., which are not true mosses), lichens, and fungi on these trails.


This is a Lycopodium clavatum, also called common, staghorn, and running clubmoss, and here it is, running: prostrateclubmossCPT1June2017


This yellow-needled white pine tree …


… and these sturdy striped maples (Acer pensylvanicum) are favourites.



You can see how much water there is, in brooks that are high and flowing, in water pooled on the trails.




Happy trails to you, until we meet again.




  1. I’d already forgotten how much water there was!
    Great close-ups of the lady-slippers. Sometimes one can’t see the trees for the forest, and the close-ups really make the details visible.

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