The Wrack: flora

blog of the wells reserve & laudholm trust

What's Blooming? Pussy Toes

June 2, 2017 By Ginger Laurits Filed under Article Tags: american ladyfloramaster gardenerspussy toes

Pussy Toes in the Native Plant border on June 2, 2017Now is the heyday for woodland wildflowers; trillium and foamflower are in bloom and lady slippers are just peeking out from under their calyces.

Often missed at this time of year is the playful display of Antennaria plantaginifolia, commonly known as "pussy toes," named for its bloom of fuzzy, silvery-gray flowers that resemble cat’s feet. Pussy toes are in bloom now in the native plant border and on the hillside at the parking lot. This low-growing, native perennial wildflower has few needs and tolerates full sun/part shade, dry conditions, and poor soil. What more could a gardener ask?

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What's Blooming? Goldenrod

August 8, 2016 By Ginger Laurits Filed under Article Tags: floramaster gardenersnative plants

Goldenrod flowers. Photo by Ginger Laurits.Goldenrods are coming. You need not look far to see this harbinger of summer’s end. It's blooming in every field and roadside.

There are 19 species of goldenrod native to Maine that begin blooming in August and continue through fall. Allergy sufferers have maligned this beautiful plant as the source of their misery, but goldenrod, with its large, heavy, sticky pollen grains, is pollinated by insects and not by wind. The real culprit of our itchy eyes and runny noses is ragweed, which blooms at the same time and is pollinated by wind. Ambrosia artemisiifolia, common ragweed, is too elegant a name for the source of our misery, in my opinion.

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Timing Is Everything

August 6, 2016 By Nik Charov Filed under Article Tags: floramonitoringmushroomsphenologytwo worlds

A tasty tree-t

The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 8/7/2016, and Making It At Home's 8/11/2016 issue.

The orange ruffles hadn’t been there last week, but now they were impossible to miss. Overnight, it seemed, a chicken-of-the-woods had returned to roost on the old oak stump in our yard.

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Monarch Rescue 2015

September 4, 2015 By Suzanne Kahn Filed under Article Tags: faunafloramonarchsstewardship

The Reserve's annual late summer effort to save monarch eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises from the mowers that cut our fields happened last week. The mowing is essential in preventing the fields from growing into forests over time, and also as a management strategy for invasive species.

Monarch rescued

Thanks so much to the eleven volunteers who spent several hours in the warm sunshine combing the ubiquitous milkweed plants for signs of monarchs! We saved 38 caterpillars of all sizes, removing them from the fields that will be mowed within the coming weeks to fields that will not be mowed this year. The smallest of the caterpillars measured less than one inch in length, whereas the largest were several inches long. A handful of monarch butterflies were spotted fluttering over the fields during the rescue mission, providing hope that some of the rescued caterpillars will also reach adulthood.

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Leafing It All Behind

September 17, 2013 By Nik Charov Filed under Article Tags: floraleavespunkinfiddletwo worldswinter

coming soon to a beech near you

The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 9/22/13 [the fall equinox]:

This week the Wells Reserve at Laudholm is abuzz with preparations for our annual Punkinfiddle Family Festival, a rite of fall for this old New England farm. It’s our last big event of The Busy Season, and it always makes the fourth week of September feel like a “the turning point” – exit summer, enter fall. Frost threatens, jackets are located, the kids are ensconced once more in school. Water toys and pleasure craft are tucked away with the rest of summer’s memories; winter is coming and it’s time to pull back.

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A Botanist's Perception of Time

June 6, 2013 By Scott Richardson Filed under Article Tags: bogflora

Associated People Susan Bickford

A botanist’s perception of time is measured by the coming and going of flowers. We can’t stop it, but we have the ability to rewind it! All it takes is a trip…

Rhodora blooms in the mossy bogThomas J. Rawinski, botanist with the USDA Forest Service in Durham, New Hampshire, was among the presenters for last week's invasive plant workshop at the reserve. After a day in the auditorium and afield, he mused about his visit and reported on some of what he discovered while here. He was tickled to find lilacs and apples blossoming at the coast, since at his inland locale they had already gone by. And he found a variety of interesting species that don't always draw attention. Tom has kindly permitted us to share his notes and we're pleased to do so (with some light editing).

Photo: Rhodora in bloom at the edge of the mossy bog.

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Monarchs Rescued!

August 22, 2012 By Suzanne Kahn Filed under Article Tags: butterfliesflorainsectsmonarchvolunteer

Associated People Nancy Viehmann

Last week, a group of sixteen devoted volunteers set to work to rescue the eggs and caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly. Within the next week or two, many of the fields at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm will be mowed. Annual mowing of select fields is necessary to prevent important field habitat from growing up into forests, and to combat the spread of invasive species. The mowing is done in late summer, after field nesting birds like the Bobolink have finished rearing their young.

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Dragon's Mouth in the Bog

June 6, 2012 By Scott Richardson Filed under Article Tags: bogfloraorchid

Arethusa blossomArethusa bulbosaDragon's mouth or swamp-pink — is a perennial herb in the orchid family. In late spring, it can be found blooming in bogs or other swampy areas across much of Canada and the northeastern United States. We're fortunate to have a small population in the bog along the Muskie Trail. The recent construction of a boardwalk through the area is meant in part to help preserve this beauty.

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Tiny Orchids

June 10, 2008 By Hannah Wilhelm Filed under Article Tags: floraorchid

Early coralroot, Corallorhiza trifidaWhile walking the Wells Reserve trails this spring, naturalist Paul Miliotis discovered a tiny but beautiful orchid hiding under a skunk cabbage leaf. A group of us we went back to see the orchid, called early coralroot, Corallorhiza trifida, which was almost invisible before we got down on our knees on the boardwalk, and take a picture of its short yellowish stalks with tongue-like flowers. No leaves were visible, and C. trifida doesn’t really need them, because it is saprophytic, meaning that all its nourishment comes through symbiosis with the mycorrhizal fungi that form a vast underground network through healthy forest soils. Even plants that get energy through photosynthesis, such as oak trees and grapevines, gain resilience through their linkages to mycorrhizae. I was surprised but delighted by this find. Although C. trifida is a persistent plant (it is found in moist forests throughout the Northern United States and Canada), it is rarely seen.

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Associated People Paul Dest

While marking fields for mowing on the newly acquired Lord Parcel this past August, Reserve Manager Paul Dest was thrilled to discover two stems of the showy yet threatened native plant, the Northern Blazing Star. Paul made sure the lonely stalks were well marked to avoid being mowed over.

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Ragged Robin

June 26, 2007 By Susan Bickford Filed under Article Tags: flora

On a recent walk to the upper meadow off the Saw Whet Trial, I came across an old friend. A pretty, frilly little flower called Ragged Robin.

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Associated People Paul Dest

Copper Beech on May 7, 2010The Reserve's big beech has always been referred to by staff, Laudholm Trust members, and visitors as the copper beech, but the family that lived here throughout most of the 20th century preferred another name. "We always referred to it as the purple beech tree," says Nathaniel Lord.

Which is correct, purple or copper?

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Appearing as wide as it is tall, the Wells Reserve's copper beech tree is a dominant presence on the campus, commanding the same respect from many of our visitors as the human-made historic structures or other natural features on the property. As befits a tree with such stature, the Reserve's beech has an interesting cultural and natural history.

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[ From Watermark volume 18, number 3 ]

by Chuck Lubelczyk

As the saying goes, "There are two sides to every issue."

That seems to be the case this year with that most noxious of plants, Japanese barberry. Anyone who has walked or brushed by (pardon the pun) the plant knows how vengeful its thorns can be. Its impenetrable thickets dominate many parts of the Reserve, crowding out native vegetation such as arrowwood and high-bush blueberry. One might ask, what good is this shrub? Well, barberry might do some good, after all.

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