Signs of Autumn

I spent a wonderful weekend outdoors enjoying the autumn weather and appreciating the changes it brings. Between camping at Pillsbury State Park and a brief visit to my land, I saw a lot of wonderful things. There's so much to share!

What's in flower?

The star attraction of a quick trip to my land this weekend was the first sighting of Bottle Gentians (Gentiana clausa)!
These flowers are interesting in that they never open. They are pollinated by insects that force their way inside.

Another exciting find at Pillsbury was Nodding Ladies'-Tresses (Spiranthes cernua). There are a number of Ladies'-Tresses species in New England, but this is the only one I've found so far:

They are small, subtle, and easily overlooked. But I find their delicate, almost transparent flowers beautiful. And I was lucky enough to see ~150 of them in a grassy, open area along a woodland path!

There are, of course, a great many aster species blooming this time of year. I am not yet at all good at identifying them, but I believe this one is Bog Aster (Oclemena nemoralis):

I certainly found it growing on the floating bog at Pillsbury.

What's in fruit?

Cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) has beautiful glossy black berries right now:

Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides) is the dominant understory shrub in cool woods like mine. These beautiful red berries follow the fragrant white clusters of flowers I enjoyed in the spring:

The leaves and twigs are food for deer in winter, and the fruit are eaten by chipmunks, squirrels, ruffed grouse, and other birds.

Clintonia (Clintonia borealis) is also known as Blue Bead Lily - can you guess why? :)

The berries look appealing, but are mildly toxic to humans and are reported to taste awful.

In a similar vein, white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) is also known as Doll's Eyes:

Colors of Autumn

The Purple Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia purpurea) are extraordinary this time of year. They have changed from a fresh, bright green to a vivid, veined purple/red, complementing the yellowing sphagnum moss:

These ones live on a floating bog in the middle of a large pond at Pillsbury, catching and digesting insects to compensate for the lack of nutrient-rich soil.

Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) is turning from green to a beautiful red:

As is Whorled Wood Aster (Oclemena acuminata)

The grasses along the pond formed almost a rainbow of color: