Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trip Report: August Fruits and Flowers on the NW Branch

Saturday was a great day for a walk along the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia. We had unbelievably low temperatures in the 70s. And the aftermath of Thursday's powerful storm was apparent, with several downed trees and branches. Perhaps the prettiest was a large chunk of a sycamore across the trail, which gave us a good look at the beautiful bark without being too much of an obstacle.

On our favorite mountain laurel hill, there was a big oak tree that completely blocked the path (it was just about time to turn around anyway). There were several trees down in that area, in fact, which should make for an even more spectacular show than usual next May.

Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella
Wood sorrel has edible leaves and flowers.
Photo credit: by the van
We sampled many flowers and berries (marked with an asterisk below), but the highlight for many? The common garden weed wood sorrel, with its heart shaped leaves and lemony goodness. We'll have to post about that soon.

Here's a list of the things we stopped to look at -- over the course of a walk that was only about a mile, round trip. Links are to previous posts on the Natural Capital. Some photos are from the Creative Commons, because it was awfully cloudy on Saturday.

Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis
Evening primrose has edible flowers.
Photo credit: Steve Guttman

Asiatic dayflower* (Commelina communis)
Evening primrose* (Oenothera biennis)
Jewelweed* (Impatiens capensis)
Lady's thumb* (Polygonum persicaria)
Water pepper* (Polygonum hydrophilum)

With fruit, berries, or seeds
Black cherry* (Prunus serotina)
Elderberry* (Sambucus canadensis)
Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Water hemlock (Cicuta maculata)
Black cherries (Prunus serotina)
Wild black cherries -- edible but not very sweet
Photo credit: peppergrass

Wood sorrel* (Oxalis sp.)
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Sassafras* (Sassafras albidum)
Wintergreen* (Gaultheria procumbens)
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum)
Mile-a-minute (Persicaria perfoliata)
Beefsteak mint (shizo)* (Perilla frutscens)

Interesting Insects
Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars and butterfly (Papilio troilus)
Milkweed tussock moth caterpillar (Euchaetes egle)
Arrowhead spider (Verrucosa arenata)

Sound fun? Our next hike will be looking for pawpaws on September 11. Sign up here.

Lady's Thumb has edible flowers.
Photo credit: Jerry Oldnettel

Asiatic dayflower also has edible flowers.
Photo credit: titanium22

Elderberry -- valuable for birds and edible for humans

Pokeweed berries -- edible to birds, but not humans

arrowhead spider
Looking for caterpillars, I found a spider.
Arrowhead spider by myriorama
Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars curl up leaves to hide in.
Photo credit: poppy2323