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Archive for the ‘Color: Pink-Red’ Category

Recently, I took a road trip around Ireland. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve been with such beautiful scenery and so many different landscapes, it was perfect for a travelling naturalist!

While in Galway, I saw this flower growing on the Spanish Arch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Arch).

 

Red Valerian, Galway, Ireland in July

Red Valerian, Galway, Ireland in July

I love flowers that can grow in any odd space, and this one certainly could. It was perched about halfway up, it doesn’t seem to have much of a foothold of dirt, but it is flourishing nonetheless! You can see here the hot pink head of tightly packed flowers. The Red Valerian is originally from the Mediterranean but can now be find places such as Ireland, not only in the wild but it is a garden perennial as well. I thought it might be more of a shrub than a wildflower because of the thick wooden stem holding on to the rock, but apparently it is a ‘subshrub’ and will be shrublike if it needs to be.

Listed as a member of the Valerian family in my Collins Pocket Guide (1996 edition), I just read on Wikipedia that Valerian is now considered part of the Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliacea). Flowers in this family have leaves opposite and small flowers with 5 joined petals.

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Recently I visited Gothenburg, Sweden. The weather was unusually nice for this time of year! We saw a lot of spring flowers there, this one really stood out as quite different from the rest.

I came across this funny looking pink flower growing in the shade under a tree, seemingly straight out of the dead leaves there. It was so odd looking because it didn’t have any green around it and I thought I was seeing things. This is a toothwort (Lathraea squamaria) or in Swedish, Vätteros. It is a member of the figwort or snapdragon family and grows April – May in woods or hedges. It is a parasite! It grows on roots, usually on Hazel. The flowers are 2-lipped and a pinkish-purple color. It looks like it doesn’t have leaves, but it does have leaves, they are just white. It is very cool to come across one of the few plants that does not require chlorophyl.

Toothwort or Vätteros, Gothenburg, Sweden

Toothwort or Vätteros, Gothenburg, Sweden

Where does it get its name? ‘Vätte’ in Swedish means goblin, and this goblin-rose gets its name because goblins spend most of their lives underground. The English name for it, toothwort, is not as interesting. ‘Wort’ is an old English name for plant, and ‘tooth’ refers to the root, which looks a bit like a bunch of teeth (see here). There are other flowers which are also called toothwort, so there can be confusion with the name. Let’s just call it goblin rose!

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In mid-July, I went for a walk near my home in Stockholm and spotted this frilly flower by the side of a path on a hill.

Knapweed

In English, it is called Brown Knapweed and in Swedish it is called Rödklint.  ‘Knap’ and ‘klint’ are both old words meaning a small hill or crest of a hill, which seems quite fitting since I found it on a hill. It also grows in meadows and roadsides, anywhere in Southern and Central Sweden. It isn’t ‘röd’ (meaning ‘red’ in Swedish) but more of a purple color.

Knapweed1

This plant grows to between 30 and 80 cm high and has narrow leaves at random intervals on the stalk. The flower is what drew me to it – with its frilly head of what looks almost like purple hair. Looking closer, I liked the way the flower grows out of the ‘blomkorg’ (=literally flower basket, but meaning flower head), which looks like an acorn.

Ants enjoy eating the nutritious fruit and in this way help to spread the plant’s seeds. In the winter, the fruit in the flower head serve as food for birds.

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This year’s spring has been beautiful – it started earlier than usual so we’ve been able to enjoy the spring flowers for longer. My favorite thing this time of year is seeing the flowering trees. There are magnolias, dogwoods and cherry trees. The magnolias have all finished blooming, but the cherry trees seem to hold on to their flowers for longer. This year, they have hit their peak bloom in April, whereas last year it was early May that they were at this stage.

Cherry Tree, The Fens, Boston, MA in April

 

The cherry tree’s genus is Prunus and it is in the rose family (not surprising when you see the rose-like flowers). Cherries have trunk bark with numerous cross streaks and buds with many scales. The whitish flowers are in long grape-like clusters cherries are always thornless. The leaves sticks and seeds from cherry trees often contain hydrocyanic acid, which makes the crushed twigs smell a little sour and if ingested, can make cattle or horses sick (or kill them). The fruit of the cherry tree is important to birds and mammals for food.

There are several species of cherry tree, but many of them are ornamental and not native to the U.S. The main way that the book I use distinguishes among species, “A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs” by George A. Petrides, is to look at the bark, the leaves, and the placement of the flowers. Is the bark rough and dark or smooth? Are the leaves sharp-toothed or blunt? Egg-shaped or narrow?  Are the flower clusters umbrella-like or in long clusters?

Cherry Tree Leaves, Boston

You can see that this cherry tree’s leaves have egg-shaped sharp-toothed leaves, with teeth that are so small they are almost hair-like. They are red underneath and green on top. I don’t know what type of cherry tree this is, but I know it’s good to sit under and read on sunny days and watch the birds fly from tree to tree.

Cherry Tree, Boston, MA

The flowers are quite showy and have not fallen off yet, despite the heavy winds the other day.

Cherry Tree Flowers, Boston, MA (April, 2012)

Cherry Tree Flowers, Boston, MA April

 

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In July and August near my apartment in Stockholm, bindweed had taken over a green area surrounding a bench in a park. It is considered a weed because it grows quickly and tends to choke surrounding plants with its tight tentacles.  I find them so beautiful, though, and can’t imagine wanting to remove them. I was able to take some time with my camera and get some high quality shots. I especially like the delicate stamens in these photos. The ones I found were a very light shade of pink, but I have seen them all white and some light bluish-purple.

Field Bindweed (Åkervinda), Stockholm, July 2011

Field Bindweed (Åkervinda), Stockholm, Sweden July 2011

Field Bindweed (Åkervinda), Stockholm, Sweden July 2011

The English name makes sense – it is a flower that grows in fields and binds and winds around things. In Swedish, Åker means “field” and “vinda” at least sounds to me like “winding” like how this plant winds around things nearby.

Very similar to the Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium), the Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) has smaller leaves. Other members of the same family, the Morning Glory family, have similar flowers but slightly different leaf shapes or sizes. Looking up this flower, I learned that members of the morning glory family are often climbers, twining counterclockwise.

In Boston, I saw a few bindweeds growing in early September.  In Sweden, bindweeds grow through August.

In this photo, you can see that the flowers close up at the end of the day (photos taken at 9 PM at the height of the Swedish summer).

Field Bindweed, Stockholm, Sweden July, 2011

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One of my favorite characteristics of a wildflower is its ability to grow where ever it can.  The Rosebay Willowherb is a perfect example of a resilient, beautiful weed.  Part of the willowherb family, this flower has several names in English, depending on where you’re from and when you grew up. In Britain, they call it the Rosebay Willowherb and it has this name in the Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe Collins Pocket Guide. In North America, it is called Fireweed. This name comes from its tendency to grow on burnt sites after forestfires because it likes to grow on burned over land.  In World War II, this flower was called ‘bombweed’ in Britain because it would grow in bomb craters. I found this old illustration of the willowherb, but it is called ‘blooming sally’, I wonder why? That name hadn’t come up in any of the other sources I used to learn about this flower.

In Swedish, it is called Mjölke (mjölk means milk). I find this interesting because it is so opposite from the name fireweed! But ‘mjölke’ must come from the milky silky hairs that the seeds grow to fly to a new site.  In Swedish, there are many other common names (brudfackla, duntrav, kropp, mjölkört, praktduna, rallarros, rävrumpa, rävsvans, skogsbloss) according to Den Virtuella Floran. The latin name is Epilobium angustifolium but some botanists (and the Collins Guide) put it in the Chamerion genus. The wikipedia article on the Rosebay Willowherb is very well written and comprehensive.

Rosebay Willowherb (Mjölke), Stockholm, Sweden July 2011

The Rosebay Willowherb is a very tall, almost hairless perennial. The flowers are bright pink with four petals and are on the stalk in a pyramidal shape. I liked it that the plants seem to have flowers in several different stages of growth all at the same time.

The Fireweed is a pioneer species, the first to grow in clear sites. This explains why I saw it growing in a construction site through gravel. It is used to reestablish vegetation in sites.

Rosebay Willowherb (Mjölke), Stockholm, Sweden July 2011

After they bloom, the seeds get silky hairs to disperse with the wind. I did not get a chance to get a picture of this, perhaps next year!

According to wikipedia, this plant has several medicinal uses and is nutritious and edible.

 

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I found a second mallow! Perhaps why I am so pleased by mallows is because they are not natural to the U.S. Those that grow in the U.S. are mainly in the South and West and are cultivated or have escaped from cultivation.

Common Mallow (Rödmalva), Stockholm, Sweden

I spotted these mallows in July in Stockholm. They have notched petals, like most mallows, and they were pink-ish purple with darker purple veins. I posted last year about a very beautiful mallow, the Musk Mallow (Rosenmalva), which is larger, a lighter color pink without such dark purple veins.

Common Mallow (Rödmalva), Stockholm, Sweden

The wikipedia article about the common mallow has a list of names for this flower in other languages. The Swedish name, rödmalva, must get its name from the color (röd=red) and malva (the Latin name for the mallow family and genus).  I was interested to see that the French name is ‘Mauve’.  It turns out, the origin of the English word ‘mauve’ (definition: pale purple color) comes from the mid 19th century from the French, which literally means ‘mallow’ (and probably originates in the Latin name malva).  It is true, this flower is mauve-colored!

The seed head of this plant is edible and the mallow’s leaves are considered medicinal for a range of ailments. And did you know that the marsh mallow’s roots were used originally for the confection marshmallow? But now-a-days marshmallow is made of syrup, gelatin and other ingredients.

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In my walk through the woods on the edge of Stockholm the first weekend of June, I found this beautiful flower with 5 cleft petals.  It is called a Red Campion, even though it is quite pink.  In Swedish, it is called Rödblära.  This flower blooms from May to August here in Sweden usually in damp woods or shady hedges where the soil is rich.

Red Campion (Rödblära), Stockholm, Sweden

Red Campions (from the Pink family) are medium/tall hairy perennials and can have many different shades of pink or red due to hybridization with white campions.  The Latin name is Silene dioica.  “Dioica” comes from the fact that male and female flowers are born on seperate plants.  The males have 10 stamens and a 10-veined calyx whereas females have 5 stamens and a 20-veined calyx.  In this photo, you can see the hairy stems and leaves.

Red Campion (Rödblära), Stockholm, Sweden (June 2011)

Red Campion (Rödblära), Stockholm, Sweden

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I almost missed them – they bloomed while I was busy and are just starting to lose their petals now.  There was an article recently in the Boston Globe about the magnolia trees on Commonwealth Avenue  which are certainly magnificent.  There is a place in my heart, though, for the magnolias on Marlborough Street (parallel to Comm Ave) because I lived there once and that’s where I fell in love with them.  I took a few pictures of the magnolias still blooming May 2nd, 2011.

Magnolia on Marlborough

Magnolia Flower

Magnolia Flowers, May 2, 2011

Magnolia in the Back Bay

Magnolia Flower, without petals

I posted last year about the magnolia trees blooming in North Carolina in March, check it out for some more background information on magnolias.  It’s interesting to compare the species – the ones in Boston are clearly different.

Here’s a little more from the Peterson guide (1958 edition) about magnolias – thank you Aunt JoAnn!

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It took me some time to identify these beautiful summer wildflowers because at first I thought they were a hybrid between red and white campions, which also have 5 notched petals.  It didn’t seem quite right, though, because campions have much deeper notches.  Finally, after flipping through my Collins Pocket Guide of Wild Flowers several times and double checking with my favorite Swedish flower identifier (http://linnaeus.nrm.se/flora/), I am confident that these flowers are Musk Mallows (latin name:  Malva alcea).

Musk Mallow (Rosenmalva), Stockholm, Sweden

In Swedish, the name is ‘Rosenmalva’ which means ‘rose mallow’.  They look like they should be from a cultivated garden, but these healthy, showy plants were thriving in the corner of a sandy parking lot in July and August in Stockholm.  They are grown as cultivated plants.  Apparently they are not very common in Sweden, and only grow south of Uppland, so I was quite lucky to see them.  I felt lucky to see such beautiful flowers every morning as I was about to start my day!

Musk Mallow (Rosenmalva), Stockholm, Sweden

Musk Mallow (Rosenmalva), Stockholm, Sweden

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