When I see Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) I’m often reminded of how this plant helped me one fall. I had cut my tongue — not deeply, but enough that blood was flowing and flowing. Letting blood flow for a bit is a good thing, but after a few minutes, I decided to test out some wild medicine. Months prior, I’d prepared a tincture of Common Yarrow tops, which when applied to a wound can promote clotting. So, I put a dropper-full of tincture on a piece of cotton gauze, pressed it to my tongue, and, in under a minute, the bleeding stopped. (During the green season, chewing up a leaf and applying it as a poultice would have a similar effect.)
Of course, you need not bleed to appreciate this plant. A medicinal tea can be made from the leaves, flowers, or entire flowering tops, and is reported to help with many cold and flu symptoms. What comes to mind when you see Common Yarrow? Share your comments below.
Savannah Sparrows are grassland birds with buzzy songs. Often mistaken for Song Sparrows, Savannahs have comparably smaller bills, shorter, notched tails, and – to my ear – softer call notes. And, Savannah Sparrows typically have a distinctive yellow patch between each eye and upper bill. During the summer, these birds are found mostly in open field-type habitats, but during migration they can turn up in a variety of settings. I photographed this bird at the Plainville Cemetery in late April.
- Highlights from the Plainville Cemetery: At least one Bank Swallow was present all week along with the more common Northern Rough-winged, Barn, and Tree Swallows; Clammy Azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) and Smooth Winterberry (Ilex laevigata) are flowering; some Painted Turtles are still busy nesting; and Raccoon(s) left prints behind in the muddy paths (see photo).
- While mapping out fern locations for my upcoming walk at the Trout Ponds in Wrentham, I found a vocal, young Barred Owl and noticed patches of Noble Prince’s-pine (Chimaphila umbellata, see photo) about to bloom.
- Highlights from some Norfolk sites: 2 Eastern Meadowlarks, 20+ Bobolink, and several Savannah Sparrows at the former Norfolk Airport; Willow Flycatchers, Swamp Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats and the first flowering Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) along the Mill River; and 2 Purple Martins (see photo) at Stony Brook.
- Misc. Plainville sightings: Wood Duck family (9 young with adult) on Fuller Pond; Hooded Merganser family (5 young with adult) on Chestnut St. pond; 3 immature Barred Owls together near the Eagle Scout Nature Trail; I identified a tiny plant called Thyme-leaved Sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia); and ponds, lakes, and streams throughout town are filled to the brim with all the recent rain.
I added some photos to the Wild Edibles Monthly Guide.
Barring a rain-out, join me this Sunday 6/23 at 1pm for a Ferns and Feathered Friends walk in Wrentham. I’m also leading a bird walk at the Plainville Public Library on Tuesday 7/9. Details for both free events can be found on the Events page.
A Place on Water is a collection of three essays by Robert Kimber, Wesley McNair, and Bill Roorbach. Each author tells of how they came to know Drury Pond in the small town of Temple, ME and how they were forever changed by it. The essays took me back to two different times in my life: the summers of my youth when my family rented a cottage on a small pond in southwestern Maine and the time more recently that I spent camping just a couple of miles from Drury Pond.
The disturbed ground in this early June photo contains more than just rocks. Identify the white ingredients (click image to enlarge).
Leave your guess in the comments below. And be sure to check out the answer to last week’s tree quiz on the Quiz Answers page.
In late April, I noticed the emergence of a large roadside colony of the above hairy crosiers (a fancy word for fern fiddleheads). Six weeks later, the mostly bare ground had transformed into a crowded mass of arching Eastern Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) fronds.
As the crosiers suggest, this roughly 2′ tall, widespread fern has numerous glandular hairs on both stem and leaf. Look for this delicate species growing in dense patches in forests, fields, and along roadsides throughout New England.