Archive for Wildflowers: Blue

Spring! Spring! Palm Sunday Passover

Spring! Spring! Palm Sunday Passover . . .

Scilla siberica April 2014.

Scilla siberica April 2014.

An atmospheric switch flicked. Palm Sunday passed, borne up on bright skies, extending a temperature nearly touching eighty Fahrenheit. The wind, at last, was less generous, bringing stillness.

Past high noon, along a fence, I did see a single yellowed bumblebee buzz a shaded Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris). Beauty along a margin, preceding formal plantings, as nearby some nearly pale violet Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill) spread on a backdrop of bark brown soil.

Marsh Marigold April 2014.

Marsh Marigold April 2014.

Farther afield, yet on the west side near the Hudson, the Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) has appeared. No stinky foot in odor present here to my senses. This bloom, to my eyes, is the actual and sudden appearance of first thick leaves forming narrow green vases affixed to the forest floor.

One of Vases on the Forest Floor. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

One of Vases on the Forest Floor. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

Exceptional greenery became apparent, too, in patches of the Onion Grass chive (genus Allium), found often at the base of trees, standing in thatches at a full state of lushness.

genus Allium April 2014.

genus Allium April 2014.

Shoots! Everywhere!

Eastern Skunk Cabbage April 2014.

Eastern Skunk Cabbage April 2014.

Spring has begun to passover our latitude; at last.

– rPs 04 14 2014

Leave a Comment

An “Irish Spring”

An “Irish Spring” . . .

(photo taken 03 16 2012)

I discovered a pot of wildflower gold on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. Surrounding the base of a tree beside the bike path along the West Side Highway, I found an Irish spring mix of Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), white Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), and blue Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica), blooming together.

The trees are bare, though budding; the ground is spongy, beginning to turn verdant. In this environment, the diminutive wildflowers of the early season are a refreshing sign of life renewing on the cusp of spring.

Breathe deeply . . .

(photo taken 03 16 2012)

– rPs 03 17 2012

Leave a Comment

Red, White, and Blooms

Red, White, and Blooms . . .

Today is the Fourth of July, 2011: Independence Day; the 235th birthday of the United States of America. Wildflowers of the West Village would like to celebrate the holiday with three local flowers, each sporting one of the nation’s three patriotic primary colors.

Red Clover (Trifolium pretense)

Red Clover (photo taken 06 2011)

Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Field Bindweed (photo taken 06 2011)

Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis)

Asiatic Dayflower (photo taken 06 2011)

– rPs 07 04 2011

Comments (1)

An April Shower’s Wildflowers

An April Shower’s Wildflowers . . .

A view of Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn captures the cold colors of early April. (photo taken 04 10 2011)

 

The transition from winter to spring really does resemble the way a rainbow emerges from a storm. First, there is the monochromatic gray sky, opening up with wind and water until it begins to thin out. A hint of pale blue emerges, followed by the electrum sun and the full spectrum of visible light manifested by the prism of that same rainfall, now receding.

April 2011 followed this manner of blooming, at least in New York City. A season opening fly fishing trip to Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn was accompanied by the somber colors of early spring. The lake itself was charcoal grey and surrounded by the tan stalks of last year’s cattails and the brown mesh of tree branches just beginning to bud. A week of cold rain followed. The spring season appeared to be as late as the Passover and Easter holidays.

When Easter Sunday did arrive, it turned into the first balmy warm day of the year. The humidity appeared in an instant, bumblebees filled the air, robins and purple finches trilled in the trees, which like the grounds all around town had gone a bright pastel green. The wildflowers, too, had arrived, including . . .

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

 

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

 

Ground Ivy (Glechoma  hederacea)

Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

 

Heartsease (Viola tricolor)

Heartsease (Viola tricolor)

 

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

 

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

 

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

 

Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)

Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)

 

Wild Violet (Viola papilionacea)

Wild Violet (Viola papilionacea)

 

The first act of Manhattan’s spring blooming is complete. The stage is now set for May’s flowers.

–  rPs 04 29 2011

Comments (1)

The Beautiful Dayflower

The Beautiful Dayflower . . .


Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis) blooms along a wrought iron fence on West 13th Street. (photo taken 06 23 2010)

“Wildflowers of the West Village” has so far documented and profiled over a dozen species of native and immigrant wildflowers. Some have stood out, literally, because of their size (the Common Mullein) or because of their sheer number and distribution (the Dandelion). One question I have yet to fully investigate involves the subjective area of beauty.

Many of the wildflowers found in the West Village resemble variations of the common daisy: white petals, yellow center; or else are completely yellow, like the Wood Sorrel; or simply green, like Lamb’s Quarters and the Common Plantain.

Enter the Asiatic Dayflower, Commelina communis.

Known as “bluebells” to some (though not to be confused with the true Common Bluebell, the springtime perennial Hyacinthoides non-scripta), the Asiatic Dayflower is an herbaceous annual that blooms into its own by late June and lasts on until the middle of the autumn season. The name indicates correctly that the plant is an immigrant from East Asia, where it is found in both China and Japan.

I studied the Japanese language during my undergraduate years, and that culture’s name for the plant is tsuyukusa – “dew herb” – which to me poetically describes this plant in its best light. The dew herb prefers moist soil and damp, shaded areas. Groups of the plant will be often found clustered in side street tree pits and in the little gardens situated beside stoops. The thick green foliage will grow up to about knee high and then suddenly present blue blooms along a red brick wall or within and without the length of a black wrought iron fence.

The deep green lanceolate leaves do not possess a leaf stalk, yet nonetheless resemble a miniature corn plant. Leaves are supported by decumbent stems that also carry the blooms on inflorescences located near the tip. An individual Asiatic Dayflower is a thing of beauty and resembles a plant’s colorful reinterpretation of a mouse’s face: the shape and position of the two large blue petals bring to mind the ears; the six stamens, the whiskers; and the third, white petal beneath forms the pointed little mouth.

Close up of an Asiatic Dayflower blooming along Jane Street. (photo taken 06 23 2010)

Each bloom holds six yellow stamens, which are an interesting study. These can be divided into two sets of three: the top, or posticous, are infertile; the bottom, or anticous, are fertile. This naturally occurring example of numerical symmetry and balance of opposites leads one to make a connection between the plant’s Asian roots and the philosophical tenets of that region’s primary philosophical model, Buddhism.

The Asiatic Dayflower has uses beyond inspiration for philosophical contemplation. The flowers have been used in Japan for pigment and a specific dye called aigami, a particular shade of blue that was an essential aesthetic component to Japanese woodcuts of the Ukiyo-e era of the 18th and 19th centuries. Chinese medicine has brewed the leaves into a tea that relieves sore throats. A new environmental application has been suggested because of the specie’s ability to accumulate metals. A pioneer ruderal already, the plant might in the future be planted purposely around abandoned mines as a way to soak up excess heavy metals from the surrounding soil.

I would add here that the Asiatic Dayflower’s proclivity for edges would make it a fine domesticated ornamental border in small gardens. The plant already gives life and beauty to West Village spots neglected either because of nearby construction or rentals occupied by folks too preoccupied to tend their tree pit.

With so many historical and practical uses, and because of its distinctive, deep blue bloom, the Asiatic Dayflower is my selection as the “most beautiful” Wildflower of the West Village.

Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis): the "most beautiful" wildflower of the West Village? (photo taken 06 23 2010)

– rPs 07 30 2010

Leave a Comment

« Newer Posts