Archive for Wildflowers: Orange

Tired Green, Full Fruits

Tired Green, Full Fruits . . .

Tired Green: faded Lamb's Quarters in Hudson River Park. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

Tired Green: faded Lamb’s Quarters in Hudson River Park. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

1. Tired Green

The final leg of a recent bus trip was made easier by sharing the ride with poet CA Conrad. He boarded the Greyhound in Philadelphia on his way to an autumn artist’s residency at the Macdowell Colony. I was headed back to my West Village home. This coincidence gave us the opportunity to reminisce over our early days and share recent news. While doing so, I mentioned how I have always enjoyed this time of year marked by “the tired green of late September.”

Conrad never holds back in conversation. As a poet, he values each spoken word. He noted that poetic phrase of mine, which I have been savoring in my mind ever since.

By doing so, I have been practicing one of the techniques that has become synonymous with Conrad’s writing process. He calls it (Soma)tic Poetics: exercises involving the poet suffusing his or her self with a singular theme for a set period of time. These exercises can take various forms such as eating only orange foods, or wearing only blue clothes. For me, I began contemplating tired green foliage, to see what insights the plants’ form and color might reveal.

My use of the word tired stems from the physical wear and tear a plant undergoes during the hot sun and scattered thunderstorms of summer. Native and immigrant urban wildflowers have to endure even more stress and the color, the tired green of late September, reveals that to my eyes. The bright lime and avocado shades of May transform into a grayish pallor that also shows the underlying yellows, often edged in brown. Though not yet ready to burst into color and fall, the near future season of transition for the leaves is visible.

Some hardier species do remain in bloom. One that sports showy white petals above its aging leaves this time of year is Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense).

Horsenettle in bloom in Hudson River Park. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

Horsenettle in bloom in Hudson River Park. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

Tired the green may be, but there are still fresh, colorful wildflowers to be found throughout the urban landscape.

2. Full Fruits

Yes, this is Manhattan! The view from Fort Tryon Park. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

Yes, this is Manhattan! The view from Fort Tryon Park. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

My wife and I visited the annual Medieval Festival in Fort Tryon Park on the last Sunday of September. Located on the far upper west side of Manhattan, this park sits on a high bluff overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades, which form a true fjord. The views are breathtaking and wild, hard to associate with the conventional image of Manhattan, although the park is located on the latitude of 190th Street.

Flanking the paths of Fort Tryon Park we discovered a variety of late wildflowers such as Asters and Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

Jewelweed in bloom in Fort Tryon Park. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

Jewelweed in bloom in Fort Tryon Park. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

Prevalent, too, were the fruits of many species, such as the Common Nightshade (Solanum ptychanthum), its stems supporting what look like tiny black tomatoes. Most vivid of all was Common Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). A patch of these plants resembled a wildflower vineyard lush with thick drooping clusters of burgundy and purple berries. A sign this summer, now retired, cultivated an excellent growing season.

The full fruits of Common Pokeweed. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

The full fruits of Common Pokeweed. (photo taken 09 29 2013)

– rPs 09 30 2013

Postscript:

You can learn more about poet CA Conrad by visiting his own blog (and purchasing and reading his masterpiece, The Book of Frank). Click on his name under the Blogroll . . .

Learn more about Fort Tryon Park by visiting the website of the Fort Tryon Park Trust: http://www.forttryonparktrust.org/

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A Literary Wildflower

A Literary Wildflower . . .

The Scarlet Pimpernel opens only on sunny days. (photo by Maryann Amici 08 04 2013)

The Scarlet Pimpernel opens only on sunny days. (photo by Maryann Amici 08 04 2013)

My desire to share an enthusiasm for Manhattan’s wildflowers hit home in a delightful way in recent weeks.

The story began, as it often does, with a walk. My wife and I were enjoying a Sunday afternoon outing. We had set out to enjoy the sunshine and unseasonably cool air after seeing a film in Battery Park City. The bonus appeared in Hudson River Park when we found a tiny creeping plant flowering in a color quite unlike the solid white, yellow, or pink I usually see in the urban field. The pointed petals of this example held a hue more like smoked salmon with a distinctly purple center.

When we got home, I began to search through resources for a positive identification. One detail I did note was that the leaves, stems, and general spreading appearance of the plant resembled Common Chickweed.

I had been at work less than five minutes when, from the other side of the room, Maryann announced: “Found it!”

Indeed she had, by using some of the same search terms and comparisons I have illustrated in past posts. My wife, I have discovered, has been an attentive reader. She has honed her own skills and has done so, at least in small part, by reading Wildflowers of the West Village.

The flower we found turned out to be one that has a broader cross-cultural appeal, having given its name to a famous piece of literature –

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Anagallis arvensis is a European immigrant closely related to Common Chickweed; a fact that further satisfied my own little ego, as I had made that connection on my own before reading an authoritative resource, in this case the comprehensive database of The Connecticut Botanical Society, which can be found by following this link:

http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/galleries/anagallisarve.html

I must admit here that I had never heretofore known Scarlet Pimpernel, the wildflower, had established itself in North America. I knew of the name, as most people do, by way of the famous novel of the French Revolution authored by Baroness Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála “Emmuska” Orczy de Orczi.

We were fortunate to come across this little literary flower when we did, The Scarlet Pimpernel blooms in full only on sunny days. Overcast weather and evening compels this plant’s petals to fold up. Had that been the case, we might have missed it entirely, or overlooked it as just another example of Common Chickweed.

This leads me to relate another lesson I have learned, and one I hope to share: students and lovers of nature must carpe diem when a new wildflower is found. Wild plants in urban environments are especially subject to the whims of groundskeepers, vehicles, or in this case, their own unique habits.

The face of the Scarlet Pimpernel. (photo taken 08 04 2013)

The face of the Scarlet Pimpernel. (photo taken 08 04 2013)

— rPs 08 28 2013

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