Recently, I went on a wildflower walk hosted by the local land trust. The location of our stroll was the lower portion of Ragged Mountain, starting from a trailhead that was the “easier” climb up the mountain. We discovered that our walk seemed to have been timed at the end of the blooming period for the May flowers and just before the summer flowers were in full bloom. Still, it was rewarding to be with like-minded people helping identify plants unfamiliar to their comrades.
My first new discovery occurred right at the trailhead when I asked someone about the bright orange flower there. Someone thought the Orange Hawkweed was considered invasive but several others commented that they have not seen an overabundance of it in this area. Although the Orange Hawkweed was introduced to the area, I have not found any information on its status as an invasive plant in this region.
Continuing on, I was introduced to the Indian Cucumber Root with its unique staging of leaves; one grouping of leaves whorled around the stem halfway up the plant and a separate group of leaves at the top. Unfortunately, this plant had not flowered yet but at least I learned how to identify it by its leaf structure. Someone also pointed out the clusters of Three Toothed Cinquefoil, identified by the three jagged points on the end of each leaf. These evergreen leaves are also clustered in groups of three.
The Star Flower was long gone and what was left of the Canada Mayflower was looking a bit droopy but it was clear that summer flowers were beginning to take their place. The Cranberry Viburnum and the Maple Leaf Viburnum were just beginning to bloom. I was pleased that I was able to identify these plants for the others in the group. I could also point out the Wild Sarsaparilla, the white fireworks ball of the flower replaced by a green seed ball. Wild blackberry and blueberry bushes were beginning to flower as well. As we entered the shade of the forest, we found clusters of Bunchberries in full bloom, the leaves and flowers reminiscent of a Dogwood tree. But the best find of the day was the group of Lady-slippers we found hidden beneath a tree.
After spending the first portion of our hike identifying plants, our leader suggested hiking another 15 minutes to an area with a view. Ah, to be young and optimistic! It may have been 15 minutes for him, if he had not been saddled with a group of 12-16 middle-aged adults who were out of shape from a long winter. As one member commented, at our age we start new every year. It probably took most of us another 30 minutes to reach the lookout. As I straggled in with the last group to reach the top, I found the view was a bit obscured due to the humidity. I think I will blame that humidity on the effort it took a few of us to reach this point and to return back down to the trailhead.