Monday, September 15, 2014

Walking in National Arboretum's fern valley

Last week we took a afternoon walk in the U.S. National Arboretum's native woodland trails called Fern Valley. It's like a trip to the wilderness with some very nice benches and bridges and huge old trees. The floor of the valley that has a stream running through it has all kinds of plants and wild flowers. I wasn't expecting to see so many this time of year so it was a nice surprise to discover that flowers bloom in the woods even with a full canopy of leaves over head. I took the camera to capture some of the scenes and focused on flowers and small plants and the creepy orange black bug that lives on milkweed seed juice!

 Bright red cardinal flower were hiding way off in the understory but my zoom helped me capture them for the first among many colorful surprises.

 One I hadn't ever seen or heard of but fortunately we saw a sign describing this unique plant name. Doll's eye plant or white baneberry, Actaea pachypoda is the latin name and it seems it has a white flower and is related to buttercups and is recommended by growers for gardens but endangered in the wild.

 The tall green headed coneflowers were reaching out from the edge of the woods towards the sunny sky.

Jack-in-the-pulpit seed clusters bright red color was easy to find. 

 Orange flowering jewelweed was abundant along the damp creek edge and humming birds were visiting but too quick and shy for my camera to capture.

 On the common milkweed seed pods at the edge of the parking area we found a cluster of milkweed bugs who live on the seeds by burrowing a hole into the pod and sucking the juice out of the seeds. The bright orange color is a warning to predators that they are poison to the creatures who might try to eat them because they carry the milkweed's toxic chemicals in their systems. They evolved together the bug and the plant.
 I don't know this plant's name but it's bright green flowers or buds for flowers and the leaves catching a blue reflection from the sky above were very pretty along the woodland path's edge. Nettle called clear-weed perhaps? Not sure if that is what this one was but it fits most of the description in my wildflower field guide. I got a second opinion and we both think it's Clearweed described on Wiki if you want to know more.

 Beautiful obedient plant flowers are sturdy and seen in lots of gardens blooming and feeding bees this time of year. It was in a sunny spot at the edge of the trail.

Finally the tall sunflowers were over seven feet I had to look up at them when standing next to them a few flowers were blooming at the bottom near the ground so that gave ma a chance to get the first image very golden in color. US National Arboretum is a great place to visit Friday's through Monday 8:00-5:00 but closed due to sequestration budget cuts by the Congress it's no longer open Tuesday Wednesday nor Thursday.

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