Posts Tagged 'flowers'

Orange Pollen

Little flower, big bee.
Long tongue into the nectar, anther against the forehead. This Lamium isn’t letting the bee leave town without some pollen.

But wait just a minute. This bee has a white face. The only white-faced bee I know is the male Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica), but this one was rather too small for that. Or was it? There can be some serious size differences between males and females. Local conditions — food supply, weather — can also create a range of sizes among carpenter bees, as well as bumble bees.

Anyway, look at those tattered wings: I guess this one over-wintered?





Three varieties or species of Viola here, in flower-size order, smallest to largest.

Blooming Now

Red maple.
Wych elm.
Star magnolia.
Henbit deadnettle. (These are tiny, you’ll need to get down on your knees to see the detail.)

February Blooms


Cactus Pose

So, while a nation slept… the Opuntia genus of cactuses expanded.
Somewhere back in the day, I learned that the only native cactus found this far north (and east) was the eastern prickly pear, Opuntia humifusa. (Some pictures of them in flower from summers past at Jamaica Bay.)

The taxonomists now say there is another local species, Opuntia cespitosa, also called the prickly pear or, more helpfully, the tufted prickly pear. They were until recently assumed to be a part of O. humifusa. The most obvious difference is that the tufted has pink to dark red patches in the base of the flowers. They also have spines.
See here for more details.

This all came up when I submitted the photo at the very top of this post to iNaturalist and called it prickly pear (humifosa). However, there are flowers this time of year, so that’s no help.

Intrigued, I went searching through my archive. What do you know, here are some cespitosa flowers! Unfortunately, I’m not a hundred percent sure where I took these photos. I strongly suspect the NYBG Native Garden, so I’d call them cultivated.

Did you see this fine essay on the bristlecone pines?

Flower Fiends

Bumble/Tiger Swallowtail.A true bug, meaning an insect that sucks its food, and an unknown bee.
Another bee I can’t identify.Don’t forget the butterflies, fools for flowers, too. One of the sulphurs, I’ve never been able to distinguish them.Whoa, Nelly! Look at the patterning on this Oblique Streaktail (Allograpta obliqua)! Going to work on getting a better picture of one of these.Another flower fly, which reminds me that there’s a new field guide to flower flies of the NE.The invasive Sculptured Resin Bee, trouble for carpenter bees, whose nest sites they grab. Also a pollinator for kudzu.An unknown bee, or is it a wasp? Speaking of wasps, I’ll have more this week…

If you build it, they will come… sometimes

But not always. This wannabe Purple Martin colony waits patiently at the Narrows Botanical Garden. The half dozen bird-shapes are decoys It’s thought that the birds like to see that someone has done some recon. The so-called “scout” phenomenon of martins who arrive weeks in advance of others at a colony is, in explained by this: veteran birds returning to their nesting colony do it faster than the year-olds. Having made it back once, they’re able to do the migration rather quicker in subsequent years. (The oldest Purple Martin on record was 13-years-old.)

I don’t know of any Purple Martins nesting in Brooklyn. It’s certainly possible to see them passing through during migration. Meanwhile, here’s an established colony on Staten Island. Here’s another at Great Swamp.Meadows, meanwhile, are a very good bet for attracting: pollinators; the creatures that eat pollinators; creatures that eat plants; creatures that lay their eggs on plants. It cascades, it becomes more complicated, it triumphs over the sterile, water-wasting, poison-filled grass lawn.This hillside in Green-Wood is looking good. More than 99% of the place is still grass, though. Gotta start convincing people that life is better than lawn, and Green-Wood that its honeybee hives are a mistake.


We stumbled upon a patch of Pink Lady Slippers (Cypripedium acaule), more than we’ve ever seen in one place by a long, long shot. There must have been close to a hundred visible from the path in a pine woods, especially in the parts recovering from burning. (Fire is so important to so many plants.) And the path was only a third of a mile long. What fortuitous timing! This one was the anomaly. A color morph? Past it’s prime? Premature? Something else?And while we’re on this orchid kick, here’s another in the same area.

Even More Evidence

Pictures from the last week here in Brooklyn and northwestern Philadelphia. As spring continues, so does the most corrupt administration in American history, doing deep and lasting damage to the country, our democracy, and the rule of law.

More Spring Beauty

Timing is everything. Last Thursday, a cool spring day, in northwestern Philadelphia, things were just on the cusp. These Sanguinaria canadensis, bloodroot, were waiting for the sun.These Trilliums, too.Ah, but look carefully! Thalictrum thalictroides, rue anemone.Cardamine concatenata, the cutleaved toothwort, crow’s toes, pepper root or purple-flowered toothwort.The sun did come out in the afternoon… Stylophorum diphyllum, celandine-poppy.

(Somewhat tentative ID on the the Thalictrum and Cardamine.)


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