Fall has arrived, and so have the collections we’ve been waiting so long to make! We first saw Baccharis halimifolia start to flower 6-8 weeks ago, but just last week we were able to make our first – and second – and third collection with ease. This species produces wind-dispersed seeds, which is definitely evident when you shake the shrub and watch the seeds drift through the air, blanketing everything in white.
Another long-awaited collecting was Helenium autumnale, common sneezeweed, which we first saw doing its thing at the start of September. The notched petals of the ray flowers on this wetland species are a dead giveaway. That, and the fact that we found it first among Lobelia cardinalis made for a gorgeous scene around my partner Maggie and me.
Rhexia has also been on our radar for some time now. Probably longer than the Baccharis, since the showy pinkish-purple flowers have been visible from yards away for the majority of our time in this internship. The capsules, however, are my favorite part. They’re shaped like little vases, and when not filled with insects and their excrement, are full of the tiniest, tan-colored seeds that resemble miniature kidney beans.
And of course I can’t forget to mention Juniperus virginiana! Now is the perfect time of year to collect their fruits, as they are a vibrant blue color, not often seen in nature, and stand out among the green backdrop of foliage. They even smell nice! Some of the trees we found were up to 40 feet tall! Standing between these trees I felt almost as though I were in a Bob Ross painting! How many people can say that about their jobs?
Last, but certainly my favorite, was Diospyros virginiana, Persimmon. We finally found a population large enough to collect from, and boy did we! You won’t hear us complaining about cleaning this collection! I see Persimmon Pudding in our future!
Until next time…