A Poke, a Grab, and a Click

Top Photo: pokeweed raceme with flowers and unripe fruit. Pokeweed is a native, eastern North American plant. It grows in undisturbed areas. Its main stalk, stems and even flower racemes are shades of purple-red, boysenberry to magenta in color. It can grow more than six feet in height. It’s one of my favorite weeds. The entire plant is listed as toxic. But, I’ve read where the deep purple berries can be made into jam after the seeds are removed. InRead more

Interesting Sightings Around the Loop

Top Photo: Dogbane beetle. While out on the trail I’m often asked, “see anything interesting today?” or “see anything cool?” The short answer is always “yes.” The truth is, every time I go outside I see something interesting, and it’s all cool. In order to see things, though, you have to be where things are, and you have to look. Part of it is knowing what to look for but it’s mostly just being aware of your surroundings. Like clockwork,Read more

A Trip Outdoors

Top Photo: Rudbeckia as part of the new “Prairie” in Catch the Wind. Life goes on along the outdoor loop through Catch the Wind, Explore the Wild, and the Dinosaur Trail. Here’s some of what’s happening out there. The tiny fruit of autumn olive is ripening. Though a non-native plant, the fruit is edible and has a sweet-tart taste. You should hold off on picking and eating until it ripens. When the fruit turns red with whitish speckles, that’s theRead more

Two Exotics

Passion flower, or passion vine, is a fast growing vine native to the south east. It climbs, but doesn’t need to in order to bloom. I often find it sprawled along the ground hidden by the local weeds of the season, the flower peeking out from behind a mass of greenery. Its showy flower is edible. It’s visited by bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds. To my eye, passion flower looks primordial, otherworldly, certainly tropical. Actually, most species of passion vineRead more

Some Early Summer Sights

Top Photo: Purple coneflower in front of Picnic Dome at Museum of Life & Science. Purple coneflower is in full bloom. This flower attracts many insects. It’s a rewarding experience to visit a planting of coneflower. Lots of different butterfly species come to coneflower for its nectar, and goldfinches can’t resist the seeds. Coneflower likes sun, can handle the heat and will tolerate a forgetful gardener’s lack of watering, so you can’t lose by planting these 3 foot tall flowersRead more

What’s Happening on the Outdoor Loop

Top Photo: The Wetlands in summer. If you’re familiar with the museum’s outdoor loop through Catch the Wind and Explore the Wild, you may be happy to know that life goes on as it always has in the past. There are, though, a few changes around the bend. Here, a few familiar sights and a few behind the scenes sneak previews. Shrubby St. John’s wort is in bloom, as it is each year at this time. The 4 foot tallRead more

Pearly-Eyes, Beetles and Others

Top Photo: Northern pearly-eye. There are three butterflies in our region known as pearly-eyes, northern pearly-eye, southern pearly-eye, and creole pearly-eye. Though they all are reported from this area, the one that I come in contact most often is northern pearly-eye. They’re all medium sized butterflies and very similar in appearance. The northern pearly-eye, as does the others, has a row of eye-spots on the forewing. Northern and southern pearly-eyes have four eye-spots. Creole pearly-eye has five. In Northern pearly-eyeRead more

Mayapples

Top photo: Mayapple patch in early April. It’s June and mayapples are ripe, or soon will be. Warning, the whole plant is toxic. Just touching the leaves may cause dermatitis. But, like many toxic native plants mayapple has medicinal uses. A topical treatment for certain skin conditions, as well as other ailments, is derived from the plant. Mayapples begin to emerge from the moist earth of alluvial woodlands and meadows in March. By April they’re obvious, a big patch ofRead more

Dogwood and Other Flowering Plants

Top Photo: Flowering dogwood. Last month it was redbud. Now it’s dogwood’s turn, among other flowering shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants, to show off its color. We have a variety of flowering plants here at the museum, some native some not, but they all brighten up the landscape when they come into flower. Flowering dogwood is the state flower of North Carolina. It typically follows the blooming of the redbud’s magenta flowers, although sometimes they’re in bloom together. Currently, redbudRead more

Early Spring

Neotropical migrants won’t begin arriving on the scene for a month or more. However, our local year-round resident birds have the jump on those mainly insectivorous migrants. Some of the locals like cardinals, towhees, brown thrashers, Carolina wrens and others are in full song and some are building or investigating nest sites. American robin numbers are increasing, and keep an eye out for cedar waxwings on any shrubs or trees that still have fruit, like holly or red cedar. NorthernRead more