Choke Cherry: Prunus virginiana

While the last blossoms of the Choke Cherry shrubs, which line the road near our home, have faded away their sweet smell still lingers in my head. Most of June was filled with that sweet smell as different bushes bloomed at different times of the month and thus we were treated to a wonderful progression of fragrance and sights.

The astringent fruits and even the leaves and branches of the Choke Cherry are considered an important food plant for wildlife. Both large and small mammals as well as birds utilize Choke Cherry for food. In addition to food Choke Cherry provides wildlife habitat and protection for watershed in the areas in which it grows.

Human uses include Chokecherry Jams, wine as well a medicinal uses by native cultures. New growth on the leaves can be toxic to humans and cattle especially those leaves injured by frost or draught. So do not eat the leaves.

While the fruits are quite useful it is always the blossoms that take the cake for me and somehow posting on Choke Cherry seems a fitting thing to do on the forth of July.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
United States Department of Agriculture.

Where spring came late

There are those places where it is said there are only three seasons, July, August and winter. While perhaps not always that way, this year, spring arrived late to this high mountain valley and when it arrived it was a welcome sight indeed.

Grass grew and flowers bloomed just like it always has.

Early June 2018

Striped Coralroot: Corallorhiza striata

Hidden deep in the forest, or happily saying hello in small forest clearings, this spring has brought an abundance of Striped Coralroot:Corallorhiza striata.

Corallorhiza striata is mycohetertrophic and uses fungus to provide nutrients for its own growth as Corallorhiza does not photosynthesize.

This orchid was just pushing up through the soil in a small clearing in the forest covered with grass.

Others were hidden in the dense undergrowth in the forest.

While many we found grew as single stalks or in groups of two or three some grew in larger clusters.

Corallorhiza striata is found in a wide geographical range encompassing all of Canada and most of the western United States and prefers cooler climates.

According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center “After producing flower stalks, the rhizomes may remain dormant for several years so seeing them in bloom may not occurs again next year but I sure hope so.