Thursday, August 14, 2014

Can you identify these curious forest plants?

Last weekend, I visited a local park with my friend Elizabeth. You may have seen some photos from this park in my previous blog posts. The roses I recently posted pictures of are in a garden in the center of the park. A lot of forest space surrounds and cuts through the park area. Elizabeth and I explored a lot of the forest, which was nice and cool on such a hot day. There are so many details in the plants and on the insects. I imagine a lot of people miss these details while walking through the woods. We were intending to take some photos during this walk, so we were very much paying attention to what was around us.

I'm curious to know what some of these plants are. If you have an idea or a guess as to what they might be, please let me know in the comments!

This appeared to be some sort of thistle in the later stages. I can't stress how soft this was.

I think this is some kind of wild strawberry. Have any of you tried eating one of these? We were wondering what it might taste like, but I think it's good to be wary of eating random plants in nature.

Any guesses as to what these tiny orange berries are? They were very small, probably smaller than they look here.

Elizabeth told me this flower is a carnivorous plant, which makes sense as it looks like a tiny version of a pitcher plant. I've seen pitcher plants in some garden centers. Their flowers are a lot larger than these little flowers, but it has that open "mouth".

Elizabeth told me that like with the pitcher plant, bugs enter this flower's opening and get stuck in a liquid.

*Update* This yellow and orange plant is called the Spotted Jewelweed. Perfect name, right? Elizabeth just sent me the plant's identity and some information about it: Spotted Jewelweed

Elizabeth was great at spotting spiders! I missed all of these. I like Daddy Long Legs because they're so delicate. They move like they're dancing on air. Some other spiders make me nervous because they're so squishy looking. I must think the squishy ones are full of venom or something. These didn't make me nervous, and they nicely sat still for a photo session.


This dragonfly was looking so pretty with the sun glinting off its wings. I hope you click on these photos to see them larger. Then you can see that its body looks like a piece of bamboo.

There were different kinds of moss growing on the fallen trees and logs in the woods. This moss had long orange bits growing out of it.

It was hard to tell what this was at first, but I think it was some kind of fungi.

*Update* Elizabeth wrote and told me the fungi's identity. It's called King Alfred's Cake. Does this look like cake to you? I guess it could be a chocolate muffin. After just reading the story behind the name, it makes more sense. Evidently King Alfred was hiding out during a war at a country homestead. He was left in charge of taking cakes out of the oven, but fell asleep. The cakes burned and ended up looking like this!

I love this picture because it shows a completely opposite view from where I usually stand. I've taken many photos while standing on this bridge, looking over the creek that runs under it. The creek was pretty dry on the day we were there! You can see a little standing water, but we were out in the middle walking on the rocks. I know there were some little toads out there because I kept hearing hopping and plopping noises.

Isn't this interesting? I'm not even sure what "this" is. This red growth was coming off the tree roots.

Here's one of many mysterious plants we saw. There were so many different green leaves that I was hoping none of them were poisonous! Looking at this photo just reminded me to google Poison Ivy and refresh my memory of what it looks like. Poison Ivy unfortunately looks like a whole lot of other plants. Anyway, I really liked how this photo turned out. The sun was peeking through the trees and spotlighting some leaves.

I also didn't recognize this plant. I would name it a spider flower, because of all the thin petals that resemble legs.

Here's one I can identify! This is an up-close picture of a Magnolia tree. I've often photographed the trees in spring when they are covered in bright pink blooms, but this was new to me. The trees were covered in these pickle-like pods. At least that was our guess. If these aren't seed pods, I don't know what they are!

This is a view of the forest after we got on the main road. This area is really magical in the summer because it is filled with fireflies. They look like little fairies in the woods! I like this shot looking upwards. I call these cathedral forest views. At least in my mind, the shapes of the trees look like arches and you can imagine the light coming through the leaves as stained glass.

So, do you think you can help me identify any of these plants or spiders? I would like to know more about the species we saw on our walk. It's funny to think how many different species are hidden in a relatively small piece of land!

I ran into some wonderfully relaxing nature sounds on YouTube. If you page through my photos again while listening to this, you'll really feel like you were there!


  1. I can't help with identifying anything, but these are some great photos! How fun!

    1. Lisa ~ Thanks! I might need to do some googling or find a local plant identification book. Some of these plants don't seem all that exotic and yet I'm not familiar with them! I've probably passed them many times on my walks through those woods and never even noticed them. It's fun to make a point of looking for different species.

  2. Great pics! I especially like the one with the bridge.

    Descriptively worded Google searches and/or Google image search would probably be your best bets.

    1. Dex ~ Thanks! That was a really different view for me facing that bridge. There's something weird about standing where there's usually running water.

      Yeah, I think it's going to come down to googling. I was hoping someone out there would be used to seeing some of these plants and have some background to share. I have a feeling most people walk by in that area without even noticing these!

  3. Hi it's Elizabeth! I think the orange plant I thought was a type of pitcher plant is Spotted Jewelweed?

    1. Hey! Looks like you identified the plant! Thank you. Spotted Jewelweed is the perfect name for it. I thought this part was interesting:

      "Pressure builds up inside the pods, until they reach the point where they explode when touched."

      So I guess the ones we saw had already exploded? They didn't look like pods anymore. How about that part about it often growing alongside Poison Ivy? Yikes. But they say the sap from this flower can help relieve itching from Poison Ivy. That's convenient anyway. ;)

      I'm not surprised that hummingbirds and butterflies like the flowers. The blooms are so bright and there's a nice sized opening for flying creatures to get into.

      I'll have to update my blog with this information!

  4. A wonderful journey through the woods! The vine you thought looks similar to poison ivy is actually called Virginia Creeper or Woodbine. It has glorious color in the Autumn and the birds enjoy the purplish berries. Virginia Creeper has 5 lobes on the leaves while poison ivy only has 3 lobed leaves.

    Wild Strawberries aren't nearly as tasty as their domestic cousins. But the critters love them!
    The red thing on the root may be simply 'hair-like' roots growing off the main root.
    Not sure about the white flowers....

  5. Here's a link to Virginia Creeper -

    1. Jeanne ~ Thank you for all that information! I've heard of the Virginia Creeper, but obviously had no idea what it was. While it may cause skin irritation on some people, it's probably nowhere near as bad as poison ivy. When I looked up what poison ivy looks like, I was actually disappointed. I guess I expected something more unique. I could easily step into some of that without even realizing it.

      Have you tried wild strawberries yourself? I'm sure they attract animals, being so bright and low to the ground.

      The red hair-like roots were really something. I'd never seen anything like that before. But then I'd never been standing in a dried out creek space looking at roots that normally grow into the water.

      The white flowers are a real mystery. I don't even know what keywords to use in searching for images of them online.