Tuesday, May 21, 2019

In the Pennsylvania Woods

   My father and I just got back from a whirlwind trip to PA, leaving at 2 AM Friday and getting home around 3 AM today! It was a wonderful time. Some of our ancestors lived around the Scottdale area, so he showed me all the old family sites and we toured the West Overton Museum, which our family is also connected with. And of course, I was looking at plants at every opportunity! 😁 I couldn't believe how green and lush and WARM it was down there! It seemed more like early July, with Peonies, Irises and even Roses in bloom. And the woods! I felt like I was in the Amazon rainforest, everything was so different from what I'm used to! I am a sort of roadside botanical explorer, always peering into ditches, fields, and woods as we go by, and sometimes nearly jumping out of my seat when I see something interesting! 😃 One of the most exciting things for me along the way was seeing some Wisteria in full bloom along the highway in CT. It was the first time I'd seen it in person! Unfortunately, there was no time to get a picture.

A beautiful view from the first ridge of the Alleghenies... 

We visited General Braddock's grave...

The plaque telling about the history of the Braddock road...you should be able to enlarge the picture a little by clicking on it, and hopefully it will be readable!

The road his army cut through the wilderness is still faintly visible. I found it very interesting as well as deeply moving to know that we were standing right where these things happened. 

I almost leaned up against this creature...ugh! Here in Maine I'm used to having nothing to fear smaller than bears! 😃

Eastern Hemlocks were a common but very beautiful sight (come to find out, it is also PA's state tree!). This one near the Braddock road and Fort Necessity was especially magnificent. I just read that Hemlocks take 250-300 years to mature and can live for up to 800 years. So this one no doubt witnessed Braddock's march! Think about it...George Washington may have looked on this very tree! 

Size comparison...it certainly made me feel small! 

There were many pretty wildflowers growing in the woods near Braddock's road. I picked a few of the violets to press for my herbarium. 

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) was also flowering nearby...

We also visited Fort Necessity...

And Ohiopyle...

Before starting on the trip home, we stopped at Keystone State Park, for my father to rest a bit and for me to explore! 😊 

Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) was a very common flower along roadsides, fields, and in the woods. 

Evening Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)...

Aniseroot (Osmorhiza longistylis), which I mistook at first for Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata). But I felt a little better at least when I learned that another name for it is Long-styled Sweet Cicely! The leaves have a wonderful anise fragrance when crushed. 

There were quite a few wild rose bushes in the woods, but none of them were in bloom yet.

Plumed or False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)...

Pennsylvania Blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus) was also common along roadsides...

I've been wanting to see the Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) for some time now, and I certainly got to see plenty of them down there!

Close-up of the single flower...

A fruit just beginning to from...

Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) was abundant but mostly past flowering. I did manage to find a few still in bloom though, and on the way back home I spotted a whole row of them lining the woods near the highway...a beautiful sight!

The Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) had me puzzled for a little bit. I found this flower on the ground and was trying to figure out where it fell from.

Then I found this little tree nearby and thought at first that a caterpillar had been nibbling on the leaves. But all of them exactly the same?! I finally came to the conclusion that they were supposed to be that way! 😃

And finally, after more looking around and finding a few more flowers on the ground, always under these trees, I determined they must belong to them, even though, oddly enough, I couldn't see any flowers up there. It wasn't until I got home and did a search on wildflowers of the region that I learned what this beautiful tree was! 

I feel like I should know what this is, but can't seem to put my finger on it. Can anyone tell me? 😊

I was thrilled to find a couple of Jack-in-the-Pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum)!

It was a wonderful trip and over all too soon for me. It was actually a bit painful, after seeing summer in all its glory, to return to this chilly spot (today was only in the 40s here). But I went for a walk in our woods this afternoon and found things progressing nicely in just the few days I was away. But that's a subjest for another post. 😊


  1. Everything is just beautiful! Used to live in Pennsylvania so totally understand what you are commenting on.

    Thanks for sharing these beauties with us.


    1. It must be a wonderful place to live! My mother grew up in PA and then my parents lived there for a while too, but that was before I was born.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful adventure. PA must have been steamy compared to ME. (We honeymooned in Lancaster Cty. 35 years ago this week and loved the area.)
    You must be good company for your dad, keeping the driving fatigue at bay. :)
    Your plant in question is American ginger (Asarum canadense). I have several clumps that are spreading in my shade garden, taken from a washed out bank near the river. Glad I could save them, otherwise who knows where they would have ended up.

    1. Oh, well happy anniversary!😊 It was definitely quite a change from Maine. It was in the low 40s when we left home and was in the 80s most of the time we were down there. I loved it though...I adjust to heat a lot easier than to cold! Not sure how much help I was to my dad that way, as I was pretty sleepy myself. 😁 I don't know how he did it!
      Thank you so much for identifying the American Ginger. I knew I had seen pictures of it somewhere before! I would have loved to see it in flower.

  3. I loved the outfit you had on it looked very comfortable and suits your love looks.
    But you never told us what tree it belonged to (the flower in your hand :)

    1. Aww, thank you. 😊 That apron is really comfortable.
      The flower in my hand was from the Tulip Tree. Oddly enough I couldn't see any of them up in the canopy (too high up I guess), but there were several lying around on the ground!

  4. This is an interesting post with a good description of what you saw. I used to think that the Tulip Tree was thus called because of the shape of the leaves...but only a couple of weeks ago learnt that it was named because of the shape of the flower. Until I saw the flower in your hand, I had not been high enough up in the canopy to observe it at close quarters...so having the picture in your hand demonstrates how the similarity to a tulip flower. You have a great eye for detail and a talent for sharing your enthusiasm.

    1. It is really hard to get a good look at the flowers of the Tulip tree, apparently. I couldn't see them at all from where I stood, but the trees were very tall and the afternoon lighting probably didn't help either! I had never seen these trees before although I'd heard the name. My father actually thought they looked familiar when I showed him, and then when we got home and I identified it, he remembered that his mom used to have one!

  5. Nice catch of the Mayapple flower and Jack's pulpit. I always find it challenging to get a clear view of either.

    1. Thank you! The Jack-in-the-Pulpit was challenging and I still wish I could have done better and included the entire plant, but it was growing on and facing up the side of a steep hill.