Check the Fences… and Waterfalls

I didn’t intend to check the fences on the steep side of our property this evening. I say the ‘steep side’ as if there is only one. Ha. No. Most of the sides on our square-shaped 160 acres are steep. At the very least none of it is level.

Anyway, the plan was to feed the horses their afternoon rations. Which I did, with muck boots on because it’s mucky down there after all that rain.

But then my eyes wandered up toward the fence line and I could see the little trail of hoof prints going up that way, too. Might be a good time to check the fences. Especially if the horses have also been checking them.

Checking fences

And then my ears caught the sound of the creek flowing strongly, tumbling over the rocks. And I knew farther up, along the same path more or less, that there would be a waterfall flowing even more strongly.

The part of the creek near the gate.
The part of the creek near the gate.
On the way to check the fences.

And that’s how it started. iPhone in my pocket, muck boots on my feet, and the lure of a waterfall seldom seen. If it’s so beautiful as to have that sort of attraction, you might wonder why it is so seldom seen. Because it’s hard to reach. Unlike the little one on the driveway that delights and satisfies most waterfall cravings, this one requires a bit of dedication to fully see.

So I went.

Ordinarily when I’m going off on a jaunt like this, I’ll leave a note on the kitchen table to indicate which direction I wandered off in. In case I somehow don’t wander back on schedule. It would be rather difficult to guess where I’d gone without some sort of clue. But this wasn’t a planned walkabout. It was spontaneous. And those are so often the best kind.

Did I mention that it has been raining a lot lately and the ground is soggy? Soggy ground on steep hillsides in the woods gets slippery. So on one of my near-ground inspections, I saw a really large pair of snails. Here’s one of them.

Check the fences, and the waterfalls, and the snails!
A pair of snails.
Here’s both of them.

Interesting info about snails

One of my FB friends has shared some very interesting information about the mating habits of snails over on my page. Here’s a link if you want to read about it. It’s pretty mind-boggling!

Continuing upstream

I made my way up the creek, more intent on reaching the waterfalls than actually checking fences at this point. But I couldn’t say my purpose was to check the fences along the way if I didn’t bother moving the branches off of it, now could I?

Still heading upstream and checking fences.

This particular waterfall lives in a very narrow holler with steep walls on either side. Unless it’s almost dry, it’s hard to get very close to the part of it that I consider to be most beautiful- the long slide where the water gently ripples over it during low water spells. After a recent rain, the water spills down it, splashing all of the boulders and rocks down below so that they get very slippery.

In the holler

Beneath the water is a long rippled 'slide', rather than a jumble of boulders and rocks.
Beneath the water is a long rippled ‘slide’, rather than a jumble of boulders and rocks.

But I got close enough to enjoy it. The noise was deafening. Water spray in the air felt refreshing. And the scent of damp earth and humus beneath my feet capped it off. I took some video and photos with the phone, since I didn’t bring the real camera because it wasn’t a planned event.

Heading home

Light was fading and I needed to get back to the house. At the last close-to-ground inspection where I slid underneath the fence, I decided to stay on that side of the fence and make my way back to the gate that way.

Just about within sight of the gate, I felt my pocket for my phone. Of course it wasn’t there. After a deep sigh, and a few choice words for myself for not noticing when it fell, I backtracked to the last encounter with the ground. Thankfully that’s where it was. Because any further back might have meant it was a lost cause in the steepest parts toward the creek.

My pedometer on the phone said I hiked about a mile and climbed 17 floors. I think it missed a few floors during the time it lay on the ground reveling in the scent of humus and damp earth.

It’s the first hike I’ve made in a while that didn’t involve picking up rocks. Maybe I knew intuitively that I wouldn’t want to try to hold on to them as I slipped and slid my way up and down the hills. But it was a great little hike. I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of our seldom seen but much loved waterfall.

A collection of video and photos of my hike to check fences and the waterfall.

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

To see her paintings click here.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

The Sound of a Flock of Goldfinches

Today as I was driving the 4-wheeler down the driveway to go check the mail, I heard the sound of a thousand birds in the trees. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but maybe not. It was a big crowd of noisy American goldfinches flitting around the treetops by the gate.

A few days ago I saw a few male goldfinches, but not a whole bunch. The rest of the gang must have migrated over since then.

Listen to the Goldfinches

A noisy bunch of goldfinches in the trees.
A male American goldfinch in spring plumage.
Photo by Breck22 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32276284

Two Screech Owls in a Tree

This morning before I left the house to go to the post office, I briefly thought about whether I should grab the camera or not. I decided to not. It had been a few days since I’d last caught even a glimpse of the screech owl that lives by the gate. So I didn’t have enough hope to bother going back inside to get the camera.

Boy, what a mistake that was.

Screech Owls

I glanced over to the holey tree where the nest was, and like I thought, she wasn’t there. But then I saw the two spots of orange on the tree right outside the home-tree.

And there I was, owls in broad daylight, with no good camera on hand. So I got this pic with my iPhone in case I never got the chance for a better one.

2 little screech owls sitting in a tree.

I debated whether or not to bother trying to go back to the house for my real camera, wondered whether or not I could reasonably expect them to still be there when I got back down to the gate. Our driveway is not short, or smooth. So I’d have to go slow. But I decided to try.

Too Late

When I got back to the gate, after getting the camera, swapping out the lens, and making the slow journey down the driveway again, they were gone. At first my heart sank. My best opportunity ever for getting a good owl pic and I’d blown it.

But there they were, on the other tree, in a tangle of vines.

Two little screech owls hiding in a tangle of vines.

A Birds of Prey Project

I’m happy to have gotten the pictures for more than just because I love owls. The main focus in my art is birds of prey. Usually I have to get permission from other photographers to use their birds as subjects, but now I have one of my own. And that makes me happy.

Screech owls are on my list of Ozark Birds of Prey to paint. I’ll do a better one of them later, but I made a quick one for my grand-daughter Karter’s birthday. When I get the better one done, I’ll add it to this page, too.

Screech owl painting (quick version).

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

To see her paintings click here.

Contact Info:
Email: Madiso[email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

Early April in the Ginseng Habitat

Every year the same flowers bloom in pretty much the same order. And although I have hundreds of images in my files, I can’t help but start heading out with the camera. The blooms start in early April in the ginseng habitat.

The first flowers that bloom are usually the toothwort (formerly of the Dentaria genus, now Cardamine concatenata). I wish they would quit changing the botanical/latin names of plants. It gets hard to keep up sometimes.

Not quite blooming yet at the time of this photo, but they’re all in full swing now as we enter the second week of April.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is ordinarily the next in line to show off.

A poster of bloodroot showing the interesting features of this plant. It blooms in early April in the ginseng habitat.
This is a poster I made a few years ago to show all of the different things about bloodroot that I find interesting. The leaf shape and root color are as enthralling as the flowers.

Trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) show leaves a little while before the flowers begin to appear. It grows in large colonies, but they don’t begin blooming for sometimes five years.

Trout lilies grow in large colonies, but they don't begin blooming for sometimes five years.

Named for the mottled appearance of the basal leaf, it sort of resembles a trout under the water.

Rue anemone and False rue anemone are blooming now, too. So far this year, I’ve only found Rue anemone (Halictrum thalictroides). The false has more deeply lobed leaves.

Rue and false rue anemone are among the early bloomers in April in the ginseng habitat.

Purple (or ‘wild blue’) Phlox (Phlox divaricata) is brightening up the woodlands everywhere, not just in the ginseng habitats.

Phlox grows in many shady environments, not just in the ginseng habitats.
Not limited to the deep moist woods, but it too shows up in early April in the ginseng habitat.

Dutchmen’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria ) is always a challenge to photograph. The flowers and the leaves are not always on the same focal plane, so it’s hard to get them both clear at the same time. These do only grow in the rich moist soils, so is a good sign to look for in early April in the ginseng habitat.


This one was leaning over an embankment, which made the effort a little easier.

While this one isn’t a flower yet, the leaves of wild hydrangea (
Hydrangea arborescens ) are starting to open up. These plants are a frequent resident in the ginseng habitat.

Wild hydrangea starts to put on leaves early in April in the ginseng habitat.
Wild hydrangea cuttings coming up in the Wild Ozark nursery and Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden.

What about the ginseng?

Ginseng usually begins to unfurl here toward the end of April. At the earliest, maybe late in the second week of April. Click here to see some posts from previous years’ unfurling watch.

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

To see her paintings click here.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

If the Creeks Don’t Rise… Springtime in the Ozarks

Wild Ozark will be at Terra Studios tomorrow.

But with the rain we might get overnight and in the morning, the odds are looking poor. If I can’t make it there on Saturday, then on Sunday I should be able to make it. Springtime in the Ozarks usually means more rain.

UPDATE: I made it out in time so I‚Äôll be there today ūüėĀ

Ordinarily we do get a lot of rain in springtime. But we’ve been getting a lot more rain than ordinary since *last* spring.

Framed some Paintings

All week I’ve been getting ready for this weekend’s South x Southeast Art Tour. I’ve framed a few more paintings, with the intention to sell some original art this time.

When I framed the last one, I thought I might do something a little different. The painting is a monochrome using only the pigment from a red sandstone. I named the paint “Intoxicating”, which is also what I named the painting.

So I added a little nugget of the same kind of sandstone to the frame, so the owner can see the kind of rock I used to make the paint.

Paleo Painting with the rock used to make the paint on the frame.
I think I’ll make a point to save some of the stones from each of the paints I make so I can add more interest to the frames. Paintings using more than one color will get graced by more than one stone.

Springtime in the Ozarks

Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.
Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.

Just in case I don’t get any pictures this year of the ephemerals, because springtime in the Ozarks sometimes has a tendency to knock the blooms down before I get to take their portraits, here’s a link from previous year.

Orioles at Orange Slices, Bird in the Chimney

Not the sports team, but the oriole birds have been daily visitors for about a week now. Orioles are a species that had been on my sighting wish list since we moved to the Ozarks. They migrate through our area on their way to Maryland (I suppose they’re going to Maryland-isn’t that where the team’s home is?).

Baltimore Orioles

These colorful song birds do spend their summers in more northern regions but I’d never gotten to see one until this year. We’ve had about five or six of them here. Some juveniles and some females and a couple of males.

They’re very shy. I couldn’t get a good photo of them because they wouldn’t come to eat while I was outside with the camera and tripod. So I had to sit inside and shoot through the screen door. This is the best image I got:

The orioles have been visiting Wild Ozark!

Some of my local friends tell me that they really love grape jelly, but I didn’t have any of that. So I sliced oranges for them and they loved that too.

Other birds we’ve spotted this spring include rose-breasted grosbeak, blue grosbeak, American goldfinch, and heard but not seen the tanagers. There’s also the usual birds like blue jays, cardinals, flickers, indigo buntings, and woodpeckers. The phoebe who builds a nest on the porch has been working on freshening it up.

Bird in the Stove

This afternoon when I came in from working in the ginseng habitat nursery and garden, I heard something fluttering around in the living-room. Turned out a bird had gone down the chimney and landed in the wood-stove. Good thing there was no fire going! I took it out, checked for injury and turned it loose on the front porch. It flew so hard and fast it was over the trees and up to the mountain on the other side of the creek in no time. Apparently it was glad to be free.

I opted not to torture the poor thing long enough to get my camera out to take a picture of it. I’m not sure what kind it was,¬† but it was blue with a rosy chest. I thought it might be a blue bird, but it was pretty soot-covered and I didn’t want to scare it to the point of having a heart attack by cleaning it up, so I just let it go. It would make more sense had it been a chimney swift. Seemed too small to be a blue bird, too, but then I’ve never held one in my hands before to know how they feel. The only other birds with blue on them here are the indigo buntings and grosbeaks, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t either of those.

A joyful splash of color from the purple phlox blooming right now in the Ozarks.

Enjoy Nature: Phlox and Fiddleheads

Here’s a little inspiration to get outside on this beautiful sunny day and enjoy nature.

Phlox is blooming and casting joyful purple splashes all around the Wild Ozark hills and woods, and the fiddleheads are unfurling.

Enjoy nature - take a walk in the woods and you'll find these fiddleheads of the Christmas fern unfurling in spring.
Christmas fern fiddleheads.

The horses heading toward the front gate now that the back gate was closed.

Finding the Horses on a Drizzly Easter Sunday Morning

On Sundays I generally sleep late. The alarm goes off every other day at 0500, but on Sundays I have no alarm at all and my body takes full advantage of that fact. I do not ordinarily wake up planning to go off on a walkabout mission finding the horses.

Finding the horses is never a planned event, but always something that I move to the top of a priority list and its usually a situation that presents itself in the most inconvenient times. Finding the dog was a first time occurrence earlier during the week, but finding the horses is a sporadically yet regularly enough thing that I have made more than one blog post about it here through the years.

This morning was one of those inconvenient times. I woke up with a headache, probably from sleeping too late. It rained and stormed last night, so the water is up. It’s not as up as it would have been if I had started looking for them earlier, though, so perhaps my late start was a good thing, after all.

I started out with the usual routine of feeding animals in the morning. First Badger. Bobbie Sue is no longer with us, so he’s the only dog. Ordinarily he’s waiting outside the back door to see when I start feeding, since he can no longer hear the sound of food hitting his bowl. He wasn’t there. Yesterday we left the shop door open for him and the light on, and the old house door open because we knew the rain was coming. I brought him in the old house to show him his food bowl and the hay on the floor, and Rob brought him in the shop to show him where his bed was. Badger inspected both with a sort of disinterested look.

So he wasn’t there when I put his food this morning and I had a dreadful feeling we’d be out in the rain today searching the backroads again. But I still had to feed the chickens and horses. By the time I’ve fed the chickens the horses are usually waiting at the gate, snickering at me to hurry up. Not this morning. But we just brought them a new bale of hay the other day, so I thought since I was late getting started this morning, they’d just gone back to the hay. They’d hear me when I opened the gate and come then.

Not so. Comanche didn’t snicker when the gate chain banged against the gate. If I don’t want them to come up, I’m quiet about that. But this morning I wanted them to hear it so I made extra sure it clattered good. The creek was high so the water was loud and I thought maybe they didn’t hear it. They almost always can hear me whistle even with the high water though, so I tried that. No answer.

I resigned myself to crossing the creek to see where they were and what they were doing. Headache and all. The creek turned out to at least not be over my boots, so another point for sleeping in. The extra hours gave it time to go down a lot. I crossed the creek and walked up the hill to the hay feeding spot. No horses. No immediate signs the fence was down, either. I called them again by whistling, but didn’t get a reply.

Walked to the back end of the field and that’s when I saw the back gate. Wide open. And two horses trotting up the path from the deep yonder toward their own field so they could come get second breakfasts. So that was good. They hadn’t gone any further than the wilds right beyond the gate. And the grass on that end wasn’t rich and green like the grass they would have encountered had they gone up the mountain and into the hunting club to the east.

Too much rich and green grass would have been bad for them. It can cause them to colic or founder because it’s a sudden and drastic diet change, so I try to be extra vigilant about fences and gates during spring.

When I made it over to the gate I saw that the latch ring dangled from the chain. It must have gotten loose and most likely Shasta noticed that and nudged it until it gave way. I rigged it to stay shut until I can get back out there to make a more permanent fix.

That’s our house on the hill in the distance. The creek is down at the bottom of the hill they’re on now. My morning feeding chores and then walkabout while finding the horses amounted to almost a half a mile’s walk this morning, so at least I got a little exercise on this muddy, drizzly day.

Photo from my post on finding the horses.
Zoomed in on the horses as they went ahead of me toward the front gate to get their second breakfasts.

They waited for me at the bottom of the hill, then sped past me at the creek. Because I was slow in crossing and they’re much better at it than me with my clumsy rubber boots and only two legs. If they wouldn’t have been soaking wet, I think I would have hitched a ride.

Oh, and by the way, by the time I got back from finding the horses, Badger had found me. He caught up with me in the field as I walked back to the house. So all is well again here on the Wild Ozark homestead. No lost pups or horses this day.

Happy Easter if you celebrate it that way, or Ostara if the seasons mark your passage of time more than the holidays. Either way, Spring is here, even if there is a chance of freezing rain this evening.

Things I’ve Heard but Never Seen- Spring Peepers

How many things have you heard but never seen? One that confounds me every year is a little frog.

Today was a very windy and warm day, warm enough to make it easy to work up a sweat while helping Rob with firewood this morning. I can’t remember a sweaty February day before. The peepers must think it is time for spring. They were singing full-blast at one particular pond. Usually we don’t hear these little singers until March.

When I say *full-blast* I mean very, very loudly. The noise of the frog song was so loud, it was literally deafening.

Listen to them.

I’ve never heard them so loud before. At our pond there were none. Ours is a spring-fed pond with colder water than the rain-catch cow pond where this audio was recorded, so maybe that makes a difference to them. I never hear them in the creek, either.

A couple of years ago, I mentioned how loud the peepers were. But the ones I heard today trumped those.

With so many voices you’d think there’d be frogs everywhere. I’m sure they were there, I could hear them very loudly. But I could not find a single one! I wanted to get a photo to go with the audio. Not one in sight. I’ve seen pictures of them on the internet but until I’ve actually seen one of our own, how can I be certain ours look the same?

A spring peeper. Something I've often heard but never seen.
By USGS – http://cars.er.usgs.gov/herps/Frogs_and_Toads/P_crucifer/p_crucifer.html, Public Domain, Link

How can something be so often heard but never seen? A frog is a physical thing, so it should be possible. Well, of course it’s possible. Someone at the USGS obviously got a sight of one. They’re not like the wind, which is often heard but never seen. Signs that the wind exists can be seen, like debris flying or limbs swaying, but the wind itself isn’t visible. That’s not so with spring peepers. There should be a frog somewhere to go with that noise, haha.

They’re just very good at hiding. Of course, it *sounded* like they were in the pond. But maybe they were all *around* the pond instead. I looked there too, but still no sighting.

So for now, a spring peeper remains for me a thing heard but not seen.

April Spring flowers in the Ginseng Habitat

Lots of flowers in the ginseng habitat right now. The following are just a sample.

Wild Ginger

If you don’t mind getting down on the ground, you can see the wild ginger (Asarum canadense) blooming.

Flowers are usually just below the leaf litter at the base of the stems.

Wild ginger, <i>Asarum canadense</i>
Wild ginger, Asarum canadense

Mayapple

The mayapples are blooming too.

Mayapple, <i>Podophyllum peltatum</i>
Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum

Doll’s Eye

This plant is also called White Baneberry, and it is by that name that I’ve used it in a 100-word flash fiction story. The berries and roots are very toxic, but it is one of the best habitat indicators for ginseng.

Doll’s Eye looks very much like black cohosh until it blooms, but I think I’ve finally figured out a way to differentiate at least the mature plants before flowering.

 

Doll's Eyes, <i>Actaea pachypoda</i>
Doll’s Eyes, Actaea pachypoda

Goldenseal

This medicinal herb is one of the most recognizable of the ginseng companion plants. It blooms in April, too.

Goldenseal, <i>Hydrastis canadensis</i>
Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis

Jack in the Pulpit

These are interesting plants. Although they resemble pitcher plants, the two are not related. Whereas the pitcher plant is carnivorous, the jack in the pulpit is not.

Jack in the Pulpit, <Arisaema triphyllum</i>
Jack in the Pulpit,

No Flowers Yet on the Ginseng

The ginseng seedlings are just barely coming up now. Some are a few days old, some are almost a week, and some were still in the process of unfurling.

American ginseng seedlings.
American ginseng seedlings.

Flower buds on older plants are held tight and closed still and the flower stalk is barely there at the center of the prong junction.

Many blooming flowers in the ginseng habitat, but ginseng isn't one of them, yet.
Many blooming flowers in the ginseng habitat, but ginseng isn’t one of them, yet.

 

Early Spring Plants of the Woodlands in Madison County Arkansas

I got a late start photographing the early spring plants this year (2017). They started without me and I’ve already missed some of them.

These are some of the plants unfurling and blooming on April 1 in the woodland habitats here at Wild Ozark.

Early Spring Plants

Large Bellwort <i>(Uvularia grandiflora)</i>
Large Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)

This late afternoon shot of fern fiddleheads is my favorite photo (so far) of this year’s plant-looking expeditions.

My favorite photo of the early spring plants of the ginseng habitat this year.
Christmas fern new fronds unfurling. (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Every year I try to capture Dutchman’s Breeches in a good light and in good focus. Every year the photo falls short, but this one is close. With all the ghostly little pantaloons hanging on the stem at different angles and heights, it’s hard to get them all to look crisp and sharp.

Dutchman's Breeches <i>Dicentra cucullaria</i>
Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Phlox is another one that’s hard to get a good photo of. Luckily, this time, the day was overcast and the purple didn’t wash out as it usually does.

Phlox, not sure which variety or species.
Phlox, not sure which variety or species.

I’m pretty sure the plant in the following photo is black cohosh (Actaea racemosa). Doll’s eyes are a smaller plant but the leaf and stem structure is very similar. I’ll know for sure in late summer when it starts to bloom.

Black cohosh or Doll's eyes? When it blooms I'll know for sure.
Black cohosh or Doll’s eyes? When it blooms I’ll know for sure.

The purple violets bloomed earlier and are still blooming, but it’s the unusual that catches my eye with violets. I don’t see many smooth yellow violets, though I see a few more of the downy yellow ones.

Smooth Yellow Violet <i>Viola pubescens</i>
Smooth Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens)

Here’s a violet that has me stumped. I can’t find a description for it so I can give it a proper name. If you know it, please let me know too!

Unidentified violet.
Unidentified violet.

That’s All for Today!

Here’s a post featuring photos of the hazelnut and witch hazel flowers in March (2018).¬† Hope you enjoyed the wildflower woodland plant virtual walkabout. What’s blooming in the woods in your neck of the woods?

What’s Blooming at the end of May?

Wild Ozark plants blooming at the end of May

I took a little walkabout yesterday to photograph some of the flowers that are setting berries, blooming, or getting ready to bloom right now.

Yesterday’s post highlighted the orchid I’d been waiting to see bloom. The ginseng pics were also added to the “Ginseng Habitat Through the Seasons” page. The rest of the photos are below:

Water Over the Bridge-Videos

When you can hear the roar of the wet-weather waterfall from the house, you know the water’s up. If you can see the waterfall from the front porch, it’s a fair bet the creek is way over the bridge.

When the creek is this much into the driveway…

Water in the Wild Ozark driveway.
Water in the Wild Ozark driveway.

Yep. Looks like I’ll be staying home another day or two.

I’ve lost a dog over the bridge once years ago. It was a horrific thing to watch and have no way to help. She did turn up downstream some time later, alive and well if bedraggled. But the experience sure drove home the danger of high water in the creeks.

dog on flooded bridge
Turbo! Come back!

He stood there and looked at me for a few seconds, all the while the water pushed him closer to the edge. Finally he kicked it into gear and got off the bridge. Whew.

I could take the truck and go out the back way if I need to. But I think I’ll just stay home and write.

The back way out of Wild Ozark.
The back way out.

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

To see her paintings click here.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

Ginseng in mid- to late May

Pictures of Ginseng in May

I took a few pictures today for those of you wondering how the ginseng looks during mid- to late May. I’ll post a link to them over on the Ginseng Habitat Through the Seasons page, too. For those of you who enjoy nature drawings, I have one of ginseng in May at my shop.

Right now some of the flower buds are starting to open. Here’s a 4-prong with a few doing that.

A 4-prong ginseng with flowers beginning to open on May 18.
A 4-prong ginseng with flowers beginning to open on May 18.

Here’s the a closer zoom on the flowers. According to the article Ginseng Reproduction at Wild Ginseng Conservation’s website, ginseng is pollinated only by two insects: syrphid flies and halictid bees.

Flowers on a 4-prong American ginseng at Wild Ozark on May 18.
Flowers on a 4-prong American ginseng at Wild Ozark on May 18.

Other ginseng plants in the area still have tightly closed flower buds.

A 3-prong ginseng with flower bud on May 18.
A 3-prong ginseng with flower bud.

More information

If you haven’t found your way around the blog yet, here’s a few links to other pages to do with Ginseng:

At the Wild Ozark store you can find books, articles and a photo-book on DVD.

A Woodland Habitat – Dragons among the Nettles and Cohosh

There’s a particular woodland habitat at the far corner of our property that I love.

The variety of plants that grow there is amazing.

It’s the perfect place for American ginseng, but those plants have nearly been extirpated by diggers foraging the hillsides of our area. It’s too far from the house for me to be able to keep a close eye on it, so I likely won’t plant any more in that spot.

Instead, I visit and enjoy the company of the plants who do have a stronghold there.

Here’s the path. The phone company ran through here a few years ago but before that it was a logging trail. Now it isn’t used for anything except as a path for my visits.

carpet of nettles green dragons and cohosh and dolls eyes
A carpet of nettles green dragons and cohosh and dolls eyes.

It’s so lush and green I almost want to lie down, but nettles aren’t very forgiving. I wear long sleeves and socks with my shoes when I tread this path. Then I still have to be careful about my face when getting down close to the ground for photos.

Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

From a distance all you can see is green, and most of that green is tall wood nettles – and they sting. But there’s a Green Dragon lurking.

Green dragon from above.
Green dragon from above.

When you look closer, you’ll notice there’s more than nettles (left of the dragon) to be found. There’s also a mayapple (just left of center, top) and either a Doll’s Eye or Black Cohosh (top, right), and some wild legume species (lower right) to be found in just this one photo frame.

There was very nearly a whole herd of dragons in the stretch of path in the first photo. One displayed the plant’s namesake.

dragon tongue
dragon tongue

I made some drawings of the green dragons based on these photos for the North American Native Plant Society. They’ll be published along with my article in summer 2018. Prints are available as a set, or separately.

Green Dragon with fruit cluster and Namesake of the Dragon, by Madison Woods
Green Dragon with fruit cluster and Namesake of the Dragon, by Madison Woods

Last year I collected seeds from a Green Dragon. Below is a pic of the dragon from last year. This year, I can’t find that particular dragon. Instead, there’s a giant Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing where the dragon was. Before I found this photo in my files, I couldn’t remember whether the cluster still had identifying leaves on it or not.

Mature green dragon with fruit.
Mature green dragon with fruit.

I was uncertain. Did the berries I gathered come from a dragon or a pulpit? So the photo shows it clearly was a dragon.

Sometimes there’s no plant left once the berries become red. Sometimes the leaves die back and only the stem and berries are standing in fall. The berry cluster of both plants, without leaves to identify, looks very similar to each other.

It’ll be two years before I have indisputable proof, once the additional leaves come on if it is indeed a Dragon and not the Pulpit.

I have a page where I’m keeping track of the seedlings. For the moment I’m calling them dragons. Here’s a link to the Dragon page.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Here’s a pic of the giant Pulpit that’s there now where the dragon used to be. I know that JIP’s can sometimes change sex when conditions are right for successfully producing offspring (proper nutrition, proper moisture levels, etc.), but I don’t believe they can swap species. Both are of the genus Arisaema and they do have a lot of similarities to each other.

Giant jack in the pulpit.
Giant jack in the pulpit.

This is the hugest Jack-in-the-Pulpit I’ve ever seen. Have you ever seen one this big?

Blue Cohosh

The blue cohosh was a little difficult to find. When it first comes up, not much else is bushy or fully leafed out. Blue green stems with fronds of similarly hued leaves unfurling on the rise of a small hill were easy to see. Now the Black Cohosh and Doll’s Eyes in the immediate area have grown up around it and nearly hidden it completely. But I remembered it was growing next to a certain pair of trees. When I pushed the greenery aside, there it was, just hanging out in the shade beneath the much taller Black Cohosh. Berries are formed and still green but it won’t be long before the fruits are ripe. Then the plant will probably die on back.

Blue Cohosh Berries
Blue Cohosh Berries

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

goldenseal with green fruit goldenseal fruit

The goldenseal have green fruits on them now.

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

On the hill I spotted the purple flowers of a wild geranium. Look closely inside the flower and you’ll spot the little squatter.

wild geraniumAdam and Eve Orchid (Aplectrum hyemale)

I’ve always wondered what the flowers of this plant looks like. This was the first one I’ve ever seen, in all the years of traipsing through the woods. I see the leaves all around but apparently never timed my excursions just right to see the flowers. Either that or I’d always overlooked them.

Flowers of the Adam and Eve orchid

 

Just as the leaf is a single leaf and nothing else, the flower stalk is a single stalk and nothing else. No leaves to identify the plant, so it stumped me for a little while until I made a guess and verified it by looking it up on the internet.

Heading Back to the House

Well, that’s the end of the photographic journey into the habitat. I hope you enjoyed your virtual woodland walk. The sun was going down by this time and I’d run out of good light in the deep woods. We’ve had a lot of rain lately and the springs are still flowing hard, as you can see from the puddles in the photo below. Badger is our lead guardian dog and he usually goes out with me on all of my walks. The other two dogs are there, too, somewhere in the bushes chasing rabbits.

Wild Ozark's lead guardian dog, Badger.
Wild Ozark’s lead guardian dog, Badger.

 

 

Sun Splashes, Tree Silhouettes and Flowering Woodland Herbs

The day was dreary for the most part, but just before sunset the sky brightened. And so I went out with the camera and managed to get a few photos of some of the flowering woodland herbs in the ginseng habitat before it got too dark.

Diversions While Checking the Mail

I’d gone to check the mail, but I became distracted (as I so often do) and stopped at the little ginseng habitat along the way. The blue cohosh and goldenseal are already blooming. Young ginseng plants still have tightly fisted flower stalks and the giant Solomon’s seal is getting taller every day¬†while¬†holding onto dangling flower buds until later.

I’ll add the plant pics to the “Ginseng Through the Seasons” page when I get a chance, since these are all companion plants.

Sun Splashed Mountainsides

When I was almost back to the house, rays of sun came out from beneath the clouds at the western horizon and washed over the eastern mountainsides.

A photo of sunset in the ozarks.
Sun splashed mountainside.

And then the sun dropped almost below the ridgeline and gave me a nice silhouette of the trees in front of the house.

Silhouette of the trees.
Tree silhouette

Solomon’s Seal Unfurling

Solomon's Seal blooming
Solomon’s Seal blooming

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)

There’s a nice patch of Solomon Seal at the front of the driveway¬†that was so choked out last summer that I don’t think any of them got a chance to bloom. I was afraid they might not come back after that. And I wasn’t sure exactly which spot it was where they lived, so earlier while it was still winter I picked my best guess and cleared the briars.

On my way home from checking the mail the other day, I was very pleased to see that I was almost perfect in my guess – just a little bit off. Still, good enough to give them a fighting chance until I get another day to do more clearing and cutting of briars. The plan was to do a little transplanting of them today.

The heady scent of plum blossoms greeted me this morning. It was overcast and misty, and just a wee bit chilly but that kind of lighting is great for taking photos. Before I could get on to the Solomon’s Seal, there was something else I needed to do first. Yesterday I had dug up some Dutchman’s Breeches but didn’t get a chance to pot them up before the rain started, so that was the top¬†thing on my list of things to do today.

After potting up the Breeches I went up to the front end of the driveway dug up some of the Solomon’s Seal. I moved some of the plants to the nursery spot to be sure they don’t all get choked out this year. And while I was at it, I potted up several to bring to market later on this month, too.

Unfurling solomon seal
Unfurling Solomon Seal

Here’s how the rhizomes look:

Solomon Seal showing Root

 

Growing It

Solomon’s Seal enjoys the same habitat as American Ginseng, but it can tolerate a little more sun. It will do well in full or dappled shade but not in deep shade. The soil should be well-drained and loamy. The spot where these have been for many years is on the dry side during the heat of summer, so it can tolerate more dryness than ginseng can as well. The rhizomes should be planted 1 to 3 inches deep.

Uses

This native woodland herb has a surprising (to me, anyway) history of medicinal use. The young shoots are supposed to be edible, but I haven’t tried them yet to give a first-hand report on how tasty they might be. Most of the information I’ve found online regarding its use as medicine is taken from sources talking about the European variety, however ours is similar and is supposed to have similar constituents. The berries will cause vomiting. Some sources say they’re¬†poisonous, some say to use them for causing vomiting. I’d say more research is needed on that use.

Here’s a quick list of ways it has been used by native Americans and herbalists from the Old World. Please do your own research before experimenting with herbs as food or medicine (see disclaimer at bottom of page):

  • to heal external bruises, make a poultice of leaves and root
  • to heal internal bruises, make a decoction and mix with wine to drink (eeww – I think whiskey or bourbon might be better, or just honey maybe)
  • to encourage broken bones to knit, take the root decoction
  • roots can be baked like a starchy vegetable and eaten (after boiling in 3 changes of water!)
  • young shoots can be eaten like asparagus
  • roots decoction good for stomach inflammation, piles, dysentery
  • to stop excessive menstruation (doesn’t specify which parts)
  • may decrease blood sugar levels (keep in mind if using insulin or if you are hypoglycemic)

And one of the most interesting uses I saw mentioned was as incense. Apparently if the root is dried and burned as incense it will ensure a sound night’s sleep. I’m planning to try this one. Sleep is an issue for me lately. I’ll let you know how it worked!

Sources of information:


Disclaimer

I am not a medical professional. The information on the web site is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or prescribe any condition. The FDA does not approve of anything on this web site.


 

Arnold’s First Rooster Crow

Arnold is a Fall chicken. He hatched from an egg, along with his three nestlings way back in October (I think). The clutch of eggs that had hatched shortly before his fell prey to a large black rat snake. You might remember my FB post about that. It takes about six months from hatch to first egg or crow.

We weren’t sure whether Arnold was a he or a she, but had our suspicions. Yesterday he crowed for the first time and confirmed his identity. Oddly, this was a joyful occasion here at Wild Ozark. It was pretty exciting to witness the coming of age of a rooster.

young copper maran roo
Arnold, the new rooster kid on the block.

The day before, one of his nestlings laid her first egg and that was a sweet find too. A hen’s first egg is about half the size of a full-sized egg. The first egg a mature hen lays in spring, if she pauses for a winter break, is also smaller than usual, but not as small as the very first egg she lays in her life.

a hen's first egg
A new hen’s first egg as compared to a mature hen’s egg.

I don’t normally name the chickens. “Arnold” is Rob’s doing. I don’t even name our cats and had to come up with something for one of them at the last minute last year when I brought her to the clinic to be spayed. I guess the dogs and horses should feel lucky to have names. I’m not sure why I don’t name the other animals in my life.

Hopefully this new roo won’t have the same problem with danger discrimination the old roo used to have. I have literally knocked the old one out three times. He kept jumping on me and the grandkids, hurt me pretty badly on the wrist with his spurs once. So I swung my trusty walking stick and took care of him. I thought I’d killed him the first time I knocked him out, but he woke up several hours later, much contrite. Nowadays he gives wide berth when I walk through the flock and I’m glad I didn’t have to really kill him because he’s a good roo otherwise.

chickens
Some of the other hens and the old rooster in our flock.

Update 2017, December: Arnold is now the flock rooster and Old Man is gone. He died of fighting with Arnold. This is another reason to not have more than one rooster for small flocks.

PawPaw Flower Bud

The PawPaw tree is a ginseng companion plant, or ginseng indicator plant. It often grows where ginseng grows, but is also often found in areas with more sunlight. Here at Wild Ozark it is a fairly good indicator of great ginseng habitat, but it also grows prolifically on the edge between forest and field, marking places where the forest beyond the boundary has proper habitat.

The photo below is a PawPaw flower bud. It is a frame in the American Ginseng & Companions slide-show. Later in the season the flower will open completely and the color will be a deep burgundy red.

“There‚Äôs a ‚Äúbetween‚ÄĚ space where the ginseng habitat and the surrounding ecosystems meet. It‚Äôs the boundary between one kind of place and another, like a doorway or threshold. The ginseng habitat and the surrounding hardwood forest, the forest and the field, or that transition space where mountains meet the ocean, plains, or desert sands ‚ÄĒ all liminal spaces of a physical sort that speak to the soul of those who enjoy crossing and lingering along such lines.” – ¬†QUOTE FROM AMERICAN GINSENG & COMPANIONS

PawPaw flower buds, A page from American Ginseng & Companions
A page from American Ginseng & Companions

A goldenseal plant with red berry.

Sights and Sounds of Spring

The sounds of spring fills the night air now. Spring Peepers are calling!

The only visible signs of spring so far as I can see are the bits of wild onion grass growing with a bit more spright than usual. And the chickweed is making my garden look like it already needs to be weeded.

Soon, though, the early bloomers of the ginseng habitat will begin blooming. Every year I go to the woods to watch for them. If you’d like to see them too, I have a USB full of photographs of ginseng and the companion plants, starting with those that bloom in early spring and ending with ripe fruits on the ginseng. It’s $12 with free shipping (unless you want Priority delivery). I’m out of stock right now, but am still taking orders. It’ll only be about two weeks before they’re ready to put in the mail.

cover for American ginseng & Companions
A 30-minute Windows Media Movie, PDF, and Kindle e-book files on USB.

Here’s some of the images from the first chapter (Before the Unfurling) of the slide-show:

button to order Into Ginseng Wood on USB from Wild Ozark