Saturday, April 9, 2011

Catching Mice in the Dead Sea

Fallow Field
Adams County Ohio

The fallow fields along the Ohio River may be waiting for seed or plow, but they’re anything but empty on this early spring afternoon.
Covered by a giant purple carpet, they glow from edge to edge with the bright, pink-lipped flowers and soft, fuzzy leaves of an alien mint, Purple Dead-nettle, that quickly moves in to these resting fields, leaving only a few toe holds for the most enterprising of others.

Purple Dead-nettle, Lamium purpureum

Field Pansy, Viola rafinesquei

Step into the ankle-deep magenta sea,
wade past a few field pansies, their heads bobbing as they struggle to rise above the waves, and you’ll find its smallest residents happily riding the current, tails held high.

Mouse-tails, Myosurus minimus

They’re Mouse-tails, Myosurus minimus, a tiny native buttercup in this, its easternmost range. Barely more than a tuft of grass at first glance, these small plants have distinctive slender green flowers that elongate into the tail-like fruit as they mature.

Mouse-tails flowering

Mouse-tails in fruit

But you’d never know they’re lurking there--like the quiet mouse that scurries through the rooms of my old house,
and gives me just a glimpse of him when I have forgotten.

Dead Sea

Henbit, Lamium amplexicaule

Another mint eagerly fills waste places along roadsides.
It's Henbit, Lamium amplexicaule, whose leaves wrap the stem more closely and without stalks.
Again, the bright pink, 2-lipped flower is striking to look at up close!

This post continues last week's adventures with the
Midwest Native Plant Society
and Jim McCormac.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Mike Whittemore said...

Ahhh, henbit! I've been seeing this one a lot lately and haven't had time to key it out so Thank You! Beautiful pictures of the field again. Lets hope the seed stays off this field for years to come!

Guy said...

Hi Nina

I have just discovered your blog and have been happily reading about vernal pools, goats and your beautiful cats. I love the photos you have posted of all the wild flowers. I would like to add a link to your site on my blog would that be alright?


KGMom said...

HA! You got me with your title. But I love the explanation.

Jennifer said...

I, too, was drawn by the title. Beautiful pictures of plants I didn't know. Though the Dead-nettle looks familiar. I will have to check some suspicious ones in my favorite haunts.

Patricia Lichen said...

Aw, photos and stories from my home state, Ohio! I recognized the mouse-tails instantly from childhood, though I'd never heard the name before. Thanks!

Patricia Lichen