Lynn Woods Wildflowers

by Ranger Pam Snow

(originally published in July 1999 newsletter)

May has been an exciting month for wildflower watching in Lynn Woods. Of course the flower that bears the month's name started things off early. The Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum Canadense) is a short plant with simple leaves and a stalk of tiny white flowers. True to its other common name, Wild Lily of the Valley, this plant is part of the lily or liliacae family and resembles the garden variety of lily of the valley but of smaller size. This plant spreads by underground rhizomes and forms good size mats on the forest floor.

Growing along side it throughout the woods is the Eastern starflower (Trientalis Borealis) which is aptly named for its small white star shaped flower–well, almost star-shaped anyway–it has from five to nine petals. The leaves also create a star-like effect as the "whorl" around the stem framing the flowers. Another starflower is star grass, a yellow star-shaped flower, approximately violet-sized, with grass-like leaves. Speaking of violets, there were lots and lots of them throughout the woods and gardens this spring.

If you haven't done so recently, you should take a walk through the horticultural garden, as well as the Rose Garden, to see what's in bloom! Winnie and Harvey Robinson have been nurturing this unusual woodland garden, which hosts a mix of wildflowers and garden flowers growing amongst a grove of cedars. In the garden and elsewhere in the woods look for showy pink wild geraniums (Geranium Maculatum) with its big lacy leaves, and Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis), a beautiful red flower which is the state flower of Colorado. A flower often confused with Columbine is Pale Corydalis (Corydalis Sempervirens) which has similar shaped flowers in pink and yellow. Strangely, it is a member of the poppy family, even though it looks nothing like poppy to most of us. The corydalis grows in open rocky areas and is quite common in Lynn Woods. Of course, we can't forget the all time favorite, pink ladyslipper, which is also fairly abundant in these woods.

Two flowering shrubs of note are the chokeberry (Pyrus Arbutifolia, Melancapa, or Floribunda, depending on berry color) and the maple-leaf Viburnum (Viburnum Acerfolium. The chokeberry is new to me but quite prevalent here–how have I missed this in the past? Typical of its rose family heritage, it has five white petals and a pleasing fragrance. It is actually in the same genus as pears. Here in Lynn Woods, it seems happiest in rocky open clearings and is quite short (1-2' tall), but in Maine I have seen it in wet areas growing to about 4'. The maple-leaf Viburnum lives up to its name, with maple-shaped leaves and viburnum-shaped flowers. A lacy white cluster, it is in full bloom in early June.

If you have seen interesting wildflowers, give me a call to let me know what, where, and when you saw them. I'm looking forward to seeing what's to come this year. Last summer, I saw a Cardinal flower (Lobelia Cardinalis), which is a rare and showy sight, along Overlook Trail where the bog bridge was built. I hope to see it again this year. Please remember "to take only photos" (or drawings) "and leave only footprints" (on the trail) so that everyone can enjoy the same sights you do.and do enjoy the sights you see!

See Also


Alien Invasive Weeds by Ranger Dan Small

Contact the Hot Line at 781-593-7773 with any comments or questions.