Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 22-23 Kayaking in Mammoth Cave National Park

Here are some picture I took kayaking the Green River in Mammoth Cave National Park, and also some of the wildflower species I found there. Enjoy!

Wildflower species I found in and around the park:

  • Hairy Ruellia
  • Nodding Thistle
  • Trumpet Creeper (found a bloom floating in the Green River)
  • Queen Anne's Lace
  • Bedstraw
  • Blackeyed Susan
  • Dayflower

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wildflower Paper #4: Hairy Skullcap

I found this example of Hairy Skullcap on a wooded trail at O'Bannon State Park in Southern Indiana, on June 9, 2007. The first thing to catch my eye was the cluster of Snap Dragon-like flowers perched on a stem that was about 1 1/2 feet tall. The next thing was the fuzziness of the stem and leaves, which is fairly apparent in this photo. Also note the opposite, lightly toothed, and petioled (on a stem) leaves. According to Wildflowers of Mammoth Cave National Park, this should also have a square stem, though I don't remember noticing the shape of the stem at the time. The square stem is a characteristic of the Skullcap's being in the mint family.

According to Wildflowers of Mammoth Cave National Park, Different species of skullcap have been used to treat irritability and nervous conditions as well as insomnia and exaustion. I have found other sources online attributing these uses to skullcap species and adding on that it is also used as "anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, slightly astringent, emmenagogue, febrifuge, nervine, sedative and strongly tonic" with a warning that an overdose can cause "giddiness, stupor, confusion and twitching". ( I didn't, however, find any sources that attributed these uses to this specific species of skullcap.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Wildflower Paper #3: Red Columbine

Red Columbine is a pretty little flower that blooms in Kentucky when Spring is well underway. The flowers are roughly bell shaped and draped downward, and is in the Buttercup family. Four or five structures stick out of the top of the blossom (or the back if you consider the opening of the petals to be the 'front') that remind me of a jester's cap. They also give the columbine one of it's other common names: jack-in-trousers. It likes a woodland setting, especially near clearings where it has plenty of access to sunlight.

Columbine is a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds, and receives special mention at, a site for ruby throated hummingbird enthusiasts. The hummingbirds and butterflies presumably gain valuable nectar from the flowers, and in return spread the pollen to other nearby columbine plants.

The plant has been used in the past by humans to ease a number of ailments. The seeds have been used to treat headache, sore throat, poison ivy rash, and the roots have been used for gastrointestinal problems. (source:

Friday, June 8, 2007

Plant of the Moment: Poision Hemlock

For pictures, go here: Poison Hemlock Pictures

This is the first year I've had any idea what hemlock looked like, and lately I've been seeing it everywhere. Around Bullitt county it seems to line all the fence rows and railroad tracks where it has not been mowed. The flowers sort of resemble Queen Ann's Lace (before I knew better, that is what I thought it was.) I learned to tell the difference when another Naturalist-in-Training pointed it out on a hike. The leaves of the hemlock look fern-like, and a single stalk branches out into a circular upper hemisphere of white flower clusters. Right now they are in full bloom and are quite beautiful on the sides of the road.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Friday, June 1, 2007

Nature Notes

Today I went for a sit in the woods. I went up the Poplar Tree trail until the ground was fairly level and then sat on a log and watched and listened from about 2:45 to 3:30.

When I first sat down I noticed that the woods were very quiet with only a little bit of bird song off in the distance. After I sat still about 15 minutes, I there were more birds singing and they were also closer than before. I was not able to identify any of the bird songs, nor see the birds themselves. I heard one call that I thought sounded very interesting--it was a clicking sort of call that started off very quiet and then both slowed and got louder toward the end of the call and then dropped off in volume before stopping. I think next time I do this I will need to remember to take a tape recorder.

After I sat probably close to 30 minutes, a very small mouse like animal--actually I think it was a mole--appeared about 10 feet in front of me and started rooting around in the fallen leaves. I could barely see it except when it moved, because it was very well camouflaged against the leaves. I don't think it even knew I was there. If I rustled the leaves with my foot it would dart into hiding, but then reappear within a minute after I was still again. I also saw another small furry creature farther away, but I could not see it well enough tell what it was.

Also I forgot to mention from last weekend, I saw a rather large snapping turtle along-side Bernhiem's main road toward the Visitor Center just after entering the main gate.

Also, on the same day on the Jackson Yoe trail, I found some whorled loosestrife. I'd never seen it before and but thought it was worth looking up. According to _Wildflowers of Mammoth Cave National Park_ it is 'infrequent' so I guess that means it was a nice find.