Pryde’s Point has two parking lots, I parked at the one on Rocktown-Lambertville road in West Amwell.
I find the greatest connection to the world around me when I am knee deep in it. I also find the greatest connection to other people when we are walking and talking. This morning I met up with my good friend and college roommate for a hike through Pryde’s Point. There is something so freeing about being able to walk through nature and talk through what is going on in our lives. When the talk might stray to a place that is not ready to be talked about, a butterfly or a bird may streak across the view and pull you out of that conversation. The depth of the forest also allows for deep thoughts and feelings to arise and be expressed in a way that can’t happen in closed rooms. I love going on walks with people, it is in my experience, the best way to get to know someone. Or in this case, to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while.
Common Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum, an invasive brought to the United States from Europe to be used in textiles. Now iI am not great at identifying meadow forbs so I asked another friend with some identification help. I absolutely love playing highway botany (my husband points out plants for me to ID while we are on a road trip) and getting text messages from friends and family of different plant photos or questions. It is such a fun distraction and I love to nerd out learning and figuring out new-to-me plants.
An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus. This is a very common (and beautiful!!!!) butterfly in New Jersey. The host plants for this butterfly in its larval stage are Black Cherry, Prunus serotina, and Tulip Tree, Liriodendron tulipifera. Read more about the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail here!
Watch out Vampires!! Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata, a native flower with a whole lot of folk lore attached to it! In case you have a vampire problem, apparently Vervain can weaken or even kill a vampire 😉 . Vervain is also great for butterflies, so instead of planting Butterfly bush, plant vervain instead! Attract butterflies and get rid of vampires, what more could you ask for in a plant???
Blackberry, Rubus allegheniensis! How lovely it is to stroll and snack on these tasty aggregate drupes! Yum!
A Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus, probably the most famous and recognizably butterfly around! I want to set up a tank and raise some at home for my wild boys to watch them grow. My 3 year old already informed me that “caterpillars turn into chrysalises and then turn into butterflies” in his adorable dialect that turns “L”s into “W”s. Whenever we find inch worms or caterpillars he always asks me what they will turn into, and frankly I don’t have a very good answer for him most of the time. I think I need to find some sort of ID book that will have moths and butterflies in their larval stage.
Jewel Weed (Touch-me-not), Impatiens capensis, flower. I know I talked about these flowers in an earlier post, but just look how stunning it is! It is so tiny and can get hidden very easily, but I think it is just a spectacular little flower!
Bittersweet Nightshade, Solanum dulcamara, an invasive that was introduced from Europe. This beautiful flower harbors a poisonous berry that is toxic to humans and livestock. Apparently, you will have to eat more than just a couple berries to feel its effects, but children (who probably are more likely to put random berries in their mouths) are more sensitive to the toxin, solanine.
This might look like I took a picture of spit… but its not, well sort of! This is actually from a spittle bug (Cercopidae Family). There are over 20,000 different species of spittle bug, but I personally have never seen an individual bug! The spittle bug makes a secretion and then fills it with air and essentially forms a mass around itself to hide from predators as well as protect itself from temperature extremes and desiccation (drying out). I always love pointing these out to people because they look so gross, but are actually super cool. Read more about spittle bugs here!
Porcelain Berry, Ampelopsis brevipedunculata, an invasive that has some of the most gorgeous berries I have ever seen. When grape (Vitis spp.) leaves are young they can be confused with Porcelain berry leaves, but once they are in fruit, you will know for sure which is which. I know its invasive but those berries are so beautiful its hard to believe that they are real! Read more about Porcelain berry here!
Goldenrod Bunch Gall! This goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) had an egg laid on its terminal end by a midge (Rhopalomyia solidaginis), which caused the stem to stop growing, but the leaves continued to grow. Apparently there are about 50 different types of galls formed on Goldenrod species!!! My mind is totally blown and you should read more about it here!
I don’t know if this is considered a “round gall” or an “elliptical gall”. Perhaps there are two gall makers battling out for the same stem space?
Dogbane, Apocynum cannabinum, and its leaf beetle, Chrysochus auratus. This beetle not only is amazing to look at (you can even see a reflection of me taking a photo of the beetle on its shell!!!), it can do the moon walk! The sap of dogbane is thick and sticky and often causes other insect herbivores to have their mouth parts stick together, but this little beetle does a moonwalk and drags its mouthparts along the leaf to clean off the offending substance. Read more about it here!
I was thoroughly confused to see all these Hostas growing in the woods. As my hiking companion said “There must not be any deer here!”. My hostas are constantly assailed by the neighborhood deer and rabbits, but these lovelies were growing to their fullest potential, blooms and all! There is a little cottage just outside of this photo frame, so they were probably planted intentionally. I couldn’t find any information on this cottage or who lived here.
I didn’t notice any signage about what this place was prior to it becoming a park. There was a little cottage right above this photo, but it did not look to be very old. These ruins were right by the stream and my guess probably flooded often. I wonder what this was used for.
Life always tries to find a way! This is an American Beech, Fagus grandifolia, doing its best and shooting out epicormic branches trying to survive.
False Solomon Seal, Maianthemum racemosum, fruit. Someone had asked me the other day about the fruit being edible and I didn’t know. I have now found out that people used to use the roots of the plant to treat coughs. According to Penn State University, a tribe in California used False Solomon Seal to stun fish in streams so they could harvest them. There was no explanation on how this happened… Did they jump out at the fish and yell “SURPRISE!!!!” and throw handfuls of little fruits at the fish and stun them? I hope that is how they did it, because I too would probably fall over stunned if someone where to do this to me…
Pecans, Carya illinoinensis!!! One of the few true native edible nuts to the United States! While New Jersey is not in the Native Range for pecans they do happily grow here. I will definitely be coming back here in November to look for pecans! I think it would be fabulous to make a pecan pie from NJ pecans!