Episode 084: Goldenrod

If you’re a person who suffers from spring allergies but you get relief during the heat of summer, you might be edging into another bout of allergies now. Not only is goldenrod not the most likely culprit for these late season allergies, it has historically been used to combat maladies like hay fever and urinary tract infections due to its antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. The genus of the many species of goldenrod that exist around the world is “Solidago,” which in Latin means “to make whole”—a reference to goldenrod’s many medicinal uses.

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Episode 083: Sawyer Beetles

Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of this hefty beetle was its elegant antennae which extended from its head a full two times the length of its body and formed a brilliant delicate jointed arch which curled slightly at the tip. These two long antennae, sometimes called horns can get this bumbling native beetle into a heap of trouble.

Episode 082: Seed Dispersal

No matter the size of a seed, whether it’s smaller than a poppy seed or as large as the 40-pound coco de mer seed, all seeds have a few things in common: they have an embryo, which will develop into a more familiar-looking adult plant, a food source for that developing embryo, and a seed coat, which protects it. Seeds emerge on a flowering plant after the flower has been pollinated and developed into a fruit, which surrounds those seeds. The whole point in this process, of course, is to ensure the survival of the next generation.

Episode 081: Raspberries

A perfectly sun-ripened wild raspberry still glistening with morning dew is one of the loveliest wild indulgences. The word “picking” when applied to these berries feels somewhat wrong. Ripe raspberries slip effortlessly off the plant, leaving their greenish-white core behind, unlike their close relatives, the blackberries. As a result, raspberries end up looking like a ruby red thimble sized for a child’s finger.

Episode 080: Pickerelweed

In my book, the plentiful pickerelweed need no more virtue than being abundant and beautiful during the dog days of summer. The lavender flower spikes may be the most conspicuous feature on this small aquatic plant, but every bit of this plant is spectacular.

Episode 079: Great Horned Owls

I distinctly remember my first owl observation as a child: I watched a great horned owl soar across my backyard river in broad daylight, then perch on a branch and stare right back at me. This time of year provides a heightened chance for just that kind of owl observation because great horned owls are busily out hunting more than usual to feed their growing chicks.

Episode 078: Japanese Beetles

At this point in the year, you may have already started to notice the handiwork of Japanese beetles. While they can be a nuisance, Japanese beetles might be tied with the electric blue six-spotted tiger beetle in a beauty contest of Maine beetles.

Episode 077: Milkweed Blossoms

Why should this small unassuming plant create something so beautiful and so sweetly scented? The theologist may argue that it’s proof of a greater divine plan. The ecologist may argue that it is an enticing indicator of nectar meant to reward diligent pollinators that aid in milkweed reproduction. The honeybee would eschew such idle speculation and remind us that it’s time to get back to work before the flowers pass with the season.

Episode 076: Great Blue Herons

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to watch a solitary heron seeking food, you know that they are the epitome of patience. Long, thin legs and neck provide an ideal vantage point from which the bird can wait motionless in shallow fresh or saltwater as a dagger-like bill points at unsuspecting prey. Their wispy pale blue-gray feathers always match the background, whether it’s a cloudy sky, a stormy sea, or a placid pond.

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