Sampler of last wildflower blooms of the season plus a sneak peak at Leaf Peeping

As a final tribute to summer, I invite you to view the latest sampler of wildflowers on my “Seasonal Wildflowers – Autumn (September and October)” page; these represent the last of those that bloom each year.

And, for a sneak peak of what’s to come, please also view my Fall Colors…from a Different Perspective.

Hope you enjoy both.

Wishing all a safe and relaxing Labor Day.

Happy trails!

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Hazelnut harvest is underway!

I typically begin collecting ripened hazelnuts during the last week or so of August. To wait any longer ensures that the chipmunks and red squirrels (and other foragers!) will have already been there to collect the delicious nuts.

There are two species of hazelnuts, both native, that grow in the wild in our area. American Hazelnut (Corylus americana), which appears similar to the filberts you will find in grocery stores, and Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta). Each is delicious and both ripen at that same time – now. The husk surrounding the individual or, more often, cluster of nuts is the easiest way to distinguish between the two species.

This is the nut of American Hazelnut.

American Hazelnut

American Hazelnut

Read more about American Hazelnut from a sample page from one of my wildflower guides.

This is the nut of Beaked Hazelnut.

Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Read more about Beaked Hazelnut from a sample page from one of my wildflower guides. Read even more info about Beaked Hazelnut.

Both hazelnuts are found throughout our area, typically in woodland borders or thickets. Sites receiving more sunlight are more likely to produce more nuts.

Read how to roast and skin hazelnuts. Read about another method to roast hazelnuts.

Read more about how to recognize these two species and how to harvest the nuts.

A few years ago, I enjoyed this bountiful harvest!

Hazelnut harvest (American on left, Beaked on right)

Hazelnut harvest (American on left, Beaked on right)

Recipes:
for Hazelnut Liqueur
for Hazelnut Cookies
for Torta Gianduia
for Hazelnut Butter
for another Hazelnut Butter
using Hazelnut Oil
Healthy Hazelnut Recipes

I recommend adding a cup of chopped or grated hazelnuts to your favorite shortbread cookie recipe.

Happy trails!

Elderberries ripening now!

Fruit of Common Elderberry

Fruit of Common Elderberry

This native shrub is found throughout the area, typically found in open areas with moist soils. Read more about Common Elderberry from a sample page from one of my wildflowers guides.

Only the blue or purple berries of elderberry are edible. Edible berries and the flower are used for medicine, dyes for basketry, arrow shafts, flute, whistles, clapper sticks, and folk medicine. Fruits of elderberry are gathered from the wild for wine, jellies, candy, pies, and sauces. (Source: http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_sanic4.pdf)

Read how to pick and cook elderberries.

Read how to can elderberry juice and to freeze elderberries.

Recipes:
for Elderberry Crunch Bread
for Elderberry Gummies
for Elderberry Jam
for Elderberry Jelly
for Elderberry Liqueur
for Elderberry Pie
for Elderberry Wine
from Norm’s Farms
from Pinterest

Happy trails!

Sunday sampler along Veterans Bike Path

Another gorgeous August day.  A return trip to Veterans Bike Path in the Town of Ballston.  This time, however, I hiked the northern half of the trail, south of Outlet Road.

I found some additional species to add to my inventory during today’s hike.  Here’s a sampler of what I observed –

Wild Lettuce

Wild Lettuce

Yarrow

Yarrow

Marsh Skullcap

Marsh Skullcap

Bouncing Bet

Bouncing Bet

Common Evening Primrose

Common Evening Primrose

Yellow Sweet Clover

Yellow Sweet Clover

Panicled Aster

Panicled Aster

Showy Coneflower

Showy Coneflower

Pale-leaved Sunflower

Pale-leaved Sunflower

Sundrops

Sundrops

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

Happy trails!

Saturday sampler along Veterans Bike Path

Sunny.  Low humidity.  Low 80s.  What a spectacular August day!

Veterans Bike Path beckoned me.  Another week has passed and it is time to revisit this site to continue my ongoing wildflower inventory, particularly since this one is winding down.  I will prepare a wildflower field guide for this trail and have it posted on this blog in March 2015.  Stay tuned!

I walked the southern half of the trail today (from Route 146A north to the 1.75-mile marker) and observed, among other species, these blooms –

Wild Bergamot

Wild Bergamot

Woodland Sunflower

Woodland Sunflower

Early Goldenrod

Early Goldenrod

Boneset

Boneset

Flat-topped Goldenrod

Flat-topped Goldenrod

Virgin's Bower

Virgin’s Bower

Moneywort

Moneywort

Purple-leaved Willow Herb

Purple-leaved Willow Herb

Tall Goldenrod

Tall Goldenrod

Great Lobelia

Great Lobelia

Teasel

Teasel

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife

Happy trails!

Stop. Look. Listen.

Remember that advice shared with us by our parents as part of being taught what to do before crossing a street?

It comes in handy while out in nature.  Next time you’re on a hike, please do so:  Stop.  Look.  Listen.

Today, while continuing my wildflower inventory along Veterans Bike Path in the Town of Ballston, I did just that.  I had stepped off the bike path to more thoroughly study the many plants growing along a small shallow water area in the drainageway bordering the adjoining woodland, when a sound and motion overhead caught my attention.  As one of them flew across the trail to a large oak on the opposite side of the adjoining railroad tracks, my eyes quickly noticed this silhouette from where the first bird took flight –

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Given my reward for doing so, I encourage you to take a moment next time you are out for a hike to simply stop and take notice of what is surrounding you.  You might be surprised to see “whoo” is watching you!

Happy trails!