Is it bad that I bird watch from our deck and look for wildflowers as I drive out the driveway? Does this seem like an easy way out or an efficient use of my time and energy? Regardless of my method I think that it is a wonderful thing that I actually notice NEW things by doing it this way. For example, the space along the driveway can be known for new mushrooms, especially after some good rainy days. And now, because of this dry spell we are having, I am able to find new flowers like this.
Of course once I noticed the new plant I got out to investigate closer. It stands about 18 inches tall and what I find most striking and beautiful about my slender new friend are the basal leaves. Look at the pattern – just amazing and for lack of a better word, so ‘veiny’. Finding the new flower makes my mind wander (as it tends to do) and I am hoping for it to be a rare flower. Wouldn’t we be so lucky to have this rare flower here. Upon even the tiniest bit of research, my hopes would be shattered quickly. Beautiful flower and leaves – yes. Rare in Pennsylvania – not so much. You see this is Downy Rattlesnake Plantain – is the most common native orchid in the Northeast. I learned a little bit more from the US Forest Service website – like the leaves are evergreen and will be around for a few years. It also has some hairs on the stem that honestly I didn’t notice on my drive by or my close up investigation.
Even though it is not rare here, it is still pretty amazing that we have it on our property. Also interesting that I have never seen it before in all of my teachings, and even better that I noticed it via my everyday car ride out the driveway. Native Americans used it to treat snake bites, burns and skin rashes or insect bites. On a side note, I am glad it is near the driveway because there is also some lore that if you step on this plant you will lose your way and become lost in the woods. Even though I am 1 class shy from a minor in geography, ask any of my friends or family and they will tell you that my sense of direction is awful! 🙂