Quick Wildflower Break & the Hummingbird Hawk Moth

22May08

Quick like a bunny I wanted to toss up a couple of wildflowers mostly because I was a little stunned myself. We have a pup that is visiting us this week and his name is Teddy. We call him Teddy Roosevelt so we, my pups and I, took him for a walk down by the creek. This was to show him where the boundaries of our property were and of course I took along my camera. When I did I was surprised because I wanted to see if the false solomon’s seal had flowered yet. When I looked this is what I saw….

Twisted Stalk
This is the flowering on a plant commonly confused with false solomon’s seal and is commonly called Twisted stalk or (Streptopus amplexifolius.) At the end of summer they produce a bright red oval berries that can be eaten as a trail-side treat – in moderation. (Too many will cause a laxative effect which is something you don’t need on a hike!) Rumor has it they taste just like cucumber. It’s suggested that even though you can eat the whole plant it is commonly confused with lilies (like wild lily of the valley and false hellebore) and thus it’s recommended that you limit your eating habits to the berries only. (Lily of the valley will produce a round looking orange berry that is not suggested you eat as most lilies contain chemicals that have very ill effects if eaten. hint; the berry of lily of the valley is extremely sweet, orange and thus looks very appetising. And thus, young children are quite taken with them if they ever ingest this berry take them to the hospital with with plant immediately.) The hellebore plant will have small tightly clustered six petaled flowers on them which range from white to green. The flowers do not hang down (as they do on this plant) but stand upright on a long stalk and as far as I know they do not produce a berry. No one should even ingest any parts of hellebore plants as many people use the the dried and powered roots of the plant as a natural insecticide. In this case never eat the berry or plant unless you are absolutely certain it is twisted stalk – so in this case a familiarity with the plant is necessary. I’ll do what I can to get a shot of the berry later this summer.

False Solomen's Seal
Though some Native Americans partook of the roots of this feathery false lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum racemosum) it tends to be extremely bitter; unlike it’s look-alike. You can eat it’s stalks however even the Indians soaked them in lye over night to remove a lot of the bitter taste. So even though some plants are edible they aren’t necessarily appetizing. It also produces a really dark berry but in general like the rest of the plant they are much too bitter to actually gain enjoyment from eating them. {Sidenote: I’ve never seen a plant with so many common names sometimes it’s called false solomon’s seal, feathery false lily-of-the-valley, plumed solomon’s seal and even plumed spikenard.}

Bumblebee on Lupine
I caught also this extremely large working bumblebee on a lupine. She really seemed to be enjoying herself. Bumblebees make me smile.

hummingbird hawk moth
My sister was flabbergasted the first time she came in contact with one of these little guys. It’s a rather large moth that feeds of the nectar of plants and it’s wings move so fast that it creates the humming sound that we more commonly associate with a hummingbird. In flight there is enough difference and similarities between the two species (one being a bird and the other a moth) that we tend to take a second look. The reason is they will also act like a hummingbird which means feeding in the morning and at dusk everyday. (Not like most moths who are more active at night.) So fluttering from blossom to blossom is one of the many similarities they have – however as you can see they do not look like a hummingbird. If you run into one rumor has it that they have a ritualistic feeding schedule which means most likely if it was five p.m. at a flower he will be there tomorrow the around the same time at the same plant. They are loyal visitors.

hummingbird hawk moth
(Macroglossum stellatarum) Hummingbird Hawk Moth This shot gives you an idea how his wing beats are so fast that, like a hummingbird, in photographs they disappear.

Okay peace and I hope you have a beautiful day!

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20 Responses to “Quick Wildflower Break & the Hummingbird Hawk Moth”

  1. Nice images Lori and nice writeup as well. I love the upper wildflower and moth.

  2. 2 montucky

    Beautiful shot of the Twisted stalk! I’ve seen that around here, but you got a classic photo of it! Looks like your False solomon seal is healthy too. I also took some photos of it yesterday here. The plants look extra good this year!

    Those are great shots of the moths! I’ll have to work on them because we don’t see very many hee. And I really like the bumble! I’ve never seen one of them that I didn’t like!

  3. How nice and I can’t believe that the Hummingbird Moths are out already!

  4. I love it – a “false false solomon’s seal” πŸ™‚

    The bumblebee & hummy moth shots are great!

  5. Your photos are fantastic, I’ve always loved close-ups! However, about that moth!!! Here, in New England, we also call it a Sphinx Moth BUT, obviously, you guys don’t keep tomato plants … that son of a gun comes from the tomato hornworm and boy can they devour your tomato plants in a hurry! 😯

    Still, GREAT photos! πŸ˜€

  6. I have lily-of-the-valley and those seemed to, up until now, to attract more hummers than my feeder. They are really nice plants.

  7. Thanks Boyd… the busiest artist of the year!

  8. Hi Montucky, I like the layout of the twisted stalk plant the leaves themselves are so pretty that it can be gorgeous without the blossom. The moth was sublime luck on a bad birding day. thank you once again for your visit!

  9. Hi Monarch – he was a bit of a surprise but a really nice one!!

  10. Hi Adam – I never considered it that way false false solomon’s seal but that is a hilarious thought; and true! πŸ™‚

  11. Janet I really appreciate your comment about tomato plants because we do have some! Oh no! I hope this guy bypasses ours but like with all bugs you can just never tell. One thing about living out here… we just adapt to the loss of certain veggies and get them at the farmers market if we have too. (I really babied those tomato plants too… dang!)

  12. Hi Scienceguy, I’d love to run into the lily-of-the-valley plant. They are just gorgeous!

  13. What a great series of shots! I have enjoyed them so much. I tried to get lupine extablished here but it wasn’t happy. I love it though. I should live somewhere it will grow.

  14. Nice catch on the hummingbird moth.

  15. These are beautiful Lori, I really like the soft effect in the second image !!

  16. I just love these moths! πŸ™‚

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