Nature: New blooming flowers step onto the stage every morning



Take time to go this week and enjoy the wildflowers on Mount Desert Island.

Clintonia is blooming in our woods now. This plant is often called the bluebead lily. It doesn’t matter if the flower is in bloom or if it has gone to seed, it is beautiful. The flower is bright yellow and the veined green leaves are very large at the base of the plant. It was named Clinton’s lily after Governor Clinton, a governor in Connecticut and a botanist. You’ll find it in most Maine woods now. After the yellow flower passes by, a gorgeous blue bead appears where the flowers were and gives it its other name of bluebead lily. The blue color is very special.


Moon jellies surprised some kayakers this week out on local waters. My column reader described it as being “smacked” by moon jellies. No matter how old I get, I’m learning new things. I had never heard of “smacking” but found out that when moon jellies swarm together it is called “smacking.” Here’s something to look up today!

Moon jellyfish are in local waters now. A large gathering of them is called a bloom.

Smacking is a word I had never associated with jellyfish. The sound is like a flat hand hitting another. When the kayakers found themselves in their midst, the jellyfish swarmed around the kayaks. Later in the day, the kayakers went back and found that all that was left of the jellyfish had dried on the beach and was the consistency of thin, brittle wax paper.

I would have liked to have seen and heard this smacking of jellyfish at Emery Cove. This island is full of surprises.

Moon jellyfish are a common species of jellyfish. Even so, they are not seen so often by most people. They seem like very strange creatures. These jellyfish swim horizontally, keeping their bell close to the surface to catch food.

Jellyfish are invertebrates, meaning they do not have a spine, and they are made almost entirely of water. As a general rule, when I am in saltwater or on a shore, I avoid direct contact with jellyfish, for some are poisonous, especially in the Southern states.

Yellow pond lilies are showing their bright, globular blossoms above the water in my pond these lovely days. Pond flowers especially interest me for they have unique lives and are closely connected to that special environment in which they live.

Yellow cow lily.

Yellow cow lilies, also called spadderdock, have large, globular blossoms and can’t be missed. They float on the surfaces of the water from May until October. The globular flowers are bright yellow. The leaves usually float on top of the water, but at times of low water, the broad, rounded leaves may stand erect. The big leaves, often a foot wide, are not really strong enough to hold even a frog; however, in the tropics, I saw some that could have supported 9 pounds!

Spadderdock can thrive in water that is too stagnant for the glamorous white water lily growing in ponds on this island.

The large leaves of the spadderdock rest on the water to keep the waves from splashing in the open blossoms until they have been fertilized by aquatic bees, insects and beetles.

Boiled and roasted, I’ve heard the rootstocks are delicious. Moose and beaver enjoy them. An easy place to see white water lilies is near the Eagle Lake parking area. There is a lovely beaver pond right next to the road near the Eagle Lake Road and a tiny walk takes you to the edge of the pond. Bring your camera. You must, however, be there from 6 a.m. until after noon. The flower opens around 6 a.m. and closes around 1 p.m.

The flowers yield pollen only. Bees, beetles and aquatic insects fertilize water lilies. Few flowers attract as many insects as the fragrant white water lily, but its chief pollinators are the honeybees and small halictid bees. Long-horned leaf beetles (Donacia) spend their entire life cycle on the water lilies.

Pink is a predominant color as spring blooms appear. Rhodora comes first and later sheep laurel keeps pink brightening the trails and roadsides as spring develops through May and June.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote eloquently of “The Rhodora:”

“Rhodora! If the sages ask thee why,

This charm is wasted on earth and sky,

Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,

Then beauty is its own excuse for being.”

This is a lovely time of year. Take time to enjoy it any way you can.

Send any questions or observations to [email protected].


Ruth Grierson

Ruth Grierson

Send any questions or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742.
Ruth Grierson

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