What are you seeing out there? We'd love to hear from you! The following posts are from some of our local Harpswell Nature Watchers.

Summer in Harpswell does not disappoint. Warm temperatures and sunny days make for perfect conditions to get outside and take in this short season. Please enjoy our July edition! All of the contributions below are seen immediately in our Facebook group. Click here to join.

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Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare) – A sweet little annual that grows in open well-drained forests--often in the rocky ridge areas with thin soils, which is quite common in Harpswell. From a distance it looks like an unremarkable ground cover at around 8 inches tall, but if you look closely you will see lovely tubular flowers with a yellow patch in the throat. One of my wildflower books notes that some said cows foraging on this plant “produced the yellowest butter” after eating it—hence its name. It is a member of the figwort family whose members typically have flowers with fused petals that form tubular structures.
(Submitted by Lynn Knight, July 9, 2019)
I am reposting a piece from last year about spotted knapweed, because it is blooming in many fields and roadsides right now. It looks lovely, however, read on........
Spotted Knapweed ( Centaurea stoebe ) started blooming over a week ago and now it seems like it is everywhere! This invasive plant, originally from Eastern Europe, is especially bad news for pastures and hayfields. It spreads rapidly and crowds out the native plants that are good forage for livestock and wildlife. In addition to producing large numbers of seeds on each flower, it releases a chemical called catechin into the soil, which inhibits the growth of other plants and allows it to establish a dense monoculture. If you see it on your property it is recommended that you pull it out.
(Submitted by Lynn Knight, July 9, 2019)
Red baneberry (Actaea rubra) is fruiting right now. Their cluster of deep bright red berries are striking. You can find this plant in moist, shady forests or stream banks. Don’t be tempted to eat these attractive berries—just a few can make you quite sick and eventually paralyze respiration. The leaves and roots are highly poisonous as well. I have read that the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word bana which means murderous! Some Native Americans chewed the leaves and spat them on wounds to prevent infection and promote healing.
(Submitted by Lynn Knight, July 15, 2019)
Spotted St. John’s-wort (Hypericum punctatum) is blooming in fields and woodland clearings all over Harpswell right now. According to botanists at the British Columbia Forest Service, this plant was brought to North America by the Europeans who have used it since ancient times as a remedy for anxiety and other nervous disorders. It was also applied to wounds if nerves were exposed.
Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon write that St. John’s-wort was named for St. John the Baptist. The Latin term “Hypericum” means “above pictures,” referring to the practice of placing a picture over shrines to repel evil spirits. According to folklore, if you gather this plant on the eve of St. John’s birthday, June 24th, and hang it in the windows, it will protect the house from thunder and evil spirits.
(Submitted by Lynn Knight, July 21, 2019)
I have been enjoying the many water lily blossoms on local ponds. Most of them are purple but there are yellows and whites on display to add beautiful colors to our wetland areas. Bird feeders are always good fun and I have enjoyed watching a small chipmunk trying to scale the thin steel pole that holds one of ours. I keep a thin layer of grease on the pole to deter chipmunks and squirrels but they don't give up easily!
(Submitted by Ed Robinson, July 24, 2019)