As you know, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust has launched a community nature journaling initiative. Click here for more information about the initiative.

Guidance and inspiration for nature watchers is shared through this email list and our Facebook group: Harpswell Nature Watchers.

What are you seeing out there in Harpswell? We'd love to hear from you!

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The following posts are from some of our local Harpswell Nature Watchers.
I have been away for about a week and came back to berry season! Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries.... get out there and pick, but don't give away your favorite spots :)

I also noticed the milkweed has been blooming and I spotted some beautiful monarch caterpillars on some plants! When you look closely at a single milkweed flower (in the cluster of many), you can see they are really beautiful! As you probably know, monarch butterflies depend on milkweed. But, the striking red Milkweed Beetle also depends on this plant for its life cycle. Many other bees, butterflies and moths are attracted to the fragrant flowers for their nectar. (Contributed by Lynn Knight)
Spotted Knapweed ( Centaurea stoebe) started blooming over a week ago and now it seems like it is everywhere! This invasive plant is originally from Eastern Europe and 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 from 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 – PULL IT OUT!! ……end of rant…. (Contributed by Lynn Knight)
Indian Cucumber Root ( Medeola virginiana) has an edible root that tastes a bit like cucumber. The genus name “Medeola” is for the sorceress Medea who, according to legend, used this herb in her potent brews. Native peoples in the U.S. and Canada have used different parts of the plant medicinally. Its tiers of whorled leaves are easy to spot. Look for the delicate flowers at each whorl’s center. (Contributed by Priscilla Seimer)
Fireweed ( Epilobium angustifolium) is blooming now. This is one of my favorites. I love to watch the transformation of the flower spikes as the cluster of buds open in succession along the stem; then, also in succession, long narrow pods form that will split open releasing white, feathery fluff that will carry the seeds in the wind. Sometimes you will find buds, flowers, and seed fluff all on the same stem. The individual flowers have an interesting 4-lobed stigma. Native Americans used the outer stem fibers to make cord, especially for fishing nets. They also combined the seed fluff with feathers or dog or mountain goat hair and incorporated it into woven cloth for blankets and clothing. (Contributed by Lynn Knight)
Not all Loosestrife is Bad

Most people have heard of purple loosestrife as a non-native invasive plant that chokes out wild rice and other native plants in fresh water marshes. Purple loosestrife is a big problem in many areas. But, there are native species of loosestrife. I noticed swamp yellow loosestrife, sometimes called swamp candles, ( Lysimachia terrestris) blooming in a marsh near my house yesterday. I see why it is called swamp candles since the plants seem to stand individually with their tall upright yellow racemes, crowded with bright yellow flowers, forming a yellow flame shape. This is the first time I’ve seen them in this location. Very nice. Another native is whorled loosestrife.
(Contributed by Lynn Knight)
The Tuberous Grass-pink ( Calopogon tuberosus) is a lovely orchid found in bogs. It is in bloom now, although often out of reach unless you have a telephoto lens or binoculars. This deep pink orchid is a trickster. According to Go Botany “The knobbed hairs on the lip are believed to imitate pollen, thus attracting pollen-collecting bees. The actual pollen is deposited via a pollinium on the upper side of the bee's abdomen, where the bee cannot reach it.” A pollinium is a packet of pollen produced by an anther that is taken as a unit by an insect during pollination. (Contributed by Priscilla Seimer)
Northern Bush Honeysuckle

After being away for a few days, I came back to a whole new wave of flowers blooming! Orange day lilies, wild mustard, black elderberry, bee balm, St. John’s wort, dogbane, and whorled loosestrife. One of my favorite native shrubs is also flowering right now—northern bush honeysuckle ( Diervilla lonicera). This plant will spread to make a nice “hedge” and has beautiful red fall foliage. It is a great native alternative to the invasive burning bush that is in many landscaped gardens. Burning bush can spread out of control and take over the forest understory, crowding out the native highbush blueberries and other plants. Birds scatter berries of good and bad plants far and wide, so even if you try to be vigilant about controlling invasive plants in your own yard, the birds are planting seeds where you can’t control them. I also came back to four apples growing on one of my trees - hooray! And, the first Japanese beetle - rats!! How are your fruit trees doing? (Submitted by Lynn Knight)