Saturday, August 13, 2011

What's Blooming Now at a New York City Beach

Jacob Riis

and by the side of the road down by the shore in Brooklyn and Queens? Camphorweed, Heterotheca subaxillaris. And guess what? It's native, or in the words of the men who wrote this paper, is "a New World aromatic, pioneer species that rapidly colonizes disturbed, xeric habitats on temperate and subtropical coastal dunes." I like that as a phrase, a New World aromatic. When I was checking out this plant's fuzzy gray-green leaves at the beach near our garden a few weeks ago, figuring it for something in the asteraceae family, Joe told me to smell it (he's a sniffer) and indeed, smell is one of the keys for this plant. Its leaves depart a distinct medicinal aroma. I'm pretty sure we've been passing it by the side of the road for years now, but couldn't find an ID for it in our books. But I think this time around, I've got it. Eventually, it seems, if you pay attention to the world outside growing around you and keep paying attention, some things do sink in.

Camphorweed flower
Camphorweed (Heterothica subaxillaris) going to seed

And finally, Camphorweed as snack, by what I think is a Sulphur butterfly in the Colias genus.)

Labels: Native plants, summer


sarah said...

Have you ever looked at the Portraits of Wildflowers blog out of Austin, TX? Awesome macro shots - he's done a lot on camphorweed. You might want to check it out.

frank@nycg said...

I've seen it!

Sweetgum Thursday said...

Well kiddos, I hope my ID is right. Definitely blooming everywhere near the shore, Frank. One of these days on our rides to Riis and Tilden, we will look for your garden and see if we recognize it from your blog.

Sarah, thanks for the link, though I'm sure it will just make me wish for a better camera. Some hobbies are more expensive than others, gear-wise.