Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tropical Connecticut?

OK, those are two words I never thought I'd say together. But when I went for a walk this morning in the Naugatuck State Forest, the place did have something of the tropical about it, starting with the sight when I first arrived:


Fog and mist, and everything damp, with the constant rustle of water as the leaves dripped last night's rain. I'm not used to seeing the woods like this, and it was a little like stepping into someone else's woods, in another part of the world.

Besides, could this really still be Connecticut, with flowers like this growing at the water's edge?


I've never seen Cardinal Flowers in real life before, only pictures online, and I was amazed at how brightly they shone, even from across the lake.

Close up, of course, the flowers are even more stunning.


I can't imagine a more brilliant shade of red, and I'm enjoying those weird purple structures arching over the top of each flower.

And there were more weird flowers growing in another part of the woods. These tiny Horse Balm blooms (Collinsonia canadensis, a member of the mint family) are among the stranger things I've seen:


Those two stamens remind me of antennae, and how about that super-frilly lower lip:


Strange or not, this sweat bee (Augochlora pura -- thank you, BugGuide.net!) didn't seem to have much trouble figuring the flowers out, although some contortion is apparently required:


And what would a rain forest be without amphibians? This small Pickerel Frog -- I called all spotted frogs "leopard frogs" when I was little, but I have since learned better -- was hopping around on the wet ground near the Cardinal Flowers, and I was glad for the chance to say hello:


OK, so it's not actually the tropics, but with all the diversity and crazy creatures around here (not to mention the weather), sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. :)

4 comments:

  1. That first photo is gorgeous!

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  2. Stunning photos! Love the little sweat bee on the Horse Balm. I found that flower today, too. If you crush the flower heads they have a very lemony scent, like citronella. I wonder if they got their name from using that plant as an insect repellent for horses.

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  3. Woke up to a muggy, misty morning here in Middle England. Your photo reminds me of a beechwood. The cardinal Lobelia is stonking. Is it a pollinated by hummingbirds? Mel

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  4. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Mel: I just did a little research and it looks like the Cardinal Flower is pollinated by hummingbirds -- around here it'll be our Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The flowers do look hummingbird-perfect, that's for sure! :)

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