Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tea Party on the Powerlines

New Jersey Tea is in full bloom along the powerlines in Shelton now. It's a low native shrub that forms thickets only a few feet high. The leaves were used to make tea during the Revolutionary War era when colonists were boycotting the real stuff from British ships. They say if you dry the leaves for a few weeks and then steep them in hot water you'll have a drink that tastes very much like Oriental tea.

During the winter, New Jersey Tea is marked by these distinctive little cups where the flowers once were.

Whorled Loosestrife is an easily overlooked native perennial. Although the flowers are small, the leaves join together in symmetrical clusters of four (that's the "whorl").

Deptford Pink is small but vividly magenta. This is one of the many "wildflowers" along the powerlines that are not native to the U.S.

Crown Vetch is very common along the powerlines, where it was planted for erosion control. This is yet another plant that has gone invasive in the U.S., although at least this one stays in sunny areas. It is native to Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa.

Surprise, surprise, Red Clover is also not native. The bees like it, though.

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