Wildflowers of the Westborough Reservoir

Early June

Bristly Locust or Rose-acacia

In early June, bristly locust (Robinia hispida) puts out clusters of large, pea-like, rose-colored blossoms. Also called rose-acacia, these shrubs and small trees have escaped from cultivation. Locusts are legumes, a group of plants that enrich the soil with nitrogen through the activities of bacteria harbored in their root nodules.

Indian Cucumber-root, Lily family (Liliaceae), Native
Indian Cucumber-root

Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana) blooms discretely in wooded areas in early June. The small spiderly flowers dangle from the plant's upper whorl of leaves. The plant is a member of the lily family.

The name refers to the Native American practice of digging the roots for food. The root is crisp and tastes and smells like cucumber. Native Americans also used to spit chewed root on their hooks to get fish to bite.

Birds like the berries, which turn bluish when they ripen in late summer. At that time, the base of the leaves loses color or turns red, signaling the presence of berries.

False Hellebore or Indian Poke, Lily family (Liliaceae), Native

False Hellebore More Photos

In late spring, the cornstalk-like plants of false hellebore (Vertrum viride) quickly grow tall in swampy areas. Their large pleated leaves are distinctive with several parallel ribs. The plants produce numerous greenish flowers crowded on graceful branches and then die back after flowering. Indian poke is another common name for this member of the lily family.

False hellebore is toxic to grazing animals and has been shown to produce birth defects in sheep.

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  Copyright © Anne A. Reid, 1999-2002.
  Photographs copyright © Garry K. Kessler, 1999-2002.