Wildflowers of the Westborough Reservoir

Early June, p. 2

Greenish-flowered Pyrola, Wintergreen or Pyrola family (Pyrolaceae), Native
Closeup Greenish-flowered Pyrola

Greenish-flowered pyrola (Pyrola virens), a member of the pyrola or wintergreen family, blooms in wooded areas in June. Like many other woodland plants, pyrolas are perennial plants that produce relatively few flowers in the spring. They put much of their energy into leaves and underground parts that will help them survive the winter.

Blue Flag Iris, Iris family (Iridaceae), Native
More Photos Blue Flag Iris

In early June, when cultivated irises begin to bloom in Westborough's gardens, the blue flag iris (Iris versicolor) appears at the water's edge at the Reservoir. The showy flowers are called flags because European rulers often decorated their banners, flags, and crowns with with designs based on the shape of the iris flower. In fact, the fleur-de-lis motif was derived from a kind of white iris.

The nectar in wild irises attracts a variety of insects, but bumblebees are typically the ones that successfully transfer pollen from one flower to another as they push inside.

Blue-Eyed Grass, Iris family (Iridaceae), Native
Blue-Eyed Grass More Photos

Blue-eyed grass (genus Sisyrinchium) is a member of the iris family and blooms in grassy places around the same time of year as the irises. The tiny blue flowers, sometimes less than half an inch wide, have yellow centers that resemble eyes. The flowers are found on top of ten- to twelve-inch stems that rise among grass-like leaves.

Woodland Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arum family (Araceae), Native

More Photos Jack in the Pulpit

In early June, woodland jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema atrorubens) appears in damp areas near streams and swamps, often in places where its relative, skunk cabbage, also grows. It is named for its resemblance to an old-fashioned pulpit with a "preacher" inside. The plant has also been called Indian turnip because Native Americans processed the bitter, sometimes caustic root in various ways so they could use it for medicine and food.

Jack-in-the-pulpit plants live for several years, and the reproductive role of a plant changes with its age. Early in the life of a plant, most of its tiny flowers--clustered on the club-like "preacher"--are pollen-producing male flowers. A few years later, when the plant is larger and stronger, with more resources for seed-bearing, it produces mostly female flowers. In its later years, the plant may switch back to producing mostly male flowers.

Some jack-in-the-pulpits at the Reservoir are all green, instead of striped and brownish as shown here. The plants' clusters of bright red berries are notable in late August or early September, before the autumn leaves turn.

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