A Disturbed Forest Edge

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I was out on a job site today along the Patuxent River floodplain.  It was a cleared site with erosion control super silt fence.  From a distance I was drawn to the color of a pink plant, and once I got closer I realized that it was Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana).  Cleome are a non-native ornamental originally from Central and South America.  My parents often planted cleome from seed in our sunny front yard, near our front door stoop, which was one of my favorite summer flowers of my youth.

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I then noticed Inflated Lobelia, also known as Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata).  The plant is called as such because the end of the flower at the stem will “inflate” as it matures.

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A horsefly lands on a Wild Petunia (Ruellia sp.) as I take the photo.  I usually see wild petunia in sandy, moist ground such as the sunny edges of wet meadows.

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The strikingly beautiful and complex Purple Passion Flower Vine (Passiflora incarnata) was growing along the sunney edge tree line.  It looked like this vine will peak in flower in a few weeks yet, as I was only able to observe two flowers, with several others yet to open.

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The highlight of the walk through the work site was to watch a Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea) close-up.  The bird was feeding on barnyard grass seed heads and was flitting back and forth from blackberry and pokeweed plants.  Grosbeaks have big silver beaks/bills and are a vibrant blue bunting with chestnut wingbars.  They like shrubby habitat and winter in Central America and breed throughout the northeast.

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