Invasives on my walk home

Japanese knotweed or Fallopia japonica. Invasive plant

Japanese knotweed or Fallopia japonica, invasive plantFallopia japonica, that’s the scientific name for Japanese knotweed.  It has got to be the most vigorous, invasive plant that I have ever seen in an urban setting. Everyday that I walk to work, I pass some.  It doesn’t matter which route – there it is pushing up through the pavement.  And at this time of year, the dry stalks pushing up through the asphalt are clear and stark; no, lush, green growth covers this slow motion drama.

japanese knotweed or Fallopia japonica , invasive plant in Nova Scotia. April, 2014

Japanese knotweed or Fallopia japonica - invasive plant

New growth – coming from the crown.

This plant grows all over Nova Scotia and there is a wealth of information online. From images to scientific papers like this one submitted for a MSc at Dalhousie University.


Crystal Crescent Beach’s fall colours

Crystal Crescent BeachA beautiful fall weekend and beautiful fall colours in shades of orange and brown accented by a blue ocean and green spruce.  Crystal Crescent Beach is one of my favorites (and for many Haligonians too!). We didn’t make it out to the point, since we started late in the day and stopped frequently to admire the view, and snap pictures.  The sun was brilliant on the ferns and the fields were painted in sweeps of golden browns and orange browns.

Check out this post for more info on the trail itself and this one for more.

Crystal Crescent, fall colours, Sept, 2013.crystal crescent beach - fall colours

Trans Canada Trail near Peterborough

Trent River, Ontario, June 2013Lately we had the chance to do part of the Trans Canada Trail while visiting in Ontario.  We did two sections, one to the west and one to the east of Hastings. It is wide and easy walking. To the east, the trail is an unexciting rail bed.  We did however have several neat sitings  – a couple lovely views of the Trent River, predated turtle nests, osprey,  healthy, luxuriant poison ivy.

poison ivy with new leavesWe also walked behind cottages and had a bit of a time finding an entry onto the trail here.  Maps to follow later – once we are back home.

Galls on Jack Pine

Plant diseases are infinitively fascinating.  This past weekend we saw excellent examples of galls on Jack Pine.  There were pine trees with galls in early stages all the way through to nearby pines with what were clearly older galls – well developed woody growths on the stems.

pine-pine gall rustpine-pine gall rust on Jack PineA little bit of research revealed that these galls go by a variety of names – at least on the internet.  According to Cornell University, a very credible and reliable source, the galls we saw are a symptom of “pine to pine gall rust” caused by a fungi – Endocronartium harknessii.  Most plant galls are caused by either fungi, bacteria or insects. Just like oysters making a pearl around a grain of sand, a disruption or irritation in the plant produces extra material. In the case of plants, hormones are generally produced as a response to the fungus in turn stimulating extra plant growth.  With these yellow galls, this extra plant growth provides a home for the fungus to produce spores and spread.

Our walks and hikes are such good opportunities to observe examples of the effects of different diseases on plants, I am reminded of long ago plant pathology courses.  And if you are interested in this area too, you may be interested in the post on black knot.

Tulips on Tulip Street

Tulip Street DarmouthTulip Street in Dartmouth has some keen residents who have banded together and planted hundreds and hundreds of tulips on their street. Really – 10,000.  It’s quite marvelous. We’ve walked over a couple times and today I took my camera – so of course the skies opened and the light rain became a deluge – but still worth the walk and the view.  More information about this neighbourhood initiative can be found in several news stories and on

The champion of this initiative has challenged nearby streets, Rose and Dahlia to try their hand too, with roses and dahlias of course!  Won’t it be fun to see if there are more flowers next year?

Tulip St. Dartmouth, NSTulip St. Dartmouth, NS

Spring flowers in Nova Scotia

painted trillium along Bluff Wilderness Trail in Nova Scotia

Lady's Slipper  along Bluff Wilderness TrailIt was a fabulous long weekend and there was time for so much more than usual  – a long hike, extra work, bike riding, a walk to the waterfront and lazing in the sun …

Some of the blooms we saw on our weekend walk/hike were painted trillium, pink lady’s slipper, rhodora, clintonia (blue bead lily), and northern starflower.

Even though these flowers bloom in the spring, they are not strictly speaking “spring ephemerals”. The Nova Scotia Wild Flora Society explains why. The bloom may be ephemeral but the plant itself is not so quick to fade.  Perhaps next time out we will see some real spring ephemerals, but being ephemeral…

Our hike along the Pot Lake Loop of the Bluff Wilderness Trail was just grand. Besides all the blooms, there were great views from high points on the trail. We stopped for lunch  on a granite rock above Pot Lake.  As we absorbed the quiet, a loon swam in the lake. Bluff Wilderness Trail, Nova Scotia The trail climbs up to the edge of a watershed and is somewhat rigorous. It is located in a wilderness area that is easily accessible from the HRM BLT trail, very close to Halifax. The Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization supports this trail. They have done a great job and their website has excellent information about the trail, its natural environment and why they felt a trail would be a good thing.

If you drive to the area, parking is indicated on my map.

Pennant Point and Sundew Plants

As we walked out to Pennant Point a few weeks ago we traversed some spots with great panoramic views.

Close-up views are fascinating too.  An assortment of different plants grow along the trail.  The soil is typically poor and in some spots tiny sundew plants thrive.

Sundew - carnivorous plant These carnivorous plants have leaves modified with sticky hairs that trap small insects.  The nutrients provided by the insect make up for the poor soils where these little plants grow.

 The sticky hairs trap the insect and the leaf wraps around the insect.

sundew carnivorous plant and insectMore pictures of sundew plants.