The roadside is very colorful with various plants out here taking advantage of the warmth and sunlight. I see yellows of hawkweed, trefoil, buttercup and sweetclover; orange and red of orange hawkweed and red clover while yarrow and daisy add much white to the scene.
The large lupine growth in this site demands attention of passersby as their tall flowers of purple, blue, pink and white take over a big area. The trail that I am on goes through a forested region and here I see more flowers. Many bunchberries still hold their white blossoms. Also white is a patch of northern bedstraw.
And there is a surprise here: a growth of spotted coralroots reaches up about 10 inches.
These lesser-known and less colorful orchids are rather common in the woods of summer. This one just happened to be along the edge where I go by. Going out into the open, I return to the sunlit plants. Looking down, I find the familiar five-petal white flower of wild strawberry and nearby, I see something bright red near the ground.
This calls for a closer look and upon examining it, I realize that I have found a ripe wild strawberry. Not only does it look like a strawberry, it has the well-known and appreciated taste as well.
Now, at this time of July, it is not unusual to find ripe wild and domestic strawberries and sometimes with a few still in bloom. After finding their white flowers in spring, I always like to return to these sites for the berries of summer. Often, I find the first one to be ripe, as this one is, along the trail or roadsides, where they get ample moisture and sunlight.
And often, I find that I’m not the only one to locate and consume these small berries. Chipmunks seem to have a knack of finding them. Though much smaller than domestic strawberries, these wild ones, less than 1 inch long, are sweeter and more tasty than the domestics. I can see why berries in the wild patches do not last long.
Early July is the beginning of berry season in the Northland. This one that I found on my walk marked the start, but when wandering the woods and trails later this month, several others will also be discovered. The small shrub of fly honeysuckle now has its paired red berries on the branches.
At the margins of forests, elderberries -- an early one to open its leaves and white flowers in May -- now holds clusters of small red berries on the twigs. Pin cherries that joined juneberry and plum as the first trees to flower in spring now have red berries with long stems. These will quickly be joined by many others.
On a recent trip to the metro area, I discovered and devoured a few handfuls of ripe juneberries (serviceberries). These flowered in spring at about the same time as pin cherries and now ripen at similar times.
Lower, near the ground, dewberries are developing. They look like small raspberries. The larger raspberries will also mature later this month, as do blueberries.
It is interesting to note that many of these early berries and fruits are brightly colored, often red. This allows them to get the attention of passing animals that will eat and spread the seeds. Most seeds are inside the edible part, but strawberries differ by having seeds on the outside.
But these small strawberries are just as noticed and consumed by any berry eaters who now seek them.
Retired teacher Larry Weber, a Barnum resident, is the author of several books, including “Butterflies of the North Woods,” “Spiders of the North Woods,” “Webwood” and “In a Patch of Goldenrods.” Contact him via Katie Rohman at email@example.com.