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Trails from the Bent Twig Trail: National History and Medical Mystery

This angelic looking wildflower may have shaped our history as a nation. White snakeroot, Ageratina altissima (formally Eupatorium rugosum) is common along the Bent Twig Trail and is in full bloom right now. This perennial wildflower is viewed by most authorities as the likely culprit in the mysterious illness known as milk sickness, which led to […]

Tales from the Bent Twig Trail: Spicebush Larva Update

The Bent Twig Trail is changing with the season. Signs of it are everywhere! The forest floor is already splashed with colorful leaves. There is that wonderful slant of light with its long shadows that adds mystery to the landscape and the mornings are cool enough for an extra layer. Just two weeks ago, I […]

Tales from Bent Twig Trail: Not All is Touchable

It’s often been said that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know; and just how much there is to learn. It does seem that the more I dig in and try to learn about the natural world, the more it appears that I’m just scratching the surface. But ah, isn’t it […]

Tales from the Bent Twig Trail: Learning to See

Learning to see involves knowing how and where to look. It requires developing a mental template, or the term I prefer, a searching image. I started to understand this concept decades ago while trying to find shark teeth on an island off the Georgia coast. Although this particular beach was known to have shark teeth […]

Tales from Bent Twig Trail: A Scent of Late Summer

Wild citronella, Collisonia canadensis has been capturing my eye on all of my recent hikes.  If you have been following my blog regularly, you may know that  I tend to scratch-and-sniff my way along the trail.  For this reason, I have been anticipating our wild citronella coming into bloom, and today was the day! Of […]

Tales from the Bent Twig Trail: Hidden Jewels

  The natural world is full of hidden jewels, and late summer is a great time to seek out some specific ones along the Bent Twig Trail. Today, let’s explore patches of jewelweed, Impatiens capensis that skirt the wetter portions of this trail. At Bernheim, I often find jewelweed growing at the edge of the woods […]

Tales from Bent Twig Trail: The Seed

Summer has progressed into its season of fullness, with seeds forming and  ripening along the Bent Twig Trail and elsewhere. In honor of this annual regeneration, I offer you a poem I  wrote a few months ago. Seed By Wren Smith A seed is dormant most of its life. Time does not exist inside the […]

Tales from Bent Twig Trail: Pleasant Surprises

  Walking the Bent Twig Trail regularly helps me experience or discover surprises that I might have missed otherwise. Look what I found – indian pipes, Monotropa uniflora! Because these strange plants are nearly all white, they are sometimes called ghost plants. Although they resemble some sort of strange fungi, indian pipes are actually flowering plants.  However, […]