Here’s my unscientific list of plants and animals spotted on the AT this year (Georgia to Maine, March 5-July 22). Question marks mean I’m not yet positive about that creature.
Aspen… oddly, only at the Superfund site in Pennsylvania.
Bedstraw, a sticky grass
Beech, the favorite target of smitten tree vandals (F + M 4 ever!)
Black eyed Susan (or is it brown?)
Blackberry, or maybe rasp-.
Bloodroot (a leaf unfolding wildly folded, a white symmetrical flower)
Bluebead lily aka clintonia:
Briars–the young shoots of which are actually edible!
Cattails, last year’s old ones
Chestnut trees, almost gone since the blight many decades ago, but still there though small
Chickweed–also edible, but to what hiker is it calorically worthwhile to reap them?
Cinquefoil, which looks like strawberry but all yellow and a creeper
Clover, both purple and white
Columbine–red and yellow
Corydalis, like half a Dutchman’s breeches (breech?) but pink and yellow
Creeping charlie, a ground cover that grew also in my parents’ yard in Minneapolis
Field pansy? Or is it just a more elaborate violet?
Forget-me-not, little blue flowers with white and yellow centers
Geraniums, much prettier than the domestic variety.
Hemlock, which is dying away due to an invasive pest
Irises: dwarf, yellow flag, blue flag, and a multicolored one
Japanese stiltgrass, an invasive in New York
Jasmine? Something heavily scented in a white and yellow bower
Lily of the valley
Mountain laurel… Just starting to bloom in June
Partridgeberry (two flowers needed to make one berry, which has two navels)
Pitcher plant, in a bog below Fourth Mountain in Maine
Poor man’s pepper
Ramps–we’ve walked through whole patches of trail that smell like onions
Rhododendron aka azalea, Catawba variety blooming late April!
Sassafras, from whose root you can make a tea
Slime mold, yellow… Don’t pet it! Looks furry, but not.
Squaw root, a parasite of oaks.
Stinging nettle, I think, but don’t want to find out!… Confirmed, it’s nettles.
Violets: violet, halberdleaf yellow, white, and bicolor
Wild bleeding heart
Wintergreen, whose tough little leaves are refreshing to bite but not to swallow
A red toad
Bears! Black, with cubs
Bullfrog (heard, not seen)
Butterfly, including sulphurs and swallowtails
Cicadas, who appeared en masse on June 1 in NY, leaving their shells and wings behind, but only audible for 5 days
Cows and horses in fields
Dog (okay, not wild, but we have seen many on the trail, including a lapdog or two!)
Humans of all ages and varieties
Leech, riding on a turtle
Loon, with two young
Moths, Luna and otherwise
Raccoon (just glowing eyes in the dark)
Red winged blackbird
Ruffled grouse, who scare the bejeezus out of you by roosting low and not flapping away noisily until you are right on top of them
Salamanders, tiny brown guys under wet rocks
Sweat sniffer bee
Ticks, deer (ugh) and regular
Tiny red mites… chiggers?
Turkey vultures, ugly guys indeed
Turtles, painted and otherwise
Virie, whose song sounds like a video game
Vireo (See me! Here I am! Where are you?)
Whippoorwill (heard, not seen)
White throated sparrow (Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody)