By Joann M. Ringelstetter
Our photographing journeys always present us with an opportunity to learn something new. Often when I leave the car and head down the road with my gear in tow, Ruth looks closely at whatever is growing in the ditches beside the car. And when I return to the car, she says, “What do you suppose that is?” as she points at something in the ditch. After we figure out what it is and then see it a couple more times, we can identify it immediately. For instance, we’re now quite familiar with Highbush Cranberries, which turn from orange to red as summer turns to fall.
Last weekend, on an early morning shunpiking adventure, Ruth discovered bunches of blazing blue “berries” amidst yellowish green leaves. We always carry numerous nature field guides in the car (and often joke about how we could use a sidecar for our library), but many times, after a long time of searching through the books, we come up empty-handed. In this case, we needed the help of the Internet when we got home, and still couldn’t figure it out. After some serious detective work, we finally determined that what we had photographed was the fruit (or seeds) of the Blue Cohosh herb.
Blue Cohosh is a medicinal herb that was popular with Native American tribes and was used mainly as a “woman’s herb.” It is also called Blue Ginseng, Papoose Root, or Squaw Root.