I've seen some neat stuff recently while working in the field. Do you know the plant in the photo? It's wild ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). This is the plant that people go hunting for (it's called going "sang'n" in Kentucky) to sell the dried root. I think most of it gets sold to folks in China. It's considered an aphrodisiac, or a treatment for sexual dysfunctions. I'm not sure what's going on in China, but this stuff is expensive because it's been hunted to the point that it's hard to find the plants anymore. It's been years since I stumbled across any.
These plants were growing in a state park, so it's probably a little safer from ginseng hunters.
The fruits were still mostly green, but when it's done, the berries will be a tight cluster of red balls.
This strange white flower is called Indian pipe or corpse plant (Monotropa uniflora). It doesn't have chlorophyll because it gets it's nutrients not from the sun, but from being a parasite to fungus and trees.
There's nothing fancy about iron weed (Vernonia gigantea), but I think it's pretty. Especially when there's a bunch of them growing all together. For some reason every time I see iron weed, the Black Sabath song, Iron Man comes to mind. I've been know to sing to them in a very deep voice "I am Iron Weed..." Nerd.
This little bee thought they were pretty cool too.
In all the years I've admired sassafrass trees (Sassafras albidum), I've never seen one with these red and purple things on them. How is that possible? I couldn't believe that sassafras would have such strange red and purple flowers, and I wouldn't have noticed before. Well, it turns out that these are not the flowers, which are frilly and yellow, but the stalk where the seed used to be. Oh.... well, now I know.
Sassafras is one of the easiest plants to identify because it has three different shaped leaves. There are regular leaf shapes, mitten leaf shapes, and a shape that has three lobes. You can see all three in the photo above. Do you see all three?