Wolves Beware! October 18, 2007
Wednesday was the first time we held a Greater Mohican Audubon Bird Walk at Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio. It was a damp morning with a heavy mist when our little group started out at 8:00 AM. Close behind us, squawking and calling were 7 Guinea Hens. I hoped that Kingwood's staff had not misinterpreted, and planned secretly for me to walk their birds! That would be just the sort of event John Makley would arrange for me. :)
Needless to say, the bird sightings were rather scattered in the rain, but what better place to fill in time botanizing! Kingwood is a spectacular horticultural garden, and if you are ever in Mansfield I urge you to visit. It has a fine assemblage of formal and native gardens, and the flowers change with every visit; tulips, to iris, to peonies and so on through the year. Christmas is an all out event with local garden clubs designing all manner of displays in Mr. King's manor house.
One plant that caught my attention is a cultivated plant "borrowed" from the wild. Monkshood, or Aconitum is highly poisonous species in the Ranunculaceae family. One native variety, Aconitum noveboracense, Northern Blue Monkshood would be a great find, as it is threatened in Ohio. Its common name, Monkshood, comes from the curious caps or hoods above the flower. However another common name, Wolf's Bane, came from the age-old practice whereby meat was mixed with the ground plant and used to poison wolves. That was not a PETA sponsored event, to be sure. No matter what you call them, perhaps they are a bit sinister, but a lovelier plant would be hard to find.