Traipsing through the woodlands in the heat of summer lacks a bit of the charm of a cool spring hike. I've been deep into Hocking County twice in the past two weeks, and on both days the temps hit the 80's (F) and worse yet, the humidity must have been hovering near 100%. After some hill-climbing and bush-whacking, it's as if you've gone for a swim. Couple that with various and sundry biting or otherwise annoying insects, and summertime forays can grow tiring.
But not to me! At least for the most part. One, heat has never really bothered me very much. And I like insects. Suffering a few of the pests in order to have the opportunity to find some really interesting bugs is well worth the annoyance, and unless clouds of mosquitoes or blackflies are part of the equation, you'll seldom hear me complaining about insects.
As for as botany goes, mid-summer carries with it a whole set of fascinating but often overlooked flora. People are less apt to go crashing through the forests in July, for the aforementioned reasons. Too bad, and following is a pictorial snippet of what Ohio's summer forests are growing about now.
RIGHT HERE). Note the flashy little purple dots on the flowers - they serve as neon lights to lure in pollinating insects.
Other than good looks, jewelweeds have edibility going for them. Try the ripe seeds sometime. They taste like walnuts. Just be sure and pop open the pod in your closed hand. The fruit are coiled under pressure, and when the pod bursts they'll go flying.
Note the bristly ripe fruit in the backdrop. The stiff hook-tipped hairs are for mammalian dispersal. Rabbits and other little animals have probably unwittingly carted untold billions of these tiny fruit around over the eons.