Aha! It's Bottle Gentian (or Closed Gentian). This autumn was the first time I have seen this plant in the wild, so I was very excited about this find. It grows very close to the ground, so it could easily be missed, despite its bold coloring. Let's review.
From the big picture down to the this tiny flower close to the ground. How did I find it? Luck? Good lighting? A keen eye? Or is it simply because I look at the ground a lot when I walk in the woods? All of these things contributed to my find, for sure.
Here are some other standouts from the same walk through the woods, most of which were more obvious than the cloistered Bottle Gentian.
unknown species of ironweed
unknown species of aster
This is Virgin's Bower. I love this stuff for its fluffy seed heads. This is one plant that you can identify from far away because it is so distinct.
Here's another I love for its texture - Queen Anne's Lace. I brought this one into black and white because I wanted to emphasize that texture. This specimen looks particularly spider-like to me.
Hitchhikers on my jacket sleeve. This makes it very easy to understand how velcro was invented!
I mean, just look at the "j" hooks on these burrs!
Thanks, as always, for coming along on a discovery walk with me. I'm not sure where we're going next, but I know it will be fun!