Above the river the woods in summer are dense and shaded. Mosquitoes sing their hunting songs, Redstarts with their flash of flame and black and fan tails chatter all day in the maples. The prothonotary warbler is nesting in a hole in a willow. And on the slope well above the annual high-water mark, above the place where the hurrah's nests of old cornstalks and debris are caught in the bushes, the tall plants of mullein foxglove bloom.
Dasistoma macrophylla (Nutt.) Raf.
Summer River woods.
The deep shade of the river woods is one of the requirements mullein foxglove; it is seldom found away from this particular haunt; it is part of the river-bank country in July and August. There it opens its bright yellow flowers and makes its seeds over a period of many weeks.
It is a pyramidal plant. It is very leafy, with the branches and leafage broadest and most dense below and tapering to the summit of the stalk which often is five feet tall. The lower leaves are lobed, the upper narrow and simple, the branches set with yellow buds. Only a few of the small glossy, butter-yellow flowers, however, open at one time, so that the blooming period is considerably extended through the summer.
The throat of the flower is thickly furred with hairs and wool which prevent entry of most insects. The tube of the flower is short, the five spreading corolla parts broad and blunt. The flower is very much smailer and not so bright a yellow as in the yellow false foxglove. Both, however, are members of the diverse and highly specialized Figwort family, to which also belong the snapdragons, veronicas, foxgloves, Paulownia, penstemons, mulleins, and Indian paint brush.