Thursday, March 19, 2009
My Own Little Madagascar
Mountain azalea thrives on Woodcock Island
Yesterday, I posted a photo of a pretty little river island and mentioned by name a few of the plants that grow there. Today, I'm posting the names of all the plants I've ever found there. So far. My point is to show the incredible diversity of flora to be found on just this one little spot of rock in the Hudson River a few short miles from my home. As the header up there at the top of this blog implies: For nature discoveries, who needs to go all the way to Madagascar?
Trees: White pine, swamp white oak, chestnut oak, red oak, red maple, white birch, sassafras (maybe more)
Shrubs: Alder, witch hazel, highbush blueberry, lowbush blueberry, black huckleberry, black chokeberry, red osier dogwood, silky dogwood, mountain azalea, sweet fern, meadowsweet, steeplebush, wild rose
Flowers: Trailing arbutus, bluets, strawberry, dewberry, cinquefoil, small sundrop, blue vervain, marsh St. Johnswort, pale St. Johnswort, dwarf St. Johnswort, Canada St. Johnswort, common St. Johnswort, golden hedge hyssop, clammy hedge hyssop, false pimpernel, low cudweed, common arrowhead, grass leaved arrowhead, slender arrowhead, wild mint, water horehound, northern bugleweed, wild celery, pipewort, cardinal flower, sneezeweed, Joe Pye weed, boneset, monkeyflower, turtlehead, narrow leaved gentian, calico aster, small-flowered aster, silverrod
I'm sure I've left some out, and I haven't listed any of the grasses, mosses, lichens, ferns, and such I don't know the names of yet. Tree club moss grows there, as do other lycopodia. And the prettiest little gall: a blueberry stem gall that looks like a bright red kidney bean attached to the twigs of lowbush blueberry plants.
I realize that lists like these can be pretty boring to folks who aren't obsessed nature nuts like me. More than one person has told me what a pain in the ass I am to walk in the woods with, always stopping to ID plants, scribbling in notebooks, hauling my Newcomb's out, or lying right down in the dirt to take a photo. I read somewhere that most people couldn't name ten plants that grow on the block where they live. It's kind of a mystery to me why I crave to know the name of everything that grows. What do I get out of it (besides Lyme Disease from the tick bites in my eyebrows and behind my ears)?
I think that by trying to name the plants, I come to really see them. For sure, I have to look really close in order to learn their names. Then when I go for a walk, it's like visiting my old friends. ("Ah, there you are! So nice to see you again!") And if I find a new one? It's like finding a hidden treasure. It makes my day. I don't need diamonds or furs or trips to Paris to make me happy. But if I were ever to find a showy lady's slipper, I'd walk on air.