Thursday, April 23, 2009
Spring Along Bog Meadow Trail
I wish I could show you what it really looked like in Bog Meadow marsh today. This photo offers only a pale approximation of how truly gorgeous it was: the mounds and mounds of brilliant yellow Marsh Marigold, backed by the vivid green of its heart-shaped leaves, surrounded by rich red stalks of Red Osier Dogwood. But trying to get a good photo of Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) is like trying to take a photo of the sun. At least with my little Canon point-and-shoot. The flower's so brilliant a yellow, it blasts all detail away. Shut down the exposure enough to capture the texture of the blossom, the leaves become almost black. So this was a compromise. At least you can get an idea. Go find a marsh this week and see for yourself how incredibly lovely this wildflower is. (The Bog Meadow Nature Trail can be accessed just east of Saratoga Springs off Route 29.) One of the odd facts about this flower is that, for all its beauty, it has no petals. All that brilliant color comes from the sepals.
A good deal more subdued in its coloration is Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense). Hundreds of millions of years ago, spore-bearing plants like these dominated much of the earth. They still thrive in damp places like lake shores and marshes and along the sides of Bog Meadow Nature Trail. The little green Christmas-tree-looking stalk will grow to be almost three feet tall, with whorls of branches at the joints along the stem. It's about six inches tall here in the photo.
The pinky-brown spore stalks are separate and ephemeral, that is, they will disappear when their work of shedding spores is done. That is, soon. There were lots of them by the path today, their oddly pretty fertile surfaces colored from soft apricot to ruddy brown. As a kid, I used to love popping these plants apart at their joints, then plugging them back together. I still think it's pretty cool how a plant can do that.
And here's the Northern White Violet (Viola pallens), the species my mystery violet (see blog post for April 2) is not. This one is smaller, its stems are smooth not downy, and it definitely has dark purple veining on its lower lip. And its spur is white. There was just this one along the path. It's really a wonder I saw it. I'm so glad I did.