Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bog Meadow Yields New Treasure!

Since I'm scheduled to lead a wildflower walk on Bog Meadow Nature Trail next month, I thought I'd better go scope it out.  The trail runs for about two miles along an old railroad bed, passing through forested wetlands and a couple of open marshes.  Unfortunately, much of the trail is dominated by alien honeysuckle shrubs, but there's still lots of good stuff here, including two native vining honeysuckles, Glaucous and Trumpet.  They're always hard to find, especially when they're not in bloom.  Like today.  I didn't find them.  Yet. 

But I did find something I never expected to:  Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana).  There's a new spur to the main trail that's being developed,  and I turned off to explore it.  I hadn't gone 20 feet along a soggy path when these pretty little pink flowers caught my eye, nestled among the more familiar ferns and horsetail rush and Skunk Cabbage.  Be still my heart!!! 
 Only a fellow flower nerd will appreciate what a thrill it is to find a new variety to add to one's life list.  I'd seen Spring Beauty before, downstate in Westchester County, but not yet in Saratoga County, and I never expected to find the Carolina kind at all (the Carolina kind has larger, oval leaves).  That's the thrill of the hunt.  You just never know.  And isn't it pretty?  Lives up to its name, for sure.  Too bad, there probably won't be any sign of them by June 6, when I lead that walk, since the plant disappears as soon as it goes to seed.

I was happy to find some of my old friends, too, like Goldthread (Coptis groenlandica), whose thread-like roots are goldenrod-yellow and whose small bright white blossoms stand out against dark green leaves.  Actually, the white "petals" of this flower are, in fact, sepals.  The real petals are those little yellow club-like things. The pistils are quite distinctive, like tiny green crookneck squash.

Bog Meadow is one of only two places I've ever found Water Avens (Geum rivale), and I always have to search really hard for it.  Its dark purple blossoms (er, I mean sepals) don't exactly stand out, and even when fully open, they still look like buds.  But very interesting buds. 

I didn't have to search to find these baby maple leaves: their color shouted LOOK AT ME from quite a ways away.  But I never noticed that little bug until I downloaded my photos and viewed them on my computer screen.  That bug has wings that look just like maple seeds!  Cool!

One more photo, of Christmas Fern, just beginning to unfurl.  I love how, as the frond uncoils, the pinnae also uncurl.  A very common fern, but of uncommon beauty.

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