Friday, April 23, 2010

Blossoms and Bugs Along Bog Meadow Trail

A perfect spring day, the air slightly cool but the sun nice and warm in a clear blue sky. I headed to Bog Meadow Trail today to try to find a small grassy plant I'd found in flower a few days ago and didn't know what it was. Remember this one, with the yellow lily-like flowers?

I'd asked this very smart and helpful botanist Bob Klips about it, and he told me that if the plant was hairy, it could be a wood rush of the Luzula species. Fat chance I will ever find it again, I thought, but lo! there it was, right where I'd found it before, only now it was no longer in flower. But I recognized the umbellate structure of its inflorescence.

So was the plant hairy? Indeed it was! Here's a leaf where it wraps the stalk.

And here's a whole lot of hairiness down at the base of the plant.

A quick Google search of Luzula species showed me many images that seemed to match my plant: Luzula acuminata, or Hairy Wood Rush. Thanks for your help with this, Bob!

There was lots of other good stuff along Bog Meadow Trail today. For one thing, the trailside was carpeted with masses of Dog Violet, a stemmed violet whose color is such a pale purple it looks almost blue. And flitting about were violet-sized pale blue butterflies that almost seemed like the flowers had taken to the air. The butterflies looked very blue while on the wing, but as soon as they landed and folded their wings so only the greyish undersides showed, they disappeared among the flowers. I could not capture them with my camera, even when they held still.

But I did capture other critters. Including this tiny lime-jello-colored bug with cherry-red eyes. My friend Sue thinks it's a baby Katydid. It does look very tender and infant-like. Update: I saw this bug identified as an Assassin Bug nymph (Zelus luridus) on the blog Squirrel's View, a blog that is definitely worth a visit. I have seen adult Assassin Bugs along this stretch of the Bog Meadow Trail. I read they can give you quite a bite, so hands off!

And look at this spider, all stretched out as if trying a yoga pose. My spider guide shows photos of various species of Long-jawed Orbweavers (Tetragnatha sp.) that sort of look like this. I wouldn't have guessed it was a spider if I hadn't seen its multiple eyes.

Yes, I know these Water Striders are out of focus. That's because I was focussing on the shadows they cast on the sandy bottom of the stream. If not for those shadows, I never would have seen those bugs.

Horsetails are among the most ancient of plants, so this is quite likely what the Paleozoic forest would have looked like. Only then the Horsetails were tree-size plants, and these are no more than a few inches high.

This is Toothwort, a Mustard-family plant that loves damp ground and bears too homely-sounding a name for such a pretty flower.

I found two different groups of Toothwort today, with similar flowers but slightly different leaves. The leaf on the right is more deeply lobed than the one on the left, but it doesn't seem deeply cleft enough to be that of the Cut-leaf Toothwort. At least not the one pictured in my Newcomb's guide.

I don't know if these are two different species or only varieties of the same species Dentaria diphylla. As always, opinions are welcome.


June said...

Finally, finally, I grew curious enough to investigate the name of the white flowering shrubby trees among the roadside brush, and that's how I Googled my way to you and your photo of shadblow!
I'm adding you to my ever-growing list of blogs to keep an eye on.

Thank you for that photo!

squirrel said...

I found the same insect you did on Sat. the 25th. I think it is Assassin Bug Nymph - Zelus luridus

Curious that we both saw them about the same time.

Steve Young said...

That is Luzula acuminata var. acuminata. If you send a specimen to the State Museum they can eventually color in Saratoga County in the Atlas.

Eqicanine10 said...

toAwesome pictures and infromation.