Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Friends, New Flowers at Pyramid Lake

My friend Evelyn has been sharing her special plant places with me this year, and today I got to take her to one of mine: Pyramid Lake in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. Evelyn's actually been on the lake before, hiking in from state trails for more than a mile, carrying her canoe on her shoulder. But I have an easier access to this spectacularly beautiful lake, through my association with Pyramid Life Center, a spiritual retreat center that provides the only road access to the lake. So we were able to drive right up and plunk our boats right in the water.

We were glad to save our energy for what we had come to do: climb over snags and sink into the muck exploring a cedar swamp that lies at one end of the lake. Here are Evelyn and Bonnie (another friend and flower lover) approaching our destination and looking for a likely spot to land our boats.

We had barely stepped out of our boats and entered the swamp when we found this remarkable flower: a Greenish-flowered Pyrola (Pyrola virens). (Oops! I forgot to update the Latin names of some of these pyrolas. This Greenish-flowered one is now called P. clorantha.)

This was a new one for me, as were two other pyrolas we found in another cedar swamp this week, the One-sided (P. secunda) and the rare Pink (P. asarifolia). Both of these other two were flourishing in today's swamp, as well. Here, masses of P. secunda share their damp turf with Dewberry. (Once again, I used an out-of-date Latin name. P. secunda is now called Orthilia secunda.)

And here's the very pretty pink one, Pyrola asarifolia.

Evelyn knows the names of most mosses, and she did tell me the name of this one, but I didn't write it down because I was struggling to free my foot from having sunk up to one knee in muck. Since I can't remember its official name, I'm calling it Little Fan Dancer.

One of my blog readers, plant expert Ruth Schottman, wrote to tell me the name of this moss: Hylocomnium splendens, or Staircase Moss. She also told me that each of those layers represents a single year's growth.

Sharing a soggy log with that moss was this craggy fruticose lichen, topped with pink fruiting bodies.

After a couple of hours getting scratched by branches, sucked into the mud, and snacked on by deerflies -- and having a wonderful time despite all that -- we miraculously found our way back to our boats and set out to tour the lake. A pair of loons seemed as curious about us as we felt delighted to see them.

Our next destination was another swamp on the opposite end of the lake. I had found Small Bur Reed (Sparganium natans) there in previous years and I was hoping it was blooming today. This little water plant, while not particularly showy, is a rare treasure to find, since it's listed as a "threatened" species in New York State. Well, it was blooming profusely today, so I'm happy to say that it feels very much at home in Pyramid Lake.

Another plant (maybe a reed, I don't know its name) shared the warm shallow water where the bur reed grew, and this one had very fine underwater leaves that gracefully swirled with the current, like mermaid's hair. Its stiffly emergent stalk possessed a single nub of a bloom that, from a distance, just looked like a quarter-inch bump in the stem, but up close it looked like ghostly white fingers wrapped around the stalk. (Got a note from NY State chief botanist Steve Young IDing this as Water Bulrush [Scirpus subterminalis].)

It was a beautiful day to be on the water, and everywhere we looked we found some kind of treasure. Here, dainty Wood Sorrel clings to the shoreline rocks with lush green ferns.

Huge boulders lie at the water line beneath a monumental cliff, and many are colored with pink and green lichens and crowned with Rock Tripe.

The Rose Pogonias were still in bloom, adding their pretty pink accent to the green plants.

A water-logged fallen tree has served as a nursery log for this lovely arrangement of grasses, mints, and moss.


catharus said...

'Gotta admit I'm jealous! Simply sounds wonderful! I'm hoping to make it into the Pharaoh Wilderness Area this fall.
Thanks again!

Ellen Rathbone said...

What a sweet bur reed! I almost took a chance to join you (I had the day off), but I really needed to put some finishing touches on my interview preparations.

Your pyrola shot now has me wondering if what I thought was shinleaf at the VIC was actually green-flowered! I was waffling a bit on it, and Newcomb's wasn't giving me much help. It was on yesterday's Almanack post - I may have to print another retraction!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Hi catharus and Ellen, thanks for your comments. Wish you'd been here!

Yes, Ellen, I looked at your photo over on the Almanack, and it sure looks like the Green-flowered one. Were its stamens kind of orangeish and its leaves quite small and round? Gosh, what a week for pyrolas!

Virginia said...

Oh, that picture of the loon makes we want to go camping! Soon, soon! What phenomenal photos you have.

Emily DeBolt said...

looks like such a nice day - sorry I missed it!