Friday, July 9, 2010

The Ice Meadows in Bloom

Ed searches the rocks for the orchids he wants to show me.

Another one of those 4-H days: Hazy, Hot, Humid, and How much longer can this heatwave last? But the truth is I hardly noticed the heat today, since I was up to my neck in Hudson River water, paddling around the Ice Meadows north of Warrensburg with my friend Ed Miller. No, there's no ice there now, just rocks and sand and the amazing variety of plants that grow in this specialized habitat created by the 10-15 feet of ice that pile up on the shores each winter. Of course, we didn't spend all our time in the water, since our purpose for going there today was to hunt for many of the remarkable plants that flourish there.

Here's just a sampling of what we found today.

Purple-stemmed Aster. Asters already? But summer's just begun! This is our earliest aster to bloom, and one of the showiest.

Bedstraw Bellflower, a tiny flower (about a quarter of an inch across) with a weak, prickly stem.

Canadian Burnet. As its name implies, this plant usually grows further north than this, but it flourishes here where ice packs cool the soil until late in the spring.

Cotton Grass, species unknown. Because of its color, it may be the tawny species, but I'm not sure.

Large Cranberry, which grows by the thousand where springs dampen the soil and create standing pools of water among the rocks.

Early Goldenrod. Yes, I agree, it's too early for asters and goldenrods, isn't it? This is a very early bloomer. We found Sweet Goldenrod, too, a fragrant species just about to bloom.

Kalm's Lobelia. This is such a dainty, fragile looking flower, I wonder how it survives the harsh conditions of the Ice Meadows.

Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint. You have to look close at these flowers or you'll miss those purple polka-dots.

Ragged Fringed Orchis. This one sure lives up to its name, with those tattered-looking blooms. We also found Tubercled Orchis growing here, but my photo did not turn out.

Woodland Sunflower. This actually grows right out in the open, not back in the shady woods. It's distinguished by the way its opposite stalkless leaves seem to clasp the stem.

Sticky Tofieldia. Its flowers are white but its fruits are rosy red. This is quite a rare plant, so I'm trying to learn to identify it at every stage of growth.

Turkey-foot Grass. This is one of several species of grassland plants that grow along the river.

Yellow-eyed Grass. Doesn't look like a grass to me, either, but then neither does Blue-eyed Grass. This one belongs to a family all its own, and I've never seen it anywhere else but here.


Ellen Rathbone said...

OH, that ragged fringed orchis is wonderful! I'll have to make a trip down and see it. This time I will steer well clear of the PI, though!!! :D

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Let me know when you go, and I'll meet you there. I find some new wonder each time I visit. Maybe we should try to locate a patch of Jewelweed there.