Friday, August 27, 2010
Searching for Grass of Parnassus
A new stretch of the Hudson for me to explore, just upstream from Glens Falls.
What a spectacular day for a paddle on the Hudson! Especially since it led to finding a wonderful new flower. My friend Sue told me that she had found Grass of Parnassus growing along the Hudson last year, and would I like to come paddling with her today to try to find it again? Oh boy, would I! That's a flower I'd never laid eyes on, and neither have many other folks, either, since this is a flower that's rare in many northeastern states and is also listed as "exploitably vulnerable" in New York State.
Here's Sue in her kayak preparing to lead the way past the swimming beach along the Betar Byway in South Glens Falls.
And here's Sue again, taking a photo of this lovely and unusual flower, which likes damp ground and limey soil. In all this stretch along the river we found a total of just three plants.
Here's the best shot I could get of the flowers. I could capture the pale green stripes in the blooms only when I shut the exposure way, way down, so this photo is really dark.
Here's a closer view, the better to see that ring of bright yellow dots around the center.
I can't quite figure out the sexual anatomy here. If -- and that's a big if -- those yellow dots are the anthers and the green shiny ball is the pistil, what are those brown blobs on the long white stalks? Or are the brown blobs the anthers and the yellow dots the ends of nectary tubes? Since this flower (Latin name Parnassia glauca) is the only member of its family, I don't know of any other similar flower to compare it to. It was once thought to belong to the Saxifrage Family, but recent taxonomic investigations have reassigned it to its very own family, the Parnassiaceae.
The riverbanks offered other points of beauty today, such as these Glossy Buckthorn berries surrounded by bright red Winterberry. I was glad to see the native Winterberry holding its own against the invasion of the alien buckthorn shrubs.
The Winterberry looked spectacular against the blue, blue sky.
We observed many underwater plants, too, including Wild Celery and these bushy Coontails waving in the current.
Sue's a great lover of turtles, so she had to stop often to photograph the many Painted Turtles that were enjoying the sunshine today.
I took some turtle pictures, too. I especially love the green shimmery water all around the log these two are resting on.