Saturday, April 30, 2011

Arbor Day Under Tall Pines

What better way to spend Arbor Day than wandering around under ancient pines in the Adirondack forest? Especially with a group of people steeped in knowledge of the woods. On Saturday, I attended the founding meeting of an Adirondack botanical society (yet to be named) in Ray Brook, New York, way up in the high peaks region between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. The meeting, organized by botanist Steve Young of the New York Flora Association, attracted many of the foremost names in the Adirondack plant world.

According to Steve (pictured here in the red shirt), there already exist botanical societies representing other parts of the state, but this would be the first organization to represent the vast Adirondack region, with all its varieties of terrain and remarkable plant communities.

Although the direction this group will take in the future is not yet set in stone, a clear consensus was a desire for lots of field trips. Happily, one member of our group was familiar with a nearby forest harboring ancient old growth pines and volunteered to take us there for our first adventure together.

No doubt about it, ancient trees are awe inspiring, towering over the rest of the woods as if standing guard over stretches of time that none of us can even imagine. I always feel very privileged to be invited into their presence. And I also felt very privileged yesterday to be in the presence of folks who notice the tiniest plants growing underfoot, such as this fruiting liverwort growing at the base of a stump. What's even more amazing to me is that they immediately know the plant's name: Ptilidium pullcherinum, a very big name for such a wee little plant!

One of those liverwort experts was my friend Evelyn Greene, who kindly offered to drive me up to the meeting yesterday. The long drive was certainly made more enjoyable by the pleasure of her company. Also, our road led us through some of the most beautiful lands in the state, such as this view of Owl's Head Mountain, which we passed on our way home.

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