Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Tramping a VERY Damp Woods
Sheesh! Another rainy day! Hey, that's enough, already! Oh well, it didn't matter, since I was going to get wet, anyway. I was off to Bog Meadow Nature Trail to obtain for the state herbarium a specimen of Buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), a wetland plant that has not been recorded as growing in Saratoga County, but which grows quite abundantly in a watery spot along this trail. I could not reach any of the plants from solid ground, so I had to wade out into knee-deep muck to obtain my specimen.
The flowers I collected today were so wet from the rain, their furry hairs were all slicked down. Here's a photo I took of Buckbean blossoms on a drier day, which better shows that remarkable furriness.
Sloshing back to my car in sopping wet shoes, I couldn't resist stopping to admire some of the flowers along the trail -- especially since the rain had stopped momentarily and a bit of sun lit up these yellow-green blossoms of Clintonia.
It was too wet to lie down in the grass today, which is the only way to see into the nodding flowers of Water Avens. No matter, though, since their wine-red sepals are showier than their pale petals.
I did, however, get down low to peer under some big Mayapple leaves to see the showy white flower hiding there.
I was disappointed to find the flowers of Star-flowered Solomon Seal completely shredded by today's downpours. I had to go into my photo files to remember how really lovely these starry clusters are.
Here's a critter who (unlike me) doesn't mind at all if it rains every day for weeks on end. If he wants, he can always take shelter under the giant leaves of False Hellebore.
After I hurried home to start pressing my Buckbean before it wilted, the sun came out and the sky showed a bit of blue between raggedy black clouds. Then another downpour slammed into my car as I was driving toward Ballston Spa to visit the Pink Lady's Slippers at Woods Hollow. I'm happy to report, though, that the slashing rain did not seem to damage any of the hundreds of these bright pink orchids that were blooming everywhere under the pines.
These Lupines, too, came through the storms with flying colors. These are tough plants, thriving in sandy soils that could support few other plants. The only other plant sharing this open clearing with these masses of Lupines was Sweet Fern, known to be an indicator of poor soils.
Another species that thrives in these barren sand plains is Pitch Pine, which today was resplendent with golden flowers.
Here's a closer look at that Pitch Pine flower cluster, the upper structure well on its way to becoming new needles. All those chubby grub-like things are the pollen-producers, the part of the pine that brings misery to allergy sufferers each spring.
I'm lucky. I have no allergies. So I can look on these pretty pine flowers with unmitigated delight. Maybe allergy sufferers look on all this the rain with delight, as it washes all that pollen out of the air. (Only to replace one allergen with another: mold!)