Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Before the Rain

Before I got drenched by that downpour yesterday, I'd had some pleasant wanderings around two of my favorite places: the Ice Meadows along the Hudson River north of Warrensburg, and Pyramid Lake in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area of the Adirondacks. I stopped at the Ice Meadows on my way north, walking out on a beautiful marble outcropping where last year at about this time I'd found Wide-leaved Ladies' Tresses and Sticky Tofieldia. But not this year. Too early. Or possibly, this spring's raging floods have washed the plants away. I hope not.

One flower that was most abundant out on the marble was Tall Cinquefoil, which resembles some kind of strawberry on steroids. It may look a little coarse and weedy, but it's a not-too-common native plant that's considered rare in several surrounding states.

This tiny striped hover fly sure seemed to like the flowers. There were hundreds of them hovering about like miniature hummingbirds, feasting on the flowers' pollen.

These starry little Rock Sandworts were covering the rocks up where the marble met the woods. This is another plant we New Yorkers are lucky to see, since it grows ever rarer in many surrounding states.

Meanwhile, Poison Ivy is spreading further and further north. It used to be unheard-of way up in the Adirondacks, but it sure is thriving on the Ice Meadows, and yesterday it was fully in bloom. I suppose many folks wouldn't dare to get close enough to notice that its flowers are actually kind of pretty. I haven't gotten a rash from it since I was 18 (more than 50 years ago!), so I even dared to lift a leaf with my bare fingers to take this photo. Gently. Don't bruise the leaves.

These berries (American Fly Honeysuckle?) were so brilliantly red I had to reduce the saturation of this photo to appear more realistic. They were truly dazzling, especially set off by these snowy Blackberry flowers. (Or are they Dewberry flowers? For some reason, I'm having difficulty distinguishing the two plants this year.)

When I reached Pyramid Lake, I promptly paddled across the water to a cedar swamp at the southwest corner of the lake, home to a number of rare and beautiful plants. I've offered to lead a group of botanists to this swamp next month, and I wanted to scout likely spots where we could land our boats. I also wanted to see if I could walk around in here and not get lost. Twenty feet from the water's edge and the swamp closes in around you. (Obviously, I did find my way out.)

I hope in a month there's more in bloom than there was yesterday. There sure were a lot of wonderful mosses, though.

And I did find these little pink Twinflowers. They're not particularly rare, but they certainly are beautiful. This was the famous botanist Linneaus's favorite flower, so he named it after himself (Linnaea borealis), and in his official portrait, he is shown clutching a sprig of the flowers.

Other beauties that lined the waterway leading to the swamp were these splendid Sheep Laurel bushes.

Sphagnum-covered stumps provided a home to Round-leaved Sundew, here surrounding a tiny sprout of Red Maple.

When I first spied these snowy clusters of bloom, I thought to myself, oh it's much too late for Choke Berry to be blooming. What could these flowers be?

Then I saw the furry orange undersides of the leaves and I knew: Labrador Tea. Such undercurled leathery leaves are typical of plants that make their home in cold northern bogs and fens.

I broke off a sprig of these leaves to carry home with me. The leaves are fragrant with a spicy scent that always reminds me of these wild remote places.

One more pretty flower revealed its charms to me before the clouds burst and sent me hurtling as fast as I could toward shore. These dainty striped Wood Sorrels adorned a rotting log that was jutting out from a bank. I'm glad I didn't miss them before my glasses got too wet to see through.


The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Once again WOW! Just so wonderful to see, and the added lustre of a bit of history and the names.
Just what I needed to wake up to with my tea.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, Cranky. Glad to oblige. I'm always happy when you stop by, so I can click on your name to see what's brewing across the pond.