Monday, July 11, 2011
Brief Bits of Botanizing
Whoo! Too hot and humid for any lengthy excursions today. I satisfied my botanical cravings by scooting about town in my air-conditioned car, making brief stops at two of my favorite local sites, the Skidmore Woods and Yaddo.
Surrounding the parking lot at Skidmore were magnificent stands of Queen Anne's Lace. This is a beautiful flower, yes (my daughter carried it in her wedding bouquet), but it's even more interesting as a murder scene, where predator insects lurk in wait for the myriad pollinators that inevitably stop by. Last year at about this time I caught these Jagged Ambush Bugs performing the dastardly deed on a hapless bee, and I was hoping I might find similar dramas in progress today.
My hopes were raised when I spied this little crab spider assuming attack position.
As soon as it sensed my presence, though, it turned around to confront me. We stared at each other for the longest time, while tiny black bees came and went unharmed. After a while, the sweat started floating my glasses off my nose and I felt I would faint from the heat. As I fled to the shade, I wondered how that little spider managed to keep from cooking out there in the sun.
In a cooler, damper spot near a pond, I found a beautiful green patch of American Water-pennywort. Peering under its flat scalloped leaves, I discovered the tiny flowers hiding out in the axils.
This was my best find today: a Chanterelle mushroom. And many more, too. Enough for a tasty supper dish.
Next stop was Yaddo, but not the fancy formal rose gardens this artists' retreat is famous for. I like to prowl the surrounding woods where gardeners never venture, for it's there I find this Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint with its pretty purple-polka-dot blooms.
American Bladdernut grows there, too, along a little stream. The branches were festooned today with many of the hollow seed-bearing bladders that give this handsome native shrub its name.