With dire predictions for a killing frost tonight, I thought I'd better go pick a Fringed Gentian to press for the state herbarium before they shrivel. After my friend Sue and I enjoyed the sight of masses of these beautiful flowers growing along the bike trail in Queensbury, Sue checked their distribution status and discovered there was no record of them growing in either Warren or Saratoga County. Well, we'd better remedy that, we agreed, and obtained permission from the New York Natural Heritage Program to obtain vouchered specimens of this state-protected wildflower.
Sue will collect her specimen in Warren County, and I went to Orra Phelps Nature Preserve in Wilton to collect mine. Legend has it that Orra planted the ones on her preserve, but even if true, they have certainly naturalized there, blooming in great profusion every September. Two years ago I participated in efforts to restore the site where they grow, cutting down dozens of young pines and poplars that threatened to overshadow these sun-loving flowers. Our efforts have been rewarded with a wonderful expansion in the number of plants growing there, I am happy to report. I'm also happy that now there will be an official botanical record of their presence in Saratoga and Warren counties.
While walking the trails at Orra Phelps, I saw many Indian Cucumber Root plants in fruit, their glossy blue-black berries beautifully set off by their colorful trefoils of terminal leaves.