Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Great Day for Flower Finds

We had a brief break in the rain this morning, a couple of hours that gave Sue and me just enough time to make the rounds of some wonderful flower sites in Warren County.  We started out in Queensbury where Sue lives,  and first thing, we pulled off the road to listen for Meadowlarks in a meadow near her home.  There, spread before our feet was a carpet of Bird's-eye Speedwell of the most marvelous blue.  I wish I could say the flowers were mirroring the blue of the sky above, but no, that sky was still low and gray and misting us with a very fine rain.  But not wet enough to stop us.

Our next destination was a roadway near Glen Lake where we count on finding a generous patch of Yellow Lady's Slippers every year about this time.  And sure enough, there they were, glowing like yellow lamps against a damp dark bank.

I already have so many photos of these beautiful orchids, why did I want to take more?  Well, I just can't help it, I can't get enough.  And today, the overcast sky provided a shadowless light that perfectly illuminated every feature of this gorgeous flower.

Next stop was the Warren County Bike Path where it runs north from Glen Lake.  Here, the path follows a sweet little babbling brook whose music perfectly complemented the sweet birdsong that surrounded us on all sides.   We heard Common Yellowthroat and Chestnut-sided Warblers and others that even Sue could not identify. (That's Interrupted Fern in the foreground, with its darker spore-bearing structures "interrupting" the leafy growth of its green fronds.)

A jungle of plant life pressed close on both sides of the bike trail, and all that lush green was made even more beautiful by its decoration of sparkling drops.  Here's Sensitive Fern.

And this is Field Horsetail.

We had come here specifically to look for Nodding Trillium, a flower that's becoming ever more scarce over its original range, but which seems to thrive in this location.  We did find a few, but it seemed there were fewer than we'd found in other years.  But it is a plant that likes to hide, and it's easy to pass them by without seeing them.  Especially that lovely flower, tucked away underneath the leaves.

You can't miss Glaucous Honeysuckle when it's in bloom, even if it is crowded around by invasive Tartarian Honeysuckle.

 The flower clusters are as brightly colorful as a handful of confetti: red buds that open into orange trumpets sprouting yellow anthers, all encased in a cup made of its terminal leaves.

On the other hand, the small greenish flowers of Mountain Maple would be very easy to miss if they weren't borne in clusters that are held straight up from their large-leaved boughs.

While peering closer at those maple flowers, I came nose to nose with this tiny spider and its delicate web.   I think it may be a Marbled Orb-weaver, and it was no more than half the size as it's pictured in my photograph.  Very cute, with its mottled abdomen and tiger-striped legs.

We sure didn't have to search to find the Early Azalea blazing away high up on a bank.  Even if we'd been blind to its vivid coloring, we could have located it by its sweet spicy scent alone, carried toward us today on the warm humid air.

Here's a closer look at those beautiful blooms.   If you click on this photo you might be able to see the glandular hairs on the flower tubes.  These hairs and the delicious fragrance they produce are keys to distinguish this native azalea from the equally beautiful, but fragrance-free, Pinxter Azalea.

We could have stayed on the bike path the rest of the morning, but Sue wanted to show me the Rose Twisted-stalk that she had found growing in Cole's Woods, in nearby Glens Falls.   Because of heavy lumbering and extensive trail-widening occurring in Cole's Woods this spring, Sue was concerned that this unusual flower might be exterminated from this location, but we were happy to find it growing abundantly and, so far, undisturbed.  It would certainly be easy to overlook this flower, since it can't be seen by looking down from above (although you can see its zig-zagging "twisted" stalk).

  Update:  I have since learned from noted botanist Ruth Schottman that the "twisted" in this flower's name refers not to the leaf stalk but rather to the flowers stalks, a feature that is obvious when observing the live plant but is difficult to see in my photo below.

But if you lift up the leaf -- or lie down on the ground to peer underneath -- then you can see the pretty little speckled pink bells that dangle down from the stalk.  So dainty!

In contrast, Clintonia, also known as Corn Lily,  holds its yellow lily-like blooms well above its glossy-green basal leaves.

Here's another flower that's easy to miss if you're not looking for it:  Indian Cucumber Root, with a little flower as green as its leaves.

The colorful parts of Indian Cucumber Root flowers are the deep-red, oddly-elongated pistils and the apricot-colored anthers protruding downward.  But you do have to peer pretty closely in order to find them.

And then there was Wild Lupine!  Here's a flower that's about as showy as a flower can be, and we found lots of it growing in an open sandy area.  This is a favorite of bees and butterflies, and Sue is trying to get a shot of one of them here.

Be sure to check Sue's blog Water Lily to see what beautiful photographs she produced from our wonderful day of flower hunting.  It may take a while before she posts today's photos, but she has lots of other entries to enjoy in the meantime.


A.L. Gibson said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I absolutely love your blog, Jackie! Always so many gorgeous wildflowers and plants; some I know and see and others I can only dream of here in SE Ohio. Can't wait to come pay you a visit! Enjoy your spring and continue to share it with us here :)

acquisto fiori on line said...

Hi Woodswalker,

Great post. I was checking constantly this web blog and I am impressed!
The yellow orchids are really beautiful, I like it very much. Thanks for sharing.

mandare fiori

Bill and dogs said...

I love your blog and beautiful photos. I learn so much and, thanks to you, have been able to identify many flowers while on my own hikes. Thank you.

hikeagiant2 said...

It never fails...I got out, see something I've never noticed defies identification ... I read your blog and voila! you clear up the mystery. Thanks for taking us along on your adventures, and for gently moving me forward and showing, by example, what to look for.

Rachel S said...

What beautiful flowers! Lovely photos, great photographer!!

Woodswalker said...

Dear readers, I do so appreciate your many kind comments. Thanks for taking the time to leave them. You also remind me to look at your own wonderfully varied blogs by clicking on your names. How amazing to welcome a reader all the way from Italy!