Monday, May 7, 2012

Wasteplace Weeds and Roadside Rockgardens

 They seem so inhospitable to plants, those roadside shoulders and powerline clear-cuts we often call "waste places."  And indeed, they can be, exposed as they are to auto emissions, close mowing, road salt, and sometimes the outright application of herbicides.  That's why I was so surprised and delighted, walking the roadside and the powerline cuts along Spier Falls Road this week, to find so many and various native plants thriving in what would seem to be such harsh habitats.

Where the powerlines passed over mountainous rocks, Lowbush Blueberries covered large areas with their pretty pink blooms,  an invitation to "come and feast" to this big furry Butter-butt fly (my name for it).

Berry-pickers, rejoice, for Wild Strawberries also grew in abundance.

I also found a few Round-leaved Gooseberry shrubs, dangling their long-stamened flowers.

The Wood Betony plants that my friends and I found last week had come into beautiful bloom.  There were yellow ones . . .

. . . and red ones, too.   I had found only the yellow ones before, so this was quite a treat.

I was surprised to see so many kinds of violets blooming in such hot, dry spots, although I know that that's the favored habitat for Ovate-leaved Violets.

But I'd never seen Long-spurred violets except near the shade of a lime-rich woods.  Yet here they were.

Near the woods at the edge of the cut, Dog Violets bloomed in profusion.

I found Sweet White Violets sprouting from the niches of a moss-covered boulder.

Fringed Polygala found this habitat very much to its liking, for it was blooming everywhere.

There's nothing pale about the flowers of Pale Corydalis, although its leaves do have a silvery cast.

The flowers of Common Cinquefoil are so brilliant I have to cut the exposure of my camera way down to capture any detail in the flowers.   These are a common plant of "waste places," so I wasn't surprised to find them here.

Early Meadow Rue, though, is a plant I associate with rich woods, so I was surprised to find it out here in the powerline clearcut.  But there were some spring-watered boulders nearby, perhaps of lime-rich rock, which could have provided the nutrients this plant requires.

Not blooming yet, but colorful as any flower, were the baby shoots of Whorled Loosestrife, set off quite prettily by a bed of Haircap Moss.

Here's another mound of Haircap Moss, a mosaic of tiny splash cups, set in a larger bed of Broom Moss and pierced by the feathery shoots of emerging Yarrow.

Silvery Reindeer Lichen and ruby-red Britiish Soldiers are only two of the many lichens that cover the rocks under the powerline.

Most of the mosses that covered the powerline rocks are adapted to a dry environment, but these wooly lumps of moss grew only where a tiny spring constantly watered the rock.

This is a moss I do not recognize, very dense and furry, like chubby plush stuffed animals climbing up the wet rock.  

What looked like part of an orchard growing at the edge of the woods turned out to be Hawthorn in bloom.  I usually encounter Hawthorn as a shrub, but these were definitely full-size trees.  I know we have many species of Hawthorn, most of them difficult to identify, but I have never seen any as trees as large as these.  Could it be something else?

Another, smaller, tree in bloom was Chokecherry, its elongate flower clusters abuzz with pollinators.

Near the road where I parked my car, these spring-watered cliffs were abloom with Early Saxifrage, a plant whose Latin name means something like "rock breaker."   Yes, it does somehow manage to worm its roots down into the cracks in the rocks and flourishes where little else could find a foothold.

Many other creatures were enjoying the beautiful day today, including this little Wood Frog hanging out near a tiny stream that crossed the powerline cut.

This pretty American Painted Lady appears to share my appreciation for "wasteplace weeds."


threecollie said...

Wonderful photos, as always and you identified a plant for me that I found up in the woods last week...meadow rue.. Would loved to see that fringed stuff.

June said...

What a tour!
Thank you.

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

Lovely all. As lovely as any cultivated flower. More so, actually. More so.

And such a display of diversity! Mother Nature is wonnnnnnnderful!

"Knowledge comes
but wisdom lingers."

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Jackie C said...

Beautiful Flowers!!!

hikeagiant2 said...

The treasures are there when you look - it's gratifying that such an abundance and diversity exist where modern life has ravaged - you sure hit the jackpot on violets! - and your photos, as always, so exquisite.