Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hot Again, Out Again

Being out all day yesterday in that awful heat must have baked my brain, because what did I do today on a day that was even hotter?  That's right, I went out again. I just couldn't resist the opportunity to explore the Ice Meadows yet again, especially with that wonderfully knowledgeable bunch of folks called the Thursday Naturalists.  We met this morning on the west bank of the Hudson, where little springs burbling out of the rocks create a habitat hospitable to a nice mix of wetland plants, while other, drier, sandy stretches of riverbank sustain another group of plants more suited to grassland habitats.

Yes, I know I've been visiting this place over and over the last few weeks,  but it's one of the richest sites for wildflowers in possibly the whole state, and almost every day something new comes into bloom.  Among the showiest of the flowers blooming today was the beautiful Swamp Milkweed.

We had to search a little harder to find the miniature flower called Dwarf St. Johnswort. 
Update: Oops! I should have known from those blood-red buds and narrow leaves that this is Canada St. Johnswort, not Dwarf SJ.  Dwarf SJ has even smaller flowers and shorter, oval leaves.

Damp mud that lies in the cracks of the rocks is where we look for Spatulate Sundew, which today was holding its small white flowers above its sparkling red insectivorous leaves.

Little spikes of Racemed Milkwort had opened their flowers, which in color and shape resemble miniature versions of the closely related milkwort, Fringed Polygala.

The dainty pale-blue flowers of Bedstraw Bellflower were sprawled among the grass on their hair-fine prickly stems.

Another bellflower, the larger and deeper blue Harebell, holds its flowers aloft on fine but sturdier stems.

One of the rare plants that mark this riverside site as a magnet for botanists is the state-threatened Buxbaum's Sedge, also known as Brown Bog Sedge.  Despite its plump lime-green seeds, it's hard to see it with all the other grasses and sedges crowding around, but eagle-eyed Ed Miller spotted it right away.

We had no trouble at all spotting this gorgeous Wood Lily, even though it looked like it was trying to hide in the shade of a surrounding Bush Honeysuckle shrub.

The yellow-green Tubercled Orchid has a much more subtle coloration, making it difficult to pick out from all the other green vegetation.  But few plants can escape the persistent searching of the Thursday Naturalists.

This orchid was a little past its prime, but we could still identify it by the little bump -- called a  tubercle -- on the flower's lower lip.

As the sun climbed higher and hotter in the sky, we next sought out a shadier spot, downstream at a place called Snake Rock.   Here we found not only some shade, but also a cooling breeze blowing off the river.

I would say these folks look like they're having a fine old time, enjoying a picnic lunch in the cooling shade.

Most of our group decided they'd had enough of baking under the sun for the day, but friends Win and Sue still hadn't yet had enough botanizing, so they joined me on the opposite side of the river for additional flower hunting.

Many of the same flowers grow on this east side of the river as do on the opposite shore, but some are more populous over here, especially the blazing orange Butterfly Weed.

Although we found this Goldenrod Crab Spider on a bare stalk nearby, I wonder if it had recently been lurking in that Butterfly Weed, since it had assumed an equally vivid coloration that would have provided effective camouflage for this wily predator.

It didn't take much searching to find the rare, state-threatened Whip Nutrush (Scleria triglomerata), especially now, with its tiny round seeds turning a pearly white, a distinctive feature of this sedge-like plant.

Eventually, the sweltering heat weakened our resolve to further explore this site, and we fled the sun-baked shore of the river to find shade in the pine woods nearby.  But there we discovered still more botanical treasures, such as this patch of One-flowered Pyrola that Sue and Win are trying to photograph.


Elizabeth said...

I admire your tenacity to go outside in this heat! And it certainly paid off -- I love that little green orchid the best. For myself, I've been hiding inside with the AC for the past two days. :P

Ellen Rathbone said...

More great pics. I've yet to see a wood lily myself...or any wild lily that isn't clintonia. Michigan lilies are on my list here.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Nice to hear from you, Elizabeth and Ellen. It's funny, but while focused on hunting for flowers, I didn't really notice the heat, but as soon as I stopped, I could hardly breathe. I can't wait to see your photos of Michigan Lilies, Ellen.

Jens Zorn said...

Stunning photos --- you continue to amaze!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, Jens; it's always so good to hear from you. Maybe someday you can come along on one of my nature adventures. Bring your camera!

hikeagiant2 said...

the sundew is intriguing ... and 60 years ago, in Kindergarten, I would have been chastised if I had colored a spider that color ;-) how amazing!