Monday, August 6, 2012

Mud-Plantain Lives Up To Its Name

Family commitments have kept me away from my blog this past week, and new ones will do so for the week to come.  But I did have a little island of time today to explore outdoors on this absolutely perfect summer day.  So what should I do?  I looked back at my entries for this week last year and found that now was the time to go looking for Grass-leaved Mud-plantain, also called Water Stargrass (Heteranthera dubia).   To find it last year, I canoed on Fish Creek for quite a ways from my put-in near Victory Mills, only to discover I could access this flower's site from a bridge I could easily drive to.   So I drove to that bridge today, and looking down from the road, I could see bright spots of yellow starring the grassy mudflats below.  Could that really be my Mud-plantain?  It's supposed to grow out in the water.

Well, low water this year has left many water plants stranded on shore, so down I scrambled to see if those spots of yellow were the flower I was looking for.  This should be easy, I thought to myself.  I can just walk up to them and take their picture without struggling to hold my canoe against the current.

Uh. . .  it wasn't so easy, after all.   One step onto that mudflat and I sunk to my shins.

It was quite a struggle to work my feet free as both of them sunk deeper into the mud.   But I finally did and made my way back to firmer ground.

And I even managed to get the photo I wanted.  Yep, these were Grass-leaved Mud-plantain, all right.
To see a more representative photo of this flower in its typical watery habitat, click HERE to visit my blog post from last year when the water was high.

Other plants occupying that muddy bank included this red-stemmed Water Purslane, with little green four-parted flowers growing in the leaf axils.

False Pimpernel also covered the mud, with little blue flowers a bit bigger and prettier than those of Water Purslane.

After struggling to wash some of the mud from my feet, I climbed back up the bank and drove home by the scenic route,  marveling at the glorious vistas of mountains rising beyond the Hudson River off to the east.  I believe the highest peak in the distance is Mt. Equinox in Manchester, Vermont.

One more treat awaited me on my way home, the radiant blue flowers of Great Lobelia, growing in a roadside ditch.

I really treasure these beautiful plants, and I fear they're not long for this world.  Each year the road-maintenance crews mow more and more of them down.  I found only three plants standing this year, where in other years I found dozens.  I would dig them up and plant them at home, but my soil is too dry for them to thrive.  Maybe I should make a sign and plant it where these grow:  Please Do Not Mow the Lobelias.


catharus said...

Yes, put the sign up on a sturdy metal or wooden stake. It would be an interesting experiment.

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

Victory Mills! That caught my eye. I grew up there, "back in the day."

Where is that particular bridge, please?

We like to take rides over to that area... And to Schuylerville, which was his home town. :-)