Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Rare Mint Confirmed for Moreau Lake
It's always a good day for a walk around Moreau Lake, especially on days as beautiful as it was yesterday. But this time I had a special reason for walking this shoreline, for I wanted to revisit the Whorled Mountain Mint I found along the shore this fall. (See my post for September 9.) Except that then, I wasn't sure of its name. But now I knew for sure, since I had just heard from Steve Young, chief botanist with the New York Natural Heritage Program, that this is, indeed, the endangered species of mountain mint he thought it might be, Pycnanthemum verticillatum var. verticillatum. I'm happy to report that it was looking still very healthy yesterday, with many of the dozens of plants still bearing green leaves.
I had sent a pressed specimen to Steve, who shared it with Dr. Robert Naczi, curator of North American botany at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. After close examination, Dr. Naczi confirmed that this was, indeed, the variety of P. verticillatum listed among New York's rarest plants, with only four verified occurrences and five historical occurrences known to exist in the state. Now we can make that five verified occurrences. According to Dr. Naczi, this was "a very good find."
Satisfied that my treasured plant was still safe and happy, I continued my walk around the lake, enjoying the pleasant warmth of the sunlit beach and the beautiful reflections of multicolored trees in the still water.
At first glance, I almost mistook these Hop Hornbeam seed pods for pinecones, especially since the hornbeam branches were surrounded by those of White Pine.
A thicket of Black Huckleberry shrubs made a ruby-red hedge along the northern shore of the lake.
The vivid pink leaves of Maple-leaved Viburnum still put on a colorful display.
As the late afternoon sun began to sink behind the mountains, I sat on a shore-side bench and contemplated the exquisite beauty of this special place, so familiar to me after so many years of wandering its woods and waterways. But also, still capable of granting me delightful surprises.