Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Forest in the City

I'm so glad my friend Sue is on vacation this week!  We'll get to ramble together at least three times, and today we went to Cole's Woods, a wonderful forest right in the middle of the city of Glens Falls.  It was Sue who several years ago first introduced me to the many trails that wind through this wooded tract, and we always remember how astounded we were, the first time we visited, by the incredible profusion of Dwarf Ginseng that carpeted the woods either side to the trail.  Sure enough, we found them today in all their glory.  Just EVERYwhere!

We also went looking for Rose Twisted Stalk, since this lovely plant (also called Rosybells) thrives abundantly here.  And once again, our quest did not go unrewarded.  It's easy to walk by these plants and not see the flowers, though, since the tiny rosy bells dangle down, hidden beneath the arching leaves.

If you want to see the lovely Starflower, I can think of no other site where they can be found in greater profusion than in certain sections of Cole's Woods.  This is a flower I can find a hundred times and still gaze in awe at their beauty each time.

Then mix in the brilliantly colored Fringed Polygala, and the beauty of this combination is almost too exquisite to be believed!  Just imagine whole acres of these two flowers carpeting the woods together.  That was our incredible pleasure today.

Another special treat today was a small Sassafras tree, with flowering branches right at eye level, so that we could closely observe this tree's very pretty flowers.  Usually, the flowers are blooming way up over our heads.  These are obviously pistillate flowers, so if we come back late in summer we might get to see the beautiful fruits, blue-black berries held in hot-pink pedicels.  If the birds don't eat them first!

A beautiful creek called Halfway Brook runs through Cole's Woods, surrounded by stretches of  low wetlands.  At one of these creekside sites we found Marsh Marigold still blooming, large yellow flowers almost incandescent in their golden intensity.

Along another stretch of creek was this mossy log studded with the deep-purple blooms of the long-stemmed Marsh Blue Violets.

A close look at the throat of Marsh Blue Violet reveals the distinctive club-shaped hairs that distinguish this species of violet.

Another pretty blue violet lining the Cole's Woods trails is one called the Dog Violet.  A close look reveals that this violet bears flowers and leaves on the same stem, and the leaf joints are sheathed with sharply-toothed stipules.  I think of a dog's sharp teeth as a way to remember the name of this particular species of violet.

One of the low wetlands was home to masses of Woodland Horsetail, the only species of horsetail we have that possesses multi-forked branches, giving the plants a very lacy look.

We also found several fertile stems of Woodland Horsetail, displaying the cone-shaped strobili that bear the spores of this very ancient plant.


The Furry Gnome said...

Very interesting wildflowers and such. I don't think I've ever seen the first two, and SSsafras doesn't grow this far north, but we have lots of violets, marsh Marigolds! Always nice to know someone else is out there exploring the woods.

Uta said...

You find beauty in everything, thanks for the lovely pictures.