Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekly Wildflower Report

Whoa!  The wildflower rush is happening so fast, I can hardly keep up with it!  Just a week ago I reported my first sighting of Bloodroot and Trout Lily, and today I found that most are already fading.  I came upon my first blooming Red Trillium today, and not ten yards away, the first Large-flowered White, two trilliums that normally bloom at least a week apart.  The same could be said for Sessile and Large-flowered Bellworts.  A very strange wildflower year!  Many flowers seem to be blooming quite out of normal sequence.  So just for the record, I'm documenting here in my blog the flowers that are blooming now.  In future years, it will be interesting to look back and see if these patterns persist.

My wildflower searches began this week with a visit to Orra Phelps Nature Preserve in Wilton, where I finally found the Round-leaved Violets just starting to open their lemon-yellow blooms from their bed of moss on the stream bank.  In other years, I have found these early violets blooming at the same time as the Snow Trilliums, which bloomed more than two weeks ago and now are fading. This little violet opens wide its flowers even before its leaves have completely unfurled.

I also found the dainty Sessile-leaved Bellworts dangling their pale-yellow blooms along the stream.

Continuing along a high ridge, I discovered several clumps of Dutchman's Breeches hung with shimmering pantaloons.

In a muddy swale, mats of Golden Saxifrage were sporting their tiny circlets of red dots.

Later in the week I visited the Bog Meadow Nature Trail just east of Saratoga Springs, where I found many fertile stalks of Field Horsetail Reed just pushing up from the earth.  After these stalks have matured and shed their spores, they will wither and disappear.

The sterile stalks of Field Horsetail were also abundant, creating a miniature forest of bright-green whorls.  These stalks will persist throughout the growing season, photosynthesizing with their green branches that will grow much longer as the season progresses.

A few patches of Wood Anemone held the first open blooms of dazzling white.

In the swamp, bright-green clumps of Marsh Marigold leaves were studded with blazing-yellow flowers.

Near a tiny stream, I surprised this plump Green Frog, who hopped into the water and pretended to be hiding from me and my camera.

Exploring some mountainous trails along Spier Falls Road, I was delighted to find masses of Bluets decorating the rocks.

Along the same trails, the Shadblow trees bore flowers as white as drifting snow.

On a quick visit to a bog-shored lake, I found the ubiquitous Leatherleaf dangling its small white bells.

On Sunday, my friend Sue and I took a long hike through the Denton Wildlife Preserve in Washington County just across the Hudson River from Schuylerville.  Among the first woodland flowers we encountered were the pretty yellow blooms of Barren Strawberry.

We also admired these flowering stalks of grass, species unknown to us.  How adorable are those tiny fuzzy curls!

Update:  Many thanks to Don Butler, who in his comment to this post suggests that this could be Mountain Rice (Oryzopsis asperifolia), a native grass widespread in New York State.  Thanks, Don!

Here are the flowers we specifically came to the Denton Preserve to see:  Carolina Spring Beauties, and there were THOUSANDS of them spreading across just one limited section of the woodland.

We encountered several Garter Snakes basking along the path at Denton.  Most hurried away before we could say hello, but I managed to get one to stop for his picture-taking.

I'm counting this photo something of a miracle, because most of the time when the tiny Spring Azure butterflies alight, the startling blue of their wings disappears within the dull gray of their underwings.  We were treated to their beautiful presence for the entire duration of our hike, and it was as if little flakes of clear blue sky had fallen to earth to flutter about the woods.

Today I returned to the Skidmore Woods, expecting to find that most of the Sharp-lobed Hepaticas there had passed their prime.  But here and there, I found a few as lovely as ever.  I love how the sun has transformed this clump's fading leaves to glowing embers.

What?!!  How could Large-flowered Bellwort be blooming already, when its Sessile-leaved cousin had only just opened its blooms three days ago?  Guess there's no arguing with Mother Nature. She makes up her own schedule.

And here they are at last!  The Long-spurred Violets!  My backyard Common Blue Violets have been blooming for days, but these woodland violets sure were taking their time.

The Wild Ginger seemed to have arisen overnight.  Just a couple of days ago I could find no trace of it in the Skidmore woods, but it certainly was burgeoning today!

I'd been waiting for days to see the beautiful flowers of Red Trillium, and today their buds had opened at last.  Such a lovely deep rich red!

Oh man, was THIS a surprise!  As I mentioned above, the Red Trillium and the Large-flowered White Trillium usually bloom at least a week apart, with the reds coming first.  But there they were!  Seeing is believing!  Only a few, so far, of what will be a veritable sea of them in time.

If the White Trillium seems to be flowering a bit early, this Early Meadow Rue seems a bit late.  But here they are at last, the male flowers dangling their anthers to shimmy in the slightest breeze, carrying their pollen to nearby female plants.

Well, it was no surprise to see the fully-open, pollen-dropping flowers on the Giant Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum giganteum), since they have been blooming for nearly two weeks, their purple flowers opening wide even before their greenish-purple leaves had fully unfurled.

And the appearance of the Yellow-flowered Blue Cohosh was no surprise, either, since I usually find it in bloom about a week or 10 days after the purple-flowering species.  This species of Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) waits to produce its flowers until its leaves have fully opened.  It's also a somewhat daintier plant than its sturdy purple-flowering cousin, and with paler green leaves.


The Furry Gnome said...

A wonderful group of wildflowers, even if their schedule is confused. A particularly good picture of the Wild Ginger, showing both the leaves and flowers. I'm guessing you're a week or ten days ahead of us, no woodland flowers here yet but Hepatica. But I'm expecting a burst of them later in the week.

Don Butler said...

Wondering if the grass might be Mountain Rice (Oryzopsis asperifolia)?

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Beautiful photos

Years ago walking around Green Lake Park in Upstate New York, I saw a brownish snake rushing across the trail, get stepped on unaware by the person, and completely flatten, and slither away as if nothing happened. I forget the name of the snake, not much bigger than a large garden snake.

Uta said...

As always wonderful wildflower pictures, very enjoyable. Thanks

Woody Meristem said...

You're fortunate to have such an abundance of spring wildflowers. Down here over 70 years of high deer populations have eliminated white trillium and many of the wild orchids.

Anonymous said...

Love the snake photo!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thank you, dear friends, for your kind and responsive comments. I love knowing you come along with me on my wildflower adventures. A special thank you to Don Butler for putting a name to our interesting grass, and my condolences to Woody Meristem for the ravages caused by so many deer. I have often wondered how we manage to maintain such a variety of native plants at the same time our deer herd is so abundant. I guess it's the proportion of deer to acreage that makes the difference.

catharus said...

Such a lovely collection of spring wildflower photos!