Saturday, June 3, 2017
A Lupine Extravaganza!
The Wild Lupines are blooming at Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park! I know from past years that this is a floral extravaganza not to be missed, so I was delighted that my dear friend Sue was free today to join me on ambling the sandy paths of the extensive oak/pine savanna that makes up the Gick Farm parcel of this Saratoga County preserve. Sue had never seen such a massive display of this gorgeous native wildflower, and even though I come here each year to witness it again and again, I never cease to be amazed at such incredible floral splendor.
Since we were struck nearly speechless by this astonishing display, I'm simply going to present the rest of these Lupine photos without comment:
Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) will happily abound on its own, if given the appropriate sandy, nutrient-poor sites. This Clover-family plant is able to provide its own nutrients by absorbing nitrogen from the air, so we frequently see it blooming abundantly along dirt roads and highway medians. But this astonishingly massive array of Wild Lupines was assisted into being by careful management of the Gick Farm Parcel by park staff and state environmental professionals, all to support the federally-endangered Karner Blue Butterfly, whose larvae depend solely on the leaves of Wild Lupine, and no other plant. So of course, we saw many Karner Blue Butterflies wafting among the blue blooms, vying with the flowers for the richest blue coloration. But when it comes time for the butterfly itself to eat, it actually prefers the nectar-rich blooms of the Dewberry flowers that abound in the same sandy soil.
The big white flowers of Dewberry served as the perfect foil for showing off the beauty of these tiny butterflies. Here, we found both the blue male and the brown female dining together.
And look! Another small butterfly has joined the party! This is the American Copper, with its vivid orange and black wings.
Another small winged creature has landed on Sue's pants, and it stayed there for the longest time, allowing each of us to take a pretty good photo of it.
I see by those fringed antennae that this is a moth, not a butterfly. I haven't found a match for it yet on Google Images, but I'm waiting for an ID from BugGuide.net. If I ever learn its name, I will come back and post it here.
Update: Thanks to the folks at Bugguide.net, this moth has been narrowed down to be a member of the Eufidonia genus, possibly E. notataria. One of the Powder Moths. Apparently, this genus is notoriously difficult to identify as to species without dissection. Since I would not want to have to kill it in order to identify it exactly, Powder Moth is good enough for me.
I had seen this same moth earlier, resting on some Bastard Toadflax blooms (Comandra umbellata), another flower that prefers a sandy soil.
As we started our return to our cars, we took a trail that led through a pine woods, and no sooner had we stepped onto the pine-needle cushioned path than we found dozens of beautiful Pink Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium acaule), all in perfect rosy bloom.
Here was another lovely plant that preferred the shaded woodland to the open Lupine meadows. Although the white flowers of Starflower (Lysimachia borealis) had already dropped, the perfect glossy-green spheres of its seed pods resting in their star-shaped bracts presented another kind of beauty, quieter and more demure than that Lupine extravaganza out under the sun, but exquisite in their own right.