A truly exciting find was the Two-colored Fringed Orchid (Platanthera x bicolor), a hybrid of the White Fringed Orchid (P. blephariglottis) and the Orange Fringed Orchid (P. ciliaris). The New York Flora Association Plant Atlas shows this hybrid as having been reported from only one other New York county (Suffolk, way out on Long Island), so the mystery remains as to how it came to emerge in the Warren County bog where we found it this past July. Plenty of White Fringed Orchids grow in this bog, but the Orange Fringed hasn't been found anywhere near here for years and years.
Pictured below is the second Persicaria species, P. coccinea or Scarlet Smartweed, that I finally learned the true name of. I formerly had mis-identified it as Water Smartweed (P. amphibia) when I had found it floating on the surface of a lake. But here at Carter's Pond it stood tall, its gorgeous big flower spikes reaching far above the thickets of Swamp Loosestrife that form a virtual shrubby monoculture around the pond. So even though I had seen these two plants before, I could still add them to this year's "New for 2018" list. And I also learned that I still have a lot to learn about plants!
When I looked more closely, I could see both pistillate and staminate flowers in the axils of the spiky leaves, and they reminded me of another milfoil I had found some years ago. So I sent a specimen off to Steve Young, chief botanist with the NY Natural Heritage Program, asking his help to ID it.
Steve informed me that this looked very much like the Endangered Cutleaf Milfoil, but that molecular analysis would be needed to distinguish it from another one very similar in appearance. That analysis has not yet been done, so I'm not quite sure how to record this plant in my wildflower journal. Unknown Milfoil will have to do for now.
I'm not sure of the exact species of this next aquatic plant, either, although I have a general idea. I found it attached to the river bottom in the same stretch of Hudson where I found the unknown milfoil. The water was shallow enough I could reach down from my canoe and pull one cluster up to examine it more closely. It felt quite gritty, and what amazed me is that it smelled very garlicky! Some folks who are familiar with aquatic species have told me that this is most likely a multi-cellular macro-alga called Muskgrass (possibly Chara vulgaris). That smell is the clincher, they told me. Once you smell it, you won't forget it.
According to information I found on the web, Muskgrass has no true leaves, but it does have branches and branchlets, which occur in whorls at intervals along the main branches. These branches and branchlets are made of single, column-shaped cells that often are surrounded by spine-shaped cells. These spiny cells and the lime deposits that collect on them are what make the plant rough to the touch. These branchlets also are the sites for the alga's reproductive sporangia, the dark, ball-like organs that appear seed-like along the branchlets. No part of the Muskgrass is more than three cells thick. Wow! I learn something new all the time!
Whew! Here's a plant I DO know the name of, and I figured it out all by myself (with Newcomb's Wildflower Guide, that is). This is the Sessile-fruited Arrowhead (Sagittaria rigida), and it, too, was growing along that same stretch of the Hudson at South Glens Falls as the two plants mentioned above. According to the New York Flora Association, this is not a rare plant, but I had never seen it before. Or maybe I just never noticed it as different from other Arrowheads, since its flowers look very much like those of the other species. There's much variation in leaf shape among the Arrowheads, even among plants of the same species. But this plant had leaves and fruit clusters that were distinctive enough to distinguish it as S. rigida, a new species for my life list.