Saturday, May 25, 2019

Abundant Wonders Along the Way

Returning from a visit to Moreau Lake State Park this past week, I decided to skip the interstate and take the local roads home, pulling off into several botanical "hot spots" along the way to see what treasures might await me there.  And I sure wasn't disappointed!

Turning onto Spier Falls Road, my first stop was the powerline clearcut above Mud Pond.   Here I found a small Chokecherry shrub (Prunus virginiana) absolutely abuzz with bees -- all of which flew away when I bent to take the photo.  Sorry, bees! (They didn't take long to come back to sip these flowers' abundant nectar.)

This nearby clump of Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) was not quite yet in bloom, but it had a spiky beauty nevertheless.  All kinds of pollinators visit these flowers for their nectar, but its leaves provide the only food the Karner Blue Butterfly's larvae can feast on. Lots of this lupine species thrives in the sandy soils around here, so this Federally Endangered butterfly has a secure home in Saratoga County.

Continuing along Spier Falls Road, I next pulled into a parking area at the Summit trailhead for the park's Western Ridge Trail.  The same powerline that passes Mud Pond cuts across the mountains at this height, creating just the kind of habitat Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis) must love, since I often find many plants of it thriving among the rocks at this site. Only a few were blooming this year, but at least this one was open enough to display its red and yellow florets.

Another boulder-lover at this site is Pink Corydalis (Capnoides sempervirens).  Despite the vivid color of its blooms, the delicacy of the plant often makes it hard to spot.  But spot it, I did!  So pretty!

This bumble bee also found the Pink Corydalis and spent some time feasting on its nectar and pollen.

Here was a Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum) in full bloom at the edge of the woods that borders  this stretch of the powerline.  The small tree made quite a lovely sight, with all of those dangling floral clusters dancing in the breeze.

Here's a closer view of those pretty Striped Maple flowers.

Many patches of Running Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum) sprawled among the boulders, tucked in among carpets of Big Red-stem Moss (Pleurozium schreberi).

A close look at the tips of this clubmoss's stems reveals how it came to earn one of its common names, Wolf's Paw.

Further along Spier Falls Road, well past the dam that inspired the road's name, I turned into the parking area for the Spring Trailhead of the Western Ridge Trail.  One of the first delights I discovered here was a big patch of Foamflower crowding the base of a tree.

A second big patch of flowers climbed a steep bank near by, the star-shaped yellow blooms of Clintonia (Clintonia borealis) shining out against the dark background.


A tiny hoverfly rested on one of the Clintonia flower's peduncle.

A few yards up the trail, in an open area under the powerline, masses of Bluets (Houstonia caerulea) held their tiny blue faces toward the sky, mirroring that azure radiance in the grass.

Here's a closer look at those sweet little Bluets, also called Quaker Ladies.

Masses of tiny white violets, quite likely the species called Sweet White Violet (Viola blanda) spread across another bank along the trail.

The sound of a trickling stream beckoned me to enter the trailside woods and follow its series of mini-waterfalls downstream.

When the stream reached the road, I crossed to the other side and followed a woodland path that led down to the Hudson River. But I halted my steps when this magnificently plump Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) caught my eye.  What a surprise!  At the first place I explored today, the lady's slippers I found there held only the tightest green buds.

Time to head home over Mount McGregor, as Spier Falls Road turned onto the Wilton Mountain Road.  But I had to pull over for one more stop, at a little swamp that lies close to the road about halfway up the mountain.  Would the tiny little orchid called Early Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida) be blooming about now?  At first I could not find any, but then a stray beam of sunlight lit up these minuscule yellow flowers, glowing amid a mass of emerald-green moss.

Now that I knew what to look for, I found many more of this orchid in this little roadside swamp. New York State is home to nearly 60 species of native orchids, but I bet many of us walk right by orchids without ever seeing them.   Especially when they're as small and greenish as Early Coralroot is.


The Furry Gnome said...

Nice to go with you on those stops!

Woody Meristem said...

What an abundance of wildflowers -- your area is a botanical wonderland compared to northcentral Pennsylvania.

Vonette said...

Lovely adventure!

Unknown said...

Hi Jackie, How are you doing? The pictures are beautiful. Hopefully we can catch up sometime. I will be up at the park next week. Peter Iskenderian