The New England Violet (Viola novae-angliae):
When I first saw the violet pictured below, I nearly passed it by as just another Common Blue, a denizen of every suburban lawn and city alley. Ho hum, dime-a-dozen . . . .
There's a tiny orchid called Autumn Coralroot (Corallorhiza odontorhiza) that grows abundantly in the woods of Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County, NY. As a species, Autumn Coralroot is not considered a rare orchid, and I have been taking photographs of it for many years. Here's just one of my photos:
Dan sent some of my photos to our leading state botanist, Steve Young, who sent them on to "the" expert in this taxon, a Professor John Freudenstein at Ohio State University. Noting the open-throated floret and the shape of the petal, Professor Freudenstein judged it to be the exceedingly rare variety, Corallorhiza odontorhiza var. pringlei, last reported from only one New York county (Monroe) way back in 1903 and never found again there or in any other county in the state. By now, this plant is actually rated as Extirpated from New York. Well, I guess a plant can't be rated any rarer than that! State-ranked SX! I'm happy to report that a secure population is now known to be thriving at Moreau Lake State Park. (You can click on this link to read my post about finding new populations of this super-rare orchid at the park.)
But when Green Rock Cress goes to seed, the plant is pretty hard to ignore, with its long, slender, shiny siliques arching away from its tall stems, arrayed like water falling from a fountain. I had definitely noticed this plant for a number of years, searching my wildflower guidebooks in vain for its identity, and finally giving up. Hey, it's only one of those uncountable number of no'count mustards, I thought, and thought no more of it. For a while, anyway.
Remembering my friend Ed:
I'm sure most folks can imagine how happy I am to have found such super-rarities in my personal hunting grounds, as well as how lucky I feel to have such super-expert friends who are always willing to help me identify each find. But I'm also feeling sad that I can't share my excitement about these finds with the man who more than anyone else helped to feed my passion for plants. That man is Ed Miller, my dear friend, fellow wildflower nut, and mentor extraordinaire, who died this past March at the age of 94. I hope this photo below conveys some of the joy we found in each other's company. To understand why I loved this man so much, here's a link to the blog post I wrote as a tribute to him on the occasion of his 90th birthday. I'm happy to report that he maintained his vigor of mind and spirit as well as his marvelous delight in the natural world until a very short time before he died, at peace, without pain, and surrounded by those he loved and who loved him. May we all live and die so well.