Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ice Meadows Floral Report

Oh gosh, I filed these photos a whole week ago after visiting the Ice Meadows north of Warrensburg.  Then I forgot to post them on my blog.  I'm tempted to let them disappear into the black hole of computer storage, but I've come to depend on my blog as a record of what's blooming when at this remarkable site, so this post is my way of keeping up with the floral season.

The Ice Meadows is an 8-mile stretch of Hudson River banks where huge heaps of ice collect each winter, creating a habitat uniquely suited for some of our rarest native plants.  The section I visited last week is on the east bank of the river, where wide streams of molten marble appear to have spewed up from the earth and flowed into the water.

The calcium-rich environment created by that marble outcropping provides a perfect habitat for several plants that thrive here but which I rarely find elsewhere.   The lacey-leaved, starry-flowered Rock Sandwort (Minuartia michauxii) was beautifully in bloom on the bare rocks when I visited last Friday.

Tall Cinquefoil (Potentilla arguta) may look like a weedy overgrown strawberry, but it's actually a plant that is considered rare in several surrounding states.  Often an indicator of calcareous soils, lots of it grows on the Ice Meadows.

I do find Small Sundrops (Oenothera  perennis) in many other locations, but its sunny yellow blooms always deserve another photograph.  This is one of our Evening Primrose-family plants whose flowers open early in the day.

Frostweed (Helianthemum canadense) likes this dry sandy location, too.  I don't know if it's always the case, but every photo I have of this flower shows its orange-anthered stamens mostly all pushed to one side.

Lots and lots of Carrion Flower (Smilax herbacea) was growing on the sandy shore, giving me the chance to get nice clear photos of its (very smelly!) male and female flowers.  The tiny white-stamened, six-parted male flowers are all borne on the same plant.

While the stubbier pistillate flowers with their three-lobed stigmas occupy totally separate plants nearby.

One of the rarest plant on this section of the Ice Meadows is a grassy plant called Whip Nut Rush (Scleria triglomerata).  It's pearly white seeds have not yet developed, but I recognized it by its distinctive triangular stem and yellow flower head.  I also know exactly where to look for it, and I was glad to see it still thriving here.

On my way back to my car I took a short-cut through the pine woods, where I couldn't help but notice the super-saturated twin red berries of American Fly Honeysuckle.

That same piney woods was the happy home of an amazing array of Pink Lady's Slippers, which I was surprised to find still blooming, since they are long past in Saratoga County.  I stood in one spot and counted 30 blooming plants surrounding me within a 20-foot circle.


Adirondackcountrygal said...

Would you be able to tell me where the ice meadow is located? I think the geology of the area would make for a fine Earthcache (geocaching) for people to visit. An Earthcache is an area people visit to learn about different geological features. If it is secret I can understand too! :)

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

You can get to this part of the river by heading north out of Warrensburg on Golf Course Road (main intersection in middle of town). Shortly past the end of the golf course on the left is a State Forest parking lot with trails going down to the river from there. If you are a leader of a geocache group, please emphasize how important it is to protect the plants that grow there, some of which grow nowhere else in the area. Stay on the trails so as not to trample vegetation and do not dig into the soil.

Ellen Rathbone said...

It's like visiting an old friend every time you post the Ice Meadows.

hikeagiant2 said...

Amazing! :-)