Monday, September 10, 2012

I Found a New Flower -- and an Airport! -- in North Creek

Who would have thought that a little Adirondack town like North Creek would have its own airport?  I sure didn't, so I was quite surprised when my friend Evelyn Greene (who lives in North Creek) suggested we take a walk there to look for Fringed Gentians.  OK, sure, I said, knowing that whatever Evelyn suggests is bound to be an adventure.  So off we set down a dirt road that led  to this lovely open greensward surrounded by forest and offering a splendid view of nearby Moxham Mountain:  the airport at North Creek.

That airport's green grass landing strip looked more like a golf course than an airport, and it made for a lovely place to walk on a quiet September Sunday afternoon,  when we had to dodge neither incoming aircraft nor errant golf balls.  Evelyn and I were joined there by our friend and fellow wildflower enthusiast, Bob Duncan.

Evelyn seems to know intimately every inch of land surrounding her home for miles, and several years ago she had recognized a patch of dampish soil along the airport's runway as the perfect spot for Fringed Gentians to grow.   So she obtained some seeds and scattered them there among the asters and goldenrods and especially the Bog Lycopodium that had indicated the right soil chemistry for this lovely blue late-summer flower.   The payoff for her efforts was much in evidence today.

The gorgeous New England Asters added their flashes of brilliant color to the unmown edges of the runway.  Although a deep and radiant purple is the expected color of this wildflower's blooms, here and there we saw this aster sporting blooms of an equally deep and radiant rose.

As the wildflower season draws to a close, we nature lovers are grateful for other points of interest along our paths.  A case in point is this sprightly baby White Cedar sprouting up from a patch of Pink Earth Lichen.

Pink Earth Lichen always deserves a down-on-your-knees, nose-to-the-ground closer look to admire its adorable tiny pink fruiting bodies.

Another lichen growing nearby also deserved a closer look to marvel its minute telescoping trumpets.  I'm not sure of the scientific name of this Cladonia species, but I have heard it called Pagoda Lichen.  Update:  Thanks to Bob Duncan, I now do know the scientific name of this lichen:  Cladonia cervicornis var. verticillata.

I did recognize this fluffy gray stuff as Reindeer Lichen, and the perky green tuft is certainly a clubmoss, but one I don't know the name of.  If I do find out, I'll be back to add its ID.  Update:  Another big thanks goes to Bob Duncan, who ID'd this clubmoss as Diphasiastrum tristachyum.  I wonder how I'll be able to remember that?  One of its common names is Blue Ground-cedar, and it does have a bluer cast to its green than other clubmosses that are also called Ground-cedar.

Masses of Sand Jointweed displayed how happy they were to inhabit this sandy trail that led into the woods from the airport runway.

We were striding along this trail toward home when the brilliant orange color of this unknown plant halted us in our tracks.  None of us knew what it was at first, but we did have a Newcomb's Wildflower Guide and its clever key system with us, so it didn't take long to find out that this was Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata), sometimes called Wild Baby's Breath.

A nearby plant with a few flowers remaining clinched the ID, as did the drop of milky white sap oozing from a broken-off stem.  This is not a particularly uncommon plant, but it's one that I had never seen before, so I can now add a new flower to my "lifer" list.

Poor butterfly!  This Viceroy's tattered wings indicate that its life may soon be drawing to an end along with summer's close.  But like the bright leaves of that Flowering Spurge, the butterfly added a spot of brilliant color to the landscape around the airport at North Creek.


Nancy Slack said...

I don't think I have ever seen the flowering spurge either, and what fun to spot a viceroy--the butterfly I always wanted to find at age 11 in Illinois. Do they migrate like monarchs? Thanks!

hikeagiant2 said...

Lovely as always - the spurge has such an interesting flower - somewhat stylized - with a center that looks like a pin in your photo - I'm told that the triangular shaped 'tatters' on butterfly wings are places that a bird's beak took a chunk out of.

hikeagiant2 said...

Lovely as always - the spurge has such an interesting flower - kind of stylized with what looks like a pin for a center. I'm told that triangular shaped notches in butterfly wings are evidence of encounters with bird beaks.
Thanks for all the wonderful sights.