Monday, September 7, 2015

Native Abundance Along Spring Run

Well, it's bad enough to have a bum knee, but now my back's out of whack, too. Not surprising, considering my uneven gait of late that tends to contort my body.  I've heard that one of the best way to treat back spasms is to get up and walk, but my swollen knee says, no, let's not walk too far.  And besides, it's steamy hot out.   So where could I walk that was easy on my knee and maybe moved among trees that provided some shade?  How about the Spring Run Trail right here in Saratoga?

Yes, the Spring Run Trail seemed just the ticket.  Level and paved and lined with trees, it also follows a brook with rippling waters that provide at least an illusion of coolness.

I didn't expect to find many native plants here along this trail that was once an old railroad right-of-way.  Disturbed soils like these are usually home to our most aggressive invasive plants, and yes, there were plenty of those, like stretches of nothing but masses of Japanese Knotweed.  But in many areas along the trail, those invasive plants have been kept in check by vigorous stands of native plants, such as the Tall Goldenrod and Common Milkweed shown pushing back here in this photo.

There was plenty of the alien invader Purple Loosestrife, too.  But in many places our native plants, such as these Cattails and Bonesets and Joe-Pye Weeds, have crowded around to keep it in its place.

All around this pool, I could see masses of spent flower stalks of Purple Loosestrife, but I also saw bright-yellow patches of Sneezeweed, one of our native wetland plants, growing happily here.

I stopped to stare in amazement at these towering flowers that looked like Joe-Pye Weed on steroids.  I'm pretty certain, because of their extraordinary size, that they are a plant that is closely related to Joe-Pye Weed, called Trumpetweed.

In well-shaded stretches, the trailside ditches were filled with masses of Spotted Jewelweed.

In sunnier spots, the Evening Primroses were opening their yellow blooms by mid-afternoon.

There were asters of many kinds in abundance all along the trail, the most vivid of which were the stunning New England Asters, the most brightly colored of all our native asters.

Another pretty aster that thrives along this trail is the Panicled Aster with its paler purple flowers.  Here, a big clump of it arches over the creek.

Frothy mounds of White Snakeroot lightened the shadows under the trees.

I was truly stunned to find a thriving patch of Great Lobelia, with its intensely blue flowers climbing the stems.  I find this beautiful native wildflower only occasionally, and it sure had found a niche to its liking here, as it spread along a good stretch of creekbank.

Those Lobelias would have been hard to miss, unlike this diminutive plant, Northern Willow Herb, with its tiny pink flowers, hiding under the surrounding greenery.

I'm sure I would have missed seeing these Water Plantains growing in a muddy ditch if the sun had not lit up their multitudinous seed pods.  A few weeks back, these plants would have been covered with tiny three-parted white flowers.

No chance at all I would have missed seeing this berry cluster.  Its blue-black fruits might have been able to hide from view, but that hot-pink stalk shouts the presence of Pokeberry to all passers-by.  These fruits are so beautiful, you'd think they'd be delicious.  But no, they're not edible, at least not by humans, in whom they can cause severe digestive upset, without being fatal.  I've heard that birds can eat them, though, and I'm always glad to see them.


The Furry Gnome said...

Surprising number of interesting natives you found on that trail! Sorry about the back as well as the knee though!

Sara Rall said...

Beautiful flowers! I love poke berries as well. The first "joe pye" I learned was your trumpet weed, so I'm always surprised at "short" joe pyes.

threecollie said...

Thank you, thank you for the snakeroot id! I have a patch of it in one of my flower beds that I let stay because it is kind of pretty but I am terrible at plants so I didn't even begin to know where to look to identify it. Sorry to read about your back!