h my gosh, the forecast is for close to 90 degrees this coming Thursday! That's the day I'm leading my friends in the Thursday Naturalists along Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail, just east of Saratoga Springs. Thankfully, most of the trail is shaded, as it was the day this past week I went out to preview our route.
I started my preview at the Rte. 29 entrance to the trail, and I had hardly set foot on the trail before I saw the Wild Geraniums (Geranium maculatum
) in full beautiful bloom.
Starring the path as I made my way along were dozens of these tiny white flowers called Grove Sandwort (Moehringia lateriflora
). They are not considered a rare plant in New York, but the only place I ever see them in Saratoga County is along this Bog Meadow Brook Trail.
Of course, I find Wild Strawberries (Fragaria virginiana
) almost everywhere, from open dry meadows to suburban lawns, to the grassy verge of Bog Meadow Trail.
According to New York's Natural Heritage Foundation, Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum
) is disappearing from many parts of its original range, but here along Bog Meadow Trail they still find a happy home.
It was only last year that I first found Rose Twisted Stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus
) along this trail, and only one multi-stemmed cluster, at that. But I'm planning to show my friends this week what a pretty plant it is. If I can find it again, that is. It's kind of hiding under some shrubs, but I did mark the spot when I found it earlier this week.
With so many beautiful flowers along this trail, it's hard to say I have a favorite. But if I did, Star-flowered Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum
) would have to be among the top contenders. The blue-green leaves alone are really lovely, but that cluster of dainty pure-white, star-shaped blooms sure add the crowning touch. And in the 15 years or so I've been walking this trail, they have spread from maybe 10 plants in one location to at least a hundred in a hundred-foot stretch of the trail.
Ah, but didn't I just say it was hard to name a favorite flower? Who could resist the dainty beauty of Starflower (Lysimachia borealis
), another top contender.
The small greenish-white bloom of Dwarf Raspberry (Rubus pubescens
) probably wouldn't win any beauty contest, but its jewel-red juicy berries are certainly a treat to find along this trail.
Ot the two Baneberries we have, the Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra
) is the first to bloom, and its flower cluster is more closely spherical than that of the White Baneberry. Its pedicels are thinner, too, but that's a feature that needs the two species side-by-side to appreciate.
If we were to wander way off the trail, I could lead my friends to masses of Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea
) blooming at the edge of a wooded swamp. But here was a single plant blooming right in the middle of the trail. Whew! We can save our energy on what promises to be a sweltering day.
How accommodating of this Red Maple tree (Acer rubrum
) to bend one bough down low, so I could gaze at the gorgeous red of its seeds. I hope they're still hanging on for my friends to see on Thursday.
When I reached the spot where the wooded swamp's standing water comes close to the trail, I was surprised to see that Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris
) was still in glorious bloom.
And here's what I was truly hoping to see: Bog Buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata
), and with more flower clusters than I have seen in many years. Some years I can't find any. I can't wait to show this flower to my friends.
Here's another flower that likes swampy soil: Hooked Crowfoot (Ranunculus recurvatus
). Yes, the flowers are very small, but their glossy bright-yellow blooms shine like stars in the murk of the forested swamp.
Of our two basal-leaved tiny white violets, one of them, Viola pallens
, generally prefers wetter soil than does its look-alike, Viola blanda.
Since this cluster of pretty white violets had taken up residence on a hummock of Tussock Sedge (Carex stricta) out in the open water, I guess I will assume it is Viola pallens
, sometimes called Northern White Violet.
Another pretty violet, this one the stemmed violet called Dog Violet (Viola labradorica
) was carpeting a grassy verge.
Not nearly so pretty as those violets, but worth a closer look if they're still in bloom, are the flowering stalks of Hairy Wood Rush (Luzula acuminata
). They're very small and delicate, so they're very easy to overlook, but I know where a nice big clump can be found.
Another plant I hope is still in "bloom" is the Woodland Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum
), which bears its attractive cone-like strobilus (its spore-bearing organ) atop a stem that is whorled with lacy branching leaves. I really don't know the accurate figures, but it seems to me that only one out of a hundred of these horsetails bears a strobilus.
On our way up a hill to where we have spotted some cars to return us to the trailhead, we will encounter a bank that is shimmering with the lacy, trembling fronds of Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum
). I can't think of a prettier farewell to our walk along Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail.