Friday, June 23, 2017

A Visit to Pyrola-ville

My pal Sue still had another day free to wander with me this week, and on Thursday we chose another favorite nature haunt, one that we've made up our own special name for.   We call it Pyrola-ville. This is a section of the many-acred Cole's Woods in downtown Glens Falls, where five years ago we came upon a large population of One-sided Pyrola (Orthilia secunda), a flower we'd found nowhere else in our regular wanderings. We try to revisit this wooded plot each year, and I'm happy to report that One-sided Pyrola continues to thrive where we've always found it, in our special Pyrola-ville.  Here's what it looks like when it's in bloom, as it was this week:

One-sided Pyrola (another common name is Sidebells Wintergreen) is not at all easy to find on the crowded forest floor, being small and greenish and hiding amid lots of other low green plants with similar leaves, such as this Shinleaf Pyrola (Pyrola elliptica) pictured below, which was just coming into bloom this week.  But since Shinleaf Pyrola is bigger and whiter of bloom than our little Orthilia, we can spy it first,  and that's when we know to start searching for the Shinleaf's more minimal cousin.

Another common denizen of Pyrola-ville is the glossy-leaved Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata), which this week is dangling small rosy orbs, the buds of its pink-tinged white flowers.

More glossy green leaves belong to the masses of Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) carpeting this and many other sections of Cole's Woods.  This week, those glossy green patches are spangled with the tiny white twin trumpets that will eventually produce the bright-red berries.  This is the only plant I know of that requires two fertilized flowers to produce one berry.  Plenty of last year's berries still decorate these beautiful patches. Can you see how each berry possesses two blossom ends?

As for red berries, now is the time to be dazzled by the spectacular display put on by Red-berried Elder shrubs (Sambucus racemosa).  Go look for them in a woods near you, or stop by for a walk in Cole's Woods.  We passed by many of these gorgeous shrubs on our way to Pyrola-ville.

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