Monday, September 11, 2017

A Happy Task At Pyramid Lake

 What a day to visit Pyramid Lake in the Adirondacks!  One of the nicest days we've had all summer, sunny and warm but cool in the shade, dry air, blue sky, calm wind.  Except for the trilling of Tree Crickets and the occasional haunting call of a loon, all was delightfully silent.   And there wasn't another soul around to break that silence. Not until my pals Bonnie and Bob arrived, that is.

Fellow plant-enthusiasts Bob and Bonnie had come to help me count the number of Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum var. macrophyllum) we could find.  I knew where lots of them grow, since I've been visiting them for years just outside the dining hall of the Pyramid Life Center, a retreat center situated here on this beautiful lake.  I've known these plants were here for at least 15 years, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I learned they were classified as an Endangered species in New York, the rarest category.  Well, endangered they may be, but they certainly never seemed to mind the rather unaccommodating situation beneath the kitchen porch, where they happily grow surrounding the trash cans and other stuff tossed beneath the kitchen's deck.

We counted around 50 individual plants of varying sizes, from those that bore flowering stalks (now topped with burs) to those that looked as if they were juvenile plants, not yet mature enough to bear the small yellow blooms this native wildflower puts forth in early summer.  Although this species has already been documented to exist in Essex County,  the New York Flora Association likes to keep track of rare-plant populations,  and we will be happy to report that this looks like a large and healthy one of this Endangered species.

Our botanical task completed, the three of us set out for a pleasant hike around the western shore of the lake. Our trail took us through a mossy, pine-needle-carpeted woods now studded with many fascinating fungi.  One of those fungi was this nearly black mushroom with creamy-white gills that Bob later identified as the very descriptively named Chocolate Milky (Lactarius lignyotus).

A very dark chocolate, indeed!

Eventually, the trail led up a rocky mountainside to a ledge where we could gaze out across the lake toward this gorgeous view of Pharaoh Mountain in the distance. The last stretch of this trail proved steep and rather precarious, so we were glad to rest a bit on this ledge, enjoying the spacious view as well as the scent of sun-warmed Sweet Fern that surrounded us there.

Tired but happy, we said our good-byes, and I was already leaving the parking lot when I had to pull over and jump from my car to get a better look at a beautiful patch of Common Hedge Nettle (Stachys tenuifolia) growing by a small stream.  Its purple blooms looked especially pretty set off by the tiny clustered white flowers of Arrow-leaved Tearthumb (Persicaria sagittata).  I had seen this Mint-family plant blooming profusely here in mid-July, so it was quite a surprise to find a large patch of them still in perfect bloom.

Common Hedge Nettle is certainly worth a closer look, to enjoy the lovely moire pattern on its florets' lower lips.

One more precipitous pull-over occurred along the center's long access road when I spied these furry tendrils arrayed across some marble outcroppings.  These are the seedheads of American Purple Clematis (Clematis occidentalis var. occidentalis), and I had promised one of my friends who propagates native plants that I would try to obtain some seeds for her.  Mission accomplished!

1 comment:

The Furry Gnome said...

Pyramid Lake looks like a beautiful place!