Just a week ago, I drove over to Rensselaer County to visit Canal Park at Lock 4 of the Champlain Canal on the Hudson River. This is always a beautiful park to visit, with trails that follow the canal as well as the banks of the Hoosic River, which joins the Hudson at this location. The lock itself is worth the trip, a place to watch both shipping barges and pleasure boats line up to pass through its gates.
But I was here to see if one of New York's rare plants had come into bloom. And I wasn't disappointed. As I approached the junction of the Hoosic with the Hudson, I found abundant patches of Creeping Bushclover (Lespedeza repens) spilling over the low banks of the canal. I had never seen quite so many of its pretty pinky-puple flowers crowding its sprawling stems. This plant is rated as a Rare species in the state, and has yet to be reported as blooming in Rensselaer County. A specimen has now been collected (thanks, Ruth Brooks!) and sent off to the New York Flora Association to be vouchered as present in this county.
Parts of the Hoosic River here have banks that consist of high shale cliffs, and with the water levels low enough this time of year, I could walk beneath those cliffs by treading carefully on convoluted rocks. I'm always curious to see what plants claim this kind of territory as their preferred habitat.
Two rivers, two rare plants. I've always thought Canal Park was a special place. I just didn't know until now how very special it was!
UPDATE: On Monday, 9/14, my friend Ruth Brooks came back to Canal Park with me to get a more accurate count of the Provancher's Fleabane rosettes that were sprouting out of the shale banks of the Hoosic River. I had mentioned, oh, a couple dozen, before. But on this day, looking more closely and working together, we stopped counting after we approached 200 plants! And then, a bit later, we almost stepped on a specimen IN PERFECT FULL BLOOM! This was growing on shale that was closer to the water some distance upstream, and I would have missed it entirely if Ruth hadn't seen it first. I managed to get a better photo of this one's flowers: