Sunday, April 18, 2021

Wildflower Extravaganza at Glowegee Creek Preserve

The land-preservation organization Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land And Nature) recently announced the opening of a new nature preserve near Galway (Saratoga County), and it sounded like this preserve would offer a marvelous woods and waterway to explore.  The Glowegee Creek tumbles along a portion of the trail, and a geological fault runs through the site, bringing limestone to the surface and offering what PLAN describes as "a plethora of spring wildflowers" throughout the forested land. Well, all right!  Gotta check this OUT! So my friend Sue Pierce and I headed over there on a sunny warm day this past week, and we can assure you that that description only begins to describe the amazing wildflower extravaganza we encountered. (The photo below shows Sue ambling along a well-groomed trail that offers about a three-mile round trip through the center of the preserve.)

We had barely entered the woods near the start of the trail's north end when we encountered the first of thousands and thousands of Early Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum giganteum) that flourish there,  acres of these native wildflowers solidly covering whole hillsides.

The Early Blue Cohosh leaves turn green as they fully open, and everything you can see that is green in the photo below is Early Blue Cohosh. And this is just a short stretch of the Cohosh-covered hillside that slopes down from a limestone ridge.

Very nearly as prolific in this portion of the woods is Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana), and it was certainly in its glory the day we were there!

Such an aptly named flower, Spring Beauty!

These Spring Beauty blooms had popped up amidst the lacy leaves of one more plant that thrives in this woods in extraordinary numbers, the native wildflower called Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis).

We had arrived about a week too early to find the Squirrel Corn in full bloom, but we did find a few greenish specimens of its heart-shaped flowers on their way to turning the pure white they will be at their peak of bloom.


While those first three flowers I mentioned were the most prolific denizens of this limestone underlaid woods, there were other equally lovely flowers that grow here abundantly, too. We found a whole hillside of Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) bearing snowy-white flowers above their beautifully patterned leaves.


We spied the broad green leaves of Red Trillium (Trillium erectum) throughout the woods, and a few of them had opened their buds to display the rich-red flowers within.

At least two species of lime-loving, broad-leaved sedges (Carex spp.) were blooming throughout the preserve, and both bore flowering spikes topped with tousle-haired yellow male flowers. Spindly white threads, the female flowers, protruded along the stems.

We were too early to catch any blooms on the Virginia Water Leaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum), but we didn't need to see flowers to recognize these compound leaves that appear to have been spotted by water droplets.  Another limestone lover, this plant will bear clusters of pale-purple flowers later in the spring.

We soon heard the sound of rushing water and promptly arrived at this little bridge that carried us across the picturesque Glowegee Creek, a tributary of the larger Kayaderosseras Creek that eventually empties into Saratoga Lake.

What a lovely rushing, splashing, tumbling stream this is, shaded by tall trees and dappled with whatever sunshine can make it through the tree canopy, causing the still or splashing water to both sparkle and gleam.

Rather than proceeding much further toward the south end of the trail, we dallied along the creek banks, watching the water ripple around moss-covered mid-stream rocks and admiring the exuberant spring-green display of False Hellebore leaves (Veratrim viride).

The Spicebush shrubs (Lindera benzoin) that lined the creekbank bore puffs of vivid-yellow blooms along their slender, wide-reaching branches.

A flat leafy liverwort (Conocephalum sp.?) grew on the damp mossy banks, and most of the patches bore these tiny mushroom-shaped spore-distributing organs.

And what's a good creek without a frog to inhabit it? This Green Frog leapt away at our approach, but it promptly turned to inspect us with its golden-rimmed shining eyes. Perhaps the frog felt well-enough camouflaged that it could safely remain.  And it would be right!  Just look at how perfectly its ripple-patterned back blends with the green-and-gold ripples of the sun-dappled stream.

I'm sure most folks could easily complete this three-mile, there-and-back-again trail in a little more than an hour, but we wildflower nerds have to stop every few feet to examine and photograph our trailside finds.  So the morning was heading toward afternoon now, and we had barely completed half of the distance. Our stomachs were reminding us that we still had nearly a mile-long hike back to our cars before we could head toward the Village Ristorante and Pizzaria in Galway, where we had planned to have lunch.  So we planned to return the first sunny warm day next week, to approach from the south and see what we missed of this truly spectacular preserve.  But first, we had to stop to admire and photograph one more pretty wildflower here, this bright-yellow early-blooming Round-leaved Violet (Viola rotundifolia).


Anonymous said...

For the record: Glowegee flows into the Kayaderosseras Creek, which empties into Saratoga Lake. Fish Creek flows out of the lake to the Hudson River.

Bonnie Vicki said...

What a wonderful find. Yet another place to explore.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Oops! I KNEW that! Thanks, Anonymous, for catching my error. I will edit.

Bonnie, I would love it if we could explore this preserve together.

The Furry Gnome said...

What a wonderful place for a walk! All familiar flowers here.

Woody Meristem said...

Looks like a wonderful wildflower garden, it's fortunate it's been protected.

Unknown said...

Lovely photos, looks like a great place to explore...with all that limestone, any signs of anything orchidaceous?

threecollie said...

What a wonderful thing to find a new place to wander and watch! So glad for you.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, friends, for stopping by my blog, and for leaving your kind comments. I love knowing you come along with me on my wanderings, especially when I hope to promote a newly opened trail. The land-conservation organization Saratoga PLAN has protected many similar woodland properties around Saratoga County, as well as acres and acres of farmland now perpetually reserved for agriculture.

Regarding finding signs of orchids in limestone-underlaid woods, the only orchid I would expect to find in such a calcareous habitat would be Yellow Lady's Slipper. Possibly, a Ram's Head Lady's Slipper, but they are exceedingly rare. All of the other orchids I have found in my part of New York have been in acidic bogs, poor fens, or pine woods.