I just cannot remember a July when it rained so many days in a row! I'm glad I have so many places near my home where I can run out for an hour or (if I am lucky) two, just to see what's in bloom. This week, I was especially eager to check on a population of an Endangered species called Whorled Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum verticillatum var. verticillatum) that grows on the shore of a cove of Moreau Lake. For nearly two years, its site had been under water as the lake rose right up into the surrounding woods. And despite all the rainfall this summer, the lake is back down to almost as low as it was the year I first discovered the Whorled Mountain Mint back in 2013. Would this really rare plant have made a recovery by now? I was eager to find out as I approached its site along the low sandy shore.
Before I reached the Mountain Mint site, I was delighted to see another truly rare plant -- Small-flowered Dwarf Bulrush, also rated as Endangered -- thriving in great numbers in the sand beneath my feet.
Called by the scientific name Cyperus subsquarrosus, this tiny flatsedge had not been reported from the shores of Moreau Lake since 1961 when we chanced upon it here back in 2018. That was a year when the lake water had fallen extremely low, allowing the seeds long waiting beneath the water to once again sprout and bear fruit. Then in 2019, Moreau Lake rose once again, sending the thousands of plants we had counted in 2018 back underwater. And here they were, back again, as thriving as ever, now that their seedbed has once again resurfaced.
I sure hope that, as with the case of the little flatsedge, the seeds might still be extant in the soil and just taking their time to regenerate. I also have hope that this year's flowering specimens will produce the seeds to rebuild the size of the population that once grew so abundantly here.
Although the New York Flora Association plant atlas shows this plant as having been reported from fewer than a dozen counties state wide, it still rates it as Ostensibly Secure in New York. It is not exactly a showy plant, with teeny-tiny flowers that hide in the leaf axils along the stem, so it's probably not a plant many folks would pause to admire or even take notice of (or collect and report to be vouchered by state botanists). I happen to love its gracefully slender green leaves and the furry little nubbins of its three-seeded flowers. I was just attempting to photograph these tiny, just-developing flowers when the third rainfall of the day started to threaten my camera, so I packed it away and saved that attempt for another less-rainy day.
The Hudson River at Moreau
Storm clouds towered high in the sky and rain spattered the windshield of my car as I drove to the shores of the Hudson River along Spier Falls Road today. But then the rain stopped, just as I reached the river. Should I chance a paddle before the next storm? Well, maybe just a short one, since the water lay so calm and serene and the beautiful view upstream beckoned to me like my own personal Bali ha'i.
And here was the first flower that made it worth taking that chance! Could there be a flower more gloriously red than the Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)?
And here were the flowers that tempted me here today despite the threat of storms! This trio of gorgeous Smaller Purple-fringed Orchids (Platanthera psycodes) had achieved the near-perfect bloom I was hoping to find.