An east/west powerline intersects a north/south lane in the middle of the densely wooded Daniels Road State Forest Preserve, just north of Saratoga. Two straight lines, easy walking, no way to get lost in the woods. A friend had told me about an abundant patch of Purple Milkwort (Polygala sanguinea) alongside this powerline, the flowers massed just steps from the preserve's parking area, he said. So on Friday, off I went to find them, driving north about a mile into the woods to the parking area, then headed east on the powerline. I could easily see this intersection pictured below from where I parked my car.
When I saw the bright-yellow blooms of Nodding Bur-marigold (Bidens cernua), I guessed that it had found its way to a bit of a wetland beneath these powerlines. Sure enough, as I approached, I stepped down into a swale that was thick with the barbed stems of Arrowleaf Tearthumb grabbing at my pantlegs, and my feet could feel soft damp soil beneath my shoes.
There were also rocky outcroppings along the powerline, perfect habitat for many interesting mosses and lichens and clubmosses. I recognized the spiky Bristly Haircap Moss (Polytricum piliferum) poking up through these wavy-leaved mounds of a gray-green lichen, but I will have to ask one of my bryologist friends to help me put a name to the lichen. I found it beautiful, but it was quite unfamiliar to me.
The grassy meadows under the powerline had their own way of being beautiful. I particularly love our native Little Bluestem Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) in the fall, when its fine stalks (more red than blue!) hold fluffy tufts of the seedheads all along the stems.