Looking for Wildflowers Along the Mohawk

Posted April 28, 2014 by nyflora
Categories: Field Trips, Plant Places, Plant Sightings

By Steve Young

20140427-185313.jpgI took a stroll along the Mohawk Bike Path in Aqueduct, Niskayuna today to see what wildflowers I could find. The trail runs at the base of a slope where it meets the floodplain of small creeks flowing into the Mohawk River. Here are the wildflowers that greeted me along the way.

One of the first wildflowers visible was the beautiful bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis

One of the first wildflowers visible was the beautiful bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis.

Some of them were already in fruit.

Some of them were already in fruit.

Early blue cohosh, Caulophyllum giganteum, flowers as the leaves expand.

Early blue cohosh, Caulophyllum giganteum, flowers as the leaves expand.

Enless patterns of trout lily leaves.

The endless patterns of trout lily leaves,  Erythronium americanum, continue to amaze.

Trout lily in bud.

Most trout lilies were in bud.

A few of the flowers were open!

A few of the flowers were open!

Some mayapple leaves, Podophyllum peltatum, were still tightly folded, waiting for warmer weather.

Some mayapple leaves, Podophyllum peltatum, were still tightly folded, waiting for warmer weather.

Others were on their way out, like unfolding butterfly wings.

Others were on their way out, like unfolding butterfly wings.

Virginia waterleaf, Hydrophyllum virginianum, was actually wet from the light showers.

Virginia waterleaf, Hydrophyllum virginianum, was actually wet from the light showers.

But its common name actually comes from the leaf pattern that looks like water droplets covering the leaves.

But its common name actually comes from the leaf pattern that looks like water droplets covering the leaves.

Sharp-leaved hepatica was in flower but the flowers were mostly closed in the wet weather.

Sharp-lobed hepatica, Anemone acutiloba,  was in flower but the flowers were mostly closed in the wet weather.

The showers added water droplets to the fuzzy leaves of common mullein, Verbascum thapsus.

The showers added water droplets to the fuzzy leaves of common mullein, Verbascum thapsus.

The sun came out at times and the these leaves of early meadow rue, Thalictrum dioicum, were lit up from behind.

The sun came out at times and the these leaves of early meadow rue, Thalictrum dioicum, were lit up from behind.

Wetland sedges arise from their old leaf bases in a vernal pond.

Wetland sedges arise from their old leaf bases in a vernal pond.

Red elderberry flowers are still in bud and the leaves look strange.

Red elderberry flowers, Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa, are still in bud and the leaves look like something is affecting them.

Other wildflowers were still in leaf, like many of the violets, but I look forward to coming back with the Friday Field Group this week to see how far along thing are .

 

Adirondack Botanical Society Announces 2014 Field Trips

Posted March 18, 2014 by nyflora
Categories: Classes and Workshops, Field Trips

The Adirondack Botanical Society is pleased to announce its list of summer 2014 field trips and workshops including a bike hike and a canoe trip. These trips are for everyone from interested enthusiasts to professional botanists. Contact information for each trip leader is below so please contact them before the trip. All trips have a size limit. We hope to see you in the field!

To see the descriptions of the field trips CLICK HERE.

Wetland and Aquatic Plants of the Adirondacks Field Course

Posted March 11, 2014 by nyflora
Categories: Classes and Workshops

Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station will be hosting a 3-day intensive field course, “Wetland and Aquatic Plants of the Adirondacks” on August 11 – 13 this year. It will be taught by Dr. Michael Burgess, a systematic botanist and Amelanchier expert at SUNY Plattsburgh. It is open to all levels of experience and education.

 Details are at:
http://www.shingleshanty.org/education.html

NYFA Bark Workshop A Success

Posted October 29, 2013 by nyflora
Categories: Classes and Workshops

On Saturday October 26, Michael Wojtech, author of Bark, a field guide to trees of the Northeast, presented a workshop to help participants identify native trees in Eastern New York based on bark types.  Michael started out with an indoor class on the characteristics and ecology of bark and, using photos, tested us on how we thought bark on young trees would look on older trees.  By knowing the different types of bark – blocky, ropy, vertical strips, smooth, etc. – it was easier to guess how these bark types change over time.  After our classroom lesson, we were excited to get outdoors and walk the trails of the Albany Pine Bush to see the different types in nature.  We spent over an hour looking at oaks, pines, birches, cherries, maples and others and learning the techniques of bark identification to figure out closely related species like cottonwood, aspen and grey birch.  A great time was had by all and we look forward to trying out our new skills with other trees of the area.

We assembled outside the Pine Bush Discovery Center before heading off to the yellow trail.

We assembled outside the Pine Bush Discovery Center on a chilly day before heading off to the yellow trail.

Michael showed us how some bark types, like black cherry, form scales that peel off easily.

Michael showed us how some bark types, like black cherry, form scales that peel off easily.

A cut stump illustrates where the wood transitions to the bark.

A cut stump illustrates how the wood transitions to the bark.

Often, the bark on the lower part of the tree is quite different than the bark higher in the tree.

Often, the bark on the lower part of the tree is quite different than the bark higher in the tree.

A real treat! The bark of a young American chestnut, smooth with small white lenticels.

A real treat! The bark of a young American chestnut, smooth with small white lenticels.

Unfortunately it was not longed for this world as it has already been attacked by the chestnut blight.

Unfortunately it was not longed for this world as it has already been attacked by the chestnut blight.

Amazingly it had produced some fruit that we found along the trail.

Amazingly it had produced some fruit that we found along the trail.

For more information about Michael’s bark book and workshops you can visit his website http://www.knowyourtrees.com. We thank him for a very interesting and informative workshop. – Steve Young

Orchids Are For All Ages

Posted September 30, 2013 by nyflora
Categories: Field Trips, People

Liana Williams, age 5, enjoys botanizing and birdwatching with grandma (and NYFA Board member) Connie Tedesco. For the last 3 years they have taken a fall walk on Whalen Hill, near Hartwick NY, to find the Spiranthes cernua along the trail, occasional among the clubmosses.  Liana was the first to spot one this year and shows it off for the camera.

Liana finds happiness in an autumn orchid.

Liana finds happiness in an autumn orchid.

Japanese Knotweed Male and Female Plants

Posted September 9, 2013 by nyflora
Categories: Natural History, Plant Biology

by Steve Young

Today I accompanied Dr. Carl George from Union College into the field to look at the differences between male and female plants of Japanese knotweed, Fallopia japonica. Our first stop was an area in Glenville with multiple clones of the plants, one of them female and the others male.  What are the distinguishing characters?  Male plants have erect inflorescences with bright white flowers and bigger leaves. These characters can be seen driving by in a car. The female plants are usually smaller with erect and drooping flower branches which are not as bright, probably due to the winged tepals and darker ovaries not present in the male plants. The male plants have flowers with five white petals that are spreading outward. They have long white stamens that are longer than the petals and we did not see any pollen in the open anthers.  At the base of the flowers are tiny ovaries.  The female plants have large ovaries topped by a three-parted stigma and small staminodes at the base.  The five tepals are open when flowering starts and eventually three of them form large wings around the fruit.  The remaining two tepals remain small in size, become erect and, hidden by the wings, they enclose the fruit.  Today we saw four different populations of male plants, some of them large, but most of the plants we saw in the area were female.  This is a good time of year to distinguish the two sexes so take time to look at the clones in your area and see if you can distinguish them.

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Here you can see the male plants on the right and the female plants on the left of a clone of sumac.

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Notice the large size of the male clone with the erect bright white flowers.  Carl George examines the flowers.

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The male plants also had larger leaves than the female plants.

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Notice how the female inflorescences also have drooping branches.

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Here are young female flowers with five tepals about the same size and older flowers with three of the sepals developed into the wings that surround the fruit.

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Here are the upright male flowers with the long stamens sticking out.

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The hollow stems have a groove above the branches and they arise in a spiral fashion up the stem.

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A large male clone can be seen along a road in Pattersonville.  The erect inflorescences are easily recognized. Even though they are swarming with honey bees, Dr. George found there is no pollen reward and their pollen sacs are empty.

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Here is another male plant in downtown Albany not far from a stand of female plants.

Fallopia japonica Edwards east male (1)

The male plants are still easily distinguished in late September after the flowers fall because the upright branches remain while the female plants are still laden with white female flowers and fruits.

The NYFA Annual Meeting Was Fun For All

Posted June 27, 2013 by nyflora
Categories: Field Trips, Happenings, NY Flora Association

By Steve Young

On May fifth NYFA began their annual meeting and field trip with a visit to Nelson Swamp near Nelson, NY. We met on a beautiful sunny day just outside the village of Cazenovia and carpooled to a parking spot that provided easy access to the swamp.

Field trip participants walk into the swamp.

Field trip participants walk into the swamp.

The participants divided into two smaller groups so we would have less impact on sensitive areas. While some of us explored the mosaic of marsh and white cedar swamp to the west, the other group went into the swamp to take a look at spreading globeflower.

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In one area we came across a beautiful expanse of false hellebore (Veratrum viride) in its early stages of growth as well as some nice meadows of Carex bromoides (“the other hummock sedge” as David Werier describes it). At the appointed time we exchanged places with the other group and listened to Dr. Sara Scanga talk about her work with Spreading globeflower (Trollius laxus) before heading into the swamp to look at the plant for real.

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For some of the group it was the first time they had seen globeflower and Sara explained all of the interesting facets of its growth and ecology. You can learn more about her work HERE.

Group in Nelson

Fortunately the plants were in full flower and put on a real show for us.

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You can learn more about spreading globeflower in New York at the NY Natural Heritage Conservation Guide.

After the field trip we drove to board member Ed Frantz’s house near Cazenovia and enjoyed a delicious and bountiful lunch provided by Ed and his family. After lunch came a short business meeting with a board member vote followed by the first annual botanical quiz given by yours truly from an iPhone app called “Angiosperms.” Even though there were a lot of groans at the questions, I think everyone enjoyed participating, especially the two groups that tied for the win!

Board members Rich Ring and Andy Nelson with wife Mary Anne enjoying the lunch at Ed's house.

Board members Rich Ring and Andy Nelson with wife Mary Anne enjoying the botanical quiz.

We finished off the day’s activities by voting for the 2014 Wildflower of the Year, a tradition that we will have every year to honor and publicize a member of our flora for the next calendar year. This year’s win went to cardinal flower, one of our most spectacular and well-known wildflowers.

Cardinal flower at Indian Lake in the Adirondacks.

Cardinal flower at Indian Lake in the Adirondacks.

Many thanks go to the organizers of the field trip and luncheon and to the record number of participants we had for the meeting.  It was one to remember.

 


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