Archive for April 2009

Invasive Species in WNY: the battle continues

April 29, 2009

Eighteen enthusiastic volunteers from SUNY-Fredonia and the Nature Sanctuary Society of Western New York visited the Alexander Preserve in Zoar Valley on April 25th to remove several invasive species within the Preserve in honor of Earth Week.  Target species of choice for removal were daylily and bush honeysuckle. Daylily is currently limited to a slowly expanding linear patch along the road just before the trail that leads to the bottomland portion of the Preserve.  At first glance, removing the daylily by hand with 18 people seemed possible, but the wet clay soils hampered our ability to separate the tuberous roots from the substrate and it was slow going. removing-daylily1 Some progress was made but we are re-thinking our strategy and making plans to return, perhaps to try another method. In the photos below, you can see a few trout lilies managing to flower among the daylilies.

Young bush honeysuckles are present in scattered patches throughout portions of the Preserve and these we simply pulled by hand.  It was somewhat gratifying (though with mixed emotions) to view the private property on the opposite side of the Cattaragus River, which has not been managed for invasive species, and realize the difference that vigilance in removing bush honeysuckle makes.

Tree illustrating the effects of subsidence.

Pulling bush honeysuckle within Alexander Preserve.

Rewards for the day included sightings of Frasera caroliniensis rosettes just emerging, bluebells beginning to flower, emerging garlic leeks, and flowering spicebush.  The landscape is undergoing a period of massive subsidence and several trees has split right up the trunk as a result of competing forces.  Quite an amazing landscape indeed.


Trout lillies growing in daylily patch.

Frasera caroliniensis rosettes emerging

Frasera caroliniensis rosettes emerging.

National Phenology Network website

April 29, 2009

Besides the Central New York effort described below there is a national effort to monitor phenology.  From their website –  The USA National Phenology Network brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and students of all ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the United States. The network harnesses the power of people and the Internet to collect and share information, providing researchers with far more data than they could collect alone. To join the network go to:

Visit Project Budbreak

April 28, 2009

What is Project Budbreak?   The web site has been established to help citizen scientists observe the effects of climate change on native plants in central New York.

Associated with a national effort, a network of citizen scientists is being established in central New York to observe the timing of flowering, leaf development, fruiting, and leaf drop in populations of common native trees and herbaceous species. This site will help observers to enter their data on the timing of important plant events through the growing season.

After registering as a participant, you will set up 1 or more sites that you will be observing regularly. For each site, you will set up 1 or more individual plants for which you will periodically record phenological data. – Information from the budbreak website.

You can find it at

Answers to maple flower quiz

April 28, 2009

Number 1: Red maple male flowers.  Everything is red!

Number 2: Silver maple female flowers: The fruits are hairy.

Number 3: Boxelder maple male flowers: The stamens are very long.

Number 4: Norway maple perfect flowers: Large petals and bright yellow-green.

Maple flower plant quiz

April 26, 2009

Look at the images below and see if you can guess to which species they belong.  Maple trees are polygamodioecious.  Some are all male and some are all female but sometimes parts of the tree can have male flowers and some parts female.   Answers tomorrow.

Riverside Ice Meadows featured in Wildflower Magazine

April 25, 2009

An article by Bibi Stein in Wildflower Magazine’s Spring 2009 issue features the natural communities and plants of the riverside ice meadows at South of the Glen, in Warrensburg.  Read it at The magazine is published by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Research Center in Austin, TX. – Steve Young

Invasive Species Removal in Western New York

April 24, 2009
On Saturday April 25th, SUNY-Fredonia students and interested members of the public will visit the Alexander Preserve in Zoar Valley and devote the day to removal of invasive species within the Preserve in honor of Earth Week.Mertensia virginica The Preserve is owned and managed by the Nature Sanctuary Society of Western New York, which restricts visitation to the Preserve in order to protect it’s vulnerable and precious resources. This day will offer volunteers a rare opportunity to visit this beautiful area and contribute to it’s protection. Expect to see a large stand of bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and other spring flowers and incredible geology including mass wasting on a scale not often seen!  If you would like to join the group, please call Jon and Priscilla Titus at 716-679-4509 or Priscilla’s cell at 716-969-0800 before 8:30 AM on Saturday April 25th for directions to the site, or meet us in the SUNY-Fredonia Jewitt Hall Parking lot at 9:55 AM on Saturday to carpool to the site.

Early risers showing up

April 21, 2009

Late April is a good time to see our wildflower flora coming back to life after a long winter.  You can spot individual species coming up before the rush of May and June when hundreds of species are blooming.  In and around the red maple swamp at the end of my street in Schenectady County I have seen blooming coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, hummock sedge, Carex stricta, skunk cabbage, and Symplocarpus foetidus.  There are also the ever-present winter leaves of garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata. – Steve Young

When will plant manuals go digital?

April 20, 2009

I just finished reading an article entitled “How The E-book Will Change The Way We Read And Write” in the April 20 Wall Street Journal. It makes me wonder when our plant manuals will become available electronically and all we have to take into the field is an ebook reader instead of those heavy manuals.  Maybe some manuals are, I just don’t have a Kindle to find out.  I imagine that we will soon be accessing manuals and online identification websites through e-readers, smartphones, or netbooks.  It will be interesting to see if it makes plant identification easier. I tend to like indented keys rather than bracketed or random access keys which many websites feature.  When the hardware becomes light enough and portable enough and the the internet is accessible in most places, we should see an increase the the ease of identifying plants.  Maybe sites like Twitter could provide instant identifications from others monitoring the site.  The future holds many possibilities to make it easier for the amateur and professional as well to identify our native flora. – Steve Young

Hairy Bittercress re-discovered in Schenectady County

April 19, 2009

While walking along my neighborhood street I spotted a small (about 4 inches tall) member of the Brassicaceae growing in masses in the dirt of a yard.  I had not seen this before and at first glance thought it might be a Draba.  It turns out that is is a European weed called hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta.  The NY Flora Atlas describes its habitat as, “Disturbed soils, waste places, roadsides, railroad edges, thickets, and occasionally rocky summits and bluffs. A common non-native species of thin dry soils it sometimes occurs in native habitats.” It may be common  but it is only vouchered in the Atlas for Long Island, Lower Hudson area, St. Lawrence, Otsego and Allegheny counties.  However, Ted Baim, who wrote the flora of Schenectady County, collected it from “mossy limestone ledges in Wolf Hollow, Glenville.”  He collected a specimen which I assume is at the state museum.  Keep a lookout for this very early-blooming little exotic wildflower. – Steve Young


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