Archive for July 2010

In Search of Long Island Rare Plants 2 – White-edge Sedge

July 8, 2010

From Steve Young – NY Natural Heritage Program

Earlier in June I travelled down to the South Fork of Long Island where, with funding from The Nature Conservancy, I explored various natural areas in search of rare plant populations that have not been seen in 20 years or more. A sedge that had not been surveyed recently was Carex debilis var. debilis or white-edge sedge. The orginal surveys were somewhat vague in their location information so my object was to find them again and update their locations with GPS and obtain quality and quantity information for each population.  One of the locations was Big Reed Pond, north of the village of Montauk. After a long walk on the beautiful trails, I found the population that turned out to be in good condition but containing only about 10 plants.

The fern-filled understory of the swamp forest.

Carex debilis var. debilis is a open clump-forming sedge with culms that tend to be lax.

The clumps were along a small trail in the understory of red maple, black gum and oaks.

The perigynia of this variety are drooping, have no hairs and are the longest of the species, averaging about 7 mm long. The beak and the edges of the scales are white-edged and translucent.

On my walk back to the parking lot I passed the memorial plaque to Joe Beitel, a well-known botanist from Long Island that sadly, I never had a chance to meet in person.

Nearing the parking lot the forest turns to shrubland with interesting plants like winged sumac and the two Southern arrowwood varieties (more about these varieties in a future post).

The hairy stems of winged sumac.

And its beautiful leaves.

On the way back to my base of operation I passed a wet sandy swale that was full of the rare threadleaf sundew or dew-thread, Drosera filiformis. The sun shining at a low angle produced small clouds of dew above the surface.

In New York, these sundews are only found in Suffolk County.

The long leaves are covered with sticky glands that capture insects.

Also hidden among the sundews was one of the few populations of Carolina clubmoss, Pseudolycopodiella caroliniana,  that exists in New York.  Interestingly, this species has one population in Suffolk County, one in Nassau County and one way up in a fen near Lake George, an unexpected distribution.

This species has small, light green prostrate creeping stems. No strobili were evident yet on these plants.

I am going back to the South Fork next week to look for more of its interesting rare plants. I can’t wait.

Scientific Name Changes in the New Rare Plant Status List

July 7, 2010

The 2010 Rare Plant Status Lists contain some scientific name changes that are listed here, old name first then new name.  To see further explanations of why they were changed you can type the new name into the NY Flora Atlas. Some of the species are in Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and should be changed there too.

Aristolochia serpentaria - Endodeca serpentaria (In Newcomb’s)

Boechera shortii - Boechera dentata

Empetrum eamsii ssp. atropurpureum  – Empetrum atropurpureum

Empetrum nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum – Empetrum nigrum

Erechtites hieraciifolia – Erechtites hieraciifolius (In Newcomb’s)

Eriophorum angustifolium ssp. scabriusculum  – Eriophorum angustifolium ssp. angustifolium

Eupatorium hyssopifolium var. laciniatum – Eupatorium torreyanum

Eupatorium rotundifolium var. ovatum – Eupatorium pubescens

Helianthemum dumosum – Crocanthemum dumosum

Helianthemum propinquum  – Crocanthemum propinquum

Lespedeza violacea – Lespedeza frutescens (In Newcomb’s)

Loiseleuria procumbens – Kalmia procumbens (In Newcomb’s)

Neobeckia aquatica – Rorippa aquatica

Zigadenus elegans ssp. glaucus – Anticlea elegans ssp. glaucus

Zigadenus leimanthoides – Stenanthium leimanthoides

Flora Protected Around Hemlock and Canadice Lakes

July 7, 2010

From a DEC press release:

City of Rochester, State Preserve Last Two Undeveloped Finger Lakes in New York

(Thursday, July 1, 2010) – Rochester Mayor Robert J. Duffy and State Environmental Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today that New York State has completed the purchase of Hemlock and Canadice lakes from the City of Rochester for $13.7 million. The transaction, which has been in the works for over two years, will preserve and protect the last two undeveloped Finger Lakes – which have supplied water to Rochester for more than 130 years.

Of New York’s 11 Finger Lakes, Hemlock Lake and Canadice Lake are the only two with undeveloped shorelines. In 1895, the City recognized the value of protecting the source of its public water supply, and thus began acquiring watershed property adjacent to the lakes. By 1950, the City owned 7,000 acres of critical shoreline property. Cottages and houses were removed. Agricultural land was replanted to forest.

City stewardship of the lakes and adjacent lands over the last century has provided a superior water supply while also protecting valuable regional resources, including open space, wildlife habitat and fisheries. As a direct result of City efforts, these are the only Finger Lakes with no shoreline development.

The lakes have been identified as a “high priority” on the state’s Open Space Conservation Program since its inception in 1992 – state acquisition would remove the pressure on the City to sell off the buffer lands for development. Under the terms of the transaction, the state purchased approximately 7,000 acres of land in the towns of Livonia, Conesus, Springwater, Richmond and Canadice. The City will retain the use of the lakes, which serve as much of its drinking-water supply.

Per agreement with the City, DEC will continue property maintenance and preservation that meets or exceeds the City’s current standards, sealing the City’s legacy of good stewardship. Over the long term, a comprehensive unit management plan will be developed for the property, with extensive public input. That process will likely take two or more years to complete.


July 7, 2010

The following is from a DEC press release:

Report Identifies New Process to Categorize Non-Native Invasive Species

The New York State Invasive Species Council today (July 6) submitted its final report to Governor David A. Paterson and the State Legislature. The report, titled A Regulatory System for Non-Native Species, recommends giving the Council authority to develop regulations for a new process that will prevent the importation and/or release of non-native invasive species in New York’s waterways, forests and farmlands.

The report, prepared by the nine-agency Council and co-led by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Department of Environmental Conservation, introduces a new process for assessing each invasive species for its level of threat, its socioeconomic value, and for categorizing them into distinct lists for appropriate action.

State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said, “In recent years, we have struggled with the economic and environmental impacts of non-native species such as Plum Pox Virus, Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Longhorned Beetle, but we have also acknowledged the positive aspects associated with some, such as timothy, Norway maple and
lady bugs.  With the adoption of this report, New York will now have a process by which the merits of various invasive species will be evaluated and their level of harm and/or benefit will be reviewed to ensure unacceptable ecological or health risks are not purposefully introduced as pets, nursery stock, food or other uses.”

State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said, “New York needs to take action now to curb the many pathways that invasive species use to make their way here. With this new regulatory approach, we can do just that.   The system the Council is proposing strikes the right balance of minimizing the major threats to our ecology and economy while allowing for the careful use of those plants and animals that pose lower risks.”

The new assessment process would allow the state to categorize invasive species such as zebra mussels, Sirex wood wasps and Eurasian milfoil  as “prohibited,” “regulated” or “unregulated.”  As a result of this classification system, regulatory control where necessary, would help restrict movement of potentially harmful plants and animals.

Species in the “prohibited” category would be the most restricted as they pose clear risks to New York’s economic, ecological and public health interests, and, therefore, would be banned from commerce entirely.  “Regulated” species would be restricted, but not prohibited from commerce, and require practical and meaningful regulatory programs.  “Unregulated” species would be identified as those non-native species that do not pose a threat and therefore could be used freely in commerce.

Two “tools” would be used in assessing risks from non-native plants and animals.  One evaluates the inherent, biological
“invasiveness” of each species, i.e., some species are better “weeds” than others.  The other tool looks at socio-economic values to help the Council decide whether the social benefits of a plant or animal outweigh the potential harm. For example, earthworms have often been shown to have positive effects on soil structure and fertility in agricultural and garden ecosystems; however, glacial ice sheets that covered most of New York some 11,000 to 14,000 years ago
left New York worm free.  Thus, today’s worms are actually European invaders and considered a non-native invasive species, but are clearly valuable.

The process of categorizing invasive species and other report recommendations were developed with the assistance of a 17-member steering committee comprised of representatives from state and federal agencies, conservation, academic and industry groups including agriculture, pets, nursery and landscape.  In addition to Department of Environmental Conservation  and Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Council is made up of the Commissioners of Transportation, Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Education; the Secretary of State; the Chairperson of the New York State Thruway Authority; the Director of the New York State Canal Corporation; and the Chairperson of
the Adirondack Park Agency.

The New York State Invasive Species Council*s final report is available online at

New York State is engaged in efforts to reduce the impacts of existing invasive species, such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle and most recently, the Emerald Ash Borer.  Department of Agriculture and Markets’ horticultural inspectors have successfully treated 549,856 trees in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island as part of efforts to eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle and protect our forests and urban trees.  The Emerald Ash Borer was found in Randolph, Cattaraugus County, in June 2009.  The Departments of Environmental Conservation and Agriculture and Markets responded quickly and removed affected trees. Since that time over 387 compliance agreements have been written to prevent the human spread of the Emerald Ash Borer.

Martin Jetpack a Boon to Botanists?

July 4, 2010

There have been many times in the field when I have seen botanists look across a large marsh or up a high cliff and say, “I wish I had a jetpack to fly out there and take a look.”  Well, the day has come and the first commercially available jetpack, the Martin Jetpack, will be  on sale soon.  Who needs a drone when you can fly out there and look yourself!  To see a demonstration of the jetpack click here.

OFF! Mosquito Fan. Good for field botanical field work?

July 4, 2010

I noticed the new mosquito fan by OFF! for sale and wondered if anyone has used it during botanical field work and how it performed.  Comments welcome.


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