Archive for the ‘Plant Sightings’ category

Carline Thistle Seen in Otsego County

September 6, 2012

Until now, the Carline thistle (Carlina vulgaris) has only been recorded for Cortland and Tompkins County, New York (see NYFA Atlas). Recently it was seen naturalized in fields in Otsego County by NYFA board member and botanist Connie Tedesco. The USDA Plants database only has it occurring in New York and New Jersey.  It is a Eurasian species that was introduced in the mid-1900s to New York.

The information at the NY state museum for this species shows it was collected for the first time in Cortland County in August, 1948 by R.T. Clausen “SE of Dryden Lake, Harford.” It was seen again south of Harford Mills in Cortland County by Stanley Smith Sept. 17, 1955. This is on the border of Tioga County. Arthur Cronquist reported it to the museum as common and spreading in Ithaca in 1983.

Is this a new invasive species on the move? If you see this plant naturalizing in your area please leave a comment at this blog entry.  Thanks. – Steve Young

Plants from an Otsego County field. Photos Connie Tedesco.

Carex aggregata Rediscovered in New York

February 12, 2012

By Steve Young, NY Natural Heritage Program

In 2008 Heather Liljengren and Camille Joseph, staff members of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center in Staten Island, were collecting graminoids for seed preservation in Inwood Hill Park on the northern tip of Manhattan Island during the last week of May. They noticed a sedge that looked different and collected it to send off to Dr. Rob Naczi, a sedge expert at the New York Botanical Garden, for identification. Dr. Naczi confirmed it as glomerate sedge. Then in June 2009 Rob Naczi himself discovered it in the southwestern portion of the botanical garden grounds near the Bronx River during a survey of the plants of the Bronx Forest. Both of these discoveries were then reported to the Natural Heritage Program in 2011.

Only three populations of glomerate sedge have ever been reported from New York (there is also a Torrey specimen at NYBG with no location) which is at the northeastern edge of its range. It was first collected from the Perch Lake area of Jefferson County in 1949 then again in 1959 from the Spring Valley area of Rockland County. In 1988 Mike Oldham, a Heritage botanist from Ontario, collected it in Oakwood Cemetery during a trip to the Natural Areas conference in Syracuse. Another trip to the cemetery site in 1990 did not find the plants again. All of these collections occurred during the last week of May or in June. For 20 years there were no more collections or sightings of this sedge in New York until that day in Inwood Park.  This sedge now has the distinction of being the only state endangered or threatened plant that currently exists on Manhattan Island.

From the New York Natural Heritage Program conservation guides we have the following information about identifying this sedge: There are three other members of Carex section Phaestoglochin (C. sparganioides, C. cephaloidea, and C. gravida) that are similar.
Carex sparganioides is perhaps the most different from C. aggregata of these three. It has a more elongated inflorescences (3-15 cm long) with a larger proximal internode. In addition the widest leaf blades are 5-10 mm wide (Ball 2002).

Carex cephaloidea is the most similar to C. aggregata of the species that occur in New York. Carex cephaloidea has the widest leaf blades (4-)5-8 mm wide and the ligules are just longer than wide. In addition, the pistillate scales are 1.5-2 mm long, subobtuse to acute, and the bodies are no more than 0.5 times the length of the perigynia. Mackenzie in his description of C. aggregata (as C. agglomerata) used culm scabrousity to separate C. cephaloidea and C. aggregata. The angles of the culms of Carex cephaloidea being strongly serrulate while those of C. aggregata are only roughened just below the inflorescence. These character states may be incorrect or subtle.

Carex gravida does not occur in NY but was attributed to the state incorrectly in the past. It is not expected in the state. Carex gravida mainly differs in having the summit of the leaf sheath fronts white, hyaline, not thickened, and fragile.

Carex aggregata illustration from Britton and Brown 1913.

Skunk Cabbage Starting to Appear

February 10, 2012

I checked our local red maple swamp today (no snow and 43 degrees) and the flower spathes of skunk cabbage are starting to poke up through the leaf litter but they haven’t opened yet. – Steve Young

It’s Not too Late in the Year for Botanical Discoveries

November 28, 2011

NYFA Board member Steven Daniel reported that he recently found a population of puttyroot, Aplectrum hyemale, in Monroe County. This is the second extant record for this orchid in New York, and the first verified report for Monroe County since 1895! Puttyroot is a curious orchid – like Calypso and Cranefly orchid (Tipularia) it puts out a single leaf in the fall. This leaf is able to photosynthesize (when it is not snow covered) when temperatures are above freezing. Come spring the leaf begins to wither, and is usually gone by the time the plant flowers, typically in late May or June.

This species can be easily overlooked. Look for puttyroot in rich beech-maple woods. Now is the best time to look for it. It will stand out in the mostly leaf covered forest floor, or with a fine dusting of snow. The leaves are distinctive with their pleating and white venation.

The pleated leaves of the new puttyroot orchid discovery. Photo Steven Daniel.

A Day on Long Island

September 10, 2011

I made a trip to Long Island recently and had the opportunity to see some interesting natural areas. – Steve Young

The beach at Goldsmith's County Park on the Long Island Sound side of the North Fork. Looks like some sand management is going on.

Some of the common beach plants include clotbur . .

and sea rocket, whose fruits actually look like little rockets ready to blast off.

On the dunes, masses of Rosa rugosa were in fruit.

Sea lavender was fairly common and in full flower.

Sea lavender, Limonium carolinianum, is our only representative of the Leadwort Family, Plumbaginaceae, in New York.

Spikegrass, Distichlis spicata, is also a common representative of salt marsh vegetation.

Saltmarsh-elder, Iva frutescens, one of our shrubby composites, was releasing pollen from its ragweed-like flower clusters.

It was sprinked on the opposite, succulent leaves below.

Prickly pear cactus was in among the dune plants but I didn't see any flowers or fruits.

Gray's flatsedge forms a clump of stems in the dunes. It has many rays in the inflorescence and bulbous roots if you dig it up.

In the woods closer to the road was a stand of sweet pepper-bush, Clethra alnifolia, in flower and in fruit.

West of Riverhead, I walked to a rare coastal plain pond to see that the water levels were up to the top. In drought years these ponds drain down to reveal many more plant species that are waiting patiently to germinate when the water is low.

It was raining a lot of the time but on the way back the sun came out to shine across the leaves of the pitch pine oak forest.

Glistening water droplets hung from the ends of the pitch pine needles.

An oak gall had dropped from a tree to the sandy trail.

Scores of new mushrooms were arising out the the sand in the trail too.

On the firebreak between forest patches an exotic catalpa has managed to survive, the only one I saw.

Since this visit Hurricane Irene has paid a visit to the Island and these forests probably look a little different now.  I’ll have to go back and see how they fared.



A Rare Plant Survey in Ulster County

June 25, 2011

Steve Young and Kim Smith of the New York Natural Heritage Program surveyed a state park in Ulster County this week. Besides Kim finding a new population of Carex davisii, these are some of the other things we saw.

The hophornbeams really stood out with their beautiful fruit clusters in contrast to the dark green leaves.

Sycamore maple, Acer pseudoplatanus, has escaped here. The "atropurpurea" cultivar has purple undersides.

Just outside the park were some impressive walls of Japanese knotweed.

At one point we had an aerial view of the tops of red oak crowns.

The crowns of large sassafras trees were also really neat to see.

We updated the information for a population of Virginia snakeroot, Endodeca serpentaria, a state endangered plant. It grows in the forest herb layer.

We found the small dry fruits under the leaf litter where the flowers of this cousin to wild ginger grow.

The purple-veined basal leaves of rattlesnake hawkweek, Hieracium venosum, were common in the deer-decimated understory.

Our botanizing drew the attention of this young barred owl who didn't seem to mind our presence.

New Dragon’s Mouth Orchid Population Found in the Adirondacks

June 17, 2011

A canoe trip to Franklin County by Wayne Jones resulted in the discovery of a new population of dragon’s mouth orchid, Arethusa bulbosa. It’s the tenth population known from the Adirondacks and the second one known from Franklin County. The other population in Franklin County (discovered in the 1990s) is the most northerly one in New York. Congratulations Wayne! Below are a couple of photos of the orchids, some of them were very pale in color.

Pixies: A Sure Sign of Spring on Long Island

April 16, 2011

Entry and photos by Steve Young.

Mid-April is the flowering time of the rare Pixiemoss, Pyxidanthera barbulata. In New York there are only two locations, on Long Island, but only one of them has a significant number of plants. This tiny plant grows in low clumps on the ground in open grassland areas of pitch pine-oak woods.  It is in the Diapensia family with a close relative, Diapensia lapponica var. lapponica, that grows in the alpine areas of the Adirondacks. Long Island is at the northern edge of the range of Pyxidanthera, a coastal plant ranging from Long Island south to South Carolina, except for Maryland and Delaware. The Adirondacks and White Mountains are at the southern range of the mostly Canadian plant Diapensia. Close cousins that will never meet!

Click on the photos below for a larger version.

In its habitat a clump of Pixies could be mistaken for an open area of white pebbles or even a small mound of snow.

Here is a closer view of a clump of the tightly-packed white flowers.

You can see how small the flowers are here but there are a lot of them.

Diapensia flowers are on flower stalks but Pixie flowers are sessile and close to the ground. Their flat anthers have two parallel anther sacs on top.

These plants are in bud and show the tiny moss-like leaves that are widest above the middle and have a sharp tip. Without flowers or fruits they could be mistaken for a clump of moss.

Wildflowers of Central New York Video

February 26, 2011

This is a simple slideshow of common wildflowers with birds singing in the background.  The photographer needs to work on his focus but it’s nice to see these in the winter and anticipate things to come.  Try to guess what they are as they come up (don’t look at the caption!).

Adirondack Flora and Fungi Video

February 22, 2011

How many of these plants, mosses, and fungi do you recognize?


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