A Good Day At Catskill Marsh

From Steve Young: On Thursday the 13th of August I joined Chris Zimmerman of The Nature Conservancy and Melissa Kalvestrand, a graduate student at SUNY Albany, on a trek through the freshwater tidal marsh and mudflats of Catskill, or Ramshorn, marsh.
Catskill Marsh 2009

Melissa gathered up all the equipment needed to record the plants in each plot of the marsh within and around a patch of Phragmites.  The data will be used to analyze the effect the removal of the Phragmites will have on the marsh vegetation. Fortunately I got the middle of the canoe and Chris and Melissa paddled across Catskill Creek to the marsh, a short distance away.

Catskill Marsh 2009-2

Chris carried the plot marker through the high Phragmites with Melissa in the lead.  They had marked the plots with GPS and flags on previous days so it was not trouble finding them again.

Catskill Marsh 2009-5

At each plot Chris estimated how much cover each species produced in the square while Melissa recorded the data. I was there to help them with plant identification to make sure all we didn’t miss anything.

Catskill Marsh 2009-6

We saw a wide variety of plants in the marsh, some common species like the flowers of hog peanut here (Amphicarpa bracteata), and many other species that can only be found in marsh habitats.

Catskill Marsh 2009-7

There are lots of species with arrow-shaped leaves like this leaf of wapato (Sagittaria latifolia).  There’s also arrowleaf (Peltandra virginica), pickerel-weed (Pontederia cordata) and spatterdock (Nuphar advena).  They are not so hard to tell apart in flower but it’s good to know what they are in leaf and the characters that separate them.

Catskill Marsh 2009-14

For the few hours of low tide a whole new flora reveals itself as the water goes down and the small mud plants appear, mostly strap-leaf arrowhead (Sagittaria subulata) but other small mud plants are hidden among the larger ones and one has to be willing to get down in the mud to see them (take note Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel). At high tide the spatterdock leaves float on the surface of the water but at low tide the rest of the plant is seen stretching up from the mud. One wonders how much photosynthesis these plants can get in while exposed since their leaves are often covered in mud.

Catskill Marsh 2009-20

We were fortunate enough to see the flowers of the little strap-leaf arrowhead with are male and female.  The male flower is shown here with three white petals and yellow stamens.

We were able to finish the plots by midafternoon under cloudy and cool conditions with no mosquitos! It was a great day in the marsh and we even got so see a few plants of swamp lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata), a state threatened plant. It was time to go home and hose the mud from the jeans before they went in the washer.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Field Techniques, Invasive Species, Rare Plant Surveys

One Comment on “A Good Day At Catskill Marsh”


  1. Thanks Steve, for taking us along on your exploration of this fascinating habitat. How exciting to find Swamp Lousewort! Is the dry-habitat Lousewort (P. canadensis) also a threatened plant? I wish I could have had you along on my explorations this week, as I found several plants I could not identify, one under water, another in an open area with limy soil. Maybe you could pay my blog a visit (www.saratogawoodswaters.blogspot.com) and see if you recognize them.


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