Searching for Downy Wood-mint

From Steve Young: I searched a powerline in southern Albany County today looking for plants of Blephilia ciliata, downy wood-mint, that were last seen there in 1998.  This is only one of three locations in the state for this rare plant. The area was on dry limestone outcrops, good habitat for Blephilia. The photo below from the Missouri State Univ. herbarium shows what it looks like:

Blephilia ciliata in flower

Blephilia ciliata in flower

After searching for about 30 minutes I didn’t see any plants but I did see some mint family plants and some other interesting plants. Fortunately I didn’t see any ticks!

From the mint family there was wild basil (Clinopodium vulgare) and majoram (Origanum vulgare).

wild basil flower cluster

wild basil flower cluster

marjoram flower cluster, note purple bracts

marjoram flower cluster, note purple bracts

New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) was mostly in fruit but a few flowering stalks remain.

New Jersey Tea Flowers

New Jersey Tea Flowers

New Jersey Tea Fruits

New Jersey Tea Fruits

Macoun’s cudweed (Pseudognaphalium macounii) was in flower, a plant that I rarely see in this area.  In fact it is not recorded from the NYFA Atlas for Albany County. Its leaf bases are wide and extend down the stem a little ways.

Cudweed flowers

Cudweed flowers

cudweed leaf bases

cudweed leaf bases

Two interesting members of the aster family were still in flower, the smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laevis) with its shiny, smooth, leather-like leaves and field-thistle (Cirsium discolor) with some serious pollination going on.

smooth blue aster flowers

smooth blue aster flowers

smooth blue aster leaf

smooth blue aster leaf

field-thistle flowers and pollinators

field-thistle flowers and pollinators

I won’t give up on the downy wood-mint since it may not be there every year. I’ll check again next year a few weeks earlier. We wouldn’t want to lose one of our best populations in the state!

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Explore posts in the same categories: Rare Plant Surveys

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