Allegany State Park Field Trip a Success
We had nine enthusiastic plant people participate in two days of plant walks in Allegany State Park. On Saturday morning May 15 we traveled to the southern end of the park and hiked up the trail to Bear Cave Rocks and Mount Seneca. At Bear Cave Rocks we wanted to confirm an old record of Trichomanes intricatum, the Weft Fern, that only occurs as a gametophyte in the cracks of the big conglomerate boulders. After searching a while with flashlights we finally found a couple of patches of the fern to everyone’s delight. We were all now part of an exclusive group of people that have ever seen this plant. After that excitement, Bear Cave Rocks lived up to its name as three bear cubs came down the trail toward us screaming for their mother. When they stopped and saw us we had a chance to photograph them before retreating back down the trail to let them leave. The east side of Mount Seneca was very rich and we saw many species of wildflowers, mosses, and ferns. Lichens were also identified by member Jim Battaglia. We all made it to the top of the mountain before descending to the bottom through a drier and less diverse forest.
Later that afternoon we drove to Thunder Rocks, another area of large conglomerate boulders where we wanted to look for Trichomanes again. These boulders were open to a lot more climbing by visitors and we had no luck finding the fern.
On Sunday morning a group of six of us went back down to the southern end of the park and hiked the Blacksnake Mountain Trail. This was another rich area that had a large hillside with many calcareous springs emanating from it. The hillside was covered with many spring wildflowers that were very healthy and in full flower. We had never seen so many plants of yellow mandarin, Disporum lanuginosum, and never any so large! On the way out of the park a few of us stopped in an area where twinleaf, Jeffersonia diphylla, had been seen in the past but we didn’t find any plants.
All in all it was a great trip and everyone agreed that we should return again to explore other areas of the park. The list of plants will be published in our next newsletter as well as on the Google plant lists map that you can access in the sidebar of this blog. – Steve Young