Archive for June 2011

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.

New Field Guide to the Carex of New England Available

June 14, 2011

This is another great Carex reference for New York with extensive illustrations, keys, comparison tables, and descriptions for each species.  It was written by Dr. Lisa A. Standley, and has been published by the New England Botanical Club.  To purchase, send a check for $26.00 payable to the New England Botanical Club to: Lisa Standley, VHB, 101 Walnut Street, Watertown MA 02472.

How Phragmites REALLY Gets Around

June 11, 2011

This photo from a saltmarsh on Long Island caught Phragmites in the act of spreading from one marsh to another. It probably happens under the cover of darkness but this crew was headed out in broad daylight.

Click for a larger image. Photo Steve Young

Wearable “weeds”

June 8, 2011

Check out these fashions made entirely from leaves, fruits, and flowers! The artist calls them Weedrobes.

NY Natural Heritage Conservation Guides Temporarily Down

June 4, 2011

The website for the NY Natural Heritage Program Conservation Guides on rare species was hacked for use as a spam computer and the guides are temporarily offline as the situation is fixed.  They hope to get them back online soon.

Another Test of Leafsnap Tree Identification App

June 3, 2011

In a recent post we tested the new tree identification Apple app Leafsnap with 5 trees and it was right on two of them. Today we collected more species and tested it again.  Here are the results with the number signifying the position of the guess.

1. American elm – 9. Second tree – 7.

2. Scarlet Oak – 1.

3. Swamp white oak – 1.

4. Red oak – 1.  Second tree – 8.

5. White ash – 15.

6. Northern catalpa – 4.

7. White oak – 1.

8. Shadbush – 8.

9. Bigtooth aspen – 1.

10. Red maple – 3

11. Black oak – 5

12. Quaking aspen – 20.

13. Russian elm – 2.

13. Black locust – 4.

14. Black cherry – 8.

15. Box elder maple – 3.

16. White mulberry – 2.

17. Norway maple – 4.

18. Honey locust – 1.

A third of the trees were guessed right but the majority were misidentified, some of them badly. We can see why it might misidentify oaks because of the variety of shapes from tree to tree and on large and small trees. It seemed weird that it would miss easy ones like red, box elder, and Norway maple and quaking aspen, some of our most common trees. As an accurate way to identify trees we don’t think this app is quite ready for prime time.