Japanese Knotweed Male and Female Plants

Posted September 9, 2013 by nyflora
Categories: Natural History, Plant Biology

by Steve Young

Today I accompanied Dr. Carl George from Union College into the field to look at the differences between male and female plants of Japanese knotweed, Fallopia japonica. Our first stop was an area in Glenville with multiple clones of the plants, one of them female and the others male.  What are the distinguishing characters?  Male plants have erect inflorescences with bright white flowers and bigger leaves. These characters can be seen driving by in a car. The female plants are usually smaller with erect and drooping flower branches which are not as bright, probably due to the winged tepals and darker ovaries not present in the male plants. The male plants have flowers with five white petals that are spreading outward. They have long white stamens that are longer than the petals and we did not see any pollen in the open anthers.  At the base of the flowers are tiny ovaries.  The female plants have large ovaries topped by a three-parted stigma and small staminodes at the base.  The five tepals are open when flowering starts and eventually three of them form large wings around the fruit.  The remaining two tepals remain small in size, become erect and, hidden by the wings, they enclose the fruit.  Today we saw four different populations of male plants, some of them large, but most of the plants we saw in the area were female.  This is a good time of year to distinguish the two sexes so take time to look at the clones in your area and see if you can distinguish them.


Here you can see the male plants on the right and the female plants on the left of a clone of sumac.


Notice the large size of the male clone with the erect bright white flowers.  Carl George examines the flowers.


The male plants also had larger leaves than the female plants.

photo 1

Notice how the female inflorescences also have drooping branches.


Here are young female flowers with five tepals about the same size and older flowers with three of the sepals developed into the wings that surround the fruit.

photo 3

Here are the upright male flowers with the long stamens sticking out.


The hollow stems have a groove above the branches and they arise in a spiral fashion up the stem.


A large male clone can be seen along a road in Pattersonville.  The erect inflorescences are easily recognized. Even though they are swarming with honey bees, Dr. George found there is no pollen reward and their pollen sacs are empty.

photo 4

Here is another male plant in downtown Albany not far from a stand of female plants.

Fallopia japonica Edwards east male (1)

The male plants are still easily distinguished in late September after the flowers fall because the upright branches remain while the female plants are still laden with white female flowers and fruits.


The NYFA Annual Meeting Was Fun For All

Posted June 27, 2013 by nyflora
Categories: Field Trips, Happenings, NY Flora Association

By Steve Young

On May fifth NYFA began their annual meeting and field trip with a visit to Nelson Swamp near Nelson, NY. We met on a beautiful sunny day just outside the village of Cazenovia and carpooled to a parking spot that provided easy access to the swamp.

Field trip participants walk into the swamp.

Field trip participants walk into the swamp.

The participants divided into two smaller groups so we would have less impact on sensitive areas. While some of us explored the mosaic of marsh and white cedar swamp to the west, the other group went into the swamp to take a look at spreading globeflower.



In one area we came across a beautiful expanse of false hellebore (Veratrum viride) in its early stages of growth as well as some nice meadows of Carex bromoides (“the other hummock sedge” as David Werier describes it). At the appointed time we exchanged places with the other group and listened to Dr. Sara Scanga talk about her work with Spreading globeflower (Trollius laxus) before heading into the swamp to look at the plant for real.


For some of the group it was the first time they had seen globeflower and Sara explained all of the interesting facets of its growth and ecology. You can learn more about her work HERE.

Group in Nelson

Fortunately the plants were in full flower and put on a real show for us.



You can learn more about spreading globeflower in New York at the NY Natural Heritage Conservation Guide.

After the field trip we drove to board member Ed Frantz’s house near Cazenovia and enjoyed a delicious and bountiful lunch provided by Ed and his family. After lunch came a short business meeting with a board member vote followed by the first annual botanical quiz given by yours truly from an iPhone app called “Angiosperms.” Even though there were a lot of groans at the questions, I think everyone enjoyed participating, especially the two groups that tied for the win!

Board members Rich Ring and Andy Nelson with wife Mary Anne enjoying the lunch at Ed's house.

Board members Rich Ring and Andy Nelson with wife Mary Anne enjoying the botanical quiz.

We finished off the day’s activities by voting for the 2014 Wildflower of the Year, a tradition that we will have every year to honor and publicize a member of our flora for the next calendar year. This year’s win went to cardinal flower, one of our most spectacular and well-known wildflowers.

Cardinal flower at Indian Lake in the Adirondacks.

Cardinal flower at Indian Lake in the Adirondacks.

Many thanks go to the organizers of the field trip and luncheon and to the record number of participants we had for the meeting.  It was one to remember.


Plants Are Cool Too Episode 3 – Skunk Cabbage

Posted April 26, 2013 by nyflora
Categories: Education and Research

This episode takes place in our own backyard;  Plattsburgh!


NY Flora Association Announces Field Trips and Workshops for 2013

Posted February 16, 2013 by nyflora
Categories: Classes and Workshops

Click this link to see the lineup of fantastic field trips and workshops for 2013.

There will be workshops for identifying:

Amelanchier (Shadbush), Sedges, Grasses, and Trees using bark characters as well as a workshop on ethnobotanical topics.

Field Trips will explore:

Nelson Swamp (Madison Co.), Bonaparte Swamp and Fitzgerald Pond (Lewis Co.), Michigan Hollow Swamp (Tompkins Co.), Little Rock City (Cattaraugus Co.), Zoar Valley (Erie/Cattaraugus Cos.), Whiteface Mountain (Essex Co.), Edgewood Preserve (Suffolk Co.), and Joralemon Park (Albany Co.)

Most of these require registration so register soon before they fill up.

Happy students at the goldenrod and aster workshop at the Niagara Gorge last year.

Happy students at the goldenrod and aster workshop at the Niagara Gorge in 2011.

Video: Learn About the North American Orchid Conservation Center

Posted December 10, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Horticulture, Natural History, Plant Biology, Plant Distribution

The video is four minutes long.  Great things on the horizon to protect our native orchids.


The Adirondack Botanical Society Meets

Posted December 8, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Happenings, Plant Organizations

The fall meeting of the Adirondack Botanical Society met on December first at the APA office in Ray Brook.  Fourteen people attended and discussed the future plans of the society, especially the field trips for the upcoming field season as well as some ID workshops that could be done in the winter.  Go to their website, adkbotsoc.org, for more information when it is posted.  You can also join their Google Group by  sending an email to  adkbotsoc+subscribe(at)googlegroups.com. Write Join in the subject line. You can state why you would like to join in the body of the email. After the meeting the group walked to a nearby bog where they could still see the state rare pod grass, Scheuchzeria palustris, poking its fruits up through the snow.  We can’t wait for next year’s field trips!

 The group meeting in Ray Brook.  Pardon the focus.

The group meeting in Ray Brook. Pardon the focus.

Participants explore the bog looking for pod grass.

Participants explore the bog looking for pod grass.


New Orchid Book for New England and New York

Posted October 10, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Publications, Apps, and Websites

A new field guide to the orchids of New England and New York is now available.  The photos of Tom Nelson and the text of Eric Lamont (NYFA board member) have produced a very useful and beautiful book.  Characters are discussed in relation to closely related species which is very helpful for field identification and other useful information is included with every species.  There is a series of fruit photos in the front of the book which is also very helpful and unique.  How many times have you wished you knew what orchid it was that you were seeing in fruit.  The small size of the book is a plus for field use so there is no excuse for not knowing what species of Spiranthes that is. It is available on Amazon and in other fine bookstores. – Steve Young

Carline Thistle Seen in Otsego County

Posted September 6, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Invasive Species, Plant Identification, Plant Sightings

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.

NYFA’s June Bog Trip

Posted August 18, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Field Trips

Members of the NY Flora Association helped inventory a couple of beautiful bogs in Delaware County this spring.  It was a rainy day but we saw some great plants and scenery. A fun time was had by all and we hope our efforts will add to the knowledge of the flora of Delaware County and provide information to the owners who are concerned about the effects of a new gas pipeline that might be built in the area. Here is a sample of what we saw. Photos by Steve Young.

The first wetland we visited may be only the second dwarf shrub bog documented for Delaware County. It is dominated by low shrubs of Leatherleaf, Chamaedaphne calyculata.

Pitcher plants were fairly common and in flower.

Here is the nodding flower of one of the pitcher plants shining in the rain.

The blue-green color of a small black spruce stands out in contrast to the surrounding shrubs.

Spatterdock was common in the bog lake.

White water lily was there too (darker red leaves) as well as water shield (Brasenia schreberi) that beads up rain water into perfect circles.

An old boardwalk affords access to the lake across the bog and here we saw a variety of wetland wildflowers, shrubs and ferns.

On the way to the other bog we walked through an eerie forest where flooding rains had washed the soil from around the roots of the trees.

Another beautiful sight awaited us as we broke through the surrounding shrubs into the open wetland.

We saw lots of wild calla, Calla palustris, in fruit here.

Some very tall specimens of sheep laurel, Kalmia angustifolia, grew on the edge of the bog.

After a day of slogging through bogs, Alex Young and Laura Lehtonen finally found a nice log where they could rest and take in the scenery. It was a great day despite the rain.












Search the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Posted August 6, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Publications, Apps, and Websites

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” BHL also serves as the foundational literature component of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL).

Enter “New York, botany” in the search box and you can come up with a number of historical publications about botany in New York.  It includes famous titles like Torrey’s 1819 Flora of the NYC area as well as Taylor’s 1915 Flora of the Vicinity of New York.  To go to the Library CLICK HERE.