Norton G. Miller 1942-2011

Posted August 6, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: People

This is the obituary of Norton Miller from the Albany Times Union newspaper on December 30, 2011.  Norton was a familiar face to people visiting the herbarium at the NYS museum and he will be missed.

Dr. Norton G. Miller, emeritus curator of bryology and quaternary paleobotany at the New York State Museum, died in Syracuse on December 7, 2011 following a 20-year battle with prostate cancer. Norton was born in Buffalo on February 4, 1942 and completed a bachelor’s of arts in biology at the University of Buffalo, now the State University of New York at Buffalo, in 1963, graduating with high distinction in biology. Growing up in rural western New York, Norton was an avid outdoorsman learning as much as he could about the environment around him. As a boy he kept a flock of bantam hens, roamed the woods with the family dog, Nipper, became an avid birder, and studied many natural history subjects with Mabel James, a local naturalist who was his first mentor. He developed an intense interest in botany leading to lifelong knowledge of many types of plants. As a teenager, Norton served as Miss James’ assistant on several of the Buffalo Museum of Science Conservation Caravans that she led to locales in the Northeast. During this time he was active in the Boy Scouts of America, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He developed an interest in bryophytes and spent several summers apprenticing with Dr. Stanley J. Smith, a bryologist at the New York State Museum, in whose footsteps he would follow several decades later. He graduated from Holland Central School in 1959. Following completion of his undergraduate degree, he enrolled in Michigan State University to pursue a PhD in botany. The topic of his dissertation, completed in 1969, was glacial and postglacial vegetation change in southwestern New York State, also published as a New York State Museum Bulletin. Dr. Miller’s research interests included plant systematics and floristics, especially of bryophytes and seed plants; quaternary paleobotany and paleoecology and the tertiary and quaternary history of the bryophyta. His field work in these areas led him to explorations throughout the northern latitudes from New York and New England to Michigan, Colorado, the west coast, the southeast, Alaska, Russia, Scandinavia, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and Japan. He authored more than 100 scholarly publications, gave many presentations, taught a variety of courses at multiple institutions including Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, collaborated with colleagues throughout the world, provided leadership to numerous professional organizations, including the American Bryological and Lichenological Society, and served on the editorial boards of ten journals. He is survived by his wife, Heather Swan Miller; son, Dr. Andrew David Miller and his wife Dr. Allison Miller; and granddaughter, Natalie Rose Miller. He is also survived by his brother Brandt J. Miller and his wife Lucy Leighton Miller whom he was visiting at the time of his death. A celebration of his life may be held in the spring. Contributions in his memory may be made to the New York Botanical Garden.

New Tree ID Videos Available from SUNY ESF

Posted August 3, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Education and Research, Plant Distribution, Plant Identification, Publications, Apps, and Websites

Folks interested in trees,

Christopher Baycura (ITS office at ESF) and I recently added 35 tree vignettes to this YouTube site:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBE1197A3397CAE00&feature=plcp

for a total of 135 tree species covered, typically in about 2 minute HD videos that briefly summarize how to identify each tree, its ecological characteristics, importance, and whatever else came to mind. The list of native and non-native trees covered is attached. We’ve covered most of the trees that one would encounter in the woods or in landscapes in upstate NY and throughout the Northeast, and all the trees covered in my dendrology course that are cold hardy in CNY (many western US tree species). These vignettes are also all available for free on i-Tunes. Please feel free to share this information and link to others who might be interested.

Don Leopold

Establishment of the Herbarium at SUNY Plattsburgh

Posted August 2, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Herbarium Techniques

This was an abstract of a presentation by SUNY Plattsburgh student Megan Ward (under Dr. Chris Martine) given at the Botany 2012 conference in Columbus, Ohio and reprinted here with permission of the authors. Megan, won “Best Undergraduate Presentation” in the Ecology Section. A journal article will come out in the Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society in the future.

The loss of small herbaria is an unfortunate global trend,and the initiation of new collections at small academic institutions is an increasingly rare occurrence. In 2006, a new herbarium was established at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh. The PLAT herbarium has since grown to more than 7,000 specimens, many of them representative of the flora of the northeastern corner of New York (especially Clinton County). Previous to 2006, this region was without a recognized herbarium, the nearest in-state collections being more than 150 miles away. Although botanists have previously worked in the region, relatively few species were recorded for Clinton County by the New York Flora Atlas, a resource providing species distribution records based on specimens accessioned in herbarium collections. Given the dearth of available distribution data for Clinton County (including the eastern Adirondack Mountains and the western Lake Champlain valley), this project sought to provide records of previously unreported species by comparing NY Flora Atlas maps with current holdings. In some cases, unrecorded species not held by PLAT were collected and accessioned in order to establish a record (at times as a component of undergraduate botany coursework). More than 200 species will now be added to the NY Flora Atlas for Clinton County. While many of the new records are common species that simply lacked herbarium records, others are notable additions to the recorded flora, including numerous exotic species. This exercise has amplified the importance of supporting and maintaining small regional herbaria as repositories of valuable biodiversity information. Likewise, this project also highlights the enduring value of training in floristics and taxonomy.

Adirondack Open Wetland Assessment – Route 8 Marsh

Posted July 29, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Field Trips

The New York Natural Heritage Program is assessing 20 different open wetlands in the Upper Hudson watershed this year as part of a project for the Division of Water in the DEC.  The assessment includes data on species and their percent cover in an 80 meter diameter circle as well as in four 10×10 plots. Additional data on landscape quality surrounding the plots adds to the assessment. On July 25th Greg Edinger and I visited a fen south of Route 8 west of Piseco Lake. – Steve Young

It was another beautiful wetland on another beautiful day. The fen is dominated by Calamagrostis canadensis, bluejoint grass, Carex stricta, hummock sedge, and Carex lasiocarpa, American woolyfruit sedge, with some shrubs of Alnus incana ssp. rugosa, speckled alder and lots of Sphagnum.

We had to be careful not to step into a drainage channel that can be camouflaged by the tall grasses.

Here is Greg standing in one of the ditches taking notes on the aquatic vegetation present.

A muddier opening had some plants of round-leaved sundew, Drosera rotundifolia, that is in bloom this time of year. They also tend to occur in the muddier areas along deer trails. Try not to step on them!

The muddy area also had a nice stand of Lycopodiella inundata, northern bog clubmoss, with its horizontal stems.

I thought I had seen all the species in one of our plots when Greg spied a small green woodland orchid, Platanthera clavellata. It was the first orchid we had seen during the surveys.

Adirondack Open Wetland Assessment – Thousand Acre Swamp

Posted July 29, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Field Trips

The New York Natural Heritage Program is assessing 20 different open wetlands in the Upper Hudson watershed this year as part of a project for the Division of Water in the DEC.  The assessment includes data on species and their percent cover in an 80 meter diameter circle as well as in four 10×10 plots. Additional data on landscape quality surrounding the plots adds to the assessment.  On July 24th Greg Edinger and I assessed a medium fen at Thousand Acre Swamp near Fox Hill in Saratoga County. The sedge-dominated fen was in excellent condition and we couldn’t have been there on a more beautiful day. It takes about 4 hours to do the full assessment. – Steve Young

Another common sedge on the periphery of the plot was Carex folliculata, one of the most beautiful members of the Carex genus in my opinion.

 

Here is a closeup of the spikelets with the long perigynia.

One of the most common wildflowers in the plots was narrow-leaved gentian, Gentiana linearis.

This is a view across the wetland to the northwest. To the west it turned into a shrub swamp dominated by northern meadowsweet and sweet gale.

 

Both Spiraea species were here. This is the pink inflorescence of Spiraea tomentosa, hardhack spiraea.

 

Adirondack Open Wetland Assessment – Benson Marsh

Posted July 29, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Field Trips

The New York Natural Heritage Program is assessing 20 different open wetlands in the Upper Hudson watershed this year as part of a project for the Division of Water in the DEC. On July 23rd Greg Edinger and I assessed a beaver-drowned fen near Benson in Hamilton County, on DEC land along the road to Lapland Lake ski center. The assessment includes data on species and their percent cover in an 80 meter diameter circle as well as in four 10×10 plots. Additional data on landscape quality surrounding the plots adds to the assessment. This marsh near Benson was difficult to walk around because of the deep water and thin sphagnum layer but we saw many interesting species. – Steve Young

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This is a view across the marsh showing the deep water sections. It was dominated by sedges, especially Carex utriculata, and Sphagnum.

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In the water the Brasenia shreberi, water shield, was in bloom.

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Sparganium americanum, American Bur-reed, was common and in flower and fruit.

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The wapato, Sagittaria latifolia, was in flower and had very narrow leaves here, resembling S. engelmannii.

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Scattered around in the muck were the tiny flowers of Utricularia gibba, Cone-spur bladderwort. I had difficulty distinguishing it from the closely related U. geminiscapa.

Check Native Impatiens/Touch-me-not/jewelweed for Downy Mildew

Posted June 7, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Invasive Species, Plant Pathology

Recently there have been outbreaks in the Northeast of a potentially devastating disease on garden impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), a downy mildew caused by Plasmopara obducens.  Cornell Cooperative Extension is looking for help in determining whether this downy mildew is currently affecting native jewelweeds. The New Guinea impatiens (I. hawkeri) does not seem to be affected.  For more info on the disease CLICK HERE.  For more information on what to look for CLICK HERE. If you find what you think is the mildew, collect a sample of the leaves in a clean plastic bag with a moist paper towel, seal it, and mail to:

Margaret Daughtry, Cornell University-LIHREC, 3059 Sound Ave., Riverhead, NY 11901.

This shows what happens to garden impatiens with the mildew.

Stay Abreast of Friday Field Group Trips

Posted June 2, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Field Trips, Plant Identification, Plant Organizations, What's Blooming

The Capital District Friday Field Group has been going on some nice field trips since April.  You can see their plant lists HERE and photos they took HERE.  Every week we hear the common phrase of 2012, “This is blooming already!”

The group walking out to see a view of the Petersburg Valley from the Taconic Crest Trail June 1.

Michael Kudish Talks About Mapping First Growth Forests in the Adirondacks

Posted May 3, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Classes and Workshops

Paul Smith’s College Prof. Emeritus Michael Kudish discusses Adirondack first growth forests in this April 2012 lecture on campus. The college’s School of Natural Resource Management and Ecology and the student chapter of the Society of American Foresters sponsored his lecture.  The talk runs 1hr 47 min.

 

Another Great Resource to Identify Violets

Posted May 2, 2012 by nyflora
Categories: Field Techniques

Check out the violet key at the Delaware Wildflowers web site. Great photos too.