Posts Tagged ‘Botany’

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Outside Story: Winter Wildlife Survival Foods

Photo by Art Kirsch, DEC Wildlife BiologistWinter is a hard time for wildlife. It brings deep cold, leafless terrain, and a shortage of food and water. Animals have few choices. Most songbirds abandon the region via a perilous migration to warmer climates. Other creatures hunker down in hibernation. But there are a number of species that remain active all winter.

This is no easy task. Mammals and birds must maintain their body heat by burning (metabolizing) their body fat – or perish. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Adirondack Climate Change: How About Oaks?

Johnny Appleseed, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1871Several weeks ago, it was reported in the Almanack that the Adirondacks might be a potential location for mountain lion reintroduction. Over the past few decades, various types of wildlife have been restored to their former numbers in the Park, and over the past several centuries, many non-native species of flora and fauna have become established, either accidentally or on purpose in our environment.

During this present century, there will undoubtedly be a massive influx of life forms occurring throughout the region in response to the changing climate. While the mountain lion elicits much interest and emotion, its return would not have the same ecological impact as the formation of scattered patches of red oaks, white oaks, basswood, shagbark hickory, sweet birch and other trees that typify woodlands to our south.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Outside Story: How Do Trees Survive Winter Cold?

Trees are about half water, maybe a little less in winter. And if the temperature drops low enough, the water in even the most cold-hardy tree will freeze.

So how do trees survive below-freezing temperatures? They can’t move south or generate heat like a mammal. Sure, the below-ground parts of a tree are kept insulated by a layer of snow, and that is important to winter survival, but the exposed parts of a tree are not so protected. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Outside Story: The Ecology Of Leaf Litter

It’s one of the pleasures of fall: walking in the woods on a warm day, scuffing my feet through a deep layer of newly fallen leaves. Looking down, I notice the gold coins of aspen leaves against the bread-knife serrations of brown beech leaves. My feet make that “swoosh, swoosh” sound that takes me back to when I was a kid.

It’s November and the color blast has faded. The woods are gray and brown. The much admired “fall foliage” has drifted earthward to become the more prosaic “leaf litter.” I understand the term, but the word litter grates a little. It connotes trash, yet leaves are just the opposite of trash. Their contribution to forest health, to the ecosystem, is incalculable. They help make the forest what it is.
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Outside Story: The Clinker Polypore Fungus

If you’ve seen a well-developed clinker polypore (inonotus obliquus) protruding from a tree, there’s a good chance that you remember it. This fungus causes large, black, cinder-like growths, sometimes neatly conical, but often rough and ragged. Also called the birch polypore, you can find these conks on all species of birch, as well as on hophornbeam and occasionally on other hardwoods. By the time the fungal tissue is visible on the outside, the inside of the tree is likely to be rotten to the core.

Much is yet to be learned about this organism, but it seems that infection often occurs after another fungus, called Nectria, has invaded a tree. Injuries, too, allow the clinker polypore to get a foothold, and once it has settled in, death – though sometimes a slow death – seems to be inevitable. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Warren Co Master Gardener Training Program Set

Applications are being accepted for the training that will begin in January 2013. The program is open to anyone who has an interest in expanding their gardening experience and knowledge. Participants learn to improve their own gardens and landscapes, including scientifically-based gardening information in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Native Adirondack Wetlands:
Cardinal Flower And Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

ruby-throated hummingbird and cardinal flowerThere is nothing like the scarlet red color of a cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, in bloom along a stream bank or lakeshore right now in late summer.  If you have been out and about in the last month or so, paddling, boating, or hiking, you might have been lucky enough to happen upon this stunning beauty during your outing.

Besides being one of my favorite flowers, it is also a favorite of the ruby-throated hummingbird. And while as many as 19 species of plants found in the Eastern US have probably  co-evolved with hummingbirds, the cardinal flower is the most well-known.  The range of the ruby-throated hummingbird and the cardinal flower are very similar, demonstrating how closely the two are linked. The long tubular flowers of cardinal flower and the long, narrow bill of a hummingbird are a perfect match.  By reaching all the way down into the bottom of the five-petaled flower in search of nectar, the hummingbird gets food, and in return, the cardinal flower gets pollinated. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beetles Take Bite Out Of Purple Loosestrife

For over a decade, I have been battling purple loosestrife, an aggressive wetland invasive plant that has cost the United States millions of dollars in damage, and is known to impede recreation and degrade wildlife habitat.  As a Conservation Educator for Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District, my efforts include manual management and a new biocontrol program.  On June 26, my coworker and I released 500 beetles along the Sacandaga River in the Town of Lake Pleasant to take a bite out of purple loosestrife. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Adirondack Ragweed and Hay Fever Season

August is a month known for ripening raspberries and blackberries, the appearance of locally grown sweet corn and other fresh produce at farm stands, the return of back to school ads on TV, and the unwelcome arrival of hay fever season.

For many people, exposure to certain types of pollen triggers a most unpleasant nasal reaction that can linger for days. While the pollen of numerous plants contributes to this often severe irritation of the nose, sinus cavities and upper respiratory tract of many, ordinarily healthy people, ragweed is, by far, the leading culprit responsible for making life miserable for those unfortunate enough to be afflicted with this common medical condition. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Emily DeBolt: Meet the Monardas

This time of year you might be noticing some red or lavender flowers along the sides of the roads or in old fields as you are out driving or hiking.  If you slow down and stop to take a look, what you might be seeing is one of our native species of the genus Monarda, commonly known as Beebalm or Oswego Tea by many gardeners. There are a variety of cultivars and hybrids available at most garden centers with enticing names – such as ‘Coral Reef’ or ‘Raspberry Wine’.   Gardeners have been using beebalm in their gardens for years – it is a great choice for attracting hummingbirds and other pollinators and is a beautiful splash of summer color.

The group of plants in the Monarda genus are often just called beebalm as a whole – even though there are many distinct species. And many gardeners don’t realize that we have a number of different native Monardas in our area – in fact Monarda is a North American genus of over a dozen species. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Region-wide Activities for Invasive Species Awareness Week

Groups across the region are sponsoring activities geared to fun and education July 8-14 during the 7th annual Adirondack Invasive Species Awareness Week. Invasive Species Awareness Week provides an opportunity for communities to highlight the threats of invasive plants and animals and for residents and visitors to learn ways to prevent and manage invasive species spread.

This year’s line-up of public events includes an array of interactive activities including invasive plant paddles on Lake George, Fish Creek and Lake Pleasant; forest pest inventories in Long Lake; a nature walk at Point Au Roche State Park in Plattsburgh; forest pest presentations in Bolton Landing and Lake Placid; and, interpretive displays at the Paul Smiths VIC and Lake George Visitors Center. New this year is the Boat Steward Passport. Spend time with a boat launch steward at five of 13 select boat launches and learn about aquatic invaders to become a Watershed Steward Deputy and earn a free t-shirt. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hilary Smith: Invasive Swallow-Wort Vine Expanding Range

What follows is a guest essay by Hilary Smith Director of the  Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program in Keene Valley.  Swallow-wort is an invasive plant on the move on the periphery of the park. 

The field season is here and the hunt for invasive plants is underway.  Crews, volunteers and concerned citizens have eyes open for new infestations. The best time to detect invasive plants is when they are in flower. Detecting plants early is critical. The sooner an infestation is found, the more likely it is that it can be successfully eliminated.

Swallow-wort vine is in bloom now. It is relatively widespread throughout central and western New York but just starting to make in-roads into the Adirondack region. Time is of the essence to find new locations of this swiftly spreading plant. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Caitlin Stewart: Meet the Invasive Milfoils

With the summer vacation season right around the corner, folks are getting ready to launch their motor boats, kayaks, and canoes, excited to enjoy a day on the lake.  They may be unaware that they could be transporting hitchhikers.  Not human hitchhikers, but the green, leafy kind.

Meet Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L.) and variable-leaf milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum), two perennial, submerged aquatic invasive plants that pose a threat to Adirondack lakes.  They can hitchhike from lake to lake on boat trailers, motors, or on canoe and kayak deck rigging.  These plants can degrade aquatic ecosystems, impair recreation, and are expensive to manage. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stoddard’s Natural Views Exhibit Opening May 4th

Long considered beautiful photographs of the Adirondack landscape, Seneca Ray Stoddard’s views also serve as documents of the plants that inhabited the region in the 19th century. Since he was rediscovered in the late 1970s, Stoddard’s work has been featured in numerous exhibits that explored the history of 19th century life in the Adirondacks. A survey of the 3,000 images in the Chapman Historical Museum archives, however, revealed hundreds of images that are purely natural landscapes. The subject matter is the Adirondack environment – not great hotels, steamers, camp scenes or other obvious evidence of human activity. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Caitlin Stewart: The Hunt for Invasives at Lewey Lake

I raised the binoculars to my eyes and stared into the tree canopy above me. Carefully scanning the bare winter branches, nothing out of sorts was noted. I continued down the trail searching for clues that invasive insects may be lurking in the forest.

As Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservation Educator, part of my job entails monitoring and managing lands and waters for invasive species. I can’t do it alone, and partnerships are essential to detect invasions early and deploy a quick response. Since 2009, the District has teamed up with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to survey our forests for invasive insects that cost the United States vast amounts of money in economic and ecological damage each year. » Continue Reading.