Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers’
Have you spotted some of the first wildflowers in the forest? Late April into early May is when the famously fleeting flowers we call the spring ephemerals bloom – but only for a brief period of time! Known for bringing the first signs of the season to the forest floor, this group of perennials has only a short window of time to grow, flower, be pollinated, and produce seeds before the towering trees above them leaf out and steal their access to sunlight.
Beyond being beautiful, spring ephemerals are a source of nectar and pollen for many pollinators in a time when food is scarce. In return, pollinators help the plants reproduce and some (like ants) also spread their seeds, inadvertently helping to plant the next generation.
Just a few of the species you may spot include bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), trout lily (Erythronium americanum), red trillium (Trillium erectum), and spring beauty (Claytonia virginica). Many of these flowers are protected species, meaning it is illegal to pick or trample them. If you notice any in your yard, enjoy their brief beauty with only your eyes and camera.
Pictured: A mixed patch of spring ephemerals including trout lily (yellow flower) and spring beauty (pink flower).
As autumn approaches, the days grow shorter, evenings grow cooler, acorns fall from the oaks, and the maples, in anticipation of the coming change of season, start to reveal hints of the glorious spectacle of color that lies ahead.
It’s also the time of year when the goldenrod and the asters (also called starworts or frost flowers) present their showy blooms along roadsides and forest edges, in woodland openings, meadows, and old fields, and along stream banks. At a time when most other perennials have finished blooming, their eye-catching flowers are an abundant source of nectar for bees and butterflies, including adult monarchs, setting out on their remarkable flight to overwintering sites in the high-mountain forests of central Mexico. The seeds of both (and the insect larvae that feed on the plants themselves) are a valuable food source for birds, including migratory birds making their way south, and for many small mammals, as well.
Like the bees, once the temperature gets to 50 degrees and above my husband and I are outside on the move. Its not hard to notice the changes in the view from morning to evening when you spend nearly 80 percent of your time in nature like we do. In the morning the wild flowers are on display, bringing life and a multitude color to a mountain landscape but in the evening the once vibrant petals close and shades of green take over.
Have these flowers become sleepy and fallen into a slumber and if they’re not sleeping, why have they closed for the night?
Look at the wild flowers. See how they grow. – Luke 12:27; International Children’s Bible
You belong among the wildflowers. – Tom Petty
Love is like wildflowers; it’s often found in the most unlikely places. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I walk along the fields, meadows, and roads or hike through the forests of northern New York, I often come across wildflowers and think, “those would look great in my yard.” Native wildflowers are hardy, low maintenance, and attractive to pollinators, which makes them very desirable for cultivated landscapes. And, because they’re adapted to the climate and soils of the region, when grown under similar conditions they’re generally well-suited for use in home gardens and landscapes.
Spring is a wonderful time to get out and hunt for the early signs of wildflower season in the Ausable and Boquet watersheds. In an article by Leanna Thalmann, a water quality associate for the Ausable River Association, various types of wildflowers are explained and shown in beautifully captured pictures.
The article acts as a small guide to going out to the watersheds yourself to begin locating these wildflowers, which grow in a variety of places: rich, moist areas, dry meadows, and mixed forests alike.
Leanna Thalmann has some advice, however for those who wish to hunt for flowers themselves: “As with any encounter with wild things, it’s important to look at and love these beautiful flowers but leave them for the next person to admire. Never pick a wildflower. Many are protected species in the state of New York. ”
You can find wildflowers just about anywhere! Look for wildflowers at your local park, in your backyard, in fields and forests, and along roadsides. Not only are they nice to look at, but can be food for wildlife, including pollinators.
Learn more in the Conservationist for Kids pollinator issue (PDF). Wildlife may eat the leaves, flowers, seeds or stems.
Below are some species of native wildflowers:
As a kid, I was fascinated and terrified by the idea of carnivorous plants. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, my only exposure to this particular subset of the plant kingdom was the ravenous, larger-than-life Venus fly trap in Little Shop of Horrors.
If I stumbled upon a carnivorous plant in real life, I wondered, would it have teeth? If I ventured too close, would it grab on to my finger and never let go? » Continue Reading.
Lupine is one of the most spectacular flowers of early summer, painting long stretches of roadside with shades of purple and blue. Thanks to this tall, showy plant, even a stop-and-go drive to Boston’s Logan Airport has its moments of beauty (as I recently had occasion to observe). Full sun and dry, sandy soil are just right for lupine.
Although many people don’t know it, the lupine we typically see in the Northeast is “not from around here.” It’s a non-native plant that was imported to eastern gardens from parts of the western U.S. and escaped cultivation. Our native lupine is similar, but it is seen far less often and is, unfortunately, in regional decline. » Continue Reading.
Now that the weather has finally warmed up, we can appreciate ice a little more. Among other things, ice greatly improves summertime drinks, and an icy watermelon is hands-down better than a warm one. And in this part of the world, ice also provides us with unique wildflower meadows.
Along stretches of riverbank in the Southern Adirondacks, rare Arctic-type flowers are blooming now in the fragile slices of native grasslands that are meticulously groomed each year by the scouring action of ice and melt-water. » Continue Reading.
Here in the Adirondacks the stars are our night light, the crickets and bull frogs our bedtime lullaby.
This is a place where the simple things are seen and not overlooked. Mountain life affords us an advantage, serene surroundings to ponder about the little things and the opportunity to witness nature at work up close and personal. » Continue Reading.
Encouraging people to make friends with wild plants can be a challenge. Sometimes there are genuine concerns. Nettles, as an example, make an early-spring cooked green par excellence, even though its fresh leaves and stems have stinging hairs that can cause an uncomfortable, if temporary, rash if care is not taken when harvesting it.
Other times, it is a matter of perception. Critical to the survival of monarch butterflies, milkweed is delicious when prepared correctly. Jewelweed, native to wetlands, contains a sap which counteracts poison ivy, and its orange or yellow orchid-like flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Yet both plants suffer from having names which define them as undesirable. » Continue Reading.
By late-March it starts to feel as though winter is the only time of year not in a hurry to get somewhere. By comparison, every other season seems to go by with a Doppler-type velocity like an Indy car blurring past. But I realize that any day now, spring could get sprung, and when that happens, plant life will change by the day, if not the hour. Some of the first plants to catch my eye are ones which have historically been used to treat coughs and colds. Good timing, I’d say.
Herbal remedies have been part of human culture since the day culture got invented. No matter where our early ancestors settled, they exploited regional plants for medicinal as well as culinary value. In a sense, unknown plants served as an evolutionary pressure, except they selected against bad luck, and perhaps gullibility, and likely didn’t help the human genome a lot. As knowledge of plant medicine accrued, it was refined, committed to memory and passed along — first orally and later in writing — from one generation to the next. Ancient healers had to know the properties of a given plant, what it might interact with, and how to tell it from similar species. This of course helped protect them from the wrath of disgruntled patients, not to mention early malpractice suits. » Continue Reading.
Elizabeth Lombardi, a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, is collecting field data on plant pathogens in natural ecosystems throughout the Adirondack region, and has identified a virus in the non-native species Dame’s Rocket at several locations. Lombardi is asking the public if they cultivate this flower, or have seen it in the Adirondacks.
Wild plants, like their cultivated relatives, are susceptible to a diversity of pathogenic antagonists. Unlike crops, however, wild plants live or die by their own defenses when confronted by adversity. In recent years, there has been an uptick in scientific interest in plant epidemiology of natural systems and how environmental changes such as urbanization and global warming may alter pathogen presence wild plants. » Continue Reading.
Jack-in- the-pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum) are not the most colorful spring flowers, but what they lack in beauty they make up for in interesting characteristics. These easily-identified plants are full of surprises, from their ability to change from male to female (and back) to the bite of their calcium oxalate crystals, which can make your tongue feel like it’s full of burning splinters.
Jack-in- the-pulpit surfaces in wet, shaded woodland areas in mid-spring as a purpley-brown spike, all tucked up within itself. As the days meander toward summer, this spike unfolds into leaves and flower, with the plants growing as tall as two feet. The floral anatomy here includes a spadix of tiny flowers contained within a hooded spathe: Jack enclosed within his pulpit. » Continue Reading.
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