Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday in Feura Bush

Although the roadsides are still filled with cheerful color, in the deep woods, few things are in showy bloom by mid-August.
So when the Thursday Naturalists set off into Hollyhock Hollow near Feura Bush (NY) this morning, it was ferns we were after. 

 Along the way, we spotted ripening Mayapples. This is a plant I know from its early spring white blossom, but I don't think I've ever actually seen its "apple" before.

Oops, what was that flash of color? Tiny red efts look orange to me, but red or orange, their bright color doesn't make good camouflage, in my opinion. The literature says that the orange skin warns predators of its toxicity.
Red efts are the terrestrial phase of the eastern newt and are commonly seen out in the open on moist woodland floors. We saw several of them this morning.

And here at last were the ferns:

Marginal fern

Ebony spleenwort (photo enlarged)
Here above, our leader, Ed, is scrambling up a rocky slope in search of walking fern, pictured below. This is a small plant with a long slender glossy leaf blade. It is not easy to spot among the mossy rocks.

Ed will be helping to teach an ECOS class on tree identification in Schenectady this fall. Ed, by the way, will be turning 89 in October. He defies all stereotypes of senior living.
Walking fern
Botrychium fern (I think)

Wall-rue fern

We moved on down the trail and Ed pointed out moonseed, a common woody vine. What is unusual about this plant is that the leaf grows perpendicular to the stem.

 We also saw squawroot, which is parasitic on the roots of woody plants. In the spring, it is a yellowish color, turning to brown in the fall.

And here was bladdernut bush, a plant that was new to me.

Ed was concerned that this plant was black swallow-wort weed, a worrisome invasive.
Our trail wound back along the Onesquethaw Creek, which gurgled cheerfully on this August day. I was tempted to go wading; if it had been hotter, I would have.
Bottlebrush grass

Evening primrose

Joe Pye Weed


 After the muted colors of the shady woods, this bright splotch of purple was a treat. Growing along the creek-side trail, these purple-flowering raspberries positively glowed.

At the end of two and half hours, we were back where we started and ready for our lunches. The summer day was so lovely that we lingered a while after our sandwiches were gone.

I can't wait until next Thursday.