Thursday, August 22, 2013

Near Stillwater, NY (Updated 8/23/13 and again on 8/26/13)

I always learn many interesting things when I tag along with the Thursday Naturalists. Today, it was this useful tip: that the leaves of the swamp white oak make good emergency toilet paper. This is due to the softness of the leaf's back, which is indeed Charmin-like. Duly noted.

Update 8/26/13: Jackie, over at Saratoga Woods and Waterways, took the same hike a couple of days after we did. She has added some information in her comment at the end of this post. You can also see her excellent blog post HERE.

It was a lovely warm day to explore the nature trails that run south east from Lock 4 of the Champlain Canal and along the Hudson River near Stillwater. We found white snakeroot along the edge of the woods.

There was also purple Groundnut. The guide book says that its root is an edible tuber  Update 8/23/13: We have a correction. The plant below may actually be Hog Peanut (Amphicarpa bracteata), Ed writes.

This lovely small sunflower was a puzzle. We never did find an identification that the group was confident in. I would be happy to hear from anyone who is certain of its name. It wasn't very tall, maybe three feet or so.
Ed writes, "I am uncertain on the sunflower. I think thin leaved (Helianthus decapetalus) or pale leaved (H strumosus)."

The flowers of the Horse Balm, below, were almost past. It is a member of the Mint Family, one of several mints we saw today.

The fruit of maple leaf viburnum is a lovely deep purple at its ripest.

One of the few flowers to bloom in the woods at this time of year is the lovely wood aster.

We saw a good number of ferns, including this evergreen wood fern and ...

...this interrupted fern.

Our trail followed the Hudson River and offered many places to pause and admire the view.

I love the way this mushroom on the left has  grown up under the moss. They are a species of Russula, I was told, but I do not know which.

It is easy to see why Big Bluestem grass is also called turkey foot.

Hairy Bush Clover was getting ready to bloom.

The tiny blossoms of Deptford Pink are dotted with white.

Our path reached the point where the Hoosic River meets the Hudson. What a view! We then turned left and began to follow the Hoosic upriver.

Along the path we found Slender Gerardia, a type of Figwort.

Here, too, was Showy Tick Trefoil.

Folks thought this mushroom nestled among the wintergreen might be Old Man of the Woods. Update: Jackie writes, "If you'd picked the shaggy brown mushroom, you would have noted it was toothed, not pored like the bolete Old Man of the Woods. We found the same mushroom and determined it was instead Bitter Tooth (Sarcodon scabrosus)."

To me, it resembled the small toad we met along our way. This was really the only critter we encountered today, aside from one cedar waxwing hanging out in a riverside oak.

We continued east along the banks of the Hoosic and the day grew warmer.

A shady dip in the landscape provided a lovely place to rest and look out at the river.

To rest, that is, until CRACK! The aged log that had appeared to be a good seat for two of our group suddenly gave way and down they went! Fortunately, no one was hurt and they were able to laugh about it.
Back on the trail again, this member of the pea family provided another puzzle for the day.

Later, at lunch, a verdict was reached: Wandlike Bush Clover.

 We found Wild Mint...

...and Mad-dog Skullcap.

This, below, appears to be another member of the mint family. I think it might be Northern Bugleweed. The leaves did not have a strong scent. Any thoughts on that? Update: Ed writes, "The mint is not Lycopus but I don't know what it is." So it's not a Bugleweed. Further suggestions welcome.

This, if my notes are correct, was Narrow-leaved Willow Herb.

Every time that I get to go out with the Thursday Naturalists, I discover how little I know about the woods and fields and swamps around us. What a privilege it is to learn from these folks. I thank them for letting me tag along
and for being patient when I endlessly ask, "What's this?"