Saturday, June 6, 2015

Skidmore's North Woods

After a long absence (on my part) I was finally able to get back into the woods this week with the Thursday Naturalists, that venerable group of wise and wonderful folks who know so much about wild places. Our destination was Skidmore College's North Woods, a 150 acre treasure that the college graciously shares with the community.

This week, we were very much missing Jackie Donnelly, who I first came to know through her wonderful blog, Saratoga Woods and Waterways.  Jackie had an unfortunate mishap at a granddaughter's college graduation last week, which has put her out of commission for a while. I wish her a speedy recovery.

Before we had gotten into the woods proper, there were familiar June wildflowers and fruits to see under the power lines that run past the parking lot. I have always had a soft spot for the common daisy (above.) I even have a small white dog named Daisy.  And there were abundant wild strawberries, warm and ripe from the sun, not yet all snapped up by birds. So sweet!

Along the path, someone spotted Orange-fruited Horse Gentian (Triosteum aurantiacum) also called
Wild Coffee.

 I don't remember having seen this is bloom before.

 There were  wild geraniums in the shadier spots, and on into the woods.

 We saw Pussytoes, or Early Everlastings, above, although I am not sure which variety these are. There are several kinds.

Still in the field, there were plenty of common milkweed plants. On this one, a ladybug was well-snuggled in, perhaps dining on aphids.

A little later, in the woods, we saw another variety of milkweed, the Four-leaved milkweed. Read more about this on Jackie's blog, here.

This is a season where the woodland plants move toward greens and whites. The forest canopy has filled in and less sun reaches the forest floor. Paler colors are here now, than one might find in earlier spring.
False Solomon's Seal or Wild Spikenard.

Maple-leaved Viburnum

Ferns and fern-like plants shine in this shadier season. Here, above, is a maidenhair fern, one of my favorites.
Rattlesnake fern

This plant, above and below, is not a fern, although it looks like one. This is Wood Betony, whose flower, below, has just gone by.
The woods here were dim, so I had to use my flash. The flower color is not quite this yellowy just now.

There are often odd-looking things in the forest. No one with us this day could identify the fungus, above, but Ruth took a small piece home to try to find its name.

Near the mystery fungus, I spotted this parasitic plant with the decidedly un-poetic name: broom rape, or squaw root.

Many woodland wildflowers that have passed their blooming season are now in fruit.
Blue Cohosh, above, has berry-like fruits which will be blue when fully ripe. 

Large-flowered Bellwort, also in fruit.

Blood root. Note its seed pod on the lower right, pointing up

Our leader this day, Ed Miller, was most eager for us to see the fairly rare Green Violet (Hybanthus concolor). They do not look at all like the common purple violets you may have picked as a child.

The greenish-white flowers have passed, but when I bent closer to photograph its fruit, I met a delicate spider basking on a leaf.

These "witch's hats" on the leaves of witch hazel shrubs are caused by aphids.

A tiny red eft was one of the few spots of color on the forest floor this June morning.

Thank you to Jackie Donnelly for helping me to identify the Blue Cohosh and the Large-flowered Bellwort. I learn from her even when she is confined to quarters!

Gosh it was fun to be back in the woods. I hope it won't be so long between outings again.