Monday, June 29, 2015

The Ice Meadows ( a belated post)

I have been hearing about the Ice Meadows along the upper Hudson River for some time, but on June 18, I finally had the opportunity to visit a portion of this unique habitat. This area is partly protected by the Hudson River Shoreline Preserve.  What makes the Ice Meadows so special are the plants that can be found there, some of which are quite rare. You can read more about this unusual microclimate habitat at the links I have listed at the end of this post.

I am far from an expert so I was very lucky that my first trip to the Ice Meadows was in the company of some pretty extraordinary amateur botanists, the Thursday Naturalists. If I have misidentified anything here, I know that one of them will be quick to help me with a correction, which I will welcome.
I will give my hoped-for editors an opportunity right up front. I know that this is a species of Potentilla/cinquefoil, but I didn't get a chance to key it out in the field. I think this is Tall Cinquefoil. There are rather a large number of species of potentillas, so I would be happy to be corrected if I got this wrong.

Here above is Frostweed, a simple yellow flower in summer. When this plant becomes really interesting is on the cusp of winter. Check out Saratoga Woods and Waterways for photos and descriptions of  Frostweed's unusual ability to "grow" ice curls, come November.
This delicate blue-violet beauty is Harebell. Please also notice the rocks behind it, and those in the photo of Racemed milkwort (Polygala polygama) below. The terrain along the Ice Meadows is not for the weak-ankled.
There are no neatly-kept trails to follow when one explores the Ice Meadows. Cobbled stones, tumbled boulders, muddy pools and marshy rivulets abound.
But despite their senior ages, my companions this day nimbly navigated the shoreline, always keeping a sharp look-out for the rare plants we had come to see.
Here above, our leader this day, Ed Miller (age 90, truly) is on his hands and knees to examine a plant with a hand lens. Please look at what he had to climb over to get there. The Thursday Naturalists themselves are as amazing and worthy of admiration as the rare plants they study.
Sticky Tofieldia.

Whorled Loosestrife
New York State is home to more than fifty varieties of native orchids. We were lucky enough to find three of them this day.

The first was this tiny Spiranthes lucida, commonly called Shining Ladies' Tresses.

This beauty is Rose Pagonia. We spotted several small patches of these along the river. 
The final orchid of the day was a Tubercled orchid. Should you be inclined to go looking for orchids, please do not pick them. All New York State orchid species are on the state protected list. It is a violation for anyone to remove or damage an orchid that is on state land. So please walk carefully.

My companions think this was a Carolina rose. I will have to see if this is a plant that I can order from a native plant nursery. One of our new baby twin grandchildren is named Caroline and she was born in North Carolina. This flower would be a great addition to my "Children's Garden" where I try to have a a flowering plant for each of my three now-grown children and five grandchildren. I still need to think of something for new baby boy Samuel. Any ideas?

Bladderwort, above, was one of at least three carnivorous plants that were spotted this day.
There was also this one: spatulate-leaved sundew and ...
... this one, Round-leafed sundew.

These are not lost troll dolls, but a cluster of Alpine Bulrush, a member of the Sedge family.

I took dozens more photos of many of the lovely and unusual plants we saw on this trip along the upper Hudson, but I think you've got the idea: this is a very special place. If you go, (1) please expect to get wet feet; (2) bring sunscreen. There is no shade along the meadows. And (3) walk carefully and use your eyes. There is magic here.

You can find much more information about the Ice Meadows at online sites such as these, below: