Spring Woodland Wildflower Sampler #4

Today, I returned to Anchor-Diamond Park at Hawkwood Estate in the Town of Ballston to continue my wildflower inventory.  This sunny day did not disappoint!

As I mentioned in the first installment of this series of spring woodland wildflower samplers, the greening of our landscape occurs quickly each spring.  Things now appear quite lush with much shade already blanketing much of the forest floor.  Another indication of the vernal progression underway is the winding down of the earliest of our spring wildflowers – the “spring ephemerals.”  Some species, such as Trout Lily, are already exhibiting yellow leaves, which indicate that those plants are already going dormant to await another growing season.  And to think they were still in bloom just two weeks ago!  By early June, there will be no evidence in this woodland that Trout Lily thrive throughout this park.

My point?  Get out there and enjoy your favorite outdoors destination each season and observe the nuances of each season!

Among the wildflowers in bloom at this time –

Cleavers

Mayapple

Wild Geranium

Sweet Cicely

Jack-in-the-pulpit  (Note the purple coloration.)

Northern Jack-in-the-pulpit  (Note the absence of purple coloration.)

Starflower

Canada Mayflower

Dog Violet

Fringed Polygala

Spring Cress

Dwarf Raspberry

Pennsylvania Bittercress

White Baneberry

Marsh Blue Violet – lots of them!

Marsh Blue Violet – a closer look…

Smaller Forget-me-not

Happy trails!

Spring Woodland Wildflower Sampler #3

On my way to the office yesterday, the day’s sunny beginning inspired me to stop at Bauer Environmental Park (located in the Town of Colonie) to see if I could find any Painted Trillium in bloom.  I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing that particular beautiful wildflower in bloom on any of my wildflower inventory walks this spring.  I’m glad I stopped!

A walk along this boardwalk trail offered these blooms to enjoy –

Pink Lady’s-slipper

Painted Trillium

Yellow Clintonia

Miterwort

Small-flowered Crowfoot

Starflower

Canada Mayflower

Common Blue Violet

Sweet White Violet

Marsh Blue Violet

Bulbous Buttercup – note that sepals are pointed downward

Celandine

Since I was rewarded with not only seeing a Painted Trillium but also my first Pink Lady’s-slipper of the year, I decided to make an additional quick stop at Ann Lee Pond Nature and Historic Preserve (located nearby, also in the Town of Colonie) to check on the blooming status of another of my favorite spring woodland wildflowers.

After a brisk walk across the new bridge across Ann Lee Pond, I walked that path a short distance to where it forks in the woods.  I found one of those shrubs, Early Azalea, to be loaded with many plump flower buds.  They should be opening very soon!

I found these blooms during my short visit –

Fig Buttercup

Chokecherry

Black Chokeberry

Morrow’s Honeysuckle

Bell’s Honeysuckle

Happy trails!

Introducing Wildflower Information Stations – Town Park

Before heading off to work today, I placed a Wildflower Information Station along the nature trail at Town Park in the Town of Halfmoon.  For those of you who frequent that park, take a stroll along the south loop near the apartment buildings.  Look along the left side of the trail as you head south and you’ll notice (for the next couple of weeks) a little sign located just beyond the mowed area adjoining the edge of the trail.

Wildflower Info Station – Maiden’s-tears (located along south loop across from apartment buildings)

If you have a smartphone, use your QuickRead bar code scanner to download info about each wildflower mentioned at each information station.

As the seasons progresses, one or more signs will be placed elsewhere along the trail to replace this sign to continue to educate visitors about other wildflowers that can be observed at this park.

This is a collaborative project with the Town of Halfmoon Parks Department.  If you observe any of these signs during a visit, please let me know what you think about your experience.

During my visit, I saw these blooms elsewhere along the trail –

Common Wintercress

Woodland Strawberry

Ground Ivy

Thyme-leaved Speedwell

Wild Geranium

Wild Strawberry

Apple

Field Pennycress

Dwarf Cinquefoil

Chokecherry

Golden Alexanders

Morrow’s Honeysuckle

Garlic Mustard

Happy trails!

Spring Woodland Wildflower Sampler #2

On my way to the office on this chilly but sunny Monday morning, I stopped by the Ann Lee Pond Nature and Historic Preserve (located in the Town of Colonie) to do a quick peek at what spring wildflowers were in bloom.

Given the continuing rains we have been experiencing, the trails were soggy.  In fact, there were many sizeable puddles (some ankle deep!) along each trail.  No worries for me.  I typically wear rubber knee boots for just such (frequent) occasions!

I was disheartened because I was unable to find a single emerging Painted Trillium.  For the past several years, I had found only one in bloom along the loop trail.  Not this year.  Perhaps not again?

However, I did find these blooms along my way –

Sessile-leaved Bellwort

Starflower

Highbush Blueberry

Dwarf Ginseng

Wild Sarsaparilla (Blooms are below the leaf along left edge of image.)

Wild Sarsaparilla (Close-up view of blooms.)

Goldthread

Common Wintercress

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood (Close-up view of blooms.)

Marsh Marigold

Happy trails!

UPDATE: A New Wildflower Information Station at Shenantaha Creek Park

During this afternoon’s casual rainfall, I placed the third Wildflower Information Station along the nature trail at Shenantaha Creek Park.  For those of you who frequent that park and walk along the nature trail, you’ll notice this sign (for the next couple of weeks) off the left side of the trail within a couple hundred feet after passing the old mill site on the banks of Ballston Creek.  (The first two information stations have been removed for the season.)

Wildflower Info Station – Barren Strawberry – Shenantaha Creek Park

If you have a smartphone, use your QuickRead bar code scanner to download info about the wildflower mentioned at this information station.

As the seasons progresses, one more sign will be placed elsewhere along the trail to continue to educate visitors about other wildflowers that can be observed at this park.

This is a collaborative project with the Town of Malta Department of Parks, Recreation, and Human Services.  If you observe these signs during a visit, please let me know what you think about your experience.

During my visit, I saw these blooms elsewhere along the trail –

White Baneberry

Wake Robin

Canadian Wild Ginger

Long-spurred Violet

Early Meadow Rue

Small-flowered Crowfoot

Downy Yellow Violet

Dutchman’s Breeches

Red-berried Elder

Cutleaf Toothwort

Toothwort

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Garlic Mustard

Miterwort

Smaller Pussytoes

Ovate-leaved Violet

Wild Strawberry

Apple

Happy trails!

Morels are here!

Despite this morning’s cool temps (perhaps even a light frost?), I came upon an unexpected treasure on my hike after work today.

Morels!

Morchella esculenta  (FYI:  These 14 mushrooms weigh 9.6 oz.)

I may be inspired to cook!


Cream of Mushroom Soup

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Tablespoons butter, divided use
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
  • 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) chicken broth
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

PREPARATION:

Clean mushrooms with a mushroom brush or damp paper towel. Cut half of the mushrooms into slices. Chop the remainder.

Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan and saute sliced mushrooms until golden. Remove and reserve sliced mushrooms. Add remaining butter to the same pan, along with the chopped mushrooms and sweet onions. Sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft.

Return sliced mushrooms to the pan. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly about 2 minutes, until smooth. Slowly add chicken broth while stirring. Simmer, stirring often, until thickened. Add nutmeg and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, if need be.

Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. (Do not boil.) Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.

Yield: 2 entree servings or 4 smaller appetizer servings


If you give this recipe a try, let me know how it turns out for you.

If that recipe doesn’t get you motivated to go collect some of these delectable “fruits” of the forest, then perhaps these will –

19 Morel Mushroom Recipes

Morel Mushrooms (Food & Wine)

Chicken with Morels (Ina Garten)

Morel Recipes (Martha Stewart)

Celebrate Morel Season, 16 Recipes (New York Times)

Sautéed Morel Mushrooms

How to Clean and Cook Morel Mushrooms

FYI:  A great reference book to help you identify mushrooms is Mushrooms of North America by Orson K. Miller, Jr.

This book contains nearly 300 color photos of fungi along with detailed descriptions of each and a pictorial key to help you identify the particular species you find.

Happy trails!

Spring Woodland Wildflower Sampler

The pace of the greening of the landscape has quickened substantially over the past week.  Please be sure that you seize your opportunities to get out and observe the season’s emergence of new plants and its showy blooms whenever you can.

Yesterday, I visited Anchor-Diamond Park at Hawkwood Estate in the Town of Ballston to continue my wildflower inventory.  It was quite an observational bonanza!  I spied twenty-three additional species (most not blooming) for this property as well as finding several species along trails in addition to where I had originally observed them.

Among the wildflowers in bloom at this time –

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Marsh Marigold

Wake Robin

Small-flowered Crowfoot

Downy Yellow Violet

Yellow Trout Lily

Sessile-leaved Bellwort

Northern Jack-in-the-pulpit

Red-berried Elder

Red Baneberry

American Fly Honeysuckle

Northern Prickly Ash

Northern White Violet

Dwarf Ginseng

Miterwort

Wooly Blue Violet

Happy trails!