Happy Weed Appreciation Day!

March 28 is National Weed Appreciation Day.

What is a weed?

A definition:  a plant that is not desired where it is growing.

A perspective: “A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most folks view this common plant as a weed:

Common Dandelion

Truth to be told, that was probably the first “wild flower” most of us observed as a child.  My mother was not likely the first to receive a bouquet of these on Mother’s Day from a grubby-handed tyke!

There is a substantial amount of curious information associated with Common Dandelion.  Here are a few examples:

Dandelion flowers are photosensitive, which means they bloom during daylight and close in the evening or in gloomy conditions.

Folklore:  Some believe that brewing a strong roasted dandelion tea helps promote one’s own psychic powers.

Edible uses: Dandelion leaves can be added to a salad or cooked. Flowers can be made into a jelly. The root can be made into a coffee substitute.

Medicinal uses: The latex-containing sap is a styptic and combats acne, boils, diabetes, eczema and warts.

Wildlife value: Flowers provide nectar and pollen to honeybees and other beneficial insects, particularly important in early spring when they are one of the relatively few plants in bloom.

Interestingly, there are a number of species of wildflowers whose common name contains the word “weed.”  Such as –

Butterfly Weed

Common Milkweed

Hedge Bindweed


Mouse-ear Chickweed


Prostrate Knotweed


Rattlesnake Weed


Spotted Jewelweed

Swamp Smartweed


Regardless of whether or not you feel that the word “weed” is pejorative when referencing a certain plant, I’m content to know each as simply another species of wildflower.

With that being said, join me, won’t you, in raising a glass of dandelion wine…or…cup of coltsfoot tea…or…shot of knotweed-infused vodka, in celebration of National Weed Appreciation Day!?!

Happy trails!

Ephemeral Spring Wildflowers will now be online virtual walks – please join me for both sessions!

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I will alternatively offer online presentations rather than the in-person gatherings I had originally scheduled for April 22 and May 6.  We all need to stay healthy and be safe while practicing our social isolation, but that should not necessarily keep us from “gathering.”  Please join me for either or both of my upcoming 45-minute online presentations featuring the spring ephemeral wildflowers we will be viewing at that time at these and other local nature preserves, parks and trails.

For logon information for these two sessions as well as information about my other upcoming activities, please view my Events page.  Please visit my Events page on a recurring basis for updates (and likely additional changes) to other scheduled activities as we all monitor the rapidly changing conditions associated with this health crisis.

Please stay healthy and be safe.

World Water Day

In recognition of World Water Day, I thought I’d share a sampling of images illustrating our abundant freshwater resources.  Each provides us with not only that life-sustaining liquid, but also dramatically adds to the scenic landscape in which we live while offering seemingly unlimited recreational opportunities throughout the year.

Looking across open water feature and marsh along Community Connector Trail

View of intermittent waterfall along Zim Smith Trail

Shenantaha or deer water – AKA Ballston Creek

Mini waterfall at Sanders Preserve

Mohawk River overlook from Tommy’s Trail

View of Mohawk River and outlet of Wager’s Pond along Community Connector Trail

Driftwood Homesteaders: Cattail and Monkey Flower reside on muddy log along Mohawk River

Great Blue Heron – Mohawk River at Mohawk Landing Nature Preserve

Shimmering Landscape – Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve

Frozen Flood: The Mohawk River in Still Life

McDonald Creek from atop Old Lock 9, Historic Champlain Canalway Trail

Common Shadbush – along Erie Canal near Clute’s Dry Dock

Stony Creek Reservoir off Englemore Road

Looking upstream along Shenantaha Creek

Heron rookery in meadow along Ballston Creek

Stony Creek Reservoir

Pond along Blue Trail at Woodcock Nature Preserve – note Winterberry along left shoreline


Learn more in the World Water Day Toolkit.


Another ‘first bloom’ of the season!

Yesterday, I spied this –


which, in honor of today being World Poetry Day, I suggest you read this and also this.

And, speaking of poetry, I was inspired to entitle this image “haiku” –

Haiku – late October snow, North Woods Nature Preserve

Happy trails!

Vernal Equinox 2020

The vernal equinox will occur later this week.

With longer days to come, the new season will begin heralding the emergence of a myriad of wildflowers and the unfurling of tree leaves throughout our area.

Skunk Cabbage

Emerging False Hellebore leaves

Consider these activities as part of your adventures this spring –

Lastly, I have scheduled several walks featuring wildflowers and foraging for wild edibles throughout this year, including those listed above for this spring.  Please join me.

Happy trails!

First bloom(s) of the year! – Day 2

Continuing my wildflower inventory of the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park on “day 2” of this weekend, I found two more species in bloom – adding to my “first flowers” of the year!

Speckled Alder (Alnus incana ssp. rugosa) – female flowers on upper twig and male flowers on lower twig 

Read about this shrub speciesRead about its preferred habitat, which is found throughout much of this preserve.

American Hazelnut (Corylus americana) – male flower centered between two female flowers

Read about this shrub species.  This species is most often found along any of the former towpaths in this preserve.


Happy trails!

First bloom of the year!

While continuing my wildflower inventory of the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park today, I found several of these trees in bloom – first flowers of the year!

Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

To view a couple more photos of my find today (which illustrate identification characteristics for this species), please view them here.

Read about this tree speciesRead about its preferred habitat, which is found throughout much of this preserve.


Happy trails!

Leap Day Winter Plant ID

Virginia Creeper

On Leap Day this year, eight hearty souls joined me for an afternoon outing at Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood in the Town of Ballston for a winter plant identification walk.  After a quick review of our route and a brief overview of the characteristics of a forb, I shared some water crackers topped with some homemade ‘Autumnberry’ jam (made from Autumn-olive berries) to fuel our outing.  (Please join me for a Foraging for Wild Edibles walk about Autumn-olive berries in early October; view the Events page for more info.)

In all, we observed 31 plants comprised of a variety of trees, shrubs, vines and forbs.  View a summary of what we observed.

Those and many other plants in their winter slumber can be found on my recently expanded set of winter plant ID photos on the Winter Plant ID page.  See how many you recognize!

Happy trails!