Spring Wildflower Sampler – Part 6

Having had taken the day off from work, I decided to return trailside to continue my wildflower inventory along the Community Connector Trail in the Towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon. I chose to focus on the western half (located in the Town of Clifton Park) today because I had viewed the eastern end of this trail during my last outing here.

What a gorgeous day!

I observed the following blooms today –

Dame’s Rocket (pink variety)

Dame’s Rocket

Bulbous Buttercup (NOTE:  The green sepals point downward along the flower stem.)

Aniseroot

Canada Anemone

Dame’s Rocket (white variety)

Early Buttercup

White Campion

Yellow Iris

Bird’s-eye Speedwell

White Mulberry

Cleavers

Tatarian Honeysuckle (one of three invasive species of honeysuckles found here)

Celandine

Common Lilac

Silky Dogwood

Happy trails!

Advertisements

Spring Wildflower Sampler – Part 5

Even though the forecast called for 100% chance of rain today, the delayed start prompted me to get out early to see how much of my continuing wildflower inventory at Settlers Hill Natural Area I could complete before the rains began.  This trail network is located in the Town of Clifton Park and it is comprised of two different segments –

  • East trail: Beginning at Gloucester Street, this trail segment heads south across Clifton Park Center Road, Michelle Drive, Waverly Place, Summerlin Drive and Avenue of the Oaks (twice) before terminating a short distance south of 4 Leaf Manor.
  • West trail: Beginning at either access point off Addison Way or Fairhill Road, these two access trails will intersect and then this trail segment heads west across Moe Road before generally heading south and terminating at Wildflower Drive.

As it turned out, I was able to inventory the entire system.  However, not before becoming quite damp as the initial mist gradually became a light shower.

This is a sampling of what I observed today –

Ragged Robin

Wild Geranium

Tower-mustard

Canada Mayflower

Hispid Buttercup

Mayapple

Flowering Dogwood

English Plantain

Black Chokeberry

Tall Buttercup

Happy trails!

Spring Wildflower Sampler – Part 4

With a forecast for rain this weekend, I decided to return trailside after work today to continue my wildflower inventory along the Community Connector Trail in the Towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon.  I chose to focus on the Halfmoon segment because of the unique habitat adjoining that portion of the trail (i.e., rocky woods, rich woods, and exposed shale bedrock).

I observed the following blooms today –

Wild Sarsaparilla

Chokecherry (Read more about them from one of my prior posts.)

Sicklepod

Downy Yellow Violet

Wild Columbine

Swamp Buttercup

Red Baneberry

Hispid Buttercup

Hawthorn

Morrow’s Honeysuckle (invasive species – white blooms turn yellow)

Common Cinquefoil

Purple Dead Nettle

Bell’s Honeysuckle (invasive species – pink blooms turn yellow)

Apple

Black Medick

Dwarf Cinquefoil

Ovate-leaved Violet

During this outing, I also spied this fruiting specimen –

Morchella esculenta

Thus, the morels have arrived!  Read more about these delicious mushrooms from one of my prior posts.

Happy trails!

Fiddlehead Season is Here!

May typically marks the opportunity to go foraging for fiddleheads.

While the fiddlehead stage of other ferns (such as Ostrich Fern) are more sought after by chefs and also more routinely available at farm markets, the only species that I enjoy is Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum).

Bracken Fern fiddlehead stage

Bracken Fern contains ptalquiloside, which has been linked to cancer.  That being said, the substance is both highly volatile (i.e., it will dissipate or disappear when subjected to boiling) and it is water soluble (i.e., soaking it in water will diminish its presence).  PLEASE:  Read more.

If you believe that your preparation will allow you to safely eat this wild edible, I encourage you to learn how to identify Bracken Fern and where they grow.  Read more about foraging.  Foraging tip:  Look for last year’s stalks and inspect the ground for emerging fiddleheads.

The photo below shows the plant after the fiddlehead has completed unfurled and the leaflets have fully developed – never collect the plant when it has reached this stage of growth.  I do not collect any plants whose fiddlehead has unfurled so that the 3-branch pattern of the leaflets is already apparent.

Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum)

I don’t eat this species raw because of its mucilaginous quality.  After quickly cooking them (par-boil or steam), this species exhibits a mild asparagus flavor that I savor.  Use them as you would asparagus as a vegetable, or prepare them as a creamed soup, or add to baked dishes such as quiche.  However, please be aware that cooked Bracken Fern does not remain firm; it will become soft.

Some recipes to consider:

If you decide to collect more than you’ll eat in a single meal, I suggest that you simply wash and cut them to the desired size for however you intend to use them and then freeze for later use.

Here’s to good eats!

Happy trails!

Spring Wildflower Sampler – Part 3

The return to sunny skies and warmer temps prompted me to go trailside to continue my wildflower inventories.  I decided to return to the Settlers Hill Natural Area in the Town of Clifton Park, which is comprised of two different segments –

  1. East trail: Beginning at Gloucester Street, this trail segment heads south across Clifton Park Center Road, Michelle Drive, Waverly Place, Summerlin Drive and Avenue of the Oaks (twice) before terminating a short distance south of 4 Leaf Manor.
  2. West trail: Beginning at either access point off Addison Way or Fairhill Road, these two access trails will intersect and then this trail segment heads west across Moe Road before generally heading south and terminating at Wildflower Drive. .

What a glorious day to be outside!

This is a sampling of what I observed today –

Thyme-leaved Speedwell

Pin Cherry closeup

Corn Speedwell  (NOTE:  This bloom is the size of a pinhead.  Sorry that it is blurred.)

Mouse-ear Chickweed

Striped Maple

Dog Violet

Wild Geranium

Dwarf Raspberry

Smooth Yellow Violet

Wild Plum

To any mom reading this, Happy Mother’s Day!  I hope you enjoyed a terrific day surrounded by loved ones.

Happy trails!

Early Spring Wildflower Sampler – Part 2

This week’s sunny warm days continue to spur a rapid progression of first blooms of an increasing number of wildflowers.  My destination this week was the Community Connector Trail in the Towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon.

During my strolls over the past two evenings, I observed –

White Clover (white bloom atop a leafless flower stem, unlike that of Alsike Clover, which has not yet begun blooming)

Smaller Pussytoes

Plantain-leaved Pussytoes

Rue Anemone

Long-spurred Violet

Early Meadow Rue – Please note how each bloom resembles a beaded lampshade from the Roaring Twenties.

Common Shadbush

Red Baneberry

American Black Currant

Field Pennycress

Golden Alexanders

Common Winter Cress

Here’s hoping each of you find an opportunity to get out and see any of the blooming beauties now on display and, in doing so, finding your own way to celebrate National Wildflower Week.

Happy trails!

Early Spring Wildflower Sampler

At last – an opportunity to view more than just a couple of species of wildflowers in bloom!  Our spring has been very reluctant to arrive.  Indeed, it seems to me that many wildflower species are about at least two weeks behind their respective typical schedule of the appearance of first blooms.

I accepted today’s sunshine after last evening’s severe weather alerts as a “welcome mat” to the outdoors.  I chose to amble along the Settlers Hill Natural Area trail in the Town of Clifton Park, which is comprised of two different segments –

  1. East trail:   Beginning at Gloucester Street, this trail segment heads south across Clifton Park Center Road, Michelle Drive, Waverly Place, Summerlin Drive and Avenue of the Oaks (twice) before terminating a short distance south of 4 Leaf Manor.
  2. West trail:  Beginning at either access point off Addison Way or Fairhill Road, these two access trails will intersect and then this trail segment heads west across Moe Road before generally heading south and terminating at Wildflower Drive.

This is one of three destinations at which I am currently conducting wildflower inventories during 2018.  The other two destinations include the Community Connector Trail (Towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon) and Fox Preserve (Town of Colonie).  I hope to prepare a wildflower field guide for each destination for release in spring 2019.

Today’s sunshine not only prompted me to get outside, it also coaxed a number of species to open their blooms for my viewing pleasure.  Thought I’d share with you what I observed.

Common Dandelion

Ground Ivy

Wild Strawberry

Trout Lily

Coltsfoot

Common Shadbush

Pin Cherry

Yellow Wood Sorrel

Whitlow Grass

Callery Pear

Wake Robin

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Marsh Marigold

Dwarf Ginseng

Wood Anemone

Sessile-leaved Bellwort

Common Blue Violet

Thyme-leaved Sandwort

Small-flowered Crowfoot

Selkirk’s Violet

 

In addition to these, I also observed Bloodroot, but I found only one unopened bud; all of the other specimens had already dropped their white petals and were forming seedpods.  Alas, I’ll have to wait another whole year to see them in bloom again!  (So, here’s a peek at a bloom from a prior year – enjoy!)

Happy trails!