Forensic Botanizing: Woodland Forbs

On this Christmas Day, I visited the Woodcock Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.  I was rewarded by spotting this Barred Owl (not a great image, but you can find it near the middle of this photo).

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

I had also viewed this owl in practically the same spot during my hike here on New Year’s Day to begin 2016.

As I continued my hike, I chose to wander along the Blue Trail since this portion of the preserve is open at this time of year.

Blue Trail trailhead - Woodcock Preserve

Blue Trail trailhead – Woodcock Preserve

My hike inspired me to offer you a winter plant ID quiz.  To identify each plant, simply click on “Answer” beneath each image.  Have fun!

Wishing all a very Merry Christmas!  Here’s hoping everyone enjoys happy trails in the New Year.

Christmas Fern

Christmas Fern



Forensic botanizing…with a backdrop of snow

Yup, I’ve done it.  And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

On what seems to be an ever-increasing frequency, I’ve slowly walked along a trail that I would (and arguably should) have otherwise been on my cross-country skis.  Ski touring is my favorite winter outdoor activity.  It was once my favorite outdoor activity, particularly when I was younger (and when I was somewhat fit).  Along came climate change and winters are no longer filled with multiple skiable-snow days.

Furthermore, my favorite spring/summer outdoor activity changed from trout fishing to…botanizing, particularly wildflower identification.

Given those changes to my outdoor activity preferences, a “new interest” of mine has become forensic botanizing.  What’s that, you ask?  Being able to recognize a plant, sometimes a particular species, by one or more plant parts that are visible at any given time of the year.  And, at this time of the year, it is more like being able to identify whatever “plant remains” you can find at this time of the year.  You know what I’m talking about; plant rubble.


So, it was fun (and a little reassuring to learn that there was “someone else” out there who also did this!) to read this article (I hope you do, too).

Ready to “see” what I’m talking about?  Please view my winter plant ID quiz (from last winter).  I hope it will inspire you to talk a slow stroll along one of your favorite trails sometime this winter to see what you can find (and identify!).

Happy trails!