Pre-autumn Amble through Asters

Yesterday, I concluded my wildflower inventory at Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood, which is located in the Town of Ballston.  I was able to add one more species for this park and am now ready to assemble a wildflower field guide.  The guide should be ready for spring 2018.

During my visit, I saw –

Hairy White Oldfield Aster

Heath Aster

White Wood Aster

Small White Aster

Heart-leaved Aster

Purple-stemmed Aster

I also observed this red berry sampler along the way –

Happy trails!


Minding my p’s and q’s, and Bidens, too!

During my routine wildflower inventory visit to Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood in the Town of Ballston today, I discovered several Nodding Bur Marigold plants and found one with an opened bloom.  Also referred to as Nodding Beggar Ticks, this native wildflower is one of several species that waits until September each year before beginning to bloom.

Nodding Beggar Ticks

All of these plants were located in the wetland area just beyond the end of the Hawkwood Trail (white markers) at the western end of this property.  Not far from that blooming specimen, I discovered a closely related plant also in bloom.

Swamp Beggar Ticks

On my way out of the wetland to rejoin the trail and continue my inventory, I found yet another closely related plant also in bloom.

Devil’s Beggar Ticks

These plants look very similar to one another and are indeed related to one another because they are in the same genus – Bidens, which means two teeth.

Of the three shown above, Bidens frondosa (Sticktight, but also referred to as Devil’s Beggar Ticks) is by far the most common Bidens that I encounter on area nature preserves, parks and trails.  Swamp Beggar Ticks (Bidens connata) is a distant second and Nodding Beggar Ticks (Bidens cernua) is not often observed.

Bidens provide a source of food for a number of species of songbirds and waterfowl (such as Wood Duck).  Muskrats eat the stem and leaves of Devil’s Beggar Ticks while waterfowl and songbirds (such as Swamp Sparrow) eat the seeds.

Happy trails!

Sunday Stroll at Hawkwood

While continuing my wildflower inventory at Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood in the Town of Ballston, I was pleased to discover that the Stonewall Trail is now fully open once again, thanks to the installation of two new bridges near its east end.

THANK YOU volunteers and trail stewards – ALL of your many improvements to ALL of the trails are greatly appreciated!

In celebration of all this “newness,” I am pleased to add this destination to my list of places on my Area Nature Preserves, Parks and Trails page.  Please check it out.

During my visit today, I observed the following blooms –

White Wood Aster


Bulb-bearing Water Hemlock

Bulb-bearing Water Hemlock – close-up of blooms

Common Dodder (white blooms on yellow vine attached to the green plant, which is Spotted Jewelweed) – read more about this parasitic plant.

Happy trails!

Chokecherries will be ripening soon!

While conducting my weekly wildflower inventory at Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood today, I spied these ripening chokecherries.

Unripened fruit of Chokecherry

However, those pictured are not ripe yet – fully ripened chokecherries are more purple-black in color, not red.  You’ll want to pick them – like any fruit – at peak ripeness for the best flavor.  Don’t forego tasting these cherries because of their name, but also don’t sample them raw.  They are rather aptly named when eaten raw because of their pucker power.  But, when cooked, their unique flavor comes forth.  It is my favorite wild cherry.

If you find enough ripe cherries to give them a taste test, I would suggest making a syrup or simple sauce to have over vanilla ice cream or pancakes or waffles.  If you are lucky enough to find a sufficient quantity to try a few culinary experiments, then consider these:

Bon appetit!

While strolling along the woodland trails at this park, I viewed this sampler of wildflowers:

Fruit of White Baneberry

Wild Cucumber


Purple-leaved Willow Herb

Mad-dog Skullcap

Happy trails!

Woods Walk at Hawkwood

Began my routine wildflower inventory at Anchor Park at Hawkwood in the Town of Ballston today under mostly cloudy skies with no real hope of seeing sunshine.  Sunshine is very helpful while conducting a wildflower inventory.  In addition to obviously providing brighter light to simply see everything, sunshine also entices blooms to fully open. Low and behold, not long after I started, the sun began shining.  Brightly.  That helped.

Not only did I find a few mores species to add to the property’s total, such as –

Cardinal Flower

Garden Phlox

…but I also noticed a couple of species on an additional trail where I had previously overlooked them.  For example, I spied an Indian Cucumber Root (in its fruiting stage, similar to the image shown below) along the Stonewall Trail (blue markers), which is a species I had previously observed along only the Hemlock Trail (yellow markers).

Indian Cucumber Root fruit

Thus far, my inventory is summarized as follows:

  • Total species for property = 212 (including 170 native species)
  • Total species for Hawkwood Trail (white markers) = 151
  • Total species for Hemlock Trail (yellow markers) = 114
  • Total species for Stonewall Trail (blue markers) = 119
  • Total species for Old Field Trail (orange markers) = 86

The species totals above are consistent with what any visitor to this property will visibly notice:  far less variety of trees, shrubs and other plants along the Old Field Trail than anywhere else.  With that being said, though, it is also important to note that a couple of native species found here are only located along that same Old Field Trail!  One of those native species is –

Herb Robert

If you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll make a point of visiting this wonderful new park in the near future and make frequent return visits.  With its diversity of habitats and scenic trails throughout this sprawling woodland, it is a great destination to go explore nature.

When you do so, I hope you’ll find something interesting to view, such as –

Pinesap – new blooms in foreground, stems with seed pods from last year in the background.  Pinesap is one of our native parasitic plants; read more.

Happy trails!

Summertime Wildflower Sampler #2

During my wildflower inventory visit today to Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood in the Town of Ballston, I decided to take some extra time to explore the wetland area bordering the clear-flowing stream that enters the property from the far west end of Hawkwood Trail (white markers).  I’m so glad I did!  Within an area about the equivalent of the footprint of an average home, I found a surprising variety of blooming wildflowers.

Here’s a sampling of what I observed –

Arrow-leaved Tearthumb

Clayton’s Bedstraw

Blue Vervain


Water Horehound

False Pimpernel

Big Bur Reed

Wild Mint

Spotted Joe-Pye Weed

Canada Thistle

Common Smartweed

Spotted Jewelweed

Ditch Stonecrop


Dwarf St. Johnswort

While quietly and slowing walking about wetland area in search of another bloom, I noticed that I was being observed by the watchful eye of this spectator –

Great Blue Heron

While walking the woodland trails, I also observed these blooming wildflowers –

Mad-dog Skullcap

Indian Pipe:  New blooms on the left, stems and empty seed pods from last year on the right

Happy trails!

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 –



Wild Geranium

Sweet Cicely

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

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


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!