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

Boneset

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

Monkeyflower

Water Horehound

False Pimpernel

Big Bur Reed

Wild Mint

Spotted Joe-Pye Weed

Canada Thistle

Common Smartweed

Spotted Jewelweed

Ditch Stonecrop

Boneset

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 –

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

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!

Early Spring Woodland Wildflowers

Sunny. No wind. Temps expected in the mid-60s.  The outdoors beckoned me.  What to do?

Without hesitation, I headed to Anchor-Diamond Park at Hawkwood Estate.  This new park (which only opened in late October 2016) is located just north of the intersection of Route 50 and Middleline Road in the Town of Ballston.  Later this year, I will prepare a page on this blog with more info and photos along its several trails.

Today, I continued my ongoing wildflower inventory and the property revealed another 10 species, increasing my total so far to more than 100.

Among those in bloom today –

Trout Lily

Wake Robin

American Fly Honeysuckle

Bloodroot

Coltsfoot

With warm nights now a given and with more sunshine interspersed with rainfall, we can expect to see a dramatic increase in the greening of our landscape along with the occasional splashes of color from emerging blooms as the annual spring progression gains momentum.  Please be sure to take time once a week to take a walk at your favorite local preserve, park or trail and keep a watchful eye as to what is next to emerge and begin blooming.

Happy trails!

Winter Plant ID Quiz #2

Yesterday’s continuing warm temperatures once again ruled out ski touring.  So, on this President’s Day, I chose to enjoy the abundant sunshine while trekking along the trails at the new Anchor-Diamond Park at Hawkwood Estate in the Town of Ballston.  This park opened in late autumn 2016 and features several trails meandering through woodlands.

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View along Stonewall Trail (blue markers) near far west end of park

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View along Stonewall Trail (blue markers) in hemlock grove near center of park

My hike inspired me to once again offer you a winter plant ID quiz.  Consider this the “final exam” for this winter!  To identify each plant, simply click on “Answer” beneath each image.  Have fun!

Please ID the two stems (left to right) in the foreground (not the one with leaves) - (1) Large stem along left edge of photo: (2) Smaller stem slightly right of center of photo:

Please ID the two stems (left to right) in the foreground (not the one with leaves) –
(1) Large stem along left edge of photo:  Answer
(2) Smaller stem slightly right of center of photo:  Answer

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Please ID the plant wrapped around the red twig: Answer

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Someone took the time to add this adorable little snow sculpture along the trail today!

Now that the plan ID quiz is completed, I saw two other things that prompted these two extra credit questions (NOT about plants) –

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What animal created these holes in the bark of this tree?  Answer

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What animal created the cavity in this tree? (Please also note wood debris at base of tree.)  Answer     View a short video of the making of a cavity.

Happy trails!