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!

One Beautiful Canuck

Now is the time to go explore for a particularly showy native wildflower –

Canada Lily – orange bloom (may sometimes appear more reddish orange)

Canada Lily – yellow bloom

I have observed them at these local destinations:

  1. Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood
  2. Ann Lee Pond Nature and Historic Preserve
  3. Ballston Creek Preserve
  4. Bauer Environmental Park
  5. Community Connector Trail
  6. Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve
  7. Hayes Nature Park
  8. Shenantaha Creek Park
  9. Summer Hill Natural Area
  10. Town Park
  11. Ushers Road State Forest
  12. Veterans Bike Path
  13. Veterans Memorial Park
  14. Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve
  15. Woodcock Preserve
  16. Zim Smith Trail

Sometimes you’ll find a whorl of blooms, resembling a candelabra.

In the past, I have seen these remarkable plants at Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve achieve especially tall height.

Canada Lily nearly ten feet tall!

Other times, I’ve also observed specimens at Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve that feature multiple blooms in a couple of tiers such that it resembles a chandelier.

Canada Lily

Happy trails!


While continuing my wildflower inventory today at Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park, I noticed several Pale Jewelweed beginning to bloom.

Pale Jewelweed

I had noticed some of the first Spotted Jewelweed blooms nearly two weeks ago.

Spotted Jewelweed

The different dates for when these two species begin blooming and the different colors of their blooms aren’t the only differences between these two common wetland plants.  Another pretty reliable characteristic (but no always foolproof) is the number of teeth that appear along either side of a leaf’s margin.  Pale Jewelweed typically have more than ten (see photo immediately below) while Spotted Jewelweed typically has less than ten.  For the latter, take a closer look at the leaves in the photo immediately above.

Leaf of Pale Jewelweed – typically > 10 teeth per side of leaf

The stem of jewelweed is succulent, hollow, and usually reddish at the joints.  Indeed, the large lower joint (note one of these in the lower left portion of the photo above of Spotted Jewelweed) is a key characteristic to help identify these plants when you come across their stems in late fall or even winter.

Jewelweeds are of special value to our most abundant large bee species, the Common Eastern Bumblebee.  However, these plants also attract butterflies, but they are especially adapted to visitations from Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds.

Native Americans used the mucilaginous sap medicinally, applied topically to relieve itching and pain from hives, poison ivy, stinging nettle, and other skin problems.  Therefore, crush a handful of either species and rub it over your skin the next time you brush up against any of the species of nettles.  Thankfully, jewelweeds and nettles routinely share the same habitat, so having quick access to relief to douse that flaming skin sensation of nettles is reassuring!

Since jewelweed plants are only available for a few months each year, I suggest that you grind some up in a blender and put it in an ice-cube tray, and have some ice-cubed jewelweed handy to rub on rashes or irritations at other times of the year.

If you wish to try to establish jewelweed in your garden, view this article.

Happy trails!


Tidy in White

Today’s sunshine motivated me to undertake an overhaul of my wildflower field guide for the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve. As one of my first compilations, I know it contains some errors and is in need of updated scientific names. Further, the establishment of the Community Connector Trail (which runs through the preserve and for which I’ve already compiled its own wildflower guide) and an updated trail map of this preserve (which was prepared last year by Chris Nafis) are more substantive reasons to undertake this revision. So, I began my updated inventory along the 1825 Erie Canal Towpath Trail (shown in red on the aforementioned map).

While tallying the various species I observed today, I noted a definite theme.  Most of the blooms were white…and tidy.

Oxeye Daisy

White Clover

Prostrate Knotweed

Canada Anemone



Gray Dogwood


Happy trails!

Invasive Species Awareness Week

In recognition of New York’s Invasive Species Awareness Week (July 8-14), I have prepared a compilation about how to identify (including color photographs and brief ID tips) a number of species of invasive plants at each of two local preserves:

  1. Fox Preserve (located in Town of Colonie) – view the compilation
  2. Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve (located in Town of Clifton Park) – view the compilation

Each compilation includes:

  • list of observed species (including information describing flowers, leaves, and other plant characteristics as well as when each blooms and where each can be found at that preserve)
  • color photographs and brief ID tips

The compilation for Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve also includes a list of links to other websites with information on how to control or eradicate each listed species.

Hope you find these compilations helpful.

Also, please join me this week for a walk to identify invasive species at (1) Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve (6pm on July 12) and (2) Fox Preserve (9am on July 13) – more info regarding each walk is available on my Events page.  I hope you’ll join me!

Happy trails!

First Ski in New Year

With the passing of last week’s polar vortex and before this week’s rainfall, I thought today would be my best chance to get out and do a little cross-country skiing; my first time in the New Year.

I selected Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.  I parked at the end of Ferry Drive because I wanted to principally ski along the Community Connector Trail and the small parking lot at the other end of this trail in the Town of Halfmoon was not plowed.

Others before me had braved the recent cold and wind to set a very nice track all along my route.  The result:  excellent conditions!

Some scenes I observed along the trail –

Route through riparian forest bordering Mohawk River

Sign about Tommy’s Trail

Mohawk River overlook from Tommy’s Trail

View of Wager’s Pond (in background beyond trees in middle of photo)

I also saw/heard:

View the route that I skied today (approximately 9.75 miles in all).

Happy trails!