Forthcoming Wildflower Guides

Given the near absence of winter thus far, I have continued my wildflower inventories at a few locations.  And those activities have me thinking about spring and the upcoming return of blooming wildflowers throughout the next growing season.

With that in mind, I wanted to offer this sneak peak screen shot of five new wildflower field guides that will be available on this site in March.  Each of these new guides will be in Microsoft PowerPoint Show format (ppsx), featuring easier navigation throughout each document and higher resolution photographs as well as additional information regarding many of the species contained in each guide.  Unfortunately, each of these digital files is much larger than my previous wildflower guides; thus, downloading will take more time.  Those new wildflower guides will include:

  • Ashford Glen Preservea-field-guide-to-wildflowers-ashford-glen-preserve-1st-edition-march2017-chokecherry-sample-page
  • Bauer Environmental Parka-field-guide-to-wildflowers-bauer-environmental-park-1st-edition-march2017-cranberry-viburnum-sample-page
  • Old Iron Spring Fitness Traila-field-guide-to-wildflowers-old-iron-spring-fitness-trail-1st-edition-march2017-fringed-loosestrife-sample-page
  • Peter Desrochers Memorial Country Knolls Trailsa-field-guide-to-wildflowers-peter-desrochers-memorial-country-knolls-trails-1st-edition-march2017-woodland-agrimony-sample-page
  • Zim Smith Traila-field-guide-to-wildflowers-zim-smith-trail-1st-edition-march2017-common-arrowhead-sample-page

Also, please check my updated status of wildflower inventories.  I will be adding one of those destinations (Anchor-Diamond Park at Hawkwood Estatel) as a new page on this site sometime later this year.

In the meantime, view my winter plant ID quiz.

Lastly, a reminder to keep a watchful eye for ticks.  During a winter as mild as this one has been, they remain active.  Last week, I found two while visiting a local preserve!

Happy trails!

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.

Milkweed

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!

Winter Plant ID – Answers now revealed

And the answers are…

Thanks to everyone who participated.  Most importantly, I hope each of you had an enjoyable outing in your search for plants matching those in the photos.

Well, you’ve seen the plant rubble remnants in the photos I supplied for this quiz.  Now, what were those plants and what do they look like when in bloom?  Let’s have a look…

The plants included in this quiz were the following:

(1)    Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

(2)    Burdock

Common Burdock

Common Burdock

Great Burdock

Great Burdock

(3)    Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip

(4)    Horseweed

Horseweed

Horseweed

(5)    Selfheal

Selfheal

Selfheal

(6)    Thimbleweed

Thimbleweed

Thimbleweed

(7)    Common Mullein

Common Mullein

Common Mullein

(8)    Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife

(9)    Sweet Clover

White Sweet Clover

White Sweet Clover

Yellow Sweet Clover

Yellow Sweet Clover

(10)Yarrow

Yarrow

Yarrow

(11)Cattail

Common Cattail

Common Cattail

(12)Milkweed

Common Milkweed

Common Milkweed

(13)Thistle

Swamp Thistle

Swamp Thistle

(14)Tall Blue Lettuce

Tall Blue Lettuce

Tall Blue Lettuce

(15)Virgin’s Bower

Virgin's Bower

Virgin’s Bower

(16)Aster

Purple-stemmed Aster

Purple-stemmed Aster

White Wood Aster

White Wood Aster

(17)Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem Artichoke

PLEASE NOTE:  All of the quiz’s winter photos were taken along the Historic Champlain Canalway trail in the Town of Halfmoon, south of Brookwood Road.  If you have not yet visited this trail (south of Upper Newtown Road to this segment), I urge you to do so if you want to view a wide variety of wildflowers blooming throughout the growing season.  Since it adjoins the Historic Champlain Canal, the trail is virtually flat and is comprised of crushed/compacted shale, which makes for an easy walk (and also wheelchair accessible).  Please view my wildflower field guide for this trail and watch for the announcement of an expanded version (which will include this southernmost segment) later this month.

Happy trails!

Winter Plant ID Quiz

Sunny and 50 degrees yesterday. Historic Champlain Canal near south boundary of Town of HalfmoonYet a month of winter remains…and lots of snow on the landscape.  Mushy, but still a lot of it!

So, I chose to collect the following photos and challenge you to a quiz…to identify plants in their winter appearance.  On St. Patrick’s Day (or thereabouts), I’ll post the answers.  In the meantime, take a peak at these photos/questions and enjoy a winter walk over the next few weeks to collect your responses.  Then, either provide them as a “reply/comment” to this post or feel free to send me an email with your answers.  Have fun!

#1:  This introduced plant has clusters of tiny white flowers and is often found in dry fields; it is also referred to as “wild carrot.” Queen Anne's Lace#2:  The prickly heads of this introduced plant are noted for easily catching on clothing and are said to be the inspiration for Velcro.  It has pink-to-purple colored flowers. Burdock (Common Burdock)

  • Sidebar:  The seeds inside those prickly heads apparently serve as a food source… Burdock picked clean by turkeys
  • Sidebar #2:  …for a critter leaving this track… turkey track
  • Sidebar #3:  Said critter is a…

    Wild Turkey (click on image, look to right of pile in center of image)

    Wild Turkey (click on image, look to right of pile in center of image)

#3:  This introduced plant has clusters of tiny yellow flowers and is often found along the edges of roadways.  Never, ever touch this plant since it causes photo-dermatitis! Wild Parsnip#4:  This native plant has a fuzzy main stem and is covered with many tiny individual yellow flowers, each of which creates a tiny dandelion-like seed head. Horseweed#5:  This introduced plant has violet or purplish flowers and is considered a common weed.  Nevertheless, it has medicinal value in treating inflammation and also used as an ointment. Selfheal#6:  This native plant has a white flower, but derives a part of its name from the shape/appearance of its seedpod. Thimbleweed#7:  This introduced plant is often tall; it has yellow flowers and its leaves are velvety soft. Common Mullein#8:  This highly-invasive introduced plant has many purple flowers and a square stem. Purple Loosestrife#9: This introduced plant has numerous tiny white or yellow flowers along each of its branches, depending upon the particular species.  Beginning in late summer, this plant often has a vanilla aroma that is easily detected when walking amongst many of these plants, which are commonly found along roadsides. Sweet Clover#10:  This introduced plant has numerous white flowers forming clusters; its leaves are steeped for use as an aromatic tea. Yarrow#11:  This native plant is typically found in marshes.  Considered a culturally significant plant, some of its parts offer a variety of uses:  food (tuber from which to make flour; pollen as protein supplement to flour; shoots and unopened flower spike as a vegetable) or weaving materials to make mats and baskets. Cattail (Common Cattail)#12:  This native plant is also considered culturally significant because Native American tribes used parts of this plant for food, fiber or medicines.  When blooming, this plant is a critical source of nectar for the Monarch Butterfly.  Coming in a variety of colors (depending upon the particular species of this plant), all blooms are very fragrant. Milkweed#13:  This native plant has pink-to-purplish flowers; its seeds are an important food to American goldfinches. Thistle (Swamp Thistle)#14:  This native plant has numerous small flowers (very light blue) and towers over nearly all other non-woody plants due to its overall height. Tall Blue Lettuce#15:  This native vine has white flowers; it is found in moist thickets. Virgin's Bower#16:  This native plant has numerous flowers each with many petals in a variety of colors, but most often white or purplish.  This plant does not bloom until very late in the summer and most will continue to bloom until the first frost. Aster#17:  This introduced plant is often tall, has numerous large yellow flowers and its leaves (both sides) feel very rough to the touch. Jerusalem ArtichokeGood luck!