To quote the French dramatist Jean Giradoux, “The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.” Flowering plants fill our summer fields and gardens, bring bright spots of color to our woods, and – since their arrival on the scene some 130 million years ago – have evolved along with animal life to become an essential part of the food web. [Read more…] about Flower Color: A Science Primer
In 1860, a year after publication of his seminal work on the origin of species, Charles Darwin wrote to a friend, “At the moment, I care more about Drosera than the origin of all the species in the world.”
Darwin maintained a lifelong fascination with carnivorous plants, including members of the genus Drosera, collectively called sundews. His research into these fascinating species led to the 1875 publication of Insectivorous Plants, which remains a major reference work today. [Read more…] about Insectivorous Plants: Sundews
Irises, with their large, exotic-looking flowers waving atop tall stems, are among the showiest early summer blooms. Most of North America’s nearly 30 native iris species are found in the southeastern states and on the Pacific coast; but a few irises grow in the northern woodlands. The most common are the native blue iris or blue flag iris (Iris versicolor) and the invasive yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus). [Read more…] about A Tale of Two Irises
I often watch out for stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) while hiking. As you might guess from its name, brushing against this plant causes a bee sting-like burn that can last for hours. Despite this irritation, humans have used stinging nettles for centuries as food, fiber, and medicine, including as a treatment for arthritis pain. [Read more…] about Stinging Nettles: A Short Primer
Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) has announced the Grow and Tell Project, in partnership with the littleGrasse Community Farm, as part of their Folk to Table traditional foodways project. [Read more…] about Northern New York Seed-Savers, Meaningful Seeds Sought
After discovery of the corner to Townships 42 and 41 on the Totten & Crossfield Line, Adirondack surveyor Frank Tweedy and crew encountered beautiful but challenging terrain in their march southeast to Big Moose Lake, where they camped in a high beaver meadow by Ledge Pond (now Jock Pond). Tweedy recorded the following:
“A short distance beyond we met a cliff 70 feet in height and deep ravine and ledges. Climbing very difficult. Completed our work on a slope to the S. Went forward to the cutting party and camped in a beaver meadow. Saw species of Calamagrostis canadensis 5.6 [ft] in Length.” [Read more…] about Adirondack Surveyor Frank Tweedy: A Botanist of Distinction
As Frank Tweedy approached the end of his four-year stint with forest surveyor Squire Snell on Verplanck Colvin’s Adirondack Survey, Southwest Division, he was no longer a tenderfoot, but a veteran surveyor and topographer, with many miles of survey work in the Beaver River basin and six expertly drawn maps to his credit.
His southern trek to finish the Totten and Crossfield Tract boundary line necessitated a new base camp well south of Beaver River. Twitchell Lake in Big Moose was the perfect location. [Read more…] about An Adirondack Surveyor’s Basecamp At Twitchell Lake
If you are out walking on an early winter morning, you might be lucky enough to see some of nature’s most beautiful and ephemeral sights: hair ice and frost flowers, both snow-white and delicate against the dull forest floor. [Read more…] about Hair Ice and Frost Flowers
Yes, it’s time for one more native species to take to the air. The great milkweed migration is on. [Read more…] about Other Important Uses for Milkweed
Each fall there is roughly the same amount of yellow foliage, since in most woody plants Mother Nature sees fit to cache yellow pigments beneath the overpowering verdancy of chlorophyll.
While yellow is a stable commodity in the forest, red is a different story. Trees go through considerable effort to create the assortment of red pigments known to nerds as anthocyanins, so it’s not like red is just hanging around, having a beer with yellow as they wait for chlorophyll to fade. It’s a bit more complicated, which makes it less unreliable. [Read more…] about Seeing Red During Fall Leaf Change