My Day Off

I wish it had not been quite so windy… Still, I got a few shots…  Most are from the Black Snake Mountain Trail at Allegany State Park.  Some are from Long Point State Park and Audubon’s Bentley Sanctuary.

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Happy Earth Day

Early Meadow-rue
Thalictrum dioicum

I loved this flower even before I found out it is dioecious.
(I love that word!)
It means the male and female flowers appear on different plants.

Early Meadow-Rue
Staminate Flowers (male)

Early Meadow-rue
Pistillate Flowers (female)

Early Meadow-rue Range Map eFlorasIt would be really easy to walk right past this small, inconspicuous member of the buttercup family. But try not to! It’s a lovely little flower that deserves your attention.

The eFloras website listed below claims that Native Americans made various concoctions from the roots to treat heart palpitations and other conditions.  Henrietta’s herbal page reports otherwise…  Whether it has medical properties or not, it’s a cool plant.  Look for it in moist woods.  And don’t forget:

Love your Mother (Earth)!

Happy Earth Day.

Learn more:

Student Art Show

35th Annual Student Art Exhibition
Jamestown Community College – Weeks Gallery
Opening Reception & Awards Ceremony
Thursday, April 22, 2010 @ 6:00 p.m.

Exhibition on view:
April 23, 2010 through May 7, 2010

I submitted 10 photos from my fall semester class. The following made the first cut, but I’m told some of these may be eliminated due to space constraints.

Title: Fruit Basket
Format: Photo 12X15 inches, matted to 16X20 

Fruit Basket (1 of 3) 

Title: Common Milkweed
Format: Photo 10.5X16 inches, matted to 16X20 

Milkweed Seeds

Title: Blueflag Iris
Format: Photo 10.5X16 inches, matted to 16X20 

Blue Flag Iris

Title: Oak Leaf in the Spillway
Format: Photo 10.5X16 inches, matted to 16X20 


Title: Puffball
Format: Photo 10.5X16 inches, matted to 16X20 


Title: Surface of the Pond at 32 Degrees Fahrenheit
Format: Photo 10.5X16 inches, matted to 16X20


So Many Species!

Zigzag Goldenrod

Zigzag Goldenrod

The year I got my Canon Rebel XT, I also got several days of vacation in September. I decided I would teach myself to identify all the goldenrods and asters that grow in our region. Ha ha ha… It was a ridiculous goal.  In my Newcomb’s guide alone there are 34 species of goldenrod and 43 of aster… I never even got close.

New York Aster

New York Aster

According to botanist Thomas Elpel, there are over 100 species of goldenrod worldwide, over 90 of which can be found in North America.  For asters, the numbers are 500 and 150.

Numbers like these speak to the success of the reproductive and adaptive strategies of these genera… producing huge numbers of seeds, and also regenerating year after year from continuously spreading root stock.  Clever little plants…


Violets have 5 petals.

For a Ridiculous Springtime Challenge check out the violets – another long list of species under a single genus.  Violaceae – The Violet Family – boasts sixteen genera and 850 species worldwide. In my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide (northeastern and north-central North America), 31 species are listed and there are 39 in my Peterson guide for the same region.

Generally speaking, violets have 5 petals that are not all shaped the same.  Think of them as a top pair, a side (lateral) pair, and the larger, single bottom petal.  Leaves are most often basal, but on some species they alternate.

While most species are some shade of the color of their namesake, you will find other colors.  It seems the earliest ones I find in spring are yellow:

Round-leaved Violet by Jennifer Schlick

Round-leaved Violet

Shortly after the snow melts, the little, yellow dots of Round-leaved Violet (Viola rotundifolia) push their way up through the leaf litter along with tiny leaves.  Together, the blooms and leaves expand in size until by summer the leaves might be 2-4 inches long.

Northern White Violet

Northern White Violet

The Northern White Violet (Viola pallens) has streaks of purple on its lower petal.

There is another lovely white violet that won’t bloom until later in May.  The plants get quite a bit taller and the flower petals are a little more “regularly” shaped.

Canada Violet

Canada Violet

Back of Canada Violet Flower

Back of Canada Violet Flower

The Canada Violet (Viola canadensis) flower is interesting because it is white on the front, but violet on the back.  It is also distinctive because whereas many of the violet species have flowers each on a stalk that comes up from the ground, this plant is more bush-like – with flowers on branching stalks from a main stem.

When a flower has a unique feature, and is named for that unique feature, it is easy to remember the name.  Such is the case with the Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata).  I first found these along a creek in a very moist, rich woods and found them to be just delightful, both for their shape and for their delicate light-purple color.

Long-spurred Violet

Long-spurred Violet

When it comes to the purple ones, i fear I have not been attentive enough to identify to the species level…  I have not paid attention to the shape of the leaves and whether they are smooth or fuzzy…  I have not paid attention to whether the veined markings are on all petals, or just the lower, or lower and lateral…  I have not paid attention to which of the petals are bearded and which are not…   So much to notice.


One of the purple ones...

As you know, there is always something new to learn… This year, I learned that violets form a 3-valved exploding capsule of seeds!  When I did an image search for such a thing, I found that one of my Flickr friends had one:

Violet Seeds

Seed pod of Viola sororia - by Fleur-Ange Lamothe

I think I’ll keep my eyes open for such a thing this year!

All violets are edible.  You can throw the blooms right on your salad or dry them to make tea.  They are reported to be high in vitamins C and A, and as a medicinal tea to work well as a laxative or expectorant.

The domesticated plants “Johnny Jump Up” and pansies are in the same family as the wild violets.


It took me a while to motivate myself to get off the couch and into the woods to see what might be blooming yesterday.  My sore throat had gotten worse, and the nose was running, eyes tearing, etc…  Thankfully, the sunny skies, lack of wind, and eager dog got the better of me and off I went.

Trout Lily
Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

White Trillium
White Trillium (Trillium grandiflora)

Cut-leafed Toothwort
Cut-leaved Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata)

Dutchman's Breeches
Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Red Trillium
Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)

Blue Cohosh
Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba)

I love spring wildflowers… They make me forget I have a cold…

Gorgeous Hike

There is a beautiful creek in Allegany State Park with a bankside trail that is in fairly decent shape… though not well marked. It doesn’t need to be well-marked. Just go upstream until you’re tired, then turn around and go down stream….

Red House Brook

Although, once we found a trail that veered off from the brook, through some woods, to a utility road, and back down into camp… We didn’t take that route today… just upstream, and then back down. In some of the pools, we could see big, lovely trout… but they were not biting.

While Terry fished, I searched for flowers to photograph…

American Golden Saxifrage
American Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium americanum)
This flower is tiny – smaller than the nail on my pinkie finger. The plant grows on mossy rocks in creeks… at least, that’s where I always find it… When I checked online, both the USDA plant database and do not list it in the counties where I hike. But I’ve found it in both Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties…

Red Trillium
Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)
A friend of mine had a picture of trillium in her yard. I was surprised… I hadn’t seen even a hint of leaves on any of my walks yet this year. I didn’t expect to see any today… Yet, there it was.

Hepatica (Hepatica)
We have two varieties that are native to our region – Sharp-lobed (H. acutiloba) and Round-lobed (H. americana). I shot a lot of pictures of the flowers today, but never looked at the leaves, so I don’t know which variety I have here…

I also saw and attempted photos (which didn’t turn out) of:

  • Trout Lily
  • Wood Anemone
  • Spring Beauties
  • Yellow Violets

It was such a pretty day… Started at 32 degrees with snow on the ground… Ended in the mid-50s with flowers opening…  I hated to leave the woods to go home…

Still Waiting

It had been so warm for so many days.  Finally, rain.  But when the rain came, the temperatures dropped… into the 40s…  too cold, according to the experts, for the Spotted Salamanders to migrate to the pools.  I knew there was little hope of finding them, but I ventured out anyway with camera, flashlights, cell phone, and the list of people who are as anxious as me to see them.

The sound of the peepers ws deafening as I passed the ponds along the old farm road.

When I got to the pond, I heard plenty of Wood Frogs… but they stopped singing when I shone my flashlight into the water.  I searched and searched for salamanders, but saw nothing.  Just the eggs that the Jefferson’s had left a week or more ago…  and a few Wood Frog eggs.  The frogs stopped singing when I turned on my flashlight.

After searching, I decided to turn off the flashlight and get quiet so the Wood Frogs would sing some more.  I planned to get out my camera and capture their songs, as I had the Spring Peepers.  But they wouldn’t sing.

Then I heard a rustling in the leaves near the path.  I thought there was an animal visitor… perhaps a deer, or a raccoon.  A strange noise came from that direction – like the noise people make when they are “talking to” red squirrels…  I decided to get my cameral out so I could try to capture this strange sound…

Then it turned into giggling and a flashlight went on.  Pat and Denny!  Together we searched the pond and finally saw a few Spotted Salamanders… probably males that made it to the pond a while back…  Denny captured one so I could photograph it.


Not much activity in the pond on this cold night. On the way back, though, we saw plenty of Glowworms:

Hard to believe this critter will turn into a Firefly, isn’t it?