Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Ramble in the Rain

On my way home yesterday from The Big City (Glens Falls), I stopped at the Ski Bowl in North Creek for a quick ramble in the rain. The Ski Bowl is the town's local park, complete with a beach (next to a tiny swimming hole), a playground, a pavillion, a ski hill (hence the name), a nature trail, and the town landfill. It's an interesting combination.

The reason for my stop is that I'm leading after school nature hikes for some of the local kids once a week for the next four weeks, so I needed to scope out one of the possible locations: the nature trail that runs through this park.

I'd made sketchy plans to meet a friend there, but our paths never crossed (although both of us were on-site at the same time). We'll try again Wednesday, thank goodness, for I lost the trail and found some plants I didn't know!

This little gem is Sand Jointweed (Polygonella articulata), a new plant for me. Evelyn told me to keep my eyes open for it, and it was all over the place, blooming in the sandy slopes behind the landfill. It reminds me of a cherry tree figurine my mother has from Japan.

This plant is a mystery. I've been unable to key it out with my Newcomb's Field Guide. Hopefully Evelyn will recognize it tomorrow. Update: it is Silverrod (Solidago bicolor), which I have only seen a couple of times in my life and that was a few years ago. Thanks, Jackie!

I encountered a large (and growing) patch of Running Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum).

While trying to get a good close-up of the sporangia, I discovered this very small spider and it's web. Try as I might, I could not get a good close-up of the spider. It had very large, dark pedipalps, and I think it was trying to eat a meal, being very patient with my failing photographic efforts.

But I was able to get a good close-up of the sporangia. If you can click on the photo, you can see all the little white hairs that cover the outside of the structures. And, did you know that some native peoples would shove these sporangia up the nose to induce bleeding? Why, I don't know, but I came across this factoid while researching clubmosses for tomorrow's article for the Adirondack Almanack blog.

Raspberry poope (pronounced poo-pay) - bear scat. Now, you know I couldn't pass up a scat and not take its picture!

This is one of the first non-vascular plants I learned as a child: British Soldiers. British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella) is a lichen, and here it is mixed with Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia mediterranea) known by most folks as reindeer moss, but it's not a moss, it's a lichen, so let's call a spade a spade, shall we, or, in this case, a lichen a lichen. The red part is the spore-producing part of the lichen.

Someone found this deer skull and stuck it up on a fallen tree. It was rather strange seeing it there, but also kind of cool. I wonder how many people walk past it and never see it.


  1. What fun to go for a walk with you! You find the coolest stuff. I can't be sure without seeing the whole plant, but I think your mystery flower could be Silverrod (Solidago bicolor), a white goldenrod.

  2. I love the biggie picture links!

    The deer skull is awesome. I love finding that stuff in the woods.

  3. I don't know Sand Jointweed at all. Will have to keep an eye out for it. Clubmoss, there's lots and lots of. It's cool when it matures and gives off puffy clouds when you touch it. Enjoy your nature hike. It's fun to introduce kids to new wonders.

  4. Well, I guess it is better than beans up your nose, but really. Do you know the function of those tiny haris? I have never looked that closely.

    Loved the lichen photo, for a minute I thought you had a new species, "soldiers riding raindeer" moss. Do you have a good lichen field guide to recommend? I'm using Lichens of the North Woods by Joe Walewski but I am always looking for more.

    Loved the scat photo...you've got me out looking for scatt now. Thanks. I love to read your blog.

  5. Woodswalker - You could be right (Silverrod). I've seen it before, but only once or twice. I should have Evelyn in tow this afternoon, so I'll see if she confirms it. Thanks!

    TourPro - the skull was definitely a surprise. I've come across skulls and bones before, but never lodged in trees like this!

    Barefoot - the sand jointweed is a lovely, delicate plant. Smartweed family, but still lovely. Keep your eyes peeled in sandy spots!

    Squirrel - I love it! Soldiers Riding Reindeer moss! Wish I had thought of it! :D I don't know the function of the hairs on the sporophytes. There don't seem to be enough of them to really function as plant warmers. Maybe they help with the spread of the spores, like triggers? Good question - I see a research project here. I don't have a lichen field guide myself - I rely on the knowledge of my botany frieds. I may look for the one that you have!