Thursday, September 9, 2010
Franklin State Forest, continued. . .
I got a bit sidetracked by all of those little American Chestnut trees. There were actually several other neat highlights to our recent jaunt to the woods, despite the fact that we walked less than a mile. (Gabe's little legs will only take him so far.)
If this park has a proper entrance, I haven't found it yet. I located the area when looking at the town on Google Maps. This is the only sign I have found, and it baffles me. "Please read rules". What rules? "Motorcycles only". Okay, I guess, but are there trails that are open for foot traffic? I saw someone venture in with a leashed dog, and I spoke with a motorcyclist and a family of bicyclers, and all seemed to agree that the trails were open to all forms of use.
The motorcyclists, by the way, were most courteous. I dislike dirt bikes on principle, them being mobile forms of chemical and noise pollution. But the riders all smiled and waved to my son, and they slowed down and passed us with plenty of room on the trails, which I very much appreciated. And they posed no risk of running into us, because they were easy to hear coming.
It occurs to me that perhaps the reason for the interesting diversity of native plants in the park is that the cyclists scare off the overpopulated deer, which otherwise tend to strip our woodlands bare. I wonder if there has been any study on that?
But about those plants! This is a perennial flower that grows in the shade, called (oddly) "tall white lettuce", or Prenanthes altissima. It's a common plant, I think, but it is only the second time I have ever seen it.
Look closely! The pinesap flowers (Monotropa hypopithys) are popping up. This patch is easy to find: go down the trail marked by the "motorcycles only" sign. Go between fifty and a hundred feet. Look on the left for flashes of hot pink.
This plant alone is worth a trip to the park. Go see it sometime in the next two weeks while it is in bloom!
I don't know what this tiny groundcover is, but boy is it cute. I seem to remember seeing it growing on Frye island in Maine, though. Speaking of which, that is where I'll be this weekend! Wheee!
Another plant that I am unfamiliar with.
When I was young I pointed this out to my mother. She said "it's just a baby pine tree." I know better now! It's actually an ancient life-form called a club moss. I'm not sure of the exact variety, but it's one of a couple of club mosses that are referred to as "princess pine". This stuff has been significantly harmed in the wild by over-collection for Christmas decorations. It doesn't transplant well - I've tried, and failed. Best if admired in place.
And here is the local wildlife, shaking a dead tree. Gabe, look at you, you are so mighty!
Have a good weekend everyone!