Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In The Forest

Its taken me some time to get my first woods hike here at Weir Farm onto the blog. No doubt, in part due to the trouble identifying woodland plants -which is new to me and less chronicled on the web. But the hiking has been sweet as can be. So many damp forests I've hiked in spring or summer are swamped with mosquitoes, black flies, and deer flies. Nothing can send me packing faster than a swarm of any of these boogers. But to my great pleasure, they've all been on vacation.

The White Trail is a short loop into the mesic forest of southwestern Connecticut. I've also had some difficulty identifying the types of forest on the preserve. This is in part because the trails here traverse what appears a patchwork of forest communities. I'm seeing at least three: Beech-Maple Forest and Chestnut Oak Forest in the uplands with Red Maple-Hardwood Swamp in the low. While any number of species inhabit all these communities, the named species are dominant and they affect the type of understory plants, and possibly some fauna, in addition to the overall look and feel of the woods. Now on to the woods....

The trail...

On the east branch of the White trail, look up and down, and you'll see this tree. From a distance, I thought this was a Tulip Tree, making me think this was an Oak-Tulip Tree community.

Getting closer, looking at the leaves led me to mountain maple, Acer spicatum. But the samara are reddish on the mountain maple, where these are green. A friend of mine calls this a "goosefoot maple." I'm going to call it Acer pennsylvanicum or Acer striatum.

We called the maple fruit "polynoses" when we were kids; I suppose still do and I'm not the only one.

Many of these Liliaceae in the woods -but which one? Hairy Solomon's, Smooth Solomon's, or Rose Twisted-stalk? I'll have to go back and take a closer look.

Another Lily, the Canada Mayflower. Sometimes 6 inches tall, but often quite diminutive.

The pink azalea, Rhododendron periclymenoides, growing well in the understory of maple and beech.

No scent that I could make out.

My new favorite tree. I knew what to call it as soon as I saw it and although I've never seen it before, I surely heard or seen the name -Shagbark Hickory or Carya ovata.


The White trail connects with the east-west running Yellow trail. After crossing the drainage, you begin a gradual incline, meeting again at the White trail and turning to the north.

As you climb, the drier, rocky soil gives way to a Chestnut Oak forest community. The understory has large tracts of Mountain Laurel. The mountain laurel and oak forest make up most of the western branch of the White trail loop.

I prefer the B&W photo over the color -looks like some kind of Burtonesque army of stick-people on the march.

Since the laurel forest is part of the understory, the shrubs are less leafy and many had little to no flower buds. Those that will flower are setting buds now, and I hope to see the bloom.

Anyone could miss this, but what a nice memorial. "The Anna White Woods, In Loving Memory"

It gently reminded me of the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay.

Plant and mineral rubbin' bums!

Round things on oaks. Those woodpecker holes are fresh in a live tree.

I found this plant shooting through the floor of oak leaves. What is it?

The Blue trail is a north-south running trail that connects to the Yellow. It runs along the edge of a rocky ridge, winding among the oaks and mountain laurel. It is on this trail that I found the Lady's Slipper.


  1. Your plant in the last image looks like Chimaphila maculata, spotted wintergreen. Thanks for the nice walk through the woods!

  2. I believe you are right! Seems to be rare in the northern provinces, less so towards the mid-atlantic. Hmm, well I spotted a good one. Thanks!

  3. Lovely walk in the woods! Great to see the real Canada Mayflower. It looks like it smells good. And ouch - those woodpecker holes look painful.


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