Life from Death

while trillium

Taken with a Canon 100 mm “macro” lens, a Kodak digital single lens reflex body, a Manfrotto tripod and ample time and patience.

Enjoy!

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Trillium rise from the decaying tree roots.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Are White and Red Trillium a different species?

A question of speciation

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Questions about speciation of flora can be complex and are so in the case of trillium. A straightforward answer is “yes,” white and red trillium are different species with distinct characteristics, as can be seen from the first photograph.

The white trillium below are in the species Trillium grandiflorum as evidenced by coloration, the shapes of the flower petals and anthers. For this discussion I will focus on the flower petal shape and coloration. The grandiflorum petals are broad at the base and wavy, compared to the more blade-like red trillium, Trillium erectum, straight-edged petals.

There is the obvious difference of color, but Trillium erectum has a white form, not seen here.

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Then, there is this specimen, below, with a stippling of red on blade-like petals with wavy edges. Here is where the experts differ and, in summary, many believe trillium species are an interrelated complex with the possibility of hybridization, sharing of genetic material between the different species to produce fertile offspring. This specimen may be an example of this hybridization.

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Massed White Trillium Blooms

Wonder of the northern spring forest

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I came upon this display April 2004, a wonder of the northern spring forest.

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Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Wintergreen?

aspirin-nations

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone, we visited Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is the seventh post of this series. Click me for another springtime post.

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Growing up on Long Island provided limited exposure to the great variety of animal and plant life on planet earth. I remember Canesteo, a town just off the western edge of the Finger Lakes in Steuben County, after moving there in the 1980’s, had a marvelous abundance of different plants in the lawn. It was a welcoming feeling to notice this before the term “monoculture” was circulated.

These days the exuberant variety of ferns and mosses in the Finger Lakes are still alien in the sense noticing the small differences between species is still beyond me; or, rather, I have yet to know well all the later arrivals on the scene, the flowering plants and these command my attention.

Close by the Sorrell of my post “Glen Shadows” is this inconspicuous flower, common name Shinleaf, seen here growing in spite of the the wet rip rap of shale at the base of the glen wall on the footpath. Much of the characterization of this plant is from the inconspicuous basal leaves from which the raceme of flowers springs.

Evergreen Pears

Moss and Shinleaf are associated in these groupings, I could conclude the moss provided a place for the tiny seeds of the plant to lodge and take root. The plant is a perennial and stays green throughout the winter, leading to another conclusion: there is a substance in the leaf cells that resists freezing. The latin meaning of the (scientific name) genus Pyrola means “Pear”, the shape of the leaf.

Look closely at the flowers to see the small flowers, the style extending beyond the petals like a bell clapper.

The common name, Shinleaf, is from England where the plant is credited with providing relief for minor injury. I am unclear on the grouping of this plant as a wintergreen. Shinleaf might be included as a wintergreen, and possibly attributed with healing properties, because “wintergreen” in the past was a synonym for “evergreen.”

There are species of wintergreens, in a different family, with leaves containing methyl salicilate that metabolizes (changed in our bodies) to a substance related to aspirin and more potent. I am reconsidering my identification of “cranberry” in the previous post “Red” to be a type of wintergreen high in methyl salicilate and growth close to the Shinleaf.

This abundance of life variety must be cherished and preserved, it can be a source of survival for the human species.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Life and Death

Rumination on wild flower blooms

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An access road, now blocked with huge boulders by the State Park, leads to this dam at the head of Fillmore Glen. I stop here for reflection at times and have climbed behind the dam for photographs. It is possible to drive up the south side of the glen on a poorly maintained road and park next to the boulders. In this season (spring) the surrounding forest is carpeted in wildflowers. Hepatica, trillium, dutchman’s breeches. One day, years ago, I pulled in behind a late model convertible with a license plate holder advising the owner was a member of the 10th Mountain division and a World War II veteran.

They were a well dressed and groomed couple. The white haired driver, in his late 80’s at least, patiently waited while she, a frail woman, walked the margins of the forest, enjoying the wildflowers. It was my impression this was a ritual for them, developed over the years. One of the few spring outings left to them.

Wildflower displays develop over hundreds of years. The massed trillium are on land not disturbed for thousands of years, since the last ice age. These same spring wonders were certainly enjoyed by the Iroquois before us.

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On the gorge slope below the parking area, in a hollow on the north side of a large (I recall) oak, one early sunny spring morning I discovered the last resting place of a deer. Only the bones and some fur remained, the visible portion resembles the Capitulum and trochlea of a human arm bone and, indeed, there was a scapula close by. The season is evoked by the unfurling fern against the based of the oak.

Dark, Unwritten Forest Secrets
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Climb to Gorge Trail

Potential danger abounds

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone, we visited Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is the third post of this series. Click me for the first post in this series.

Emerging from the blind canyon of Cowsheds Waterfall, we are faced with this gorgeous pool fed by Dry Creek (yes, that is the name). Formed by a dam, the water is deep and very cold.

We were standing on this footbridge for the above photograph. The trail to Cowsheds is on the far side of Dry Creek and to the right.

We have yet to count these steps, don’t know why. The limestone blocks were quarried locally from the same stone of the creek bed. The gorge trail begins at the top.

Trillium Seed Capsule

This is a Purple Trillium, I believe, formal name Trillium erectum. It is a large specimen judging form the width of the bracts, leaf like structures at the based of the flower stalk. When fertilized, the ovaries form this seed capsule containing up to 16 seeds, each with lipid with a high content of oleic acid. During summer, the capsule opens, seeds disperse. Ants encounter the seed elaiosome, the oleic acid content triggers “corpse carrying behavior.” The ants carry the seeds into their nests, consume the lipids leaving the seeds. After a year dormancy the seeds sprout and the additional depth in the ant nest provides a good start.

Trillium are a favorite food of deer, unfortunately. Some seeds are spread this way, passing through the digestive tract and out in fecal waste. I use the color of the seed capsule to identify it was Purple Trillium. In my experience the white variety (Trillium grandiflorum, and others) has a light colored seed capsule.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Presidents Fillmore and F. D. Roosevelt

A U.S. President born in a log cabin, MiIllard Fillmore

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly, we visited
Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is Pam and my favorite park for the lack of crowds, variety of wildflowers and dramatic views.

A the bottom of Gorge Trail, near the creek fed swimming pool, is a cabin moved to the park from a few miles away to commemorate an American President’s birthplace. Milllard Fillmore was born on the peneplain above the gorge of Dry Creek in a place called Locke, five miles from the modern park entrance. His birth cabin was destroyed in 1852, the land is dedicated to his memory with a monument. This cabin of a type identical was disassembled and reconstructed on this spot in 1965 by the Millard Fillmore Memorial Association.

The 480 square foot (20 by 24 feet) original (the rebuild is a bit smaller) had a central fireplace and and will chinked logs, a ceiling of simple planks.

The cedar shingles were hand made, as were the nails.

More information on a display inside the cabin.
A few feet away is a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. We can thank them for building much of the park infrastructure we depend upon today.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

The Space Station and the Waterfall

Potential danger abounds

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly, we visited
Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is Pam and my favorite park for the lack of crowds, variety of wildflowers and dramatic views.

Growing near Cowsheds Waterfall, at the foot of Gorge Trail, was this
strange fruiting wildflower so like a modular space station. It is Baneberry.  There are white and red forms. This is white Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda).  These terminal round nodes resolve into white balls with black dots, like dolls eyes. The cylindrical connectors (as in space station) turn bright red. Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra) has bright red berries. The flower is a fluffy white mass that gives no hint of the seed form.

All parts of both forms are highly poisonous, the bane of Baneberry. The berries are deadly. Ingestion of as few as two berries by children will cause death from cardiac arrest. Six for an adult.

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Cowsheds Waterfall is littered with enormous limestone blocks, remnants of a shelf. The rock under the limestone, a soft shale, is worn away first by running water forming a room (or Cowshed) under the limestone. Eventually, the limstone falls into the creek. The waterfall is at the end of a blind canyon with a sign at a trail end warning visitors to go no further. Careless visitors to Finger Lakes Gorges are killed, on occasion, by falling rock when they loiter beneath cliffs.

Overview of the site
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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Young, fresh and green

Hidden on the forest floor

We can roam the woods and gorges this time of year to find these wildflowers camouflaged in their young, green foliage. Here are two images from a June 3rd afternoon in Fillmore Glen with a waterfall. Enjoy!!

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Click me for a post with more information about Jack-in-the-pulpit.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Jack in full color with Red Trillium

The Brown Dragon

Brown dragon is an apt nickname for Jack-in-the-pulpit, captured here with Red Trillium on the forest floor of Fillmore Glen State Park. I was down in the mud for the closeup,

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Click me for a post with more information about Jack-in-the-pulpit. There is a great deal more information about Jack-In-The-Pulpit on my previous post, at the above link. Try it out!!

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills