Whiteface Trip a Blast

by Steve Young, Adirondack Botanical Society

Literally, the group got blasted by the wind and fog at the start of the trip but in the end a good time was had by all. The trip started with an unplanned walk up the nature trail to the top since the elevator had broken the day before. This exposed us to the west side winds and fog which battered us all the way to the top.

IMG_1354The group was focused on the the interesting alpine plants and didn’t seem to mind the weather.

Whiteface nature trail

???????????????????????????????Here we could see plants like alpine goldenrod (Solidago leiocarpa)  that only grow at these altitudes.

As we reached the top of the mountain the cloud cover began to clear and we had some glimpses of the scenery below including Lake Placid and Lake Champlain. At the top we assembled for a group photo where blue was the color of the day!

Whiteface groupFrom left to right are Rebecca Wightman, Tom Wightman, Paul Tedesco, Connie Tedesco, Steve Young, Carol Gates, Jackie Donnelly, Steve Daniel, Michael Burgess,  Joan Zeller, Tom O’Donnell and Joanne Schlegel. Five other participants, Stephanie Sears, Susan O’Donnell, Dick Lighty, Sally Lighty, and Natalie Yaskow did not make it into the photo.

We saw most of the plants on the existing plant list and found out we need more work on the grasses there.

IMG_1363Here Carol and I examine a stand of Canada bluejoint grass, Calamagrostis canadensis. Below, Steve Daniel, Joanne Schlegel and I look at clumps of Bigelow’s sedge, Carex bigelowii, an alpine sedge with dark spikes that are in the process of dispersing their perigynia.

IMG_1360After a hike down the more protected hiking trail on the east side we paused for lunch and then walked back to the parking lot.  On the way back, Steve Daniel, Jackie Donnelly and I puzzled over this tiny plant growing on the wall of the parking lot in open sand near the elevator. I finally keyed it out to Sagina japonica, an exotic member of the pink family that had never been recorded for Essex county before.

Sagina japonicaOur day resulted in eight new species for the list!

Spinulum annotinum – bristly clubmoss – (originally recorded for the site under Lycopodium annotinum but years ago the ID here was changed to the high mountain species Spinulum canadense.  We determined that both species are here.)

Huperzia lucidula – shining clubmoss – seen in the krumholz along the hiking trail.

Melampyrum lineare – cow wheat – seen along the hiking trail.

Erysimum cheiranthoides – wormseed mustard – seen along the parking lot wall near the castle.

Sagina japonica – Japanese pearlwort

Ribes glandulosum – skunk currant – it was determined that the Ribes cynos0-bati on the existing list was mis-identified and the plants are actually this species. Along the nature trail and at the summit.

Viola pallens – smooth white violet – seen along the wall of the parking lot near the castle, with long runners.

Gallium mollugo – seen along the wall of the parking lot near the castle.

Thanks go to all the participants and their sharp eyes and botanical knowledge. We hope this will be an annual tradition in celebration of our unique alpine flora and the dedication of Ed Ketchledge in protecting it, especially here on Whiteface where he spent many hours cataloging the flora.

For another blog post on the trip, click this link to the Saratoga Woods and Waterways blog by Jackie Donnelly.

For an updated plant list for Whiteface CLICK HERE.


One response to “Whiteface Trip a Blast

  1. It was a great trip, Steve, and the wind and fog only added to the sense of adventure. It was quite exciting for me to find a plant (the Sagina) that none of us had seen before. Thanks for leading us, as well as for posting this interesting and informative account.

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