Field Trip Reports


Flashbots Late 2022 – by Dan Spada

The lack of snow in November and early December made it easy for us to get out in the woods and explore.  Even in the winter there is a lot botanically to see.  The Adirondack Botanical Society organized three “flashbots” that focused on the old growth forest area northerly of Ampersand Mountain.  Flashbots are the term we are using for a quickly organized field trip to look at something of botanical interest.  Ray Curran and I organized them by sending out a message to our AdkBotSoc Google Group announcing that we were going to explore the old growth area, the expected focus, where the meeting place was, what time we would meet and what participants should bring.  We also asked that they respond if they were going to attend so we would know who to wait for.  

We got a great response, but still had small groups of around 10.  Wedged between hunting season and the inevitable onset of winter, it seemed folks were just looking for an excuse to get out and botanize.  

The area in question has been described in the Fall 2022 edition of Mitchelliana.  It surely is old growth, but we were wondering if it was the original forest.  The first two flashbots were focused on assessing the presence and age of red spruce (Picea rubens) as compared to eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum).  Typically, except for the shoreline white pine taken for sailing ships, red spruce was the first conifer to be harvested from the Adirondack forest back in the 1800s.  The wood was desirable, there were ample quantities of the tree and it floated, thus allowing export from woods and mill.  River drives were the normal method of transport to the mill before the advent of the Shay locomotive in the Adirondacks in the late 1800s.  The area in question has some red spruce but not what we would expect from a long-lived and shade tolerant species that is widespread in the understory.  Our hypothesis is that if the red spruce were preferentially harvested and then the land was incorporated into the Forest Preserve the remaining red spruce should be younger than the existing maples, birch, and hemlock.  We were also interested in the age of the impressive stands of white pine. This is a work in progress and we will report on our findings at some point in the future in Mitchelliana.

The third flashbot (on December 9) focused on the bryophyte flora of a small recently found northern white cedar fen and surrounding upland forest.  Because of warm temperatures and lack of snow accumulation the mosses were “active” and apparent.  We were really fortunate that Tom Phillips made the long drive up from the Capital district to share his experience and expertise.  We spent the late morning and early afternoon exploring and botanizing with a lot of hand lens work to tease out the key features of this remarkable moss and liverwort flora.

Click here to see our species list to date.

Click here to see photos from the December 9th trip.

Click here to see photos from the December 19th trip.

Ray and I encourage you to host your own flashbots.  You may be surprised at what you find.