May 5, 2020
Spring Wildflower Walk on Joppenbergh Mountain
By Cara Gentry, WVLT Coordinator of Land Stewardship
As more of us practice social distancing outdoors, now is the perfect time to also slow down the pace and enjoy the beautiful native spring wildflowers blooming on the forest floor.
Slowing down and exploring the forest floor reveals delicate native groundcover taking advantage of warm, spring sunlight that briefly kisses the ground before overhead tree leaves fully shade the understory. Several of my favorites were recently in bloom on Joppenbergh Mountain.
Identifying wildflowers is easy, especially with a guidebook. Newcombs Wildflower Guide, first published in 1977, is a good one that not only helps identify wildflowers, but also teaches wildflower “family groups” as users use the search key. There are also smartphone apps, such as iNaturalist and others that can help you identify wildflowers.
Most of our native wildflower populations are at risk due to illegal poaching. This includes picking flowers and harvesting the plants in an attempt to propagate on private land. Please let all wildflowers seen on our properties remain in place so they can thrive and spread naturally through our protected lands.
Below are a few of the native wildflowers I observed on the walk at Joppenbergh Mountain. Have you see any of these?
This is one of my favorite finds in the spring forest. The wake robin trillium is also knowns as a red trillium or a stinking Benjamin, is native the eastern United States and Canada and can be found from northern Georgia to New Brusnwick. Some people call this flower stinking Benjamin because the flowers spell of rotting meat and attract scavenger flies to aid in pollination. On Joppenbergh Mountain, these red trilliums have been seen from the trail as you walk up the white trail towards the overlook.
Cut Leaf Tooth Wort
Part of the mustard family, these native wildflowers range from white to pink and tend to form a small cluster on the end of the stem that hangs down that bloom from March through May. The flowers are fragrant and will attract a range of native pollinators. This plant will spread by both rhizomes and by seed dispersal, but is easily outcompeted by invasive species such as garlic mustard. This subtle flower can be seen from the trail near where the blue trail connects to the white summit trail.
Also known as Canadian Columbine or Eastern Red Columbine, the Wild Columbine ha also a member of the buttercup family native to North American forests and rocky hillsides. The showy red and yellow flowers can be seen from April through May nestled in rocky crevasses on Joppenbergh Mountain. They have also been observed growing in the old kiln walls along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail where ii passes through Williams Lake. The flowers are an early spring favorite for hummingbirds.
This very cute small white to pink flower gets its name by looking like pairs of pants hanging on a line. It is native to the woodlands of North America. The flowers wilt immediately upon picking, so should never be collected even if on your own private land. The plant can be toxic and has been documented causing cattle to appear drunk after they have grazed on it. The flowers are seen in early spring from March through April and can be observed from the trail on the rocky outcrops on Joppenbergh Mountain.
Jack in the Pulpit
This understated flower is a lot more than meets the eye. In reality what you see is an inflorescence which is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem. You are likely to notice the is greenish colored hood with brown to purple stripes inside. This hood is wrapped around a spadix which is covered in very tiny flowers. The flowers bloom from April through June and in the fall mature into a bright red berry cluster. The berries are poisonous to humans and historically were reported to be used by some Native Americans to harm or even kill their enemies.
Yellow Trout Lily
A native lily to eastern north America, named so because the mottled green and brown leaves look much like a trout in a brook as seen from above the water surface. The showy yellow flowers bloom before forest leaf-out when the sunlight is still penetrating the forest floor. The plants reproduce both by seed and by blub budding. Some colonies of trout lilies which has expanded through bulb budding have been dated to over 300 years old. The flowering plants also produce a fruit which holds the seeds off the ground on the flower stalk. They evolved a fleshy structure attached to the seeds called an elaiosome which helps attract ants to disperse the seeds. The flowers are short-lived, but you will notice the mottled leaves on the forest floor of Joppenbergh a bit longer into the season.
Small clusters of white flowers top a harry but leafless stem
about 3-4 inches tall. There are leaves at the base of the stem, also covered in fine hairs. The origin of this plant name is from Latin where ‘saxum’ means rock and ‘frangere’ means to break. The name of this flower means stone breaker and will often be found on rocky slops and cliffs. The rocky outcrops and thin soil on Joppenbergh mountain provide an optimum habitat for this small flower.
This delicate perennial is part of the buttercup family and is native to our northeastern woodland forests. The flowers and leaves are on thin stems which are easily blown by the wind and are sometimes referred to as wind flowers. The white flowers bloom in mid to late spring and can be seen in a carpet along with Early Saxifrage along the trail near the lookout on Joppenbergh Mountain. Anemones, like many plants in the buttercup family, are mildly toxic and therefore ignored by deer and other wildlife.