This past week was a busy one with the launch of our summer project – Backyard Biology 2016, a crowdsourced natural inventory of our community! Residents and visitors to the Lakes Region area are invited to join our iNaturalist project and upload pictures of aaaalllll the bugs, plants, mosses, lichens, mushrooms and animals they can find! Besides getting a natural inventory of our area, we’re really hoping to get locals and visitors out into the woods and excited about the enormous diversity our area offers.
I can’t go a week without sharing our finds, though. So quick and dirty, here we go!
A major goal for the weekend was making it to our beloved Cypripedium arietinum spot. Ram’s head lady’s-slipper are incredibly rare throughout New England, ranked S1 in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, historical in Connecticut, and S2 in Vermont. We are only aware of THREE populations in New Hampshire, and we are incredibly lucky to know of one.
The spot is small, and with only a couple of dozen plants, we hop from rock to rock as we approach the area to ensure we are not stepping on any. Ram’s head are tiny plants, topping out at about 20 cm and the blooms are about the size of your thumb. There is no mistaking them for anything else, though!
In a similar habitat we found Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens, or large yellow lady’s-slippers. Compared to the Ram’s-head, these are monster plants! Sturdy and tall, the bright yellow can be seen from quite far away! Unlike other Cypripediums, C. parviflorum has leaves all the way up the stem.
Annnnnnd of course the pink lady’s-slipper, Cypripedium acaule. Contrary to popular belief, these are a common sight in our woods and on our roadsides are endangered in any way! With two or sometimes three veined basal leaves, the flower can be dark pink to white (variation alba, like we saw last year).
Once our lady’s-slipper tour was over, we headed to the swamp! Spring is a good swamp-walking time; I was standing and holding the camera at eye level for this habitat shot. Those ferns are going to be taller than me! While they are gorgeous, once they are grown it might be easier to crawl under them than walk through them!
In the spring, wet areas are often filled with Chrysosplenium americanum, or golden saxifrage. While it may not look like much from afar, when you get up close…..
The “flowers” are just plain odd! The sepals here are the same green color as the leaves, and stamens are the bright red.
Another plant that you have to bend down to see is Mitella nuda, or naked bishop’s cap. You can see a carex growing right alongside of it; this is another spring plant that tops out at around 20 cm.
Just like with the golden saxifrage, the beauty is in the close up! I have a picture of Mitella nuda on my not-very-active Flickr page, and it has the most views out of all of my pictures. I’m fairly certain that is because of the word “naked” in the description, though, and not because of my photography skills……
One more swamp-dweller, and this time an orchid! Corallorhiza trifida, or early coral-root, is not yet ranked in NH. It is, however, on the watch list, so if you see it, please be sure to report it!
There is no face like an orchid face!
My favorite insect of the week was certainly this Cyrtopogon marginalis! Not widespread enough to have a common name, I’ve decided to call him Larry. 🙂
Those raised black bumps do form a ring around the margin of his thorax, hence the species name, I’d assume! He is a robber fly (or assassin fly) of the family Asilidae. Robber flies are predators, feeding on other insects, oftentimes grabbing them right out of the air! This Crytopogon marginalis was quite small compared to most robber fly species.
Over the holiday weekend Keith and I headed up north to camp and we saw lots of incredible things. Stay tuned (and come to central NH to join Backyard Biology)!