Sunday, February 22, 2009

New York Wildflowers

I am by no means a botanist and only know the common names of a few flowers from having grown up in a rural environment. Of course this didn’t stop me from impressing some out of town friends years ago during a hike through the Catskill Mountains. I began naming all the plants we encountered and they were amazed by my skill until some of the names became so outlandish they couldn’t help but realize I was making a majority of them up as I went along. : )

All humor aside, I wasn’t terribly concerned by my lack of botanical knowledge until I began to focus on tiny weeds as subjects in my
Roadside Flowers scannography series. I was less than satisfied with titles like Yellow Weed and was hard pressed to discover the true name of my subjects. I will be eternally grateful to the Connecticut Botanical Society and their wonderful website on Connecticut Wildflowers. Obviously, as neighbors Connecticut and New York share a lot of the same wildflowers and the great images I found on the Connecticut Botanical Society’s website enabled me to identify a number of my subjects. Here are some of my discoveries:

This is a great example of my ignorance. I discovered this flower while hiking along a trail at Sam’s Point in late October. The details captured in the scan were barely discernible by the naked eye and I named the image Paper White because of the quality of the petals. At the time, I did not know that there is another kind of flower called Paper White and the title I had come up with is a misnomer. The true name for this tiny flower is Sweet Everlasting (Catfoot) or Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (Gnaphalium obtusifolium) as seen here.

This series was dubbed Blue Wild Flower 1 & 2. The true name is Chicory or Cichorium intybus as seen here.
I remember reading about how Chicory roots were used to make a coffee substitute during the civil war – but I never knew it was the pretty blue flowers growing along my road.

And what I
simply called Yellow Weed is really Common St. Johnswort or Hypericum perforatum as seen here.

This tiny sprig from a bush I titled Pink – for obvious reasons. But its true name is much better. It’s called Meadowsweet or Spiraea alba (Spiraea latifolia) as seen here.

Just as focusing on tiny subjects in the Catskill/Hudson Valley Region caused me to be more appreciative of the details in the surrounding landscape, learning more about my subjects has proven to be equally delightful.

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