6 de junio de 2023

Toothworts in Vermont

In New England, genus Cardamine breaks into two distinct groups, the bittercresses and the toothworts. There are three species of toothworts in Vermont:

  1. Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)
  2. Two-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine diphylla)
  3. Large Toothwort (Cardamine maxima)

This article is about the latter two species, which are difficult to distinguish. Consider the following key characters from the indicated flora:

New Flora of Vermont [2015]:

  • Cardamine diphylla: Leaves normally 2, opposite or subopposite; margins of leaflets with appressed cilia
  • Cardamine maxima: Leaves normally 3, alternate; margins of leaflets with spreading cilia

Flora Novae Angliae [2011]:

  • Cardamine diphylla: Cilia on leaf margin mostly 0.1 mm long, ascending or appressed; rhizome continuous (i.e., of uniform diameter)
  • Cardamine maxima: Cilia on leaf margin mostly 0.2–0.3 mm long, spreading; rhizome alternately enlarged and constricted

Flora of North America (FNA) [2010]:

  • Cardamine diphylla: Rhizomes somewhat uniform in diameter; cauline leaves (sub) opposite
  • Cardamine maxima: Rhizomes not uniform in diameter (distinctly constricted at intervals); cauline leaves usually alternate, rarely subopposite

Since Go Botany is essentially the online version of Flora Novae Angliae, its online key is nearly identical to the printed key.

As far as I can tell, all of the above keys refer to stem leaves (not basal leaves, or rhizomal leaves, as FNA calls them). This implies that all keys require a flowering stem, that is, it may not be possible to distinguish the two species based on basal leaves alone (unless you're willing to dig up the plant in question).


The keys in the three flora overlap but there is no agreement: two of the flora include the arrangement of leaves on the flowering stem, two of them mention cilia along the stem leaf margins, and two them refer to the shape of the rhizome. The latter character is not very useful for identifying iNaturalist observations since observers rarely dig up their specimens (for obvious reasons).

Go Botany contrasts Cardamine diphylla with Cardamine maxima as follows:

  • Cardamine diphylla: with rhizome of nearly uniform diameter, leaves usually opposite, and cilia of leaf margin appressed to ascending
  • Cardamine maxima: rhizome alternately enlarged and constricted, leaves usually alternate, and cilia of leaf margin spreading

Although the stem leaves of the two species are usually opposite or alternate (resp.), the arrangement of leaves along the flowering stem is not sufficient. For a positive ID, the other two characters (rhizome morphology and leaf cilia) should also be considered. [Arthur Haines, personal communication]

For the sake of discussion, let's ignore Flora of North America for a moment. Both New Flora of Vermont and Flora Novae Angliae mention cilia on the margins of stem leaves, so that might be a good place to start. However, the cilia are very short, and so most of the photographs taken by iNaturalist observers will not show them.

Conclusion: The best above-ground character used to distinguish Cardamine diphylla from Cardamine maxima is the length and orientation of cilia on the leaf margins. The orientation of the leaves along the flowering stem, and the shape of the leaves themselves, are suggestive but not diagnostic.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.


Publicado el 6 de junio de 2023 15:09 por trscavo trscavo | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

2 de junio de 2023

lost my phone

On May 21, 2023, while exploring the Lucy Mallary Bugbee Natural Area (aka Stoddard Swamp), I lost my phone. It must have fallen out of my pocket, probably when I stepped over a downed tree. I spent the rest of the day trying to retrace my steps (which was difficult since there are no trails in this natural area). I never did find my phone on that day so I drove home (70 miles) without it.

The next day I decided to drive back to the natural area and look for my phone again. I wasn't expecting to find it, but I got lucky. After an hour of searching, I found it lying on some moss, no worse for wear. I was relieved, like a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

Apart from not losing my phone in the first place, I don't know what I could have done differently. When I lost my phone, it was on airplane mode to conserve battery. Even if it had not been on airplane mode, there was little to no service in the area (which is typical of places I frequent) so I'm not sure how the Find My app (on iPhone) might have helped. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Publicado el 2 de junio de 2023 20:01 por trscavo trscavo | 5 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Stoddard Swamp

Stoddard Swamp was described by Hub Vogelmann in part 1 of Natural areas of Vermont [1964] as a “beautiful cedar bog…located in the famous bog country near Peacham, Vermont”. Today Stoddard Swamp is part of the Lucy Mallary Bugbee Natural Area, a designated 12-acre natural area in the towns of Peacham and Danville in Caledonia County.

Vogelmann reportedly found four species of lady’s slipper, calypso, and other orchids in Stoddard Swamp. In 2014, the Vermont Botanical and Bird Club published a list of 26 plant species observed in the Lucy Mallary Bugbee Natural Area. As of this writing, iNat users have observed 48 species in the area, including 43 plant species.

I visited the Lucy Mallary Bugbee Natural Area on May 21, 2023. I spent the day roaming through the cedar swamp, listening to bird sounds, and taking photos of plants. I found one orchid but I'll have to go back to identify it further. Note: the natural area has no designated parking and no trails, so a GPS-enabled map of the area is essential.

Publicado el 2 de junio de 2023 18:00 por trscavo trscavo | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de mayo de 2023

Camel's Hump

In Natural areas of Vermont (1964), Hub Vogelmann describes three distinct habitats on Camel's Hump as follows:

  • Camel’s Hump Alpine Tundra: about 10 acres of alpine tundra surrounding the summit (4,083 feet), which he noted is “the only remaining undisturbed alpine summit in Vermont”
  • Camel’s Hump Fir Forest: about 1,000 acres of boreal fir forest (not unlike the boreal forest of Canada) extending in a belt on the upper slopes of Camel’s Hump, between 2,800 and 3,800 feet
  • Camel’s Hump Northern Hardwoods Forest: about 1,000 acres of northern hardwood forest forming a broad belt on the western slopes of Camel’s Hump, between 1,800 and 2,600 feet

In 1965, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation established Camel's Hump Natural Area, a protected area that includes the alpine tundra identified by Vogelmann. In addition, the Camel's Hump Ecological Area was created by Vermont Statute (10 V.S.A §2353) in 1969. The latter includes all state land in Camel's Hump State Park above 2,500 feet plus all land in the Gleason Brook drainage above 900 feet. An additional tract of land within the Phen Basin block of the park was designated as a natural area in May of 1997. Altogether there are more than 7,000 acres of designated natural area in Camel's Hump State Park. Much of the habitat described by Vogelmann is included in that total.

The Long Trail traverses the length of Camel's Hump State Park, reaching its overall lowest point as it crosses the Winooski River just north of the park's northern boundary. On the south side of the river, at the trailhead on Duxbury Road, the altitude is just 350 feet. Five miles south of the trailhead, Camel's Hump rises to 4,083 feet. The hike from the trailhead to the summit is the longest climb on the entire Long Trail.

On 28 April 2023, starting at the trailhead, I followed the Long Trail south to its intersection with the Gleason Brook. There I broke trail and followed the main branch of Gleason Brook to a triple-fork at 1,700 feet. Taking the east fork, I followed Gleason Brook to its source, which led to the Long Trail at 2,364 feet (approximately two miles from the summit of Camel's Hump). A 3-mile hike north along the Long Trail brought me back to my starting point. There are stunning views along this section of the Long Trail, including views of Camel's Hump itself and the whole of the Gleason Brook watershed.

At approximately 1,900 feet, the deciduous hardwood forest that dominates the Gleason Brook watershed became a mixed forest. By 2,330 feet, just shy of the Long Trail, the forest had become almost entirely coniferous. These altitudes differ from those of Vogelmann, but the transition from northern hardwood forest to boreal fir forest occurred just as he predicted.


Publicado el 17 de mayo de 2023 10:22 por trscavo trscavo | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de abril de 2023

Colchester Bog

Colchester Bog was described by Hub Vogelmann in part 1 of Natural areas of Vermont in 1964. At the time, the area was privately owned. Today, the Colchester Bog Natural Area is owned by the University of Vermont. A floating boardwalk extends into the bog in the southeast corner of the natural area.

I visited the Colchester Bog Natural Area on April 20, 2023. Much of the area is impenetrable this time of the year (due to high water) but the day's observations included numerous species from the heath family (Rhododendron, Kalmia, trailing arbutus, leatherleaf, wild rosemary), purple pitcher plant, and various emerging ferns.

Publicado el 24 de abril de 2023 16:11 por trscavo trscavo | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de abril de 2023

Shelburne Pond

Shelburne Pond was described by Hub Vogelmann in part 2 of Natural areas of Vermont in 1969. Later accounts of Hub's life tell how he loved to go fishing there. One day he found an old dugout canoe floating on the pond. Using carbon-14 dating methods, the canoe was found to be over 700 years old.

There's an upland forest along the southwest shore of the pond. Older documents refer to this area as the Shelburne Pond Natural Area but the official name is the H. Laurence Achilles Natural Area at Shelburne Pond. Vogelmann was instrumental in the creation of this natural area. It is a rich hardwood forest with a diverse population of early spring wildflowers, one of the best such areas in Chittenden County. It is one of two natural areas in Vermont (the other being Shaw Mountain Natural Area) that support large numbers of white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum). Be sure to visit the natural area during the first week of May for a breathtaking display of trilliums!

I visited the H. Laurence Achilles Natural Area at Shelburne Pond on April 15,2023, observing about 30 taxa of plants, most of them budding or flowering.


Publicado el 19 de abril de 2023 14:31 por trscavo trscavo | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de abril de 2023

Cranberry Bog

In Natural areas of Vermont (1964), Hub Vogelmann describes Cranberry Bog near the summit of Snake Mountain in Weybridge. Today Cranberry Bog is part of the Snake Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The brochure says the WMA is diverse, and that is very true. You never know what you'll find on Snake Mountain!

We hiked to Cranberry Bog on April 11, 2023. I made only a few observations on this day since we were pressed for time. We saw lots of deer sign on this hike. It appears that Snake Mountain is an important deer wintering area.

Water levels were down everywhere we went. The brook was running slower than usual. Vernal pools were low or completely dry. The beaver pond just west of the bog was at less than half capacity. Clearly Snake Mountain needs more rain to bring the water levels back to normal.

Publicado el 14 de abril de 2023 13:10 por trscavo trscavo | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de abril de 2023

Sandbar WMA

In Natural areas of Vermont (1964), Hub Vogelmann describes two areas, the "Sandbar Swamp White Oak-Silver Maple Forest" and the "Sandbar Marsh", both located in the state-owned Sandbar Waterfowl Area. Today the area is known as the Sandbar Wildlife Management Area.

I visited the Sandbar Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Milton on April 4, 2023. As you can see on the map linked above, most of the WMA is a wildlife refuge with no public access, and both of Vogelmann's natural areas are in the no-access zone. There's a fence around this area, with clearly written signage: "State Waterfowl Refuge: Hunting, Shooting, Fishing, Trapping, and Trespassing PROHIBITED."

I was disappointed, but hey, I get it. The best way to protect the wildlife is to keep people out. I did, however, visit the open portion of the WMA and made a few observations.

Publicado el 12 de abril de 2023 15:38 por trscavo trscavo | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

7 de abril de 2023

Natural areas in Vermont

Hubert “Hub” Vogelmann (1928–2013), a professor of botany at the University of Vermont for 36 years, wrote two booklets entitled Natural areas in Vermont, published in 1964 and 1969. In these two booklets, he documents dozens of specific natural areas, some of them well known but many of them completely unknown (at least to me). Vogelmann's intention was to make them better known to a broad audience so that they might become protected areas for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

His lists of natural areas are amazing! In the coming months, I hope to visit some of the places he writes about. I'll record my experiences here, in my iNaturalist journal. Stay tuned!

  • Vogelmann, Hubert (1964). Natural areas in Vermont, Report No. 1. Vermont Resources Research Center, University of Vermont.
  • Vogelmann, Hubert (1969). Natural areas in Vermont, Report No. 2. Central Planning Office and Interagency Committee on Natural Resources. Montpelier, Vermont.

As noted in the comments, these booklets are available for in-library use at the Billings Library on the University of Vermont campus. My online notes briefly list the natural areas, their approximate locations, and a few other details.

Publicado el 7 de abril de 2023 21:06 por trscavo trscavo | 20 comentarios | Deja un comentario

15 de marzo de 2023

Colchester Pond Natural Area

I created a new place:

Most of Colchester Pond Natural Area is located in the town of Colchester, Vermont but a sizable portion extends into the neighboring town of Essex where it is adjacent to Indian Brook Park. The area is a great place to observe spring wildflowers:

Colchester Pond Natural Area is administered by the Winooski Valley Park District.

Publicado el 15 de marzo de 2023 16:06 por trscavo trscavo | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario