Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Lupine & Lady's Slippers
At the end of the last ice age, between 10 and 20 thousand years ago, the continental ice sheet that covered Gore Mountain, Whiteface and the Adirondacks receded. As the ice melted, water became impounded in a massive lake known as Glacial Lake Albany that covered the region from Glens Falls to Albany. Eventually that water drained away, but it left behind large deposits of sand and silt. Today, the sandy soil provides essential habitat for blue lupine – the only plant that the larvae of the endangered Karner blue butterfly feed on.
Within a couple miles of home are several parcels of protected Karner blue habitat. In late spring and early summer, restored blue lupine meadows come alive with color as the lupine blooms and the Karner blue larvae emerge. Around the same time, Pink Lady’s Slippers (a wild Orchid) bloom in wooded areas.
We took a family hike on Saturday at one of the nearby parcels. The lupine is a few weeks ahead of schedule this year, and is just beginning to bloom. In addition to the wildflowers, we also saw some of the Karner blue butterflies. In good years, a second hatch will occur mid-summer.
More information on the ecology of the Saratoga Sand Plains can be found at the website of the Wilton Wildlife Park and Preserve. WWPP has protected almost a thousand acres of critical Karner Blue habitat in northern Saratoga County, and also provides outstanding recreation and environmental education opportunities.