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.

1 comment:

  1. 2 Archived Comments:November 3, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    Jamesdeluxe said...
    I'm fascinated by the chronology of the mountain formation and glaciation that occurred in the northeast. Does anyone have an online source that explains the differences between the ADKs, Catskills, Whites, Greens, etc.?
    May 27, 2010 6:29 AM

    Jeff said...
    One minor correction: a second hatch of Karner blues, the summer brood, is the norm. Typically, this second brood is larger than the first because the eggs have been on the ground for days rather than months and fewer have succumbed to the harshness of life.
    May 27, 2010 12:58 PM