September 19, 2010

Great Meadows Walk: Sunday, October 3, 9-11 a.m.

Lotus leaf reflections
A continuing series of monthly walks exploring the landscape, plants, and seasonal wonders of Great Meadows NWR in Concord.

Cooler days bring welcome color to the landscape after an unusual stretch of flooding, heat, and drought.  We'll enjoy the autumn palette, seed bursts, and wild encounters togetheras we explore the dike trail and floodplain forest.

 No pre-registration required.  A $5 voluntary contribution will be gratefully accepted.
Led by Cherrie Corey, local naturalist and photographer
Co-sponsored by Musketaquid Arts and Environment Program 
and Friends of the Assabet River NWR
Meet at Great Meadows NWR in Concord, MA
(Monson Road, off Rte. 62, turn left where road curves right)
For questions, email or call 978-760-1933


September 18, 2010

September Bounty - Grapes, Smartweeds, and Other Surprises

Ripened fox grapes
Even after drought and floods, never underestimate the gifts and surprises that wild places have to offer.  Our September walk at Great Meadows NWR had many.   Thanks to those who joined me for their curiosity and revelations.

The musky, sweet aroma of ripening Fox grapes perfumed shady stretches of the Dike Trail where large fruit clusters hung overhead in the shadows.  The dryness has made them extra flavorful this year.  These are a seasonal clue for our next surprise encounter with...Cut-leaved Grape ferns with ripened spores.  I haven't seen Grape ferns in many years.  Veteran walker, Steve Tobin, spotted these growing amidst moss covered roots of a large silver maple tree.
Cut-leaved grape fern, fertile and infertile fronds
The ever-present and perplexing smartweeds (Polygonaceae family) raised many questions.  Why are they "smart?"  It's their chemistry.  Their peppery leaves can make the skin and mouth smart, warding off some foragers.  Great Meadows has a variety of smartweeds and their relatives, challenging for many to identify.  Here's a sampling...
Water-pepper (Persicaria hydropiper)
Pennsylvania and Nodding smartweeds (Persicaria pensylvanica and P. maculosa)

 Lady's Thumb (Persicaria maculosa)

September 7, 2010

Great Meadows Walk: Sept 12 from 8-10 a.m.

New observation platform under construction
The seeds of change have come to Great Meadows.  New vistas have opened with the construction of an observation platform.  Late blooming fall flowers and seeds of every description herald autumn's transformations.  We'll take a lively walk to the Borden Ponds and back to catch all the changes.

Delicate downy swamp milkweed pod and seeds
No pre-registration required.  A $5/person voluntary donation will be gratefully accepted. 

Co-sponsored by Musketaquid Arts and Environment Program and Friends of Assabet River NWR

Meet at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord, MA.  For questions, email or call 978-760-1933