Rhododendron Bloom Report: August 1, 2017

Hey folks,

As July ends and August begins, the grove here at Rhododendron State Park is just about finished with this year’s flowers. A few blossoms here and there may be seen still, but any of this season’s flower buds (even the latest ones) have opened up. There won’t be any more new blooms until next summer (somebody will find one just to prove me wrong, but that’s ok – I’m used to it – being wrong, that is).

still blooming
freshly spent flower cluster (left) next to last year’s persistent flower remnants
an example of the various different stages of bloom in the grove
finished for the season
this year the later blooms seem to have a bit more pink – or is it just me?
aftermath
next year’s leaf buds

Mid-summer at the grove is usually a bit cooler (relatively, anyway) and more moist than the surrounding area – mainly a result of the deep shade that is provided by the large White Pines and Eastern Hemlocks that thrive in the acidic soil, not to mention the wet “boggy” condition of the ground. This is a fine example of a fragile ecosystem that is heavily dependent on a real lack of disturbance. It might be a challenge for the grove to survive the loss of deep shade that the hemlock trees provide if they are beset by the Woolly Adelgid – a small but economically important insect that has proven lethal to many Eastern Hemlock trees. The questions remain: Will the insect arrive? Or when? What might it’s impact be? There are a few theories and opinions about this issue and how it ties into other current environmental factors. This is a great opportunity for me to keep my opinions to myself. I will try to do so (it’s kind of too late for that already. Oh well.).

the Rhododendron Loop trail littered with spent blossoms
an impenetrable jungle
“pillow and cradle” the result of a blown down tree from the 1950’s or so
a granite bench along the trail for sitting, resting and feeding the bugs
animal sign in the trail – pine cones (the one in the center is untouched) stripped for the seeds – Red Squirrel?

Enough rambling – this week I have included some more plant pictures as well as some other features that are found at Rhododendron State Park.

“Grape Fern” neither grape nor fern. Botrichium matricariifolium(?) unusual but not rare
“Helleborine” an exotic but not invasive (at least not here) orchid that can be found everywhere – this is a closeup picture – actual size of the flower is not much bigger than 1/2 inch.
“Indian Pipes” A common flowering plant that naturally has no chlorophyll – it is a saprophytic plant – not a parasite, nor is it a fungus.
“Painted Trillium” I missed the flower – it blooms in late May-Trillium undulatum
“Goldthread” named for its bright yellow roots. Coptis trifolium
“Blackgum” a.k.a. “Tupelo” Loss of habitat is a factor in this tree’s decline.

Remember to be prepared for biting insects at the grove-they do like that moist shade.

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Ted Lenk

Ted Lenk is a Park Staffer at Monadnock State Park who also checks in regularly at Rhododendron State Park.

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