Posts Tagged Nature

What’s The Big Stink?

What’s The Big Stink? . . .

Skunk Cabbage April 2014

Vase on the Forest Floor: Symplocarpus. This North American native is stinky, too. (NYC, April)

Flower in the news . . . Flower in the news in New York City:

What’s the Big Stink?

Good News about to bloom:

My friends at the New York Botanical Garden have enjoyed sharing a rare moment with a most distinctive flowering plant:

Amorphophallus titanum is set to bloom.


“What’s the Big Stink?” When the plant flowers the source of that classic phrase may be known.

One may first hear a name: The Corpse Flower.

Omen? As it may have been when one last bloomed in NYC in 1939? Perhaps.

Magnificent? Certain. The scale, the distinctiveness of size and aroma of this plant nurtured “a decade in the making” has, for all that time, communicated enough to us to garner human attention and celebration.

“Bravo!” to . . . THE BLOOM.

— rPs 07 27 2016


Postscript: Visit the New York Botanical Garden and view the Corpse Flower Cam by following this link: NYBG/125


One may also visit in the field the somewhat similar, and indigenous, Skunk Cabbage , Symplocarpus, across the New York City area in March:


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Second Half Fireworks

Second Half Fireworks . . .


Sumac Candle Panicle NYC 07 2016

Candle Flame: Sumac, genus Rhus, begins to bloom. (NYC 07 10 2016)


Again my head turns toward the Sumac. The flowering tree’s form has by its distinction in Autumn and Winter been visited before. Trees that flower and fruit are the largest of the Wildflowers of the West Village in scale. The dimensions of their blooms, often in multitudes, remains modest, gives scent, sweet aroma, to the watered cleansed air flowing off the Hudson.  Genus Rhus by its panicles stands on a pinnacle point within the five boroughs.

July begins the second half of the calendar year. The candle flame panicles of the Sumac catch fire in step with the traditional fireworks at the start of month. Army green trees in a blink flame on with a rich blend of reds. Trees from a distance advertise their berries. The panicles from that vantage look like berry dots across fixed fields of green. “Berries Offered Here” the message seems to say. Many of Manhattan’s birds, native American Robin and immigrant European Starling, feast here. So may humanity. The spikes, or panicles, will evolve by Autumn into ripe dense clusters of russet berries capable of a fine brewed cold press beverage.


Sumac Rhus NYC 07 2016

“Berries Offered Here” (NYC 07 2016)


For now, though, that beverage is something best served with, or as, ice. Hot summer for the wildflowers and their appreciators has arrived: the fires of July.

– rPs 07 11 2016

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Summer Blooms

Summer Blooms . . .


Plantago major 06 2016

Broadleaf Plantain, Plantago major (NYC 06 2016)


Bloomsday passed with a literary flourish on June 16 and now, just a few days later, Summer is here in New York City, or rather as of 6:34 p.m. Eastern Standard Time today, June 20.

Rain or shine, this is the peak time for the Wildflowers of the West Village. Multiple species, in some cases multiples varieties of the same genus, such as the plantains (Plantago) can be found edging lawns and other green spaces throughout the Five Boroughs.

Have a great summer season.


Plantago lanceolata 06 2016

English Plantain, Plantago lanceolata (NYC 06 2016)


– rPs 06 20 2016

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Spring! Spring! Palm Sunday Passover

Spring! Spring! Palm Sunday Passover . . .

Scilla siberica April 2014.

Scilla siberica April 2014.

An atmospheric switch flicked. Palm Sunday passed, borne up on bright skies, extending a temperature nearly touching eighty Fahrenheit. The wind, at last, was less generous, bringing stillness.

Past high noon, along a fence, I did see a single yellowed bumblebee buzz a shaded Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris). Beauty along a margin, preceding formal plantings, as nearby some nearly pale violet Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill) spread on a backdrop of bark brown soil.

Marsh Marigold April 2014.

Marsh Marigold April 2014.

Farther afield, yet on the west side near the Hudson, the Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) has appeared. No stinky foot in odor present here to my senses. This bloom, to my eyes, is the actual and sudden appearance of first thick leaves forming narrow green vases affixed to the forest floor.

One of Vases on the Forest Floor. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

One of Vases on the Forest Floor. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

Exceptional greenery became apparent, too, in patches of the Onion Grass chive (genus Allium), found often at the base of trees, standing in thatches at a full state of lushness.

genus Allium April 2014.

genus Allium April 2014.

Shoots! Everywhere!

Eastern Skunk Cabbage April 2014.

Eastern Skunk Cabbage April 2014.

Spring has begun to passover our latitude; at last.

– rPs 04 14 2014

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Bloomsday 2012

Bloomsday 2012 . . .

Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) begins to show on Bloomsday 2012 (photo taken on 06 16 2012)

I am neither stately nor plump, yet like Buck Mulligan I did come to the stairhead to greet the mild morning air. To celebrate Bloomsday, 2012, I present here a photo of my courtyard garden’s first Bigleaf Hydrangea of the year . . .

— rPs 06 16 2012

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NYC Wildflower Week, May 12-20, 2012

NYC Wildflower Week, May 12-20, 2012 . . .

Full Color: Jefferson Market Garden is in bloom in time for NYC Wildflower Week. (photo taken 05 12 2012)

NYC Wildflower Week celebrates its 5th anniversary this year. There will be over thirty free events on offer, open to the public, and spread across all five boroughs of the city. Related nature study, including regional animal species, will be on the program as well. A full listing of events can be found by following this link:

New York City possesses 53,000 acres of open space and 778 native plant species (plus numerous flowering immigrants, many of which are featured here at WWV), so take some time to explore the urban outdoors and enjoy May’s wildflowers.

You never know where a city wildflower may grow: Water Parsnip (Sium suave) blooms beside a tree between 8th and 9th Avenues. (photo taken 05 12 2012)

– rPs 05 12 2012

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An “Irish Spring”

An “Irish Spring” . . .

(photo taken 03 16 2012)

I discovered a pot of wildflower gold on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. Surrounding the base of a tree beside the bike path along the West Side Highway, I found an Irish spring mix of Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), white Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), and blue Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica), blooming together.

The trees are bare, though budding; the ground is spongy, beginning to turn verdant. In this environment, the diminutive wildflowers of the early season are a refreshing sign of life renewing on the cusp of spring.

Breathe deeply . . .

(photo taken 03 16 2012)

– rPs 03 17 2012

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High Line Cuts Back and Expands

High Line Cuts Back and Expands . . .


(photo taken 03 09 2012)


(photo taken 03 09 2012)

A sure sign of the urban spring has begun. The High Line started its annual spring cutback project. The winter song of the wind sounding through the park’s high grasses has been replaced by staff and volunteers pruning back shrubs and perennials for the new spring growing season.

Clusters of blooming Crocus vernus, now in full color, have been exposed in between the trimmed plants. The purple and white bouquets, spread randomly amongst the tans and browns of stems and trunks, can provide a lot of new still life opportunities for photographers.

As this cutback proceeds, the High Line announced its planned third expansion along the Rail Yards. This stretch around 30th Street and 10th Avenue would run east and west along a major real estate redevelopment leading to the Hudson River. The shift in orientation and new features such as a children’s area promise both challenges and rewards. A community input meeting held on Monday, March 12, in the Chelsea neighborhood took a solid first step in getting the final design right.

As for the cutback, the project plans to continue over the next month or so. Interested volunteers can visit the High Line’s “News” section for more information:

The sign says it all:

(photo taken 03 09 2012)

– rPs 03 13 2012

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More February Wildflowers

More February Wildflowers . . .

I thought I would take advantage of Leap Day 2012 to squeeze in one more post for the month of February. The past four weeks have remained damp and cool, rather than cold, making the green spaces of the West Village resemble tundra. The park grass is spongy, close cropped, yet green, and along the edges a variety of hardy wildflower species can be found, low to the ground, in bloom . . .

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

(photo taken 02 19 2012)

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Feral Croci (Crocus vernus)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

And, in my own courtyard, a few Common Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

(photo taken 02 23 2012)

– rPs 02 29 2012

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The First Wildflower of 2012

The First Wildflower of 2012 . . .

Common Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) push up through the leaf litter at the Jefferson Market Garden. (photo taken 02 06 2012)

The New York region’s weather has resembled the middle of March for all but a few days of this 2011-2012 winter season. One of the effects of modest precipitation combined with moderate temperatures has been an odd kind of eternal spring.

I took a lunch hour stroll through the West Village on Monday, February 6, in part to enjoy the light and air of this gentle weather. Days like this allow me to contemplate one of my favorite outdoor aesthetic combinations: the weathered grays and tans of bare trees backlit by a silver sun, blue sky, and white clouds. Such views, like the air itself, are the cleanest of the year. The quiet beauty can purify the eyes in a city overloaded with coded manmade imagery.

During my walk, I sighted the first blooming wildflower of 2012 growing along the edge of the Jefferson Market Garden near the corner of Greenwich Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas. The species: Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, which I described last year . . .

“This pretty little flower is an herbaceous perennial member of the family Amaryllidaceae. A naturalized immigrant from Europe, the Common Snowdrop sprouts from a bulb that sends forth two deep green lanceolate leaves and a thin scape that holds a single lobed flower on a pedicel. An individual bloom hanging from its scape very much resembles an antique lamppost supporting a white glass light fixture.”

The beauty of this bloom springs eternal. The difference, this year, is the remarkable earliness of its emergence: nearly a month sooner than last year. Good timing! The flowers can serve as a symbolic sign of celebration for the NY Giants winning Super Bowl XLVI.

Meanwhile, will this mild winter correspond to an equally mild summer? Let’s see . . . Let’s hope!

Common Snowdrops sing early during this 2012 "spring eternal" . . . (photo taken 02 06 2012)

– rPs 02 07 2012

Postscript: The Jefferson Market Garden stands out as one of the West Village’s most distinctive green spaces. Visit their website by following this link:

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