Searching For Rare Botany

Barbara Ann Case, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Meadow in New York

She was methodically searching the grasses and sedges that surrounded the Tamarack Shagnum Moss Bog, looking for rare, hard-to-find plants. Barbara Ann Case (A”H) passed this year, and we’ve lost a naturalist who loves to seek rare and beautiful wildflowers, orchids, ephemerals, ferns and more.

This was at that magical acid bog that we’ve posted about recently, secluded in far western New York, near Frewsburg. Where was I? The bog open water begins just beyond the foreground of this photo. Me? I’m searching too, at the bog pond’s edge, looking for Bog Copper butterflies. Their single flight a year coincides with the appearance of the dwarf Blueberry bushes upon which they will lay their eggs. When the blueberry bushes grow, the Bog Coppers eclose. To ever see them, you must visit a bog like this one, at the correct time, remembering that Bog Coppers fly no more than 3 weeks each year.

The Pitchers plants and Sun Dew plants there fascinate me, they do. The high acidity of the bog, the result of its Sphagnum Moss and other acid-rich botany, insure that the bog continues unspoiled. Few plants and animals can tolerate, nor do they enjoy the extreme acidity.

That same acidity, and its fabled reputation for preserving whatever drops into it, causes your mind to create strange daydreams of what may be down in its depths, preserved in nearly mummified state for what, 500 years? 1,000 years? 2,000 years?

Wow! stuff, and the very same reason that such a bog should not be visited alone, for if G-d Forbid one fell in, and sank down, would it take 250 years for you to be . . . ?

Jeff

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