Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn Botanic Garden'

Geothermal Well

I’d like one of these. At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new Visitor Center, “Twenty-eight geothermal wells will heat and cool the building; they will be supplemented by the utility grid only as needed. The building is also nestled into the surrounding hillside, which helps provide insulation.”

Native Flora Garden

In the Brooklyn Botanic Garden yesterday morning. It was still dripping from the rain under the trees, even though it had long since stopped raining. Our woods in leaf always hold onto the rain. Next to the present NFG, the Garden is working on a major expansion to allow for less shade-dominated habitats found in the region. It will take years, of course, and will be glorious to watch.

The Weekend in Blooms

Bursting out all over the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, azaleas (genus Rhododendron).
Meanwhile, the hawthorns (genus Crataegus) in Prospect Park.
Also in Prospect, some other kind of azalea.

Butterflies, ladybugs, flies, and bees were happy to see these blossoms, too.

Skunk Cabbage

Exciting news: the Native Flora Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is expanding by two more acres, more than doubling the space. Think globally, plant locally. (But, erhm, what’s happening to the Rock Garden? I love those erratic glacial boulders, hardy pieces of the mainland.) I was in the 100-year-old original section of NFG the other day, where, in contrast to the nearby showgirly-exuberance of the magnolias (none of them native to our diverse regional habitats), the early spring woods were very quiet indeed. But what’s this? Green? The eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) was out, but then this curious plant can actually melt its way through snow — not that snow was an issue locally this year — if it has to. Thermogenic, or heat-producing, plants like this are uncommon. Most plants wait for the air and ground to warm up via the weather — not that that’s been an issue this year, either.


Just about the perfect spring color.If you hurry, you can see the real thing at the magnolia madness at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Don’t Dump Your Turtle

One of the search phrases that’s led people to this blog more than once is about “releasing pet turtles in Prospect Park.” People want to know if it’s OK to do so. The answer is: no, it isn’t, and you shouldn’t ~ which is what I hope they learned from the internet.

But, considering that I counted over seventy Red-eared Sliders in the Lullwater in November, the practice certainly continues. The Japanese Pond in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is another dumping zone for Brooklyn pet-owners.The Red-eared Slider is the common pet trade turtle, often sold in itty-bitty, evidently irresistible (and, if under 4″, plainly illegal) form. But of course, if the animal is lucky — although plenty of them die young — it grows bigger and bigger and bigger. A female can get to be the size of a large dinner plate, the males nearly that big. A native of the southeastern U.S., these sliders have become invasive in our region through releases from people who didn’t realize how big they could get, could no longer afford the increasing care costs (a very large tank is necessary for a plate-sized turtle), got bored with it, or otherwise outgrow it themselves (children are obviously cute-baited by the trade). Besides out-competing native species like the Painted Turtle, every release is a potential biological hazard, since it could introduce disease(s) to local turtle populations.

You are doing no good to the animal or the habitat by releasing it. Instead, search out adoption agencies like Turtle Rescue of Long Island. The mistake was the initial acquisition, so hopefully now, in making emends, you’ll be an evangelist for NOT BUYING TURTLES AS PETS. Let wild animals be.

I’ve seen them for sale on the sidewalk, and not only in Chinatowns. Brisk business was being gone right by Brooklyn Borough Hall not so long ago (no doubt the hucksters made a contribution to the Borough President’s “favorite charity,” wink, wink). Some years ago, I met some people who found a baby turtle in their table centerpiece at a wedding reception (every table had one, it was part of the design; the florist should have been flogged).

If you see something related to wildlife that you think is illegal, for instance the sale of any reptile or amphibian species native to New York State, or any turtles under 4″ being sold on the street, you can call the state’s hot line: 1-800-847-7332 to report it. I wish I’d known this when I saw those schmucks selling them on Court Street.

Possessing any one of the dozen species of native turtles in New York State is illegal.

Check out the NY Turtle and Tortoise Society for additional news, views, etc.

All my turtle posts are here: painted, snappers, diamondbacks, etc., in the wild, where they belong.

Diamondback Terrapin female, Jamaica Bay

An Unusual Wildflower

One of the stranger wildflowers of the eastern forests is Conopholis americana, also known as squawroot, American cancer-root, and bearcorn. It looks like a fungus popping up out of the ground. But it’s a plant, and a good reminder that not all wildflowers are, well, wildflowery. This particular flower doesn’t photosynthesize; it lives by parasitizing the roots of trees, sucking the necessary nutrients out. (To the botanists, it’s an “achlorophylous obligate root parasite of Quercus spp.”) The picture above was taken in May in the Native Flora Garden of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The picture below, in the Catskills a couple of weeks ago, after the flowers had bloomed and the seeds set. Click on images for larger views.Two of the common names suggest the plant has been used for medicinal purposes, going back to indigenous peoples; “bearcorn” that bears like to eat it. The plant is listed as “exploitably vulnerable” in New York State, meaning “likely to become threatened in the near future throughout all or a significant portion of their range within the state if causal factors continue unchecked.”

Spring screen

Baby, we were born to fold. For a miniature Japanese-style screen:
1. Open up image by clicking on it.
2. Print (in color preferably). Carp should be printed horizontally.
3. Trim as necessary.
4. Z-fold into thirds.
5. Position (in appropriate place).
6. Feel the serenity.
Or other emotional state (as appropriate).

Painted Turtle

The seasons turn. The years go ’round. Last March, I photographed a painted turtle, Chrysemys picta, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Japanese Pond. It was surrounded by numerous eastern red-eared sliders. This past Saturday, I found the same — or, hopefully, another? — painted turtle in the same area of the Pond (where the rocks are). To recap: most of NYC’s freshwater turtles are red-eared sliders. This species, native to the southeastern U.S., has been moved north by the irresponsible pet trade and idiot “owners.” Painted turtles — not to say this one wasn’t introduced to the Pond as well — are a species native to the northeast. One of the basking types of turtles — which means we’re more likely to run into them — painted turtles can live for upwards of five decades. Although you can see the red stripes on the margins of this carapace, the real “paint” is on the plastron.

First Bees of 2011

I’ve seen my first bees of the year. I was in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where honey bees were working the crocuses:
and the pollen-saturated Rose-Gold Pussy Willow:No other species of bees were seen, but the bumblebees should be out and about soon. There were a few flies, including this:A drone fly, Eristalis tenax. It looks like a drone (male) honey bee, which is slightly larger than the worker (female) bee, but drones do not collect nectar, as this fly is doing. There are other differences as well. Flies have a single pair of wings instead of the bees’ two interlocking pair. Above all, look how clean this fly looks; it’s not covered in hair to attract pollen. But it’s subtle, and the mimicry of this species, which originates in Europe just like the honey bee, is probably to convince other animals that it might sting like a bee if you mess with it. It won’t.


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