16 November, 2023

Proposal to replace the Plant Phenology annotation

The newly discovered annotation tooltips motivated a discussion regarding the Plant Phenology annotation. A proposal to replace the Plant Phenology annotation with a new annotation (called Reproductive Structures) grew out of the discussion:

Reproductive Structures

  1. Flower bud: At least one closed flower bud is visible and attached to the plant
  2. Flower: At least one open flower is visible and attached to the plant
  3. Fruit: At least one seed-bearing fruit is visible and attached to the plant
  4. No reproductive structures: No sexual reproductive structures (in whole or part) are visible

For details regarding the proposal, see:

If you support this proposal, please join the conversation!

Posted on 16 November, 2023 13:05 by trscavo trscavo | 63 comments | Leave a comment

09 November, 2023

Flowering season of native plants in Vermont

Which native plant species have been observed in Vermont with a flower either very early or very late in the season? The following search URLs can be used to answer this question:

Observations of native plants with flowers in Jan, Feb, and Mar: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?introduced=false&month=1,2,3&place_id=47&subview=table&term_id=12&term_value_id=13&view=species

Observations of native plants with flowers (or flower buds) in Nov and Dec: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?introduced=false&month=11,12&place_id=47&subview=table&term_id=12&term_value_id=13,15&view=species

Studying these lists, there are few authentic observations of flowers in Dec, Jan, or Feb. The aster observed on December 11 is one of my favorites. (There may be other non-annotated observations out there, I don’t know.)

Just for fun, here are my most extreme observations of native plants in VT with flowers:

Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) observed on March 26:

Rock Harlequin (Capnoides sempervirens) observed on November 8:

What are yours?

Posted on 09 November, 2023 22:00 by trscavo trscavo | 4 comments | Leave a comment

21 October, 2023

Annotation tooltips

I discovered these short, official definitions for annotations just the other day:

Alive or Dead:

  • Alive: Organism is living and shows no signs of imminent death
  • Cannot Be Determined: Cannot be determined from the evidence provided
  • Dead: Organism is dead or shows signs of imminent death

Evidence of Presence:

  • Bone: Predominantly endoskeleton remains; partial bone exposure in an otherwise intact organism should be labelled [sic] “organism”
  • Feather: One or more feathers not attached to an organism
  • Gall: Deformed plant tissue outgrowth caused by a parasitic organism
  • Molt: Discarded skin or exoskeleton
  • Organism: Whole or partial organism
  • Scat: Fecal matter (not owl pellets or other regurgitated matter)
  • Track: Impression in ground or snow made by organism

Life Stage:

  • Adult: BUG
  • Egg: BUG
  • Juvenile: BUG
  • Larva: BUG
  • Nymph: BUG
  • Pupa: BUG
  • Subimago: BUG
  • Teneral: Adult that has recently emerged but has not yet achieved its final adult form

Plant Phenology:

  • Flower budding: Flower buds visible but not open
  • Flowering: Flowers visible, open, and still attached to the plant
  • Fruiting: Fruit visible and still attached to the plant
  • No evidence of flowering: Media provides no evidence of reproductive structures


  • Cannot Be Determined: Cannot be determined from the evidence provided
  • Female: Evidence indicates that organism can produce ova for use in sexual reproduction
  • Male: Evidence indicates that organism can produce sperm for use in sexual reproduction

At this time, not all of the values have definitions since some of the annotation tooltips are affected by a bug.

Apparently these definitions are not widely known since the tooltips are visible only after the annotation has been applied. For example:

  1. Browse: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/165124188
  2. Hover over the annotation “bone”
  3. The tooltip will display as: Predominantly endoskeleton remains; partial bone exposure in an otherwise intact organism should be labelled “organism”

Note: In the previous tooltip, it should be “labeled”, not “labelled”, but hey, that's a minor point!

I was really surprised to learn about these definitions after all this time. I'm curious, did you know about these before now?

Posted on 21 October, 2023 15:39 by trscavo trscavo | 23 comments | Leave a comment

25 September, 2023

Logging on Snake Mountain

There's a major logging operation in progress on Snake Mountain in Addison County. For the time being at least, the operation is confined to the eastern portion of the Snake Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The state owns the land but I've been told they do not own the logging rights.

Hiking through the freshly logged area is a humbling experience. I can't describe it in words anyone would want to hear. You should go there and experience it for yourself (but if you do, do it on a Sunday when there's a lull in the activity).

Snake Mountain is a unique ecosystem, a remarkable island of biodiversity in the middle of the Champlain Valley. This special place should be conserved indefinitely.

Posted on 25 September, 2023 15:07 by trscavo trscavo | 8 comments | Leave a comment

22 September, 2023

Photos lost

My iPhone crashed during a software update. I had to restore it using an old backup and so I lost a bunch of photos in the process. Here's a short list of the new places I visited (but no photos):

  • The Nature Conservancy (TNC) owns a 215-acre parcel off Hackadam Road in the town of West Haven in Rutland County. I'll call it Hackett Dam Natural Area for lack of a better name. Here I found some unidentified ferns on the cliffs along the Poultney River.
  • Morristown Bog is a state-designated natural area off VT Route 100 in Lamoille County. It has more purple pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) than I've ever seen in one place.
  • The town of Ferrisburgh in Addison County has two state parks and two wildlife management areas. In particular, the Little Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area is mentioned by Vogelmann in part 1 of Natural areas of Vermont [1964], I was looking for the green dragon (Arisaema dracontium) but didn't find it.
  • The Raven Ridge Natural Area (owned by TNC) consists of four parcels that straddle the Chittenden-Addison county line. The southernmost parcel is in the town of Monkton in Addison County. It's mostly a wetland but there's a mixed forest around the perimeter with an assortment of spring flowering plants.

I hope to revisit each of these places in the spring.

Posted on 22 September, 2023 23:03 by trscavo trscavo | 9 comments | Leave a comment

05 September, 2023

European Cow-Parsnip in Vermont

This is a followup to Hogweeds and Cowparsnips in Vermont. Both Flora Novae Angliae [Haines 2011] and New Flora of Vermont [Gilman 2015] list the same three taxa:

  1. Cow-parsnip (Heracleum maximum)
  2. Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
  3. European Cow-Parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium)

This post is about the latter. In its native Europe, Heracleum sphondylium is simply called Hogweed (not to be confused with the infamous Giant Hogweed).

According to Plants of the World Online (POWO), Heracleum sphondylium has 15 subspecies. That begs the question: which subspecies is represented in Vermont? The short answer is: nobody knows! Some authorities claim that Heracleum sphondylium subsp. sibiricum occurs in VT while others claim it is Heracleum sphondylium subsp. sphondylium. Haines observed that plants found in New England seem to have characteristics of both (see the description at the bottom of the page on Heracleum sphondylium at Go Botany). As far as I know, that's where it stands today.

Note: The names Heracleum sphondylium subsp. sibiricum and Heracleum sibiricum are synonyms. Haines and.Gilman recognize the subspecies but POWO (and therefore iNaturalist) accept the latter.

Heracleum sphondylium is locally common in the town of Canaan in the extreme northeast corner of VT. Other than that, it is occasionally found in Essex, Orleans, and Franklin counties. [Gilman 2015] However, no collections have been made in VT since 2009.

There are few observations of Heracleum sphondylium in VT. Its presence has been confirmed along South America Pond Road in Ferdinand. More observations are needed to better understand its current distribution in northern Vermont.


  • Gilman, Arthur V. (2015). New Flora of Vermont. Memoirs of The New York Botanical Garden, Volume 110. Bronx, New York, USA: The New York Botanical Garden Press. ISBN 978-0-89327-516-7.
  • Haines, Arthur (2011). New England Wild Flower Society's Flora Novae Angliae: A Manual for the Identification of Native and Naturalized Higher Vascular Plants of New England. Illustrated by Elizabeth Farnsworth and Gordon Morrison. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-17154-9.
  • Heracleum sphondylium (iNaturalist, POWO, Wikipedia)
  • Heracleum sibiricum (iNaturalist, POWO, Wikipedia)
  • Herbarium specimens:
    ** Along the Maine Central tracks (now the Upper Coos Recreational Rail Trail) in Beecher Falls in the town of Canaan (Essex) (2008246 1968)
    ** Along VT 114, 3.2 km (2 mi) east of the end of Wallace Pond in the town of Canaan (Essex) (566489 1983)
    ** A pullout along VT 102, just south of the village of Canaan (Essex) (1444500 2006)
    ** Large patch along VT 16, south of the village and north of Shadow Lake Road, in Glover (Orleans) (1444498 2008)
    ** Large patch, west side of VT 104, just south of interstate ramp, St Albans (Franklin) (1444497 2009)

Posted on 05 September, 2023 20:18 by trscavo trscavo | 1 comment | Leave a comment

18 August, 2023

Slipper Orchids in Cobb Town Forest

There are four species (five taxa) of slipper orchids (genus Cypripedium) in Vermont. One day in August 2023, I observed three species in the Cobb Town Forest: the well-known Cypripedium acaule and two unknown species that I will call Species 1 and Species 2. All of the plants were past-flower but Species 1 and Species 2 were obviously different taxa. At first, I didn't recognize Species 2 as Cypripedium but that's probably a reflection of my inexperience more than anything else. I'm guessing that Species 1 and Species 2 are Cypripedium reginae and Cypripedium parviflorum, respectively.

I haven't uploaded my photos yet but I will do that as soon as possible. In the meantime, does anyone know where I can find Cypripedium parviflorum, that is, a stand of slipper orchids that were positively identified as such two months ago when the plants were with flower?

Posted on 18 August, 2023 13:28 by trscavo trscavo | 15 comments | Leave a comment

08 August, 2023

Orchids in Vermont

I'm trying to learn the orchids (family Orchidaceae) in Vermont. Four of the six subfamilies recognized by iNaturalist have representation in Vermont as follows:

Subfamily Genera Taxa Observations
Apostasioid Orchids (Apostasioideae) 0 0 0
Slipper Orchids (Cypripedioideae) 1 5 1,812
Lower Epidendroid Orchids (Epidendroideae) 10 19 1,475
Orchidoid Orchids (Orchidoideae) 5 29 1,924
Higher Epidendroid Orchids (Vandoideae) 0 0 0
Pogonias and Vanilla Orchids (Vanilloideae) 2 3 123

The subfamilies are documented in a visual table for convenience:

If you find errors or discrepancies, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Posted on 08 August, 2023 19:12 by trscavo trscavo | 12 comments | Leave a comment

29 July, 2023

Beaver Pond (Orleans County)

Beaver Pond is a remote 40-acre pond in the Bill Sladyk Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Orleans County. In part 2 of Natural areas of Vermont [1969], Hub Vogelmann described a cedar bog at one end of Beaver Pond, but beyond that, no details were given.

Here I provide an online map for reference. The map shows Beaver Pond to be in the far northwest corner of the WMA, just a few hundred feet from the Canadian border. I visited this area on July 24, 2023. From the designated parking area, I hiked an old woods road (now called the Round Pond Trail) to its intersection with the Beaver Pond Trail. At the end of the Beaver Pond Trail, I found a primitive campsite and two small boats, but no bog. Since the forest along the southern shore of the pond was dense, I decided to retrace my steps and try another approach.

A different map showed an alternate trail to Beaver Pond, so I decided to try that. To make a long story short, I found a cedar bog at the end of that trail. See the online map for details.

In retrospect, the quickest way to get to the bog is to paddle a boat from the end of the Beaver Pond Trail across the pond to its northern shore. I'll bet those boats are used for exactly that purpose!

Posted on 29 July, 2023 11:57 by trscavo trscavo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

27 July, 2023

Pherrins Bog

Pherrins Bog was described by Hub Vogelmann in part 2 of Natural areas of Vermont [1969]. It is said to be a small (2 acre) bog on privately-owned land in the town of Morgan in Orleans County, about 4 miles north of Island Pond between VT 114 and the Pherrins River.

I visited this area on July 23, 2023, but I can't say I found Pherrins Bog. The Pherrins River crosses the highway at least three times in a 2-mile stretch so it's hard to know what side of the highway Vogelmann was referring to. In any case, I marked some points of interest on a map for reference. If anyone knows or finds out more, please add a comment.

Posted on 27 July, 2023 22:20 by trscavo trscavo | 1 comment | Leave a comment