Article and photos by Anne Raver who participated in the walk on May 29.
It was a perfect day the for first walk in our new walk series open to out members. We botanized along the Ben Utter Trail, which winds along the Wood River in the Arcadia forest in Exeter, RI. We took a little side path that one of us suspected would be full of spring ephemerals, and could have spent hours there, poring over our field guides trying to decipher the differences between many ferns — northern lady (Athyrium angustum), Christmas (Polystichum acrostichoides), sensitive (Onoclea sensibilis), cinnamon (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), royal (Osmunda regalis), interrupted (Osmunda claytoniana) and eastern hay-scented (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) – and discovering the nodding wakerobin (Trillium cernuum), pink lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium acaule), Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana), to name only a few, flourishing in the dappled light. Those delicious greens of the spring forest were enchanting, and it was wonderful to see so many healthy trees, including American beech (Fagus grandiflora), sassafras (Sassafras albidum) cherry birch (Betula lenta), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and pitch pine (Pinus rigida).
Though we made educated guesses identifying the ferns, we will leave their positive identification to botanists a bit more sure of themselves. We can attest to the fact that the scratch-and-sniff test, applied to a cherry birch twig, came up positive for the nose-twitching scent of wintergreen.
We will meet again, on June 19, at 10 a.m., at the Fort Nature Refuge, in North Smithfield, RI. More details about this walks and this walk series Botanizer’s Afield