Tag Archives: jill-weber

Cadillac Mountain crowds root of problem for Acadia plants

The ferns, flowers, shrubs and grasses of Cadillac Mountain have a tough enough time surviving the elements, but the biggest threat of all may be the pounding of constant foot traffic on Acadia National Park’s busiest and highest summit.

plants of acadia national park

Acadia National Park consulting botanist Jill E. Weber scans the horizon atop Cadillac, checking on research plots marked off by sandbags and rope, as part of an effort to better understand how to bring back the summit’s fragile vegetation.

During a recent morning atop 1,530-foot Cadillac, Jill E. Weber, a botanist who consults for the park, surveyed areas close to the summit where she and other researchers are attempting to restore and protect common Acadia plants and some rare species such as mountain firmoss, Nantucket shadbush and boreal blueberries.

“We have a lot of years with a lot of feet,” Weber said. “There is no ill intent. There just has not been the maintenance of the vegetation. A lot of it is gone and we are trying to figure out if we can bring some of it back.”

On Cadillac, which receives about 700,000 visits by people a year, the Acadia plants are as fragile as those along the well-known Alpine Garden Trail of the much higher Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

Botanists, park leaders and others are now close to completing a multi-year project to understand, protect and revive Cadillac’s fragile vegetation.

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Spring blossoms, rhodora inspires, in Acadia National Park

For Jill Weber, consulting botanist for Acadia National Park, the flowers of spring bring a feast for the senses, and a desire to share the experience.

“One of the first plants that say spring is beaked hazelnut,” said Weber, with flowers that are “exquisite, magenta, threadlike structures that must be seen to be believed. Soon after we get mayflowers.”

rhodora in Acadia National Park

Rhodora along the Dorr North Ridge Trail.

Then there’s the rhodora, the occasional mountain sandwort, carpets of bluets, violets both white and blue, starflowers and pink Lady’s-slipper, to name just some. It’s late May, early June and the mountaintops and lowlands of Acadia National Park are brimming with spring flowers.

Of all the spring blossoms of Acadia, perhaps none are as adored as the rhodora.

“Its bloom time demands a hike up Dorr Mountain for a view of Great Meadow,” said Weber by e-mail, when asked by Acadia on My Mind to name the flowers that most mean spring for her. “The rhodora in the middle of the peatland forms a mosaic of colors with the unfurling leaves of each tree species providing a unique signature. It is a Monet painting come to life!”

Not only have scientists like Weber been inspired by the purple and pink rhodora, so have writers, photographers, Rusticators of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and even the first park superintendent, George B. Dorr, and his staff.

rhodora

Local photographer Vincent Lawrence captures the mass of rhodora pink along Great Meadow, with the spring green of Huguenot Head and Champlain as backdrop. He even has a blog post all about rhodora on his photography workshop Web site, entitled “Meet Rhodora”. (Photo courtesy of Acadia Images)

Perhaps it’s the profusion of color, the delicate flowers that last only a week or two, or that they grow in such different habitats as the peatland of Great Meadow and the seemingly barren summits of Dorr, Cadillac and Sargent Mountains, that make rhodora such a standout.

The flower can be found in bloom in the Wild Gardens of Acadia at the Sieur de Monts Spring area of the park, as well as along the Cadillac Summit Loop, Dorr North Ridge Trail and elsewhere, as we found this past week during hikes throughout the park. Continue reading

Labor Day, nature signal end of summer in Acadia National Park

The cricket’s chirp, the shorter days, the bloom of goldenrod and cotton-grass – all are bittersweet signs of the passing of the seasons at Acadia National Park.

The white tufts of cotton-grass particularly sadden Jill E. Weber, co-author of the field guide, “The Plants of Acadia National Park,” because “it means summer’s almost over.”

Though you may never have seen cotton-grass, you will know it when you see it.

Cotton-grass in Acadia National Park

A hiker points out a field of cotton-grass in the distance in Acadia National Park.

Four varieties of cotton-grass are listed in “The Plants of Acadia National Park,” a project of the Garden Club of Mount Desert, Friends of Acadia and the Maine Natural History Observatory, and they all have a distinctive cottony bloom and grow in wetlands.

Despite its name and appearance, cotton-grass is not a grass, but a sedge. In fact, about a quarter of the plants in Acadia are grass-like, some of which are sedges, others of which are rushes, and the rest true grasses. Acadia’s web site even features a handy rhyme to distinguish a sedge from a rush from a grass. Continue reading