Statistical Summary
Index of Plant Names


Species Names


This guide is designed to provide a pictoral reference to the plants of Rice Creek Field Station, a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the State University of New York College at Oswego. The format used was developed in 2004 to prepare study aids for introductory biology students doing field projects at the Field Station. The guide contains photographs and information on all species of plants, vascular and nonvascular, recorded from the grounds of Rice Creek Field Station as of the date listed on the title page. A few of these species have not been seen for some years even though their presence in the early days of the Field Station is documented by herbarium specimens. Some plants known to have been cultivated in the flower beds and the herb garden in past years do not persist and have been excluded. No flora is static and no plant inventory is absolutely complete. New discoveries are likely, particularly among the grasses, mosses, and liverworts. Future editions of this guide will be updated to detail the changing status of known species and to include any new species found on the property.

How to Use this Guide

If you wish to identify a plant you have seen at Rice Creek:

Go to Contents. Start at the top and follow the outline to find the appropriate category for the specimen you wish to identify. Follow the link to the page that illustrates plants in that category. Scroll through the pictures to find a match for your specimen. If you know the family or genus to which the plant belongs, follow the link from the alphabetical index in the left frame of the page. Following links from family, genus, and species names in the main body of the flora will lead to comments and descriptions that may help in identification.

If you wish to look up a plant you know by name:

Go to Index of Plant Names and search in the appropriate category. Use the link attached to the corresponding scientific name to connect to a page where the species is illustrated, then use the alphabetical index in the left frame of the page to link directly to the proper genus. Use the link from the common name to connect to the appropriate page in the New York Flora Association's New York Flora Atlas.

Descriptions and occurrences:

The species name given for each illustration is linked to a brief description and discussion of that species. For some species, this includes mention of sites where the plant occurs. Many of these sites can be located using the map which is accessable through a link located at the top of the genus list in the left hand frame of the page of illustrations for each group of plants.

Technical terms and abbreviations:

Use of technical terms has been avoided wherever possible. A glossary is supplied for those terms and abbreviations used. Wherever a term included in the glossary appears in the text of this flora, it is linked to its definition/explanation. After looking up the term, click on the browser's back icon to return to your place in the flora.

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Ecology and Environment of Rice Creek Field Station

The mature upland forest of the Oswego area includes maple-basswood forests which are most common on the Lake Ontario coastal plain and beech-maple communities which are widespread in New York State. Well drained soils may also support stands of Appalachian oak-hickory forest. Red maple-hardwood swamp is the most common wetland forest type. The landscape in the vicinity of the city of Oswego contains small patches of mature woods and wetlands intermixed with successional woodlands, shrub lands, fields, agricultural properties, and rural and suburban residential areas. Oswego itself is a port city located on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Oswego River. The Oswego River drains one of the largest watersheds in New York State. A unique area of drumlin topography extends west from Oswego through neighboring Cayuga, Wayne, and Seneca Counties. Along the shore of Lake Ontario this topography has eroded to form bluffs alternating with a series of interdrumlin wetlands consisting of bays, lagoons, marshes, swamps, and fens. Eastern and northern Oswego County contains one of the largest collections of wetland habitats in New York State. The county also includes transitional habitats marking the outer reaches of the Tug Hill Plateau. A unique area of coastal sand dunes extends along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario from Oswego County north into Jefferson County.

Rice Creek Field Station (RCFS) is located about 2.4 km (1.5 mi.) south of Lake Ontario. Local weather conditions are strongly influenced by Lake Ontario with cool to warm summers and cold winters. The average annual temperature is 8-9 degrees C (45 degrees F) and the average annual precipitation is about 90 cm (36 in). Typical manifestations of the influence of the lake on local climate are late autumns, late springs, and lake-effect snowfall. The Field Station occupies approximately 130 ha (300 acres) of varied habitats, including open fields, mature forests, shrub lands, and woods representing several stages of succession. A drumlin situated along the eastern edge of the properties reaches an elevation of approximately 123 m (405 ft) above sea level. A 10.4 ha (26 acre) pond at 82 m (270 ft) was formed by the construction of a dam on Rice Creek at the time the Field Station was established. Marshes and floodplain forests surround much of the pond and extend upstream and downstream along Rice Creek.

Most of the Field Station properties were in pastures, hay fields, or orchards when SUNY Oswego acquired them in the early 1960's. An area of old growth hardwood forest, probably maintained as a farm woodlot, remained on the western flank of the drumlin in the northern part of the properties. Conifer plantations were established as the Field Station was being developed. Other areas were allowed to proceed through the initial stages of secondary succession characteristic of the region, augmented by the introduction of certain European and Asian trees and shrubs as was the common theme of wildlife management at the time. Most of the second growth vegetation on the property is now thirty to forty years old. By 1983, it was apparent that maintenance of open habitat, with its associated plants and animals, would not be possible without occasional mowing to control the development of trees and shrubs. Necessary clearing was done and three fields were established, one on the outlet channel of Rice Pond (the "Lower Field"), one on level land near the top of the drumlin (the "Upper Field"), and one on the slopes of the western flank of the drumlin (the "Middle Field"). These areas, along with a few smaller clearings, are maintained by mowing with a brush hog on a four year rotation. A system of foot trails is maintained to provide access to different areas of the property for research, education, recreation, and management. Current management practices are aimed at the maintenance of maximum habitat diversity and, to the extent possible, management and control of non-native invasive species.

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Vegetation and Flora of Rice Creek Field Station

The vegetation of Rice Creek Field Station is typical of that found on the eastern Lake Ontario coastal plain at the present time. Second growth forests and shrublands predominate outside of residential and agricultural areas. Shallow impounded waters like Rice Pond tend to be nutrient rich and to develop a rich surface flora and dense beds of submerged aquatics, including some aggressive exotics, during the summer. Green Algae and Cyanobacteria, not included in this consideration of plant species, are numerous and diverse and often develop in seasonal blooms. Stream and pond side marshes are common and diverse, and are also subject to invasion by a number of wetland exotics. Wooded swamps and flood plains support a combination of characteristic, largely native, plant species. Open fields support a variety of native and exotic grasses and forbs, many originally introduced to provide grazing and hay for livestock. Native and introduced perennial herbs, shrubs, vines and trees colonize and fill unmanaged fields and orchards within a few years of abandonment. Old growth forest, where it does occur, is limited in extent and somewhat modified by past management for firewood, hardwood lumber, and maple sugaring. Native species predominate but certain exotic trees, shrubs, and herbs frequently occur. Native conifers are not common in the immediate vicinity of Rice Creek Field Station; the most likely to be encountered on upland sites are Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) and Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). Pines, spruces, and larches from Europe, Asia, and other parts of North America are sometimes planted as individuals or in plantations.

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Species Names

Every known organism is assigned a scientific or Latin name. This name consists of two words, the first being the Latin name of the genus to which the species belongs and the second being a "specific epithet" unique among the species of that genus. Many people find scientific or Latin names of plants and animals difficult to use. The words are unfamiliar, dificult to pronounce, and of questionable meaning except to scholars of Latin. However, there are some distinct adantages to the use of scientific names as opposed to local, common, or colloquial names:

  1. The scientific name of a species is used consistently by biologists everywhere in the world while common names vary from region to region.
  2. There are set procedures used by biologists throughout the world for the adoption and use of scientific names while anyone is free to coin and apply a common name derived from the local language.
  3. Scientific names provide information on taxonomic and presumed evolutionary relationships of similar species (they indicate the genus to which the species belongs).
  4. There are agreed upon rules for resolving differences of opinion as to the validity of a scientific name.

There are two circumstances which may lead different botanists to employ different Latin names for the same plant species:

  1. Two (or more) different botanists may have named the species, each ignorant of the other's work. In this case, the earliest name applied is accepted as correct, presuming its derivation and application are consistent with accepted procedure. The other name(s) is then considered to be a synonym. This applies mostly to older names put in use before the wide and rapid exchange of information in print and digital form.
  2. New data and new interpretations may lead to a changed understanding of taxonomic relationships resulting in the merging or splitting of genera or species. In this case, new names may supercede those provided in commonly used manuals and texts. Again, names no longer used are cited as synonyms.

In recent years, studies in molecular genetics have resulted in numerous name changes in some groups of plants. For instance, Gleason & Cronquist's Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada (2nd ed, 1991), describes the genus Aster as containing over 175 species 66 of which can be found in the Northeastern U. S. or Southeastern Canada. The Flora of North America (Vol. 20, 2006) describes Aster as containing 180 species only 2 of which occur in North America, neither of them in the Northeast. The Rice Creek plants formerly known as Asters are distributed among the genera Eurybia and Symphyotrichum (A. umbellatus, another locally common species not found at Rice Creek, has been relegated to the genus Doellingeria).

In this first edition of the Digital Flora of Rice Creek Field Station, nomenclature has generally been updated to conform with the New York Flora Association's New York Flora Atlas and/or The Flora of North America. Older names used in Gleason and Cronquist or other standard references are provided as synonyms.

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The photographs included in the Digital Flora of Rice Creek Field Station were taken by the author. A few are scans of 2 x 2 transparencies taken before 2001. A Nikon Coolpix 995 was used between 2001 and 2003. A Nikon Coolpix 5700 was used between 2003 and 2008 and a Canon EOS 40D has been used starting in 2008. All photos are the property of the author who reserves sole rights to their commercial use. Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use.

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Of the many people who contributed advice, assistance, support, and constructive criticism during the development of this project I would particularly like to acknowledge::

In addition to Steve and Troy, draft copies of the Flora were reviewed by Eric Helquist, Kamal Mohamed, and Peter Rosenbaum of the Department of Biological Sciences at SUNY Oswego, and David Griffin, Professor (emeritus), of the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

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