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Vascular Plants of the Gorge at
Buttermilk Falls State Park (Ithaca, NY)
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Home   Documentation
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Plant Ecology of the Area Surveyed
     
  Buttermilk Gorge is located within the "Lower Park" portion of Buttermilk Falls State Park; that is, the section below King Road.  It is basically a gash in Earth's thick, rocky mantle, created by the flowing water of Buttermilk Creek over thousands of years. The Lower Park is predominantly forested. The forest is continuous, save for a few small clearings created to meet recreational needs of park visitors, and for areas where the walls of the gorge channel have been eroded more substantially.  Sections of forest may be variously dry or damp, relatively "natural" or disturbed.

Growing conditions for plants are variable, depending on soil depth, soil acidity (pH), bedrock characteristics, drainage, water flow (within the creek channel itself), aspect (direction that a slope faces), relative availability of light, extent of deer browse, and chemical properties of dominant species, which may promote or retard growth of other members of the plant community.

Most plant species thrive in specific growing conditions (habitats).  Elsewhere, they may occur in other habitats, but perhaps will not be at their best.  Even many common, weedy species require particular growing conditions, usually open, slightly dry to mesic, disturbed soils.  Most of these weedy plants would have a difficult time surviving in the gorge channel, where conditions are darker, wetter and cooler.

Ecological conditions are variable within the two major sections of the area surveyed; i.e., the gorge and rim trails.  We need to divide these major sections into subsections in order to understand the specific conditions in each smaller area.

 

 

Section:  Gorge Trail

     
  Subsection:  Amphitheater  
  Subsection:  Initial Ascent  
  Subsection:  Highlands Dry  
  Subsection:  Highlands Wet  
  Subsection:  Eastern plateau  
     

Section:  Rim Trail

     
  Subsection:  Lower rim trail, up to western overlook  
  Subsection:  Middle rim trail, rich woods  
  Subsection:  Middle rim trail, disturbed service road  
  Subsection:  Upper rim trail, hemlock-hardwoods  
  Subsection:  Upper rim trail, disturbed flatland  
     
 

Section:  Vacant Lot

 
     
     

Note:  The visitor center and outlet sections are man-made habitats.

 

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Images and text copyright Arieh Tal,  2017 -  2022.   All rights reserved.   ( Terms of Use )
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