Three things you can do to protect imperiled alpine plants in New York.
- Teach others to travel and camp on durable surfaces. On the summits, stewards ask people to “Do the Rock Walk”.
- Encourage people hiking in the High Peaks to “Carry a Rock” to the summit of Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, or Colden, where stewards will place them for restoration work.
- Support ADK’s Summit Stewardship Program. Volunteers and donations make the difference.
Alpine plants live in an environment where no other plants, and no humans, could survive. They have special adaptations that have allowed them to grow and thrive on the Adirondack High Peaks for the last 10,000 years. The alpine zone that we see today is a small relic of what was once an alpine tundra that covered much of New York. Topography, climate, and glacial history created these alpine zones.
ADK has determined its top five most imperiled alpine plants from The New York Natural Heritage Program list of highly imperiled plants.
- Boott’s Rattlesnake Root This globally rare plant is found in fewer than 20 locations worldwide. Its showy flowers are on display throughout June. Boott’s rattlesnake root’s habit of growing along trails makes it particularly vulnerable to hiker trampling.
- Dwarf Willow A tiny willow tree, this plant was once found in several locations in the Adirondacks until it was trampled to the brink of extinction. Summit Stewards identified what may be the only remaining population in 1998 and continue to guard the location.
- Fernald’s Bluegrass As few as ten tufts of this flowering alpine meadow grass exist in all of New York State. Unfortunately, that location is very close to the trail near the summit of Mt. Marcy, placing it in extreme peril. Globally rare, this plant is at risk of extinction.
- Alpine Azalea This tiny version of the common azalea has rose-pink flowers. The only population in New York State is on Skylight.
- Lapland Rosebay A miniature version of the common Rhododendron is found in small populations on only a few summits in the world. With a growth rate of .06 mm/year, it is both slow to grow and easy to set back through trampling. It has beautiful, showy flowers that take two years to flower.