Vascular Plants of Larch Meadow - 2023


All Species Resources


Larch Meadow is a natural area located in Tompkins County, New York.  It is one section of Buttermilk Falls State Park, situated in the southwest corner of the state park, adjacent to Elmira and Sand Bank roads.

In the 19th century, before the state park was created, this tract was a wetland complex, including, swamps, marshes and wet meadows.  Larch trees (Larix laricina) were common, among other trees, and many other special and rare species.  It was a favorite place for professional biologists and naturalists to visit.

At some point before the state park was created (1924), the larch trees were removed, and much of the low-lying acreage was drained, and then filled with ordinary soil. Most of the wetland species and their habitats were destroyed.  What remains today is a large, lawn-like, recreation field, a picnic area, and a winding, grassy, mile-long trail that cuts through mostly open, unmanaged fields full of grasses, sedges, wildflowers, trees and shrubs.

The southern end of the tract includes a residual wet meadow and a marsh.  The trail continues along the edge of this small, wetland complex, and the base of the steep, forested hillside.  Ecologically, this woodland section of the trail sharply contrasts with the adjoining, open areas.  Many of the plant and animal species that were present in the wooded section of the trail many years ago, still remain today, including many iconic spring ephemerals like, bloodroot, trout lilies, wild ginger, trilliums and spicebush.

The diversity of ecological communities represented at Larch Meadow today also provide excellent habitats for many species of birds.


Images & text copyright  Arieh Tal, 2023.  All rights reserved.
This is a project of ]