The State of New York possesses a large variety of herbaceous and shrubby plants with conspicuous flowers, which may be classed under the rather broad and indefinite term of " wild flowers." For the purposes of this work only a few of the shrubs, such as the Mountain Laurel, Azalea and Labrador Tea have been included, the thought being to present mainly herbaceous plants with conspicuous flowers.
Anyone who has observed the natural vegetation in such unlike parts of the State as the salt marshes and pine barrens of Long Island, the higher Adirondack and Catskill mountains or the woodlands of the western counties must have been impressed by the obvious difference in the wild flowers of those several sections, and especially by the fact that very few of the wild flowers which bloom between early spring and late autumn in the Adirondacks are to be found on Long Island.
Such differences in the character of the vegetation of widely separated portions of the State are explained partly by soil conditions and partly by differences in climate. Located with the ocean at one side and the great inland lakes at the other, the State is favored by conditions of atmospheric moisture (relative humidity, rainfall and snowfall) which make it climatically a forest region, and hence favorable for a luxuriant variety of herbaceous and shrubby plants; a region in which forests would naturally dominate all other vegetation if not cut down. The temperature conditions along the southern coast of the State are modified by the ocean, and to some extent on the west by the Great Lakes, while the elevated mountain masses of the Adirondack and Catskill regions produce cooler summers and shorter growing seasons.
I am indebted to Mr Edward A. Eames of Buffalo for photographs and autochromes of certain orchids, to Mr G. A. Bailey of Geneseo, and Mr O. O. Nylander of Caribou, Me., for additional photographs and to Mr Louis R. Robbins, former assistant to State Botanist, for assistance in the preparation of the text and illustrations for the chapter on Plant Structure.