Muscoot Farm: An Interpretive Farm
Somers, Westchester County, NY
777 acre farm


Directions:

Take I-684  north to exit 6 (Katonah), turn left on Route 35.  Continue west to Route 100, turn left.  Muscoot is a mile and a half on your right.

Or take the Saw Mill River Parkway north to I-684 and proceed as above.

Or take the Taconic State Parkway to Route 100 (Millwood) exit.  Turn right and proceed north on Route 100.  Muscoot is approximately eight miles down on the left.


History:

"Muscoot" in the local Indian language means "something swampy". The wood "muscoot" was used for the Muscoot River and the Hopkins Farm was known as the Muscoot Farm on the Muscoot River.

Muscoot was owned by the Hopkins family for three generations.   The Hopkins were "gentlemen" farmers who originally used the property as a summer estate.  The family progenitor, Ferdinand T. Hopkins had made his fortune as the developer of "Mother Sill's Seasick Remedy". In 1924 the family began to use the main house year round.  In 1965 they sold the farm to the County of Westchester.  Muscoot originally ran a herd of 60 dairy cows that were milked by hand. Most of the milk that was produced was shipped by rail to New York City.  In the 1920s, five to six, 40-quart cans of Muscoot's milk were shipped to New York City markets daily.

The New York City reservoir system, which surrounds Muscoot, was also at one time part of the Hopkins estate.  When New York City acquired the land for the reservoirs, the Main House was moved several hundred yards from its original site to its present location in order to save it.  When the reservoirs are at low levels, stone walls and foundations that were once part of the Muscoot property can be seen.

In 1975 Westchester County opened Muscoot Park. Here there is a beautiful Georgian Colonial house purchased by Ferdinand Hopkins in 1880. It was operated as a gentleman's farm.

Muscoot is also the headquarters of the Museum and Laboratory for Archeology (MALFA), which operates archeological digs at several Indian and colonial sites around Westchester County.

At the farm are pigs, horses, sheep, ducks, and other animals.  The livestock includes many 19th century breeds, now rarely seen. This, however, is not a petting zoo.  Rather the farm tells the story of  Westchester's once thriving agrarian society. Muscoot Farm is a turn-of-the century interpretive farm owned and operated by the Westchester County Department of Parks and Recreation and Conservation.


Trails:

Yellow Trail (longest one)  1.5 - 2 hours.  Starting from the parking lot, follow main farm road along pastures, past pond to woodland entrance of trail (farm road takes sharp right). Trail passes above hemlock woods and skirts large swamp area.  Joining the blue trail, it passes through a stand of mountain laurel and continues around the upper border of several reclaimed fields.  There are distant views to the west from the top of  these fields.  The trail enters the woods again in an area that show evidence of  having been plowed many years ago and continues through a logged-over area to the northern boundary of  the park.  The most northern loop of the trail goes through some wetlands which can be quite soggy in wet weather and can be avoided by taking a short cut on the green trail.  Emerging from the woods, the trail then returns to the farm roads along a cultivated field or across the stream and back through the upper hay fields.

Blue Trail (blue triangle trail)-- shortest trail.  This tail starts from the junction of the farm roads at the corner of the pond, passes uphill through a reclaimed field and into the woods.  The trail then enters the woods and cuts sharply to the right, uphill, to join the yellow trail.  

Big Tree Trail.  The big tree trail starts with the blue short cut trail and then follows the southern boundary of the park with views of  the Croton Reservoir.  It passes several record size trees: a tulip, oak, and maple.  There is a trail connecting with the yellow trail up one of the "passes".  After that, the trail skirts the base of a cliff, crosses two small streams, continues through a long overgrown pasture, and joins the yellow trail at the top of  the open fields at the western side of the park.  

Wetland Blue Trail (rectangle blue).  This trail turns left at the junction of the farm roads and borders the pond, emerging at the cultivated wheat field.

Blue Hemlock Holler Trail (circular blue).  This trail cuts to the right off  the yellow trail at the hemlock hollow, crosses the stream, and continues uphill to join the yellow trail at the end of the open fields.  



PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick Cooney/Carol Levine/Torrey Botanical Society


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple) 4/29/93
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Alnus sp. (alder)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)?
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Catalpa speciosa (northern catalpa) 7/06/94
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Ostrya virginiana (hop hornbeam)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus grandidentata (large-toothed aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus baccata (Siberian crab apple)
Pyrus sylvestris (apple)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Salix caprea (goat willow)
Salix nigra (black willow)
Salix sp. (willow)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) 4/29 soon
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush) 7/11/93 7/24/94
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Decodon verticillatus (swamp loosestrife)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Forsythia sp. (golden bells)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry) 6/14/94 6/22/94
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel) 6/14/94
Ligustrum sp. (privet) 6/22/94
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle) 6/02/94
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) 6/14/94
Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp rhododendron) 7/11/93
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) 6/14/94
Rosa palustris (swamp rose) 7/06/94 7/11/93 7/24/94
Rosa virginiana (Virginia rose)
Rubus alleghaniensis (common blackberry) 6/02/94 6/14/94
Rubus flagellaris northern dewberry)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Spiraea alba var. latifolia (meadowsweet) 7/24/94
Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush) 7/06/94 7/11/93 7/24/94
Syringa vulgaris (common lilac)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Vines:
Apios americana (groundnut) 8/11/94
Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed) 8/11/94 8/30/94
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum scandens (climbing false hempweed)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Vincetoxicum nigrum (black swallowwort) 6/14/94 8/11/94
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)

Herbs:
Acalypha sp. (three-seeded mercury)
Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 6/14/94 7/11/93 8/30/94
Agrimonia parviflora (small flowered agrimony) 8/11/94 8/30/94
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic) 7/11/93
Althea rosea (hollyhock) planted
Anemonella thalictroides (rue anemone) 4/29
Antennaria plantaginifolia (plantain-leaved pussytoes)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp) 6/22/94 7/06/94
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) 7/11/93 7/24/94
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) 7/11/93
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed) 8/11/94
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)     10/16/05
Aster laevis (smooth aster)     10/16/05
Aster racemosus (aster) 10/31/99
Aster lanceolatus var. simplex (aster) 10/31/99
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress) 6/02/94
Belamcanda chinensis (blackberry lily) 8/11/94 8/30/94
Bidens sp. (beggar tick) 8/30/94
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Callitriche palustris (water starwort)
Cardamine pratensis (cuckoo flower)
Centaurea (brown knapweed) 8/11/94
Ceratophyllum demersum (hornwort)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 6/22/94 7/11/93
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 7/24/94 10/31/99
Cicuta maculata (water hemlock) 7/11/93 8/30/94
Cimicifuga racemosa (black snakeroot)
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade) 7/24/94
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) 7/11/93
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle) 8/11/94 8/30/94
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower) 8/30/94
Conyza canadensis (horseweed) 8/30/94
Coronilla varia (crown vetch)
Datura stramonium (jimson weed)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 7/24/94 8/30/94 10/16/05 10/31/99
Desmodium sp. (tick trefoil) 8/30/94
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) 6/22/94 7/11/93 8/30/94 10/31/99
Echium vulgare (viper's bugloss) 6/22/94 7/06/94 8/30/94 10/31/99
Epilobium sp. (willow herb) 8/30/94
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pilewort) 8/11/94 8/30/94
Erigeron strigosus (daisy fleabane) 7/11/93 8/30/94 10/31/99
Erythronium americanum (trout lily)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snake root)  10/16/05
Eupatorium sp. (Joe-Pye weed)
Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge)
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod)
Galinsoga quadriradiata (gallant soldier; galinsoga) 7/06/94 10/16/05
Galium aparine (cleavers)
Galium mollugo (wild madder) 6/02/94 10/16/05
Galium tinctorium (Clayton's bedstraw) 7/06/94
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Geum canadense (white avens)
Gnaphalium obtusifolium (fragrant cudweed)     10/16/05
Hackelia virginiana (Virginia stickseed)
Hieracium florentinum (smooth hawkweed) 6/02/94 6/14/94
Hieracium pratense (field hawkweed) 6/22/94
Hydrocotyle americana (water pennywort)
Hypericum mutilum (dwarf St. Johnswort) 8/11/94
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed) 8/30/94
Iris versicolor (blue flag) 6/14/94 7/06/94
Lapsana communis (nipplewort) 6/22/94 7/11/93 8/30/94
Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort)
Lepidium virginicum (peppergrass)
Linaria vulgaris (butter-and-eggs) 7/11/93 8/30/94 10/16/05
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower) 8/11/94 8/30/94
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco) 8/11/94
Lobelia spicata (spiked lobelia) 7/06/94
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) 7/11/93 8/30/94
Ludwigia alternifolia (seedbox) 7/24/94
Ludwigia palustris (water purslane)
Lycopus sp. (bugleweed)
Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) 7/11/93 7/24/94 8/30/94
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Malva neglecta (common mallow)
Medicago lupulina (black medick) 10/31/99
Mentha spicata (spearmint) 8/30/94
Mimulus ringens (monkey flower) 7/06/94 7/11/93 7/24/94
Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot) 8/11/94
Myriophyllum sp. (water milfoil)
Nepeta cataria (catnip)
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel)     10/16/05
Penthorum sedoides (ditch stonecrop) 8/11/94
Phytolacca americana (pok2eweed)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 6/02/94
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum aviculare (doorweed)     10/16/05
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed)    10/16/05  10/31/99
Polygonum hydropiper (common water pepper) 8/30/94
Polygonum punctatum (dotted smartweed)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb) 8/30/94
Portulaca oleracea (common purslane)
Potamogeton spp. (pondweed)
Potentilla argentea (silvery cinquefoil)
Potentilla recta (rough-fruited cinquefoil) 6/22/94 7/11/93
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) 6/02/94
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 8/11/94 8/30/94
Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup) 7/11/93
Ranunculus bulbosus (bulbous buttercup) 6/2/94
Ranunculus hispidus var. nitidus (swamp buttercup)
Ranunculus repens (creeping buttercup)
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan) 7/11/93
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Sagittaria sp. (arrowhead) 7/11/93
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil) 7/06/94 8/11/94 8/30/94 10/16/05
Scutellaria lateriflora (mad-dog skullcap)
Sisyrinchium sp. (blue-eyed grass) 6/14/94 7/11/93
Solanum carolinense (horse nettle) 7/11/93 8/30/94
Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade) 6/2/94
Solidago caesia (blue-stem goldenrod) 10/31/99
Solidago canadensis var. scabra (goldenrod)
Solidago gigantea (smooth goldenrod)
Solidago patula var. patula (goldenrod)?
Solidago rugosa (goldenrod)     10/16/05
Solidago speciosa (showy goldenrod)   10/16/05
Solidago spp. (goldenrods) 8/11/94 8/30/94
Sparganium androcladum (branching burreed) 8/11/94
Spirodela polyrhiza (water flaxseed)
Stellaria graminea (lesser stitchwort) 6/02/94
Stellaria sp. (chickweed) 8/30/94
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) 10/31/99
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadowrue) 7/06/94
Trifolium pratense (red clover)    6/02/94 10/16/05  10/31/99
Trifolium repens (white clover)    6/02/94  10/16/05
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)
Urtica dioica v procera (tall nettle) 7/24/94
Veratrum viride (false hellebore)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein) 7/11/93 8/11/94
Verbena hastata (blue vervain) 7/11/93 7/24/94 8/30/94
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain) 8/11/94
Vernonia noveboracensis (New York ironweed) 8/11/94 8/30/94
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Veronica scutellata (marsh speedwell) 7/06/94 8/30/94
Vicia cracca (cow vetch) 6/02/94 6/14/94 8/30/94

Rushes:
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Sedges:
Carex annectans (sedge)
Carex crinita (sedge)
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered sedge type)
Carex lupulina (sedge)
Carex lurida (sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex spp. (sedge ovales group)
Carex stipata (sedge)
Carex striata (sedge)
Carex stricta tussock (sedge)
Carex vulpinoidea (sedge)
Cyperus strigosus (umbrella sedge)
Dulichium arundinaceum (three-way sedge)
Eleocharis sp. (spikerush)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark-green bulrush)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Grasses:
Agrostis alba (red-top grass)
Agrostis perennans (autumn bent grass)
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Bromus tectorum (downy chess grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Digitaria sp. (crab grass)
Echinochloa crus-galli (barnyard grass)
Eleusine indica (goose grass)
Elymus virginicus (wild rye grass)
Eragrostis spectabilis (purple love grass)
Glyceria canadensis (rattlesnake grass)
Glyceria striata (meadow mannagrass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)
Phleum pratense (timothy grass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass)
Poa pratensis (Kentucky blue grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem grass)
Setaria faberi (Faber's foxtail grass)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Setaria viridis (green foxtail grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris carthusiana (toothed woodfern)
Dryopteris cristata (crested woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)

Others:
liverwort
Sphagnum sp. (sphagnum moss)


July 14, 1994

Muscoot Park in Somers, Westchester County received a great deal of praise as there were many flowers in bloom in the different habitats. The farm animals added an extra attraction. The weather was slightly overcast, which provided some relief from the recent heat, but the afternoon session was considerably hotter. I returned to the park a week later to check on the identity of several flowers near blooming and they have been added to the list.

Flowers in bloom in and around the small pond included branching burreed (Sparganium androcladum), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), meadowsweet (Spiraea latifolia), swamp rose (Rosa palustris), marsh speedwell (Veronica scutellata), steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa), and mild water pepper (Polygonum hydropiperoides).

Flowers in the wet meadow, pond border, and wet ditch areas included: small-flowered agrimony (Agrimonia parviflora), hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium), stout blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium), near to blooming New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), monkey flower (Mimulus ringens), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), seedbox (Ludwigia alternifolia), tall nettle (Urtica procera), mad dog skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), ditch stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides), blue vervain (Verbena hastata), and white vervain (Verbena urticifolia).

Blooming in the dry field were wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia serotina), viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), rough-fruited cinquefoil (Potentilla recta), common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), birdfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), cow vetch (Vicia cracca), and yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

Blooming along the roadsides and trailsides were wild basil (Satureja vulgaris), field bindweed (Calystegia arvensis), butter- and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris), tall buttercup (Ranunculus acris), hop clover (Trifolium agrarium), chicory (Cichorium intybus), Deptford pink (Dianthus armeria), enchanter's nightshade (Circaea lutetiana), false pimpernel (Lindernia dubia), field garlic (Allium vineale), gallant soldiers (Galinsoga quadriradiata), lesser daisy fleabane (Erigeron strigosus), jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), brown knapweed (Centaurea jacea), black medick (Medicago lupulina), motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), common mullein (Verbascum thapsus), horse nettle (Solanum carolinense), bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) and selfheal (Prunella vulgaris).

In and around the small stream we found in bloom: larger blue-flag (Iris versicolor), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), tall meadowrue (Thalictrum polygamum), and water hemlock (Cicuta maculata).

There were at least three different species of bedstraw (Galium spp.) in bloom, including marsh bedstraw (Galium palustre).

The most popular plant on the trip was the butterflyweed, which was always attended by numerous butterflies. The butterflies on the trip included the pearl crescent, silver-spotted skipper, and the black and the yellow tiger swallowtails.

Total attendance was 11.