Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 23, 2013, Ramble Report

First we had a reading by Dale Hoyt from Donald Culross Peattie’s An Almanac for Moderns:

A man need not know how to name all the oaks or the moths, or be able to recognize a synclinal fault, or tell time by the stars, in order to possess Nature. He may have his mind solely on growing larkspurs, or he may love a boat and a sail and a blue-eyed day at sea. He may have a bent for making paths or banding birds, or he may be only an inveterate and curious walker.

But I contend that such a fellow has the best out of life -he and the naturalists. You are ignorant of life if you do not love it or some portion of it, just as it is, a shaft of light from a nearby star, a flash of the blue salt water that curls around the five upthrust rocks of the continents, a net of green leaves spread to catch the light and use it, and you, walking under the trees. You, a handful of supple earth and long white stones, with seawater running in your veins.

Second I read a short item from Aldo Leopold’s, A Sand County Almanac, page 110. 

Finally there is Draba, beside whom even Linaria [Toadflax] is tall and ample.  I have never met an economist who knows Draba, but if I were one I should do all my economic pondering lying prone on the sand, with Draba at nose-length.

This is personally interesting to me, since I was an economist from 1959 to 1995, and during the last few years I was prone on the ground counting Draba, a rare plant at Rock and Shoals Outcrop Natural Area.  It is only about 6 inches high and can really only be seen when it goes to seed.  Never did want to think about economics that way.

Our ramble today was through the International Garden to the Endangered Plant Area and the Pitcher Plant Bog.  Then on to the Purple Trail down to the River.  Connected to the Orange Trail.  Stopped at the Mountain Laurel Bluff.  Then the rest of the way on the Orange Trail to the Upper Parking Lot.

In the Endangered Plant Garden we saw Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica), Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernuum), a beardtongue (Penstemon spp.), and Cooly's meadow rue (Thalictrum cooleyi).  Overlooking the pitcher plant bog we saw  the leaves of yellow trumpet (Sarracenia flava), and the white topped pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla), as well as the flowers of Sweet Pitcherplant (Sarracenia rubra) and Parrot Pitcherplant (Sarracenia psittacina).

Down the Purple Trail, Dale found Turkeytail mushrooms to admire.  We showed some new participants the very tall persimmon tree.

At the Middle Oconee River, Wade Seymour and his crew were moving the trail where three feet of the bank had slipped into the river after the last high level of the river took it from the bank.

Walked up to see how much of the beautiful mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) was still blooming.  We once again commented on the way in which the anthers with pollen are spring loaded in the petals, so that when wind or an insect knock it, the anthers spring with force and send off the pollen, some of which attaches to the insect.

Moving around the beaver pond, we spent some time discussing a fern by the boardwalk.  It is either Sensitive Fern or Netted Chain Fern. The problem is that the distinctive characteristic to separate them is the fertile frond.  Only last year's was available.  We decided again that it is probably Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis).

A spittle bug was discovered feeding on a blackberry.  The insect, a leaf hopper, uses it's piercing-sucking mouthparts to suck juice from plants. Plant juice is rich in sugar but low in protein, so the spittle bug has to suck a lot of it to get the protein it needs to grow. The excess is kicked into a froth, creating the spittle covering that hides it from parasitic wasps.  Dale uncovered the insect, so all could see it.

In the beaver pond, Tim Homan pointed out the leaves of duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia).

Next we found the leaves of cut leaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata).  Nearby was the beginning of the many summer bluets (Houstonia purpurea var. purpurea) that we saw all along the Orange Trail.

At the stump where the tree fell across the stream there were several stems of wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) with one in full bloom.

Just past the little bridge over a creek (that I know as copperhead creek), sweet spire (Itea virginica) was blooming.  Above it was the fruit of muscle wood (Carpinus caroliniana).  Then we stopped to admire the broad beech fern (Thelypteris hexagonoptera).

The last bloom of the day was the wild garlic (Allium canadense).

We did stop to ask Dale about the huge number of suckers from the bottom of the trunk of a Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera).  The tree was dying at the top, so that the leader was no longer controlling growth. It puts out a hormone that inhibits new growth lower in the tree.  When the leader is gone, the inhibition is released and the plant tries to grow elsewhere.  In this case it will probably not work because the tulip tree cannot grow in the shade of other trees and the new stems will probably die.

The next stop was Donderos for food and conversation.


1 comment:

  1. A Bess beetle? I thought I had finally found the source of my mother's saying: "When I was only knee high to a Betsy bug . . ." She never mentioned the speech.

    And, really, Queen Anne's Lace is such a Southern joke on Yankee tourists. Thanks, Dale, for clarifying the thought process of the chigger. Chiggers don't particularly favor Queen Anne's Lace, they just find it a suitable launching pad for an unsuspecting Northerner.

    It was an especially wonderful walk, with Claire, Olivia, and Ella to open our eyes to possibilities of Indian pipes and Dale to spot the Indigo Bunting. Thank you, Dale.


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