Thursday, October 3, 2013

October 3 2013 Ramble Report

Events of interest to Ramblers:

Fri., Oct. 4, 2013 9:00AM - 10:30AM
Linda Chafin on Piedmont Prairies
State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Friday, Oct 4, 6:00pm - 7:00pm  is an SBG Friends Members event – preview party and sale. You can become a Friends Member at the door!

 Species list is on the SBG website,

Saturday, October 5, 2013. 9 AM - 2 PM General Public Welcome! 

2450 S. Milledge Ave. Athens, GA 30605

This event is free!

Don Hunter's wonderful photos of today's Ramble are here. We thank Don for allowing us to use a selection of his photos for our blog.

Several people brought readings for today, but we only had time for two. Please bring yours next time.  Lee read a story of a revolutionary war soldier who stopped to think about the ways of a mocking bird.  Then Sandra read a very appropriate poem on Kudzu.

          This morning about two o'clock, as I was walking up and down past one of my sentinels, in order to keep myself awake, I was very agreeably surprised by the singing of a mocking-bird. He sang by himself and continued his notes till daylight. One would have imagined that he was sensible of the merit of his accomplishments, and that it was in complaisance to man as well as for his satisfaction that he was pleased to sing when all was silent, (except the barking of some dogs) Nothing animated him so much as the stillness of nature; twas then that he composed and executed all his tones. He raised from seriousness to gaiety, and from a simple song to a more sportive warbling, from the lightest quivers and divisions he softened into the most languishing and plaintiff sighs, which he afterwards forsook to return to his natural sprightliness.
(from: William Feltman, "Diary of the Pennsylvania Line. May 26, 1781 - April 25, 1782, in Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution, Battalions and Line, 1775-1783, ed. John Blair Linn and William H. Egle, vol. 1 (Harrisburg: Lane S. Hart, 1888), p. 689.)
Next was a poem by Oliver ("Ollie") Reeves, poet laureate of Georgia from 1944 to 1963, presented by Sandra Hoffberg:

Song of the Kudzu Vine

The Kudzu vine is a hardy plant
And it grows where other good vines can't;
Where the land is poor and the clay banks stand
And the gullies run through the tortured land.

Here it spreads its leaves on the wasting loam
And it sends it roots and clusters home.
And it saves the farmer hours of toil
As it spreads these roots to hold the soil.

Ah, you may have watched the black snake run
To the shaded hole from the blistering sun, 
And you may have stood at the old race track
As the thoroughbreds came thundering back;

And you have seen the swallow's flight,
And the shooting star in the deep dark night,
But until you've watched kudzu grow,
You've never seen the fastest show,

Over the rock piles, under the brush,
Climbing the hillsides on with a rush,
Down the ditches, into the glade
Shielding the earth with a comforting shade.

There goes kudzu ever in flight,
Swift in the sunshine, swifter at night.
Happy the hog and grateful the kine
Nourished by food that's held in the vine,

Happy the farmer, happy the day
Gathering kudzu, tossing the hay,
Come join the chorus, help us to sing
Down with erosion, "Kudzu is king!"

Today our theme was vines.  We do not always have a theme, but this was a request from Sandra and Joan.  They missed last week when we started working on vines, so today we went on a vine hunt.  Our trail took us down the white trail by the Callaway building to the Orange Cut-off, left on the cut-off trail to the Orange trail.  Right on the Orange trail through the Powerline ROW, to the big tree by the Privet experiment sign.  We then turned around following the white trail back to the Lower Parking Lot.

Since we were looking for vines here is what we found (photos by Don Hunter):

Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia)
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) aerial rootlets
 The aerial roots that allow the Poison Ivy vine to climb tree trunks are clearly seen in this photo.

Smilax tendrils

 Smilax vines have two tendrils that arise from the leaf petiole base. Here you can see them twisting about another Smilax stem. The tendrils support the vine as it grows upward toward the sun.

Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)

 Crossvine is another tendril climber. What appears to be four leaves is really just a pair of leaves -- each leaf has two leaflets. The leaves are oppositely arranged.

Matalea sp.

 Matalea is a genus of plants in the Milkweed family. To positively identify them you need to see the flowers and /or fruits, which were not present on this plant.

Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis ternifolia)
 This Clematis is often confused with Virgin's Bower (C. virginiana), which has toothed leaf margins, not smooth as you can see here. Another common name for this species is Yam-leaved Clematis. It is an aggressive plant and many think it undesirable in spite of its beautiful white flowers, seen earlier in the fall.

Smilax or Diosocorea?
Note the large thorn and numerous stellate prickles on the stem of the vine above
These photos show a vine that we first thought to be Cinnamon vine (Dioscorea batatus), but, looking at the photo it now looks more like a Greenbriar (Smilax sp.). Note the thorn and the prickles on the edge of the leaf. The photo below is a closeup of the stem and the star-like prickles that cover it are clearly visible, as is the large thorn. The leaf shape is like that of the Cinnamon vine, but otherwise this might be a Greenbrier. What do you think? Leave a comment if you have an opinion, one way or another.

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquifolius)

Here's a beautiful picture of a Virginia creeper tendril with its five pink-tipped "fingers" tightly clinging to a tree trunk. So tight is the grip on the tree that if you try to pull the vine off the tendril tips break rather than release.

Yellow passionflower (Passiflora lutea)

This small relative of the Maypop is rather uncommon. It has a very small flower with the typical structure of a passionvine but not nearly as showy as its gaudy cousin, Passiflora incarnata.

Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)

Trumpet vine has compound leaves with numerous pinnately arranged leaflets. It climbs by aerial roots (see the next photo below).

Aerial roots of Trumpet vine on tree trunk
Other vines seen today:
Bur Cucumber (Sicyos angulatus)
Coral bead (Cocculus carolininus)
Small white morning glory (Ipomoea lacunosa)
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Lanceleaf greenbrier (Smilax smallii)
Cat greenbrier (Smilax glauca)
Roundleaf greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia)

At the corner where the Orange cut-off met the Orange trail a tree had four or more vines crawling over it: Cross vine, Sweet autumn clematis, Cinnamon vine and Matalea sp.

Nearby was a huge patch of Lanceleaf greenbrier with red and black berries and on the other side of the trail was a single vine of Yellow passionflower (Passiflora lutea).

Along the way we found other plants in bloom and a fern growing on a River birch:
Yellow crown beard Verbesina occidentalis)

Disk florets of Yellow crown beard (AKA Wingstem). The dark brown structures are the anthers projecting from each floret. The anthers are fused to one another to form a cylinder through which the pistil will protrude. Several florets have the curled stigmas of the pistil projecting out of the anther tubes. At the center top you can see a few pollen grains adhering the the stigmatic surface. On the left side of the photo are two ray florets, each with a single petal projecting beyond the left side of the photo.

Mistflower (Conoclinium  coelestinum)

The flower formerly (or also) known as Ageraturm.

We also saw other wildflowers: Beefsteak plant (Perilla frutescens), Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia ) and Eastern fireweed (Erechtities hieracifolia).

On the White trail we pondered the role of moss with cinnamon vine, cross vine, and resurrection fern (Polypodium polypodioides) all sharing the same space on a huge River birch hanging over the river.

Spiders are easily seen this time of year and we found several, some too high up to identify as anything but Orbweavers. Those we could identify were:
Triangulate Orbweaver (Verrucosa arenata)
Arrowshaped Micrathena (Micrathena sagittata)
Spinybacked Orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis)
Tuftlegged Orbweaver (Mangora placida)

Then we retired as usual for conversation and snacks at Donderos'.



  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to focus on vines! It was very helpful to compare all the vines in our area and contrast the different attachment mechanisms.

    Fantastic photos of the Virginia creeper tendril. Looks like researchers have figured out how the Virginia creeper moves to wedge its adhesive tendrils into the support plant before they secrete an adhesive to stick to the tree. Fascinating stuff!


  2. Thanks for finding this reference. It's got some really great micrographs!


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