This morning, fourteen kindred souls gathered at the arbor for the Thursday ramble, dressed in flannel shirts and jackets to ward off the temps in the low 50’s that greeted us as we gathered for the pre-ramble readings.
Don Hunter's photos of today's Ramble are here. Don also did the write-up for walk.
Two people brought readings today; first up was Catherine Chastain who read Night-Spider's Advice by Joyce Sidman, from the book, The Dark Emporer and Other Poems of the Night.
Build a frame
and stick to it,
and stick to it,
I always say.
Life's a circle.
Just keep going around.
Do your work, then
sit back and see
what falls in your lap.
Eat your triumphs,
eat your mistakes:
that way your belly
will always be full.
Use what you have.
Rest when you need to.
Dawn will come soon enough.
Someone has to remake
the world each night.
It might as well be you.
Then Dale Hoyt read the lyrics from Misalliance by the British musical comedy duo Flanders and Swann (click here to see the text). This seemed appropriate and should have been read last week when we were more focused on vines.
After the readings we all headed off for the Threatened and Endangered Plants garden before heading down the Purple Trail to the Orange Trail, where we headed down river to the wetlands area and then up along the creek to the upper parking lots. The emphasis today was ferns. We observed several ferns but, as usual, there were plenty of other things to capture our interest.
At the Threatened and Endangered Plant garden, several plants were pointed out, among them Mountain Catchfly (Silene ovate), Georgia Mint (Calamintha georgiana) and Georgia Aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum).
As we headed into the woods, Dale and Hugh pointed out the Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria). Not far down the trail, Dale found a few abnormally large acorns and after some discussion, it was determined to be the acorn of a white oak that towered above the trail at that spot. Other acorns found in the general vicinity were more normal in size.
|muscadine aerial roots|
We saw several different vines today. A particularly large muscadine vine was seen with long and prominent aerial roots, some hanging four to five feet below the vine. Also in the area, and at many other locations along the trail, were several Greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia).
Next, we came upon a large grape vine, species not identified. Before we arrived at the river, Martha spotted something growing on a fallen and rotten log, far off the trail. Several folks went into the woods to get a better look and found that what Martha had seen was bleached white looking Turkey Tail mushrooms. In addition to the white mushrooms, there were several nice displays of fresh Turkey Tail mushrooms, with white and deep red brown bands. Several other mushrooms were seen but weren’t identified.
Just as we arrived at the river, we saw a Strawberry Plant, also known as a Hearts-A-Bursting (Euonymus americanus), with it’s deeply red and shiny berries.
|Spotted Forest Orbweaver|
Nearby was a gorgeous yellow, red and brown Spotted Forest Orb Weaver (Neoscona domiciliorum), in a web next to the trail, coming across as very sharply dressed.
|Blue Stem Goldenrod|
There was a fair amount of goldenrod blooming. One species pointed out was the Wreath or Blue Stem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia). It is generally smaller than its larger cousins and consist of a single flowered stalk. The common name Wreath Goldenrod describes how the long densely flowered stalks can be pulled together head to tail and tied together, to form a wreath.
As we turned left and walked along the edge of the wetland, Hugh found a lone and lonely Pale Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) and just uptrail from the jewelweed we found a six-foot tall White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), with many pink-tinged white flowers.
|Underside showing sporangia|
Next we saw a Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). Dale pointed out the fertile frond on the tip of the fern.
|Decumaria with rootlets for climbing|
A little further up the trail, we saw a Climbing Hydrangea (Decumeria barbara) climbing up a tree next to one of the foot bridges.
We saw some amazing numbers of Beech Drops (Epifagus americana), most in a very large “patch” that littered the bank of the upstream side of the trail for what seemed like forever at one point. Upstream of this, Bob and Martha pointed out some liverwort (Conocephalum conicum) on a large rock in the middle of the stream.
|Banded Tussock Moth|
We found a Banded Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris) caterpillar, with its sparkling, bristly hairs and its long tuffs of hair.
Winding our way up the hill we came across a grape fern and several unidentified spiders. The fertile frond is separate from the sterile fronds, unlike the Christmas fern. The spore producing structures look like a cluster of tiny grapes, hence the name.
Near the end of the trail, we found black masses of a fungus, both on the ground and on the trunk of a beech tree. The masses were comprised of Sooty mold (an Ascomycete fungus, Scorias spongiosa). Also visible at this location was the Wooly Beech Aphid (Phyllaphis fagi) and the discolored ground beneath the aphids and the Sooty mold. The mold grows on the "honeydew" produced as a by-product of the aphids' feeding mode.
|Wooly Beech Aphid|
The Ramble arrived back at the Visitor Center for coffee and conversation at Dondero’s and we discovered that Gary brought in a hitchhiking Triangulate Orbweaver spider. Pleasant conversation and refreshments were enjoyed by those of the group who retired to Donderos'.