Friday, March 21, 2014

March 20 2014 Ramble Report

First, a useful link: Many of our Nature Ramblers are gardeners and interested in using native plants. A blog written by Ellen Honeycutt has a lot of interesting information about this subject and she gardens in the piedmont of Georgia, as well. You can find it here

The link to Don Hunter's photos of today's ramble is here.

And now, the Ramble Report, written by Hugh Nourse.

Today, with better weather, 23 Ramblers assembled in the lower parking lot, for a wildflower walk.  We tried an ambitious route:  through the flower gardens to the Orange Trail, up the Orange Trail to the Upper Parking Lot, White Trail to the new Prairie area, through the Dunson Native Flora Garden, then to the fence under the power line along the White trail spur, returning to the Lower Parking Lot by the White Trail up the hill.

Today's reading was brought to us by Lee Boyer:

Big Haul From a Georgia Tree.

A telephone message from Terrell, Catawba county, Georgia, furnishes the following interesting story:

Monday afternoon Luther and Lester Sherrill, Fred Settlemire, Ransom and Walter Eades sallied forth to rob a "bee tree," and taking their axes they began chopping on the butt of an old red oak tree measuring three and one-half feet in diameter. It was not a great white until they struck hollow and to their delight as well as surprise out walked an old possum. After carefully fastening her to a split limb another raid was made, when thirteen baby possums were captured. The tree was finally felled and from near the top they caught two pretty gray squirrels, captured a swarm of bees and gathered a small quantity of honey.

From Anaconda Standard, (Anaconda, MT), August 21, 1910.  Also appeared in newspapers of Baltimore, Beaumont, TX, and Aberdeen, SD.

Our first stop was in the Endangered Plant Garden to see the Alabama Snow-wreath (Neviusia alabamensis) in bloom.  There are five known populations in Georgia.  They are in the Ridge and Valley Province because the habitat for this plant is "Moist, hardwood forests over rocky, limestone-based soils, often along streams below sandstone caprocks" (Linda Chafin, Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Georgia, 2007)

In the Indian Plants Garden, Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) was in full bloom.  The plant several years ago was named Anemonella thalictroides, which is a plant like Anemone like a thalictrum.  On the surface they do not seem to look like the other Thalictrums (meadow rues).  It is reported that some people have used the roots as a potato.

Paw Paw flowers start to open
Going toward the Heritage Garden we stopped at the Paw Paw trees (Asimina triloba), which were in bud.  The buds were just beginning to open.

As we rambled around the Heritage Garden we passed the fragrant winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), an asian plant that has become naturalized.  You could smell it several feet before reaching the plant.

After passing through the gate of the Garden's deer fence, we found a group of blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis).  Native Americans used the red from the roots for paint, and parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.  In fact, a number of years ago, a company made a mouthwash and toothpaste containing sanguinarine from this plant.  My dentist suggested that I use it.  The resulting white lesions in my mouth called a halt to the experiment.  It must have happened to a lot of people because it was taken off the market.

Roundlobe hepatica with new leaf
The next discovery before crossing the stream was a group of bloodroot, round-lobed hepatica (Anemone americana), and rue anemone, all in a small patch among rocks by the trail.  In the place by the bridge over the stream where we found the first hepatica back in January was still occupied by a hepatica in bloom.

Mayapple popping up
Along the trail by the stream we found rue anemone, bloodroot, and emerging leaves of mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), as well as a few fiddleheads from Christmas ferns (Polystichum acrosticoides).  The blueberry (Vaccinium elliotii) was not yet in bloom.

Near the deer fence toward the end of the Orange Trail, we stopped to discuss the crinkly bark of the older Black Cherry (Prunus serotina).  Emily has called it "burnt potato chips."

Possible Bradford Pear
We went up the hill to the upper parking lot and connected to the White Trail down to the Prairies.  Along this route we stopped for a blooming fruit tree, which after some discussion, we decided was a Bradford pear tree (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford').  It is a cultivar that has been planted so much that it has escaped to the woods.  A major problem that has occurred with this plant is that the tree tends to split in the crotch of the main branches. 

[Note: for more information on the invasive nature of Bradford pear read this post by Ellen Honeycutt.]

As we turned the corner at the Prairie Garden, we noted the Black Cherry with burnt potato chip bark at the base, but farther up exhibited the more typical grey bark with horizontal lenticels.

Ground ivy, Purple dead nettle, Hen bit (L. to R.)
Dale showed the differences in the various ground cover plants that grow up along the trail here: hen bit (Lamium amplexicaule), purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum), and ground ivy or Gill-Over-The-Ground (Glechoma hederacea).  These were all mints with square stems.  Tiny bluets (Houstonia pusilla) with their red centers and four blue petals were also present.

Spring beauty

Colony of yellow trout lilly
Going through the Dunson Native Plant Garden was an adventure in advancing spring.  The spring beauties (Claytonia carolinana) were showing white, but it was probably too cold in the day to open. We discussed the difference between the colonial-growing yellow trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) and the more solitary dimpled trout lily (E. umbilicatum).  One difference is that the first is colonial. Second, there is an ear on the inner tepals of E. americanum.  Another difference is that the capsules (fruit) of E. umbilicatum  are indented at the top and lie flat on the ground.

Chattahoochie trillium
Decumbent trillium
It looked like deer had been munching the clump of meadow rue as well as a lot of the trilliums.  The only trilliums in bloom were Chattahoochee trilliums (T. decipiens), sweet Betsy (T. cuneatum), and decumbent trillium (T. decumbens).  All were traveling all over the Garden probably being moved by ants.

By the bridge Don pointed out the toothwort (Cardamine concatenata, or Dentaria laciniata).

Golden Ragwort starting to bloom

In amongst the ragwort (Packera aurea) we discovered a bloodroot.  The sign for it was on the other side of the trail behind which there was no bloodroot.  Bloodroot is another plant whose seeds are dispersed by ants. We noted the bluish buds of the ragwort which will become yellow flowers, and we did find one showing some color.

The leaves of the tiny trillium (Trillium pusillum) were up but they were yet to flower.  But Virginia Bluebells were in full bloom, and beside them were some blooming trout lilies (E. umbilicatum).  At a turned over tree stump one trout lily was blooming.  The curator at the time the tree fell decided to leave the plant on the stump, and it is still blooming after several years.

We noted the spread of the leatherwood shrub (Dirca palustris).  For some newcomers we explained about why it is named leatherwood.  The twigs are so limber that Native Americans used them for wrapping stuff.

"Edna's" trillium (Persistent trillium)
We found more spring beauties, toothworts, and a few rue anemone.  But then we stopped at the rare persistent trillium (Trillium persistens). This species was only recently named.  The plant does not appear in Wilbur Duncan's first wildflower book published in 1975.  (The late Wilbur Duncan was a botany professor at UGA for many years and curator of the herbarium. He described several species of plants from Georgia that were new to science.)  Edna Garst saw this Trillium near their summer home near Panther Creek and wanted to know what it was. She and her husband, John, took it to Wilbur for identification.  He had a specimen, collected much earlier, that he was puzzled by.  He and John researched the plant and were able to write an article in 1971 naming it for the first time.  Most of us in the Athens area call it "Edna's Trillium."  It is endemic to Georgia and part of South Carolina.

We rambled through the power line right of way to the White Trail spur to find a truly outstanding collection of rue anemone that Dale and Emily had found recently.  They were much more robust than any of the plants we had previously seen.

For those who are interested, Dale and I are leading a walk for the Georgia Botanical Society on Sunday at 1PM.  We will meet at the Arbor here at the Garden. Anyone is welcome to join us. It is likely to be longer than our usual rambles are, and will probably cover much of what we did today.  Emily reminded me that it counts for one of the field trips required for the Native Plant Certificate.

It was time to retire to Dondero's for snacks and good conversation.

Hugh Nourse

Summary of Observed Species:
Common Name
Scientific name
Plants seen in the natural areas
Rue Anemone
Thalictrum thalictroides
Many flowering
Sanguinaria canadensis
Flowers, some with fruit
Podophyllum peltatum
Just up, not flowering
Carpinus caroliniana

Round Lobed Hepatica
Anemone americana
Flowers; some with fruit
Common Blue Violet
Viola sororia
Some flowers
High Bush Blueberry
Vaccinium elliotti
No flowers
Wild Gernanium
Geranium maculatum
No flowers, just leaves
Yellow Root
Xanthorhiza simplicissima
No flowers
Black Cherry
Prunus serotina

Hen Bit
Lamium amplexicaule

Pear Tree
Pyrus sp.

Purple Deadnettle
Lamium purpureum

Ground Ivy
Glechoma hederacea

Plants seen in the formal garden
Alabama Snow Wreath
Neviusia alabamensis
Paw Paw
Asimina triloba
Flower buds opening
Fragrant Winter Honeysuckle
Lonicera fragrantissima
In flower
Plants seen in Dunson Native Plant Garden
Yellow Trout Lily
Erythronium americanum
Colony at base of tree; a few flowering
Meadow Rue
Thalictrum ?
not blooming
Sweet Betsy Trillium
Trillium cuneatum
Sharp Lobed Hepatica
Anemone acutiloba
Shooting Star
Dodecatheon sp.
Not blooming
Trailing Trillium
Trillium decumbens
Chattahoochie Trillium
Trillium decipiens
Dentaria laciniata
Golden Ragwort
Packera  aurea
A few blooming, most not yet
Allegheny Spurge
Pachysandra procumbens
Not blooming
Dwarf Wakerobin
Trillium pusillum
Not blooming
Dimpled Trout Lily
Erythronium umbilicatum
Dirca palustris
Leaves out, no more flowers
Spring Beauty
Claytonia virginica
Edna’s Trillium or
Trillium persistens
Painted Buckeye or
Georgia Buckeye
Aesculus pavia
Aesculus sylvatica
Some with flower buds
Virginia Bluebells
Mertensia virginica

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