Friday, May 9, 2014

May 8 2014 Ramble Report

Today 26 people met by the arbor in the lower parking lot to begin our ramble.  Today's report was written by Hugh Nourse. Hugh brought today's reading from Ann Haymond Zwinger, Downcanyon:  A Naturalist Explores the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, page 93.:

One of the many unmaintained trails into the canyon, the Eminence Break Trail, reaches the river at President Harding Rapid at mile 43.7.  Camped on the beach here.  I join some hikers on the trip to walk the trail at first light.  Pads of moss luxuriate along the trail, and plants brighten the dry streambed.  As usual I lag behind to take notes, a fatal error with a destination-oriented group.  I take the path less traveled and it does make all the difference.  Now I sit a hundred feet above the rest of the group happily dangling my legs over a parapet.  Below me a phoebe flits and dips, snatching up this morning's insect hatch.  Tiny bats lace the sky until 5:30, then disappear.

Don Hunter's photo album of today's ramble is here.

Our ramble today went through the International Garden by the Pitcherplant Bog, then down the Purple Tail to the Orange Trail.  An adventurous hike up the heath bluff, then back to the Orange Trail along which we traversed to the Flower Garden Trail, up through the Flower Garden, finishing at Dondero's.

As we entered the International Garden, the Southeast plant collection was blooming nicely with
Spiderwort flowers
Blue Star (Amsonia hubrechtii, A. ciliate, and A.
Pitcher Plants + Flower
), Coreopsis sp, spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana),  Piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canescens), and white wild indigo (Baptisia alba).  Crossing the stone bridge the bottlebrush buckeye was beginning to bud. The big stop was in front of the Pitcherplant Bog.

  There we saw yellow trumpets (Sarracenia flava), white trumpet (Sarracenia leucophylla), and the red pitcher plant (Sarracenia rubra), all from Georgia.  The white one is rare in Georgia.

On the way to the Purple Trail we passed Dr Durhams medicinal plants in the Physic Garden.  Durham was a physician using medicinal herbs for curing people.  His center was in Scull Shoals, down in Oconee National Forest.  In the early 19th Century it was a thriving community and Durham's patients came from all over the world.  It is now an archeological site in the National Forest.

Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus) was blooming with its dark maroon petals, and the high bush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) were now green balls.  At the beginning of the Purple Trail was alumroot (Heuchera sp.).  The forest at the top of the Purple Trail is a mesic forest typical of the Piedmont:  northern red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Quercus alba), American beech (Fagus grandifolia). We stopped to talk about the huge northern red oak that
Red Oak down!
had come down in the wind storm a week ago Wednesday.  Wade had not had a chance to clear the trail because of the work needed for the annual Garden Ball.  The Ball raises so much money that a great deal of effort is made to make it an excellent experience.  The eight years of drought has probably weakened a number of trees.  I remember during the drought that foresters made the comment that we would see damaged trees later because of those years of drought.  I said that I thought we might be seeing Wade and his crew this morning working on clearing the tree.  Just as we were leaving he and his crew arrived and invited us to help.  Declining, we went on through the gate at the deer fence to see the chalk maples (Acer leucoderme).  They are indicator plants of more basic soils.  The Blue Ridge and the Piedmont are mostly acid soils from granite or gneiss rock.  But there is a formation of amphibolite rock that comes down the ravine where the Orange Trail is located and then comes across the slope where this group of Chalk Maples are growing.  At the meeting of the Orange Trail with the Purple Trail we once again discussed the difference in bark between muscle wood, or sometimes American Hornbeam) (Carpinus caroliniana) and Eastern  Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana).

Mountain Laurel flowers
The big adventure then began with climbing up the heath bluff
Closeup showing unsprung stamens
to visit the beautiful mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) in bloom.  What got me into photography was the absolute stunning beauty of mountain laurel blossoms in the wild.  We also stopped to talk about the way the stamens distribute their pollen.  Each anther is notched into a purple spot on the petal.  When a bee or fly disturbs it, the anther snaps out of the notch like a pole vault and flips the pollen-bearing anther onto the insect. Beyond the mountain laurel is a sand hickory (Carya pallida).

Going cross country up the hill we stopped at one of the 29 rock mounds around the top of the
Anne Shenk & Rock Pile
hill.  Ann Shenk briefed us on Mark Williams'  ideas on these possible indian relics.  The thought is that they were some kind of marker for a place they came.  The boulders along the river below this point would have been a place they could tell each other they would meet.   Perhaps it had religious significance. Other people think that the rocks were piled up by farmers who cleared their fields growing crops, but the hill is too steep for crops.  On this morning we were attacked by mosquitos, and decided to move on.

As we rambled around the Beaver Pond, we talked about how the beavers had left, but the Garden had replaced the dam to provide a way for the plants in the pond to filter the water coming down the creek.  A number of years ago it was polluted with runoff from hog farms at the top of the creek.  The creek is now much cleaner because the hog farms have moved elsewhere.

Poison Ivy (l.) & Box Elder (r.)
Dale discussed the differences in the leaves of poison ivy (Rhus radicans) and boxelder (Acer negundo).  It is hard to describe, but easier to see when looking at the two together, which Dale showed.  One difference is that the terminal leaflet is on a longer petiole  with poison ivy, and that poison ivy leaves are not opposite as they are with the boxelder.

Young May Apple
Near here we saw what appeared to be a pair of leaves that I could not identify.  Dale says they are the young leaves of mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum). If you look at the photo you can see the two halves are joined together at the point where they attach to the stem. What looks like two leaves is really a single leaf.

Duck Potato
The beaver pond is nearly covered with the duck potato or arrowhead leaves (Saggitaria latifolia).They will bloom with white flowers later.  Crossing the so-called boardwalk around the inlet to the beaver pond the sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) was pointed out. You need to look at the fertile frond to see how it differs from netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata).  The fertile fronds are the opposite of what I said.  The netted chain fern fertile frond is like a tree with branches, while the sensitive fern has fertile stuff tight to the rachis.

Hearts-a-Bustin' flowers
Passed  a lot of wild onions (Allium canadensis) in bud. In place of the flowers they produce small bulblets instead of seeds. These somtimes germinate before they drop off the plant, producing a tiny onion plant growing on the tip of another onion. There was also a strawberry bush, or "Hearts-a-Bustin" (Euonymus americana) in bloom (this is also known as "Hearts-a-Bustin'-with-Love). A winged elm (Ulmus alata) had twigs close enough to the ground so that one could see the corky appendages along the twig that give the name "winged" to the tree.

In the creek we found some very fast fish, probably too fast to have been tadpoles.

After crossing the bridge to the Flower Garden trail, more chalk maple was discovered.  Tim pointed out the leaves of pawpaw.  We talked about how only two weeks ago on this trail the beech saplings we were looking at had no new leaves, but only a few of last years and sharp pointed buds where the new leaves would come.  Now the tree was completely dressed in green leaves.  Where we saw mayapple flowers we now saw the fruit.  A nice specimen of rattlesnake fern (Botrychium virginianum) showed up just before the gate in the deer fence.  It differs from the grape fern later in the year (Botrychium biternatum) by having the fertile frond start right at the intersection of the three other fronds.  The fertile frond of the grape fern starts way below that intersection and often seems to come separately from the ground.

We also saw another Fern ball, similar to those seen on last week's ramble.
Click here to see more about this unusual structure and the moth caterpillar that makes it..

Filmy Dome spider
Someone noticed a spider web with spider included.  Dale  thought it belonged to the same group as the bowl and doily spider. Later it was determined to be a Filmy Dome spider.

Up the woodland walk in the Flower Garden, green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) was still blooming.  Would make a nice ground cover in a native plant garden. 

Several jack-in-the-pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum) demonstrated the different colors that the pulpit can be.  One was green with darker green stripes, whereas others were maroon with green stripes.  Tim raised the point that this plant may change its sex.  Click this link for more information about the sex life of Jack in the Pulpit.

American Wisteria (not invasive)
Along the fence of the bridge over a dry streamed, the beautiful native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) was blooming.  You can see why Sam Jones thought this was an overlooked vine for gardens.  Furthermore, it is not invasive unlike the chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) growing on the arbor next to the lower parking lot.

Beside the Peace Plaza Hugh pointed out the live oak (Quercus virginiana) in the Garden.  It being a coastal plain tree we do not usually see it around here.  This was the last stop before going to Dondero's for coffee and snacks.

Common Name
Scientific Name
Coreopsis sp.
Virginia Spiderwort
Tradescantia virginiana
Sandhills or Fringed Bluestar
Amsonia ciliata
False Indigo
Baptisia australis
Bottlebrush Buckeye
Aesculus parviflora
Yellow Trumpet Pitcher Plant
Sarracenia flava
Hybrid Pitcher Plant
Sarracenia flava x leucophylla
Sweet Pitcher Plant
Sarracenia rubra
Sweet Shrub
Calycanthus floridus
Double Northern Red Oak
Quercus rubra
Chalk Maple
Acer leucoderme
Carpinus caroliniana
Hop Hornbeam
Ostrya virginiana
Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia
Sand Hickory
Carya palida
Broadleaf Arrowhead/Duck Potato
Sagittaria latifolia
Poison Ivy
Toxicodendron radicans
Box Elder
Acer negundo
Bursting Heart/Strawberry Bush
Euonymus americanus
Immature stage of a Leafhopper in the family Cercopidae
Arisaema triphyllum
Podophyllum peltatum
Little Brown Jugs
Hexastylis arifolia
Ebony Spleenwort
Asplenium platyneuron
Rattlesnake Fern
Botrypus virginianus
Red Bud
Cercis canadensis
Paw Paw
Asimina triloba
"Fern ball" moth
Herpetogramma sphingealis
American Beech
Fagus grandifolia
Aesculus sp.
Wild Yam
Green and Gold
Filmy Dome spider
Neriene radiata
American/Native Wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

Hugh Nourse

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