Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17 2014 Ramble Report

Today's report is written by Hugh Nourse with photographs by, as usual, Don Hunter. Don's album is available here. This post has just a small selection of all his photos.

Eighteen Ramblers assembled on a beautiful morning (60 degrees) by the Arbor on the Lower Parking Lot at 8 AM. 

Route: Foot of the Dunson garden, Power line down to river; right on White trail; turned around and returned back to parking lot.

Sue Wilde read a poem by Deborah Love that appeared in Peter Matthiessen's book, The Snow Leopard. (Sue noted that Deborah Love was Matthiessen's first wife and died of cancer at a very young age.):
The flower fulfills its immanence, intelligence implicit in its unfolding.
There is a discipline.
The flower grows without mistakes.
A man must grow himself, until he understands the intelligence of the flower.

Hugh read an excerpt from Joan West's blog. Many Ramblers will remember Joan. She was a young post-doctoral student in plant genetics at UGA who came on many of our rambles last year. Earlier this year she started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and was making good progress until she was sidelined by a stress fracture. She has been off the trail for five weeks and has two more before she can resume her adventure. She spent some of this down time at the Coastal Redwoods in Humboldt State Park in California. Here is the link to her blog, so you can read her words and see her pictures of the Redwoods.

Loblolly "Nana" & Ramblers
Our route today was quickly through the Dunson Native Flora Garden to a new planting of a dwarf loblolly pine (Pinus taeda 'Nana'}.  Quoting from the garden sign: "Witches' brooms occur on many conifers and deciduous trees. Caused by a number of factors, they result in a proliferation of shoots with short internodes. Propagation of the witches' brooms in conifers has resulted in a great many dwarf cultivars. . . .
Our dwarf loblolly came from the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University. A grove of these pines, propagated from witches' broomes, is planted at the Arboretum. Plants resulting from this condition rarely set seed and are usually propagated by scion material grafted to rootstocks. But these loblollies do produce seed and 20% of the progeny grown are true dwarfs."
[Explanatory note: An internode refers to the distance between branches or leaves on a stem. The "witches' broom" results when new leaves or branches form a shorter than normal distance away from each other.] DH

From this first stop we went out the power line right of way to the river and walked upstream on the White Trail along the river.  At around 9:45 we stopped turned around and headed back the way we had come.

Walking in the power line right of way, Hugh pointed out some white tail deer scat.  A lot of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) was in bloom, as well as false dandelion or Carolina desert chicory (Pyrrhopappus carolinianus), daisy fleabane (Erigeron sp.), and mountain mint
(Pycnanthemum incanum).  Morning glory vines  (Convolvulaceae) were seen.  We repeated Dale's story from
Goldenrod bunch gall
last week about the leaf galls on the goldenrod (Solidago sp).  We stopped to note that box elder (Acer negundo) is a pioneer tree in floodplains.  There was a lot of it about 6 or so feet high.  It will probably be cut down soon to reduce the woody plants under the power line. The shrub layer is dominated by privet, except where it has been removed. 
River Oats
The ground layer includes river oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), cane (Arundinaria gigantea), ironweed (Vernonia gigantea), and three species of wing stem: wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) with alternate leaves and yellow flowers, white crown beard (Verbesina virginica) with alternate leaves and white flowers, and yellow crown beard (Verbesina occidentalis) with opposite leaves and yellow flowers.

We walked up a slight slope, which is a natural levee, to the trail along the river.  When the river floods, the movement of the water slows as it moves over land and deposits silt immediately, and then less so over the flood plain behind the natural levee.  Yes, it does build up and prevent flooding at the same level in the future, but unlike manmade levees that are designed to channel a river and keep it from flooding, the natural levee does not build up that high. Natural levees may also erode over time due to heavy rains.

As we turned right to go up the river, lots of poke weed (Phytolacca americana) was seen,
Wood Nettle
especially in the area to the right.  In this area privet was removed several years ago. Privet (Ligustrum sinense) was still scattered about.  In a ditch with a bridge over it for the path Don Hunter pointed out jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) in bloom.  Common wood sorrel  (Oxalis stricta) was abundant, but its bloom wasn't seen until later on our return trip. Another ground level plant was wood nettle (Laportea canadensis) with alternate leaves.  This stinging nettle has downy hairs containing formic acid that causes a painful stinging sensation if touched.  A false wood nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) has opposite leaves, although some plants have alternate leaves toward the top.  It does not have stinging hairs.  Both plants can be found in the floodplain.  Near the wood nettle was common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia).

Hugh pointed out a place where a box turtle had laid eggs right beside the trail in a rather exposed spot.

One amazing grove of box elder trees were really limbs coming up from the trunk of an old tree which had tipped over and was lying on the ground.

Green Ash
We noted the dominant canopy tree was green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica).  At the beginning was a smaller green ash on which we could check out the opposite compound leaves. Close to that first tree was a sweet gum sapling (Liquidambar styraciflua) and possibly a chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach)  Farther down the trail ash trees were so tall that it was hard to check out the leaves without binoculars. One such green ash had several vines growing up it: Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquifolia), trumpet vine (Campsis
Indian Plantain
), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia) were all going up the same tree.  Nearby several plants of indian plantain (Arnoglossum atriplicifolium) were actually blooming about as much as they ever will.

Burr Cucumber
Climbing among the grasses was a burr cumber vine (Sicyos angulatus).  It has a distinctive five lobed leaf and long spring-like tendrils.

On the river side of the trail a box elder hanging over the river had poison ivy, cross vine (Bignonia capreolata), and
Resurrection Ferns need rain
desiccated resurrection fern (Polypodium polypodioides).  An interesting group of grasses were growing in a hollow of the tree.

As we came to the sign for the earlier (six or more years ago) privet removal area we noted how much denser the vegetation was.  In place of privet is box elder, the pioneer of the floodplain.  No privet has been removed from the river side of the trail because the managers at the Garden were worried about erosion of the banks of the river if all that privet was removed.  The researchers working on this second area tried to get some land owners to try removing the privet along the river banks as part of the experiment.  No land owners have been willing to try it.

We came upon another floodplain tree, red mulberry (Morus rubra), which is a native tree. Can have 3 lobed or mitten shaped, or unlobed heart shaped leaves. Next to it was a musclewood tree (Carpinus caroliniana).  A little farther on Hugh showed everyone the white mulberry (Morus alba) which is not a native tree.

Grape & Roundleaf Greenbrier
Then Sue noted a hickory with an infestation of leaf galls on
Lanceleaf Greenbrier
one branch at the boundary of the privet removal.  After this stop we saw vines of all kinds hanging down over the trail or over other vegetation  everywhere.  They included a number of greenbriers: roundleaf greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia), lance leaf greenbrier (S. smallii), cat greenbrier (Smilax glauca) with white undersides of leaves, and  saw greenbrier or cat brier (S.
Anglepod flowers
) with thorns and leaves with ears.  Also here was a vine we had seen previously on the Blue Trail several weeks ago, angle pod (Gonolobus suberosus). It was blooming with its distinctive greenish yellow petals with dark maroon centers.  One wall of vines included roundleaf greenbrier, muscadine, and a new vine, yellow passion flower (Passiflora lutea) with broad 3 lobed leaves.

Along here we identified a huge Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera). We stopped at the second bench along the river, where Carol showed everyone the unusual group of plants growing in the hollow of a tree where a branch had come off.  The plants included grasses and privet.

Turning around we headed back the way we had come.  Noted some things we had not seen the first time.  Of special note was a shag bark tree 20 or more yards off the trail.  Emily used her binoculars to identify the leaves, which were compound leaves like a hickory, so we thought it was a shagbark hickory (Carya ovata).  We also found a wild petunia (Ruellia caroliensis) and white avens (Geum canadense) in bloom.  On one of the indian plantain plants Dale identified a plant hopper. Another great find was a blooming passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) under the power line.  We especially noted the difference in leaf shape from the yellow passionflower.  This one has much deeper cuts for the three lobs, like three fingers. 

It was time to return to the Arbor, and from there to Donderos where many of us enjoyed snacks and conversation.

Hugh Nourse

Common Name
Scientific Name
Loblolly pine
Pinus taeda
White Tailed Deer scat
Odocoileus virginianus
Common mullein
Verbascum thapsus
Carolina desert-chickory
Pyrrhopappus carolinianus
Verbesina occidentalis
Mountain mint
Pyncnanthemum incanum
Daisy fleabane
Erigeron sp.
Morning glory
Family Convolvulaceae
Giant Ironweed 
Vernonia gigantea
Solidago sp.
Box elder
Acer negundo
River Cane
Arundinaria gigantean
Passionflower; Maypop
Passiflora incarnata
Orange jewelweed
Impatiens capensis
Greenbrier sp.
Smilax sp.
Melia azedarach
Green ash
Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Sweet gum
Liquidambar styraciflua
American Pokeweed
Phytolacca americana
River oats
Chasmanthium latifolium
Chinese Privet
Ligustrum sinense
Common wood sorrel
Oxalis stricta
Indian plantain
Arnoglossum atriciplicifolium
Wood nettle
Laportea canadensis
Common Ragweed
Ambrosia artemisiifolia
Eastern Box turtle nest
Terrapene carolina
Bignonia capreolata
Resurrection fern
Polypodium polypodioides
Cat greenbrier
Smilax glauca
Roundleaf greenbrier
Smilax rotundifolia
Burr cucumber
Sicyos angulatus
Trumpet vine
Campsis radicans
Poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans
Wild Grape
Vitis rotundifolia
Lanceleaf greenbrier
Smilax smallii
Red mulberry
Morus rubra
Carpinus caroliniana
White mulberry
Morus alba
American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis
Leaf miners
Order Lepidoptera
Common anglepod
Gonolobus suberosus
Liriodendron tulipifera
Yellow passionflower
Passiflora lutea
Shagbark hickory
Carya ovata
Common St. Johns Wort
Hypericum perforatum
Wild petunia
Ruellia humilis
White avens
Geum canadense
Order Hemiptera
Suborder Homoptera
Acanalonia sp.


  1. Instead of the above discussion of the dwarf pine it would be more accurate to quote paragraph 2 from the Garden's sign which I will attach in an e-mail.

    In the discussion of natural levees, natural levees change over time due to natural causes such as erosion, heavy rainfall, bank undercutting, etc. while man-made levees attempt to permanently restrict the river's channel.

    1. I replaced the material about witches' brooms with a quotation from the Garden sign and added an explanation of what an internode and a witches' broom is.


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