Thursday, July 3, 2014

June 26 2014 Ramble Report

Nineteen intrepid ramblers met at 8 AM by the Arbor to listen to two inspiring poems.  the first was by one of our own ramblers Bob Ambrose, which he recited (did not read):

Don Hunter's photo album for todays ramble is here.

A Prayer of June in Green and Brown
Athens, Georgia, Wednesday, June 18, 2014

To be present at creation

and wander deep time

weightless as the moment itself,

for eternity is an inbreath

of early June evening,

when life hums a low note

and late sun filters softness

through darkening shade;

or the pool of morning,

when buzz-trill and chirp-call

weave the tree tops, waking

whole days; or in the still-breath,

when slant yellow renders

shades of green to veins of gold

and the nervous house wren

pauses on a porch rail

regarding options.

He fans a tiny wing,

darts eyes, twitches

twice, flies. Action

breaks the idle spell, restores

the world to green and brown.

I do not trust a golden throne

guarded by pearl encrusted

gates. Just give me Now

in my outbreath and God

in the garden, trailing

dew beads to a new solstice.

You can read more of his poetry at this link.

The second poem by Mary Oliver was read by Rosemary Woodel:

From Mary's Oliver book of poems:  House of Light.


I wanted to thank the mockingbird for the vigor of his song.

Every day he sang from the rim of the field, while I picked blueberries or just idled in the sun.

Every day he came fluttering by to show me, and why not, the white blossoms in his wing.

So one day I went there with a machine, and played some songs of Mahler.

The mockingbird stopped singing, he came close and seemed to listen.

Now when I go down to the field, a little Mahler spills through the sputters of his song.

How happy I am, lounging in the light, listening as the music floats by!

And I gave thanks also for my mind, that thought of giving a gift.

And mostly I'm grateful that I take this world so seriously.

The route taken was white trail to blue trail and return on white trail along river back to Arbor.

The first stop was in the Dunson Native Flora Garden to notice the leaves and four sided stem of the mint horse balm (Collinsonia canadensis).  Along the road was beauty berry (Callicarpa americana).  We talked about its beautiful purple berries in the fall. Silvio said that the latin, Callicarpa, meant beautiful fruit. Someone asked what animals ate the berries.  Miller and Miller in their book, Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses, says that more than 40 species of song birds consume the berries.  If preferred plants are unavailable, white tail deer will consume the leaves.  They also consume the berries in the fall.

Crossing the road and up to the power line right of way we stopped to see
Bottlebrush Buckeye and Ramblers
how much the bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) had bloomed out. We had discussed whether hummingbirds were attracted to bottlebrush buckeye.  The answer, as last week, is unclear.  Miller and Miller, say that red buckeye is attractive to hummingbirds especially, but says all buckeyes are also attractive.

Under the power line  false dandelion or Carolina Desert Chickory (Pyrrhopappus carolinianus) was still blooming.  Wild petunia (Ruellia
Parasol Mushroom
caroliniensis) was also still blooming.  Someone spotted a deptford pink (Dianthus armeria) still in bloom.  The leaves of mullein (Verbascum thapsus) reminded us that Gary said that the leaves made good toilet paper out on the trail.  I also believe we saw common wood sorrel  (Oxalis stricta) here and elsewhere.  Here also was Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) and horse nettle (Solanum carolinense). The latter is related to the potato. Not everyone, but a few found a Japanese parasol mushroom (Parasola sp.)

Entering the woods we passed many red bud (Cercis canadensis) sprouts, and several daisy fleabane plants (Erigeron sp.)  Climbing the first big red oak (Quercus rubra) was our first vine of many today, Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) with its five-lobed palmate leaves.

On the blue trail we spotted the Torreya taxifolia that was planted at a safeguarding site at the Garden.  It was in a meadow just outside the woods marked with orange tape.  We found a tree with unidentified dried up shelf mushrooms.

The blue trail is a fascinating trail because it goes through one of the last-farmed acreages in the Garden.  It is truly a successional forest.  The tall pines are loblolly (Pinus taeda) and short-leaf (Pinus echinata), but there are many hardwood species in sapling form.  We saw many oaks (cannot be identified at the sapling size because the leaves are so variable at that stage), hickories,  American beech (Fagus grandifolia), and sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua).  Another characteristic of a successional forest is the presence of black cherry trees (Prunus serotina), which are more numerous along the blue trail than elsewhere in the Garden. The old cotton field terraces are also very visible.  The trail itself goes along one of the terraces and one can see terraces above and below the trail.

Bob Walker identified mosses.  One was Bryoandersonii because it was in very disturbed soil.  He also found slender starburst (Atrichum angustatum) moss.  Bob and Ronnie spent a lot of time studying mosses along the trail.

Pin Lichen
There were a lot of vines along this trail.  One of the green briers (Smilax sp) was climbing a young hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana).  Then in the bark of a loblolly pine Hugh pointed out the pin lichen (Cladonia macilenta).

We asked about a tree with blocky bark.  Someone mentioned sourwood, but it was a persimmon tree (Diospyros virginiana).  Hugh talked about how his Dad had a collection of persimmon recipes including persimmon muffins, persimmon fudge, and persimmon jam.  Pat said you had to be careful when eating the fruit because if you bite into it when it is not ripe, it will really pucker up your mouth.

Just beyond the persimmon tree was what looked like the leaf of climbing hydrangea (Decumaria barbara).

All along the trail we saw the rosette of the Elephant's foot plant (Elephantopus tomentosus).  One was already shooting up a stem about a foot.  Hugh talked about the other species that has a very leafy stem (Elephantopus carolinianus), but Pat said this plant had leaves on the stem.  Yes, but they were small bract like leaves.  If you saw the other you would know it.

Muscadine (vitas rotundifolia) was everywhere.  In fact we even found green grapes forming on several vines that were draped over small saplings.

Along the trail dominated by pines there is one huge water oak (Quercus nigra).  Nothing grows under it.  The pine saplings are weak and not doing well.  Nothing else is growing either.  Some oaks cause the soil to be bad for other plants.

Winged Sumac
Next came the winged sumac (Rhus copallinum), identified by the wings along the twigs between leaflets.  Nearby was poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).

A huge swath of privet (ligustrum sinense) had just been cut down and swabbed with roundup.  Thomas Peters, a UGA graduate in landscape architecture and a freelance restoration expert, has been hired by Dr. Nichols to eradicate  privet.  He has started here on the blue trail, but intends to work his way down to the river.

A blueberry bush was identified by its new green stems as Vaccinium elliotii. Just before entering the meadow there is a sawtooth oak (Quercus accutissima) which is more fun in the fall when the sawtooth leaves are all over the ground and we can see its fantastic  acorn.

The meadow was a surprise.  Hugh was prepared to talk about some of the plants, but it had just been mowed.  Some were surprised that the Torreya pine was gone.  There used to be a safeguarding site for it here in this meadow.  Heather Alley dug the plants up and moved them to the Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plants, so they would not be mowed when the field was mowed.

A decision was made to go down to the river and take the white trail back instead of going up the service road and return on one of the other trails.  By the gate to take the blue trail down to the river, a lot of blooms from trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) were on the ground.  They came from a vine climbing the loblolly pine next to the fence.

On the other side of the fence were a group of black cherries, one of which had a huge burl on its trunk.  A little farther along was one of the few shagbark hickories (Carya ovata).  At this point went back to rescue Martha who was taking our usual walk up the service road.

Marked with a green tape was a scraggly native hog plum (Prunus umbellata).  For some reason these trees do not seem to generate fruit and the folks in conservation are trying to figure why that might be.

A Slime Mold
Starting down the slope of the ravine to the river we found a gross slime covered in yellow.  When you touched it, the yellow disappeared and it was black.  Don has identified it as yellow dog vomit slime (Fuligo septica). Nearby was a chalk maple (Acer leucoderme) which is an indicator plant of more basic soil.  There must be more of the amphibolite in this area as in the other slope along the purple trail near the river.

American Toad
The slope itself is dense with Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides).  It is quite a marvelous site.  It does have a deer trail down through it.  More common wood sorrel was found, as well as a frog, probably an american toad.  Ronnie was able to capture it to show everyone.  It was well camouflaged in the leaf litter of the ground and hard to see until it jumped.

All along the slope were the stems and leaves of Jack-in-the-pulpit, but what was most interesting was the number of stems with more than three leaves.  Some had four, or five.

Anglepod flower
At the bottom of the slope was a fallen sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum).  Fresh leaves and branches seem to be shooting upward to the sky.  If one looked carefully there was a green dragon plant (Arisaema dracontium) with a semi-circle of leaves.  With short pants one had to be careful of the wood nettle (Laportea canadensis) along the trail here.  Several people at this point found a vine with green and purple flowers.  What a find!!! It was common angle pod (Gonolobus suberosus), which is one of the milk vines in the Milkweed family.

We went up the white trail about ten yards to view the fruit of a Jack-in-the-pulpit..

Then it was down to the river along the white trail.

Vines were everywhere.  There were smilax rotundifolia, s. glauca, s. smallii, muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia), burr cucumber (Sicyos ungulates), and cross vine (Bignonia capreolata).  River oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) were showing why Avis calls it fish on a pole.

Although we hurried through the trail, we still spent an extraordinary amount of
time today, almost 2 and 1/2 hours, so we did not stop for everything along the river.  But there were a few very interesting stops.  One was for the two sugarberry trees (Celtis laevigata).  Martha objected that it was a hackberry tree.  Hugh, too, said that he originally thought it was a hackberry. He called Linda, who named it sugarberry.  Looking it up in the Duncan tree book, he called it both hackberry or sugarberry, sugarberry being one species of hackberry. One would have to check the leaves to really be sure of the identification.  But they are so high in a maze of vegetation that it is hard to be sure.

Farther long the trail bends around a huge sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). Roger Nielsen says that when you look at a the lower part of the trunk it looks sick, and when you look higher it looks sickamore.   Near here someone saw a very fuzzy caterpillar, which Don has identified as tussock moth caterpillar (Orgyia definita).  On one tree that was totally hollowed out  we identified resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides), cross vine (Bignonia capreolata), and poison ivy.

Passing an area in which privet (Ligustrum sinense) was removed, we noted that it has returned with a vengeance along with another invasive tree, princess or royal paulownia tree (Paulownia tomentosa).

Some of us noticed a beautifully flowering shrub. (Hugh must have been talking too much).  Anyway, returning to the shrub everybody gathered.  Hugh identified it as swamp hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos), but he was wrong.  Upon returning home and checking the identification, he found that swamp hibiscus does not turn into a 15 foot high shrub.  The only hibiscus to do so is rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), an escaped garden plant.  It was beautiful--white petals with a red center.  Hugh remembers rose of Sharon as having more purple petals, but they can be any shade from white to purple.

We stopped to check out the leaves of the white mulberry (Morus alba), which was imported to the colonies to develop a silk industry.  In this area was another privet removal experiment which is totally grown up in vegetation, some of which is still privet, although another common plant is box elder (Acer negundo).  Along the path are lots of wing stem, both the plants with opposite leaves (Verbesina occidentalis), and the ones with alternative leaves (Verbesina alternatifolia which will have yellow flowers, or V. virginica which will have white flowers.

We did identify at least one of the common green ash trees (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) with its opposite compound leaves.  Also in this area was a large stand of ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

In the power line right of way, we searched for and found the leaves of passion flower (Passiflora incarnata).  The wild leeks (Allium stellatum) from last week were nearly shot. But we could still find the goldenrod galls. In one of the wettest areas we found a parsley like plant that we could not identify.  We have now identified it as mock bishop weed (Ptilimnium capillaceum).

Entering he forest again we found the shade loving white avens (Geum canadense) still in bloom.

After such a great trip it was necessary for most of us to retire to Donderos' for a snack.



  1. I seem to remember that Hugh sent out a correction reflecting a change in scientific name for common anglepod. It's still in Genus Matelea but not gonocarpus anymore. Or maybe it was changed to gonocarpus???

  2. I've changed the scientific name of the Common Anglepod to Gonolobus suberosus.


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