Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 11 2014 Ramble Report

Twenty four ramblers met on a fine September morning and enjoyed a wonderful display of wildflowers in the course of our ramble.

Don Hunter's album for today's ramble is here; all the photos in today's blog are Don's.
Rosemary brought a poem by Margaret Atwood:

The Moment
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

~ Margaret Atwood ~

(morning in the burned house)

Tim brought a reading about Beech trees from Hiking Trails of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock and Citico Creek Wildernesses, p. 54, by Tim Homan! (Our Tim is the author of 8 books on hiking trails in the mountains of North Carolina and North Georgia.)

The beech offered a welcome look of stability and familiarity to the early colonists because our species does not differ significantly from the beech of Europe. The European beech is closely linked with the history of writing. Historians write that the earliest Sanskrit characters were carved on strips of beech bark. This practice spread to Europe, where the earliest scribblings of the Germanic people were inscribed upon beechen tablets. In fact, our modern word "book" was derived from the ancient Anglo-Saxon word for beech. Gutenburg printed the first Bible from movable type carved from beech wood.

Catherine Chastain brought a reading from An Altar in the World:  A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor,  from the chapter The Practice of Getting Lost:

            Because once you leave the cow path, the unpredictable territory is full of life.  True, you cannot always see where you are putting your feet.  This means you can no longer afford to stay unconscious.  You can no longer count on the beat-down red dirt path making all of your choices for you.  Leaving it, you agree to make your own choices for a spell.  You agree to become aware of each step you take, tuning all of your senses to exactly where you are and exactly what you are doing.
            When I do this, I hear the buzzing of the yellow jackets in time to take a detour around their front door.  I see the gap in the grass around the groundhog hole in time to step around it.  I sing old Baptist hymns to warn the snakes that I am coming.  They do not want to see me any more than I want to see them, after all.  What I see instead is the tiny wild blue iris that grows close to the ground.  I see the round bed in the tall grass where the doe sleeps with her twin fawns at night, and the hornet’s nest no bigger than a fist, hanging from the underside of a thistle leaf.

Today' route: We then headed out for the morning's ramble, leaving the parking lot on the white trail spur to the mulched path down through the Dunson Native Flora Garden, then out to the white trail under the power line ROW to the river, where we turned left on the orange trail to the "vine tree," and then left on the orange spur back to the parking lot.

First stop was in the Dunson Native Flora Garden to wonder about a white mold that seemed to
Zygomycete mold
be all around the Garden. Don has conducted research on the subject and thinks it could be Spinellus fusiger.  Almost
underfoot were leaves of sharp lobed hepatica. Farther along were a number of ferns.  Broad beech fern we have often seen on the orange trail.  The netted chain fern  had a
Fertile frond
fertile frond so we could see the chain like markings on the fronds, from which it gets its name.  Royal fern is a wetland fern which I have seen in a wetland area near Track Rock Gap. There it had been surrounding a beautiful cardinal flower.

Arriving at the wetland area of the Garden we admired the tall ironweed , late-flowering boneset , white crownbeard (AKA frostweed), blue mist flower, and rattlesnake master   The swamp mallows  were still blooming after all these weeks; the
Virginia salt-marsh mallow
seashore, or Virginia salt-marsh mallow  was at its peak with
Anthers and stigma
beautiful pink flowers. To the right is a closeup of the yellow anthers wrapped about the style, with the stigma projecting outward. This arrangement of the male and female parts is characteristic of the mallow family. In amongst the mallows were a number of cardinal flowers  with their  brilliant red flowers.  Turning around to look behind us we saw the big red hibiscus, and a low horsemint, which has wonderfully intricate yellow and pink flowers with polkadots. The curator of the Dunson Native Flora Garden planted several false indigo bushes, which are not blooming at this time, but had interesting compound leaves.

The natural area beyond the Dunson Garden under the power line was spectacular with yellows, blues, and whites in densely packed vegetation.  Let's first take a look at the big plants:  wingstem  yellow crownbeard , white crownbeard, pokeweed, fireweed, field thistle, late
Clematis seed head
flowering boneset, tall Ironweed, and golden rod.  Crawling over these big plants were a lot of vines:  virgin's bower, which was going to seed, pink wild bean, (a new plant to us), small red morning glory, passion vine, climbing hempweed, blue or ivy-leaf morning glory, small white morning glory, and one we could not identify at the time.  Taking our photos to Linda
Climbing buckwheat fruits
Chafin, she identified it as common climbing buckwheat.  Smaller plants could be found amongst the vegetation:  beefsteak plant, camphor weed, reclining St. Andrews cross, leafy elephant's foot, and mild water pepper. 

One of the small plants was rabbit tobacco, which Don reported that he smoked as a kid.  He bought a corncob pipe at the drug store, and used the dried leaves of the plant. But that was the last time he and others smoked it, because they got sick from it.
Lynx spider protecting her egg sac 

Bumble bee
All this glorious vegetation attracted many kinds of arthropods: green lynx spider with egg case, small skipper basking, robber fly, bumblebee (note the fuzzy abdomen),
Virginia tiger moth
nymphs of leaf-footed bugs, Virginia tiger moth, gulf fritillary
Leaf-footed bug nymph
caterpillar, gulf fritillary butterfly, gulf fritillary chrysalis (the same one
spotted last week when the caterpillar started its metamorphosis; compare the photos of the Sept. 4 Ramble with today's and notice how much the chrysalis looks like a dead leaf), and ailanthus webworm moth.  Emily spotted a monarch butterfly with her binoculars, so everyone
trooped back to see her find.

As you can imagine, with all these things to see, we made very little forward progress,
River side privet removal
so it was 10AM when we reached the river. I originally thought we would go out the white trail to the blue trail but it was obvious that would not work.  So we turned left on the orange trail along the Oconee River to view the progress on privet removal. The most surprising thing was that Thomas Peters was removing privet between the trail and the river.  Up to now everyone has been hesitant to do that for fear of allowing too much erosion of the river banks. We will have to see how this develops. In this area we did find lance-leaf greenbrier.

At the tree with many vines where the orange trail spur turns back up the hill to return to the parking lot, we observed the leaves of cross-vine, catbrier, and round-leaved greenbrier.

Even though it was time to quit, we still found interesting items to see on the orange spur back
Insect egg slime mold
to the parking lot: black footed marasmius, "insect egg" slime mold, Japanese parasol mushroom, the "dancing ballerinas" (beech blight aphids), and an unidentified orb weaver spider.

We finally made it back to the parking lot, where many retired to Donderos for much needed refreshment.


Common Name
Scientific Name
Mysterious mold
Zygomycete, possibly Spinellus fusiger
Sharped lobed hepatica
Anemone acutiloba syn. Hepatica acutiloba
Broad beech fern
Phegopteris hexagonoptera
Netted chain fern
Woodwardia areolata
Royal fern
Osmunda regalis
Late-flowering boneset
Eupatorium serotinum
Tall ironweed
Vernonia gigantea
White crownbeard
Verbesina virginica
Blue mist flower
Conoclinium coelestinum
Rattlesnake master
Eryngium yuccifolium
Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis
Virginia salt marsh mallow
Kosteletzkya virginica
Swamp rose mallow
Hibiscus moscheutos
Monarda punctata
Red hibiscus
Hibiscus coccineus
Verbesina alternifolia
False indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa
Yellow Crownbeard
Verbesina occidentalis
Erechtites hieracifolia
American Pokeweed
Phytolacca americana
Field thistle
Cirsium discolor
Late-flowering boneset
Eupatorium serotinum
Beefsteak plant
Perilla frutescens
Smooth Creeping Bush Clover
Lespedeza repens
Virgin’s Bower
Clematis virginiana, seed pods
Pink wild bean
Strophostyles umbellata, flower and pods
Rabbit tobacco
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium
Small red morning glory
Ipomoea coccinea
Green Lynx spider
Peucetia viridans, with egg case
Pluchea camphor
Pluchea camphorata
Reclining St. Andrews Cross
Hypericum stragulum
Small skipper
Family Hesperidae, basking
Robber Fly
Family Asilidae
Bombus spp.
Blue morning glory
Ipomoea hederifolia
Tall goldenrod
Solidago altissima
White water pepper
Polygonum hydropiperoides
Daisy fleabane
Erigeron annuus
Passion vine
Passiflora incarnata
Gulf fritillary caterpillar
Agraulis vanilla
Monarch butterfly
Danaus plexippus
Nymphal leaf-footed bugs
Family Coreidae
Virginia tiger moth
Spilosoma virginica
Gulf fritillary butterfly
Agraulis vanilla
Climbing hempvine
Mikania scandens
Small white morning glory
Ipomoea lacunosa
Leafy elephants foot
Elephantopus carolinianus
Common climbing buckwheat
Fallopia scandens
Gull Fritillary chrysalis
Agraulis vanilla
Ailanthus Webworm Moth
Atteva punctella
Lance-leaf greenbrier
Smilax smallii
Bignonia capreolata
Smilax bona-nox
Black footed marasmius
Marasmielius nigripes
“Insect egg” slime mold
Leocarpus fragilis
Japanese parasol mushroom

Unidentified white mushroom

Beech blight aphids
Grylloprociphilus imbricator
Unidentified orbweaver spider
Family Araneidae

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