Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ramble Report October 30 2014

Thirty-one Ramblers assembled by the Arbor at 8:30AM this morning.   

Don Hunter's album for today's ramble is here.

We started with a reading by Hugh from Joni Mitchell's song, "Big Yellow Taxi."  She had arrived late at night in Honolulu.  The next morning she woke up and opened the curtains hoping to see a marvelous view of the lush island and sea.  She saw a parking lot instead.  That inspired her to write the "Big Yellow Taxi."  Hugh read only the first stanza and the chorus:

They paved paradise,
Put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique,
And a swinging hot spot

            Don't it always seem to go
            That you don't know what you've got
            til it's gone
            They paved paradise
            Put up a parking lot

It seemed most appropriate since The Garden is going to eliminate the parking lot we were standing by in order to put in the future Children's Garden.  They are also leaving the trees!  What a contrast!

The route today was from the parking lot down the white trail through the power line ROW to the river and along the Oconee River on the White Trail until we ran out of time.  Returned the way we came.

Our first stop was to notice the lovely yellow of muscadine leaves low to the ground.  Hugh remarked that we seldom see such low muscadine vines bloom and produce grapes.  They seem to need more light, so the vines higher in the trees are the ones that bloom and produce grapes.

At the bottom of the hill we found a group of wingstems gone to seed.  Right behind us were
Ebony Spleenwort
several beautiful ebony spleenwort ferns that Carol pointed out.  A tree nearby had a large old poison ivy vine that was easy to identify by the three leaves and the thick hairy vine stem.  A fallen log had mushrooms which we identified as false turkey tails because there were no pores on the back side.

Everyone observed the mowed down vegetation in the power line ROW.  It needed to be done because the box elders were getting tall.  Terry asked why they didn't just selectively cut them down.  She was worried that the beautiful goldenrod, ironweed, and other plants would not come back.  Not a problem.  They are perennials.  Hugh also pointed out that they cut back limbs on the side of the ROW to even the sides of the ROW.  Sue argued that they pruned them incorrectly leaving too much of the stump of branches and not taking them back to the trunk.  She was quite right.  In the ROW above the White Trail at the top of the hill, they did not mow down the grasses, but they did even up the sides as they did where we were looking.

As a photographer would notice, the light on the Oconee River was fantastic with mist rising from the warm water into the cold air.

Leaving the ROW along the river, our first stop was a group of yellow crown beard, the opposite leaved wingstem, still in full bloom. On the other side of the trail were groups of puff ball mushroom, which is as far as we could get in identification.  Someone brought a green plant to Hugh and wondered what it was.  Although we could not identify it to species, it was a sedge.  Hugh reminded everyone about the ditty:  Sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses have knees all the way to the ground.

Above us were the leaves of a very large red mulberry tree with its distinctive heart shaped
Red Mulberry leaves
leaves.  Furthermore, some were two-lobed like mittens and others were three lobed.  We were to see many more of these trees along the trail.  At ground level were several blooming small white asters.  An all green plant across the
Small White Aster
trail was a wood nettle. 
Wood Nettle
Hugh checked to make sure it was not the false wood nettle. It did sting like wood nettle.

Encountering river oats gave Hugh a chance to discuss the flowers of grasses.  He showed the flower raceme with the bottom bracts called glumes, and the individual florets
River Oats
above them on each side of the stem, a spikelet.  Inside one of those florets covered by a lemma and palea would be a single pistil and three anthers.  Why doesn't grass have colorful flowers?  It doesn't need to attract pollinators because its pollen is wind distributed.

Leafy Elephant's foot
Remnants of leafy elephant's foot were along the trail.  They do not have huge basil leaves on the ground like its relative, elephant's foot.  The leaves are up along the stem, while elephant's foot hardly has any stem leaves.  Along with it were remnants of the beefsteak plant, an exotic mint used for tenderizing meat.  There is a warning that ingesting too much will make you sick.

Resurrection Fern & Cross Vine

An old box elder hanging over the river supported two vines, roundleaf greenbrier and cross vine.  Also on the tree was a huge patch of resurrection fern which was desiccated.  The scattered rain received yesterday was not enough to bring back the green.  Although it looks like it is dying, a good rain will revive it.  On a river birch next to it was a muscadine vine.

Trumpet Vine

A huge tree, likely a green ash, supported a number of vines.  Trumpet vine with its distinctive opposite smooth pinnately compound leaves was one.  The thick trunk of another vine was muscadine, and it looked like a roundleaf greenbrier was leaping from the nearby privet to the tree.

As we passed the informational sign for the earliest privet removal, the box elder monoculture replaced that of privet.  On the opposite side of the trail was a vine with a distinctive shallowly three lobed leaf.  At first Hugh thought it was bur cucumber. 
Yellow Passionflower
Dale was asked how that was different from yellow passionflower.  He could not come up with anything specific except that it didn't feel right for bur cucumber.  Later, after the ramble,  Don and Hugh independently looked up the description of those two vines and decided what we saw was actually the vine of yellow passionflower.  The bur cucumber has bristles at the points of the lobes of the leaf, whereas yellow passionflower's shallow rounded lobes have no points.

Moving right along we stopped to talk about river cane.  That is the plant we would like to see come back after privet removal:  we would like to see cane brakes.  Dale pointed out one of the problems is that river cane only blooms once after a number of years and then the plant dies.  It has a tough time battling privet which produces many berries every year. Indeed, we could see many berries above our heads on privet plants which had not been removed because they are preventing erosion of the river bank.

Just as on the Orange Trail we found a muscle wood and a hop hornbeam together and noted the difference in their trunks and bark.  Under foot was an exotic, nandina.  We puzzled over a small sapling with yellow heart shaped leaves.  Considering the smooth edges and the palmate veining it was decided that it was an eastern redbud tree.

The next stop was to look at the white mulberry tree to see how its leaves differed from
White Mulberry leaves
those of the red mulberry.  They were smaller on this tree and had distinctive sawtooth edges.  One characteristic that tree books use to differentiate between white and red mulberry trees is that white mulberry leaves are shiny and not hairy, whereas the red mulberry leaves are hairy on the underside.  The white mulberry bark was smooth and tan.  The tree was introduced from Asia in the 1700s as food for silkworms in the speculative silk industry.  That failed, but the tree has spread throughout the southeast.  It is rare compared to the common red mulberry.

More yellow passionflower vines were found.  Why don't we find them when the flowers are blooming?  Perhaps because the flower is small and inconspicuous.  Next we found a late flowering boneset gone to seed.

The last stop before turning around and returning was a whole group of vines swarming over trees and privet on the river bank.  We were able to identify poison ivy, yellow passionflower, cross vine, roundleaf greenbrier, and muscadine.  The muscadine was way up in a tree over the river where it was able to bloom and fruit earlier this year.  Hugh reported that when the river was lower there was a sandbar below the muscadine.  It was covered with  fallen grapes, which soon disappeared and were replaced by tracks of raccoons and other animals.

Carolina Mantle slug
On the way back someone pointed out a black area on a tree trunk and wondered what it was.  It was not a burn but we couldn't tell what caused it.  Above it on the trunk was a Carolina mantle slug, quite sluggish from the cold.  Behind us in the
Turkeytail mushroom
woods was a log with rows of mushrooms, which this time turned out to be the real turkey tail mushroom with pores on the underside.

After returning to the Arbor many retired to Donderos for a snack and great conversation.

Hugh Nourse


Common Name
Scientific Name
Vitus rotundifoliaplants
Verbesina alternifolia
Ebony spleenwort
Asplenium platyneuron
Poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans
False Turkey Tail mushroom
Stereum ostrea
Yellow crownbeard
Verbesina occidentalis
Puff ball mushrooms

Red mulberry
Morus rubra
Sedge, unidentified

Small white aster
Symphyotrichum racemosum
Wood nettle
Laportea canadensis
River oats
Chasmanthium latifolium
Leafy elephants foot
Elephantopus carolinianus
Box elder
Acer negundo
Beefsteak plant
Perilla frutescens
Bignonia capreolata
Resurrection fern
Pleopeltis polypodioides
Roundleaf greenbrier
Smilax rotundifolia
River birch
Betula nigra
Trumpet vine
Campsis radicans
River cane
Arundinaria gigantea
Carpinus caroliniana
Hop hornbeam
Ostraya virginiana
Nandina domestica
Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Eastern redbud
Ceris canadensis
White mulberry
Morus alba
Yellow passionflower
Passiflora lutea
Late flowering boneset
Eupatorium serotinum
Carolina mantleslug
Philomycus carolinianus
Turkeytail mushroom
Trametes versicolor

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