Friday, March 27, 2015

Ramble Report March 26 2015

This post was written by Hugh Nourse. The photos are by Don Hunter. You can find more of Don's photos of the ramble here.

Thirty Ramblers assembled at 8:30AM at the Arbor by the Lower Parking Lot.  Anne Shenk read a paragraph from Emerson’s “Nature” essay:

In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. . . . In the woods, we return to reason and faith. . . . Standing on the bare ground—my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space—all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.

Yes, it was definitely a transcendent thought for the day.

At the Arbor:
Dale led a discussion of the male cones now appearing on the Ginkgo trees.  Though they
Male Ginkgo cones
have cones, Ginkgoes are not classified as conifers.  Their closest living relatives are probably the Cycads (both Ginkgoes and Cycads have motile sperm). Fossils recognizable as Ginkgoes have been found in deposits laid down 270 million years ago. Ginkgoes shared the planet with dinosaurs! They are extinct in the wild but survive as landscape trees.  There are male and female trees. In a landscape you want male trees because the female tree produces a very unpleasant smelling fruit. 

The leaves were bursting forth on the Beech tree this morning. On the pavement beneath we saw sharp pointed sheaths, which only Tim and Sue were able to identify.  Dale described them as the scales from the sharp pointed buds on the American Beech tree.  We were reminded that on our earlier walks we had noted these sharp points on these trees.  As the buds swell the scales that protected them all winter are shed, littering the ground below.

Beside the plaza was a redbud in full bloom.  We noticed that there were flowers all up and
Redbud flowers spiral around trunk
down the trunk of the tree.  A closer look reveals that the flower clusters spiral around the trunk as you follow them upward. This is the same developmental pattern that produces alternate leaves on a tree branch—the leaves also spiral around.

Today's route:
Then we started on today’s route through the Shade Garden to the Dunson Native Flora Garden, then walking the right hand paths to the end.  From there we went down to the river through the power line right-of-way.  Returning to the fence we detoured to the right to visit a plant site, returned, and then went back through the Dunson Native Flora Garden, this time taking the opposite path back through the Garden and up the mulched path to the parking lot.

The Shade Garden:
In the Shade Garden we found a ground cover plant in bloom along the sidewalk from the Oleander plaza to the Camellia plaza.  No one knew its name.  Later we asked Joey Allen, the Curator of the Garden, who didn’t know either, but looked it up and told us later in Donderos that it was a Brunnera.  I think it was a cultivar of Brunnera macrophylla.  Deer apparently love to eat this plant so much that it was about gone last year.  Joey started using deer fence on it, and it is now coming back nicely.  In the Camellia plaza we noted the blooming Camellia japonica ‘Monah Johnstone.’  It was developed by the first director of the Garden, Francis Johnstone, who named it for his wife.  After passing the Redbud plaza we found a white cultivar of a redbud tree in bloom.  Also the dogwood blossoms were just opening with a yellowish color.  They always seem to arrive by Easter.

The Dunson Native Flora Garden:
Our next stop was in the Dunson Native Flora Garden. Here many of the spring flowers
Early meadow rue male flowers
were bursting into bloom before the trees leaf out and reduce the light reaching them. The first find was a Sessileleaf bellwort, Uvularia sessilifolia, which is sometimes called wild oats. There were lots of trilliums:
Chattahoochee trilliums
sweet Betsy and Chattahoochee trilliums.  On the right we found a bluebell with pink flowers. As they open fully they turn blue. Spring beauties were closed still and had not opened to show off the pink stripes in their petals.  We were somewhat confused by the sign on the meadow rues.  It identified them as Thalictrum aquilegifolium which does not occur in the southeast. These plants are Early meadow
Early meadow rue female flowers
rue,Thalictrum dioicum, they have male and female flowers on separate plants.  These were in bloom and did have different flowers on each plant.  It was hard to see if the many trout lilies some distance behind the meadow rue had any flowers.  These trout lilies are Yellow trout lily, Erythronium americanum.  Others across the dry stream were Dimpled trout lily, Erythronium umbilicatum.  The difference is that the latter has ears on its tepals at their base.  You need to nearly tear a flower apart to see them. More of the latter were in bloom and up close so they could be easily seen. Beside the dry stream was a blooming
Perfoliate bellwort
Perfoliate bellwort, Uvularia perfoliata.  The petioles (stems) of the leaves go right through the leaf so that the leaf surrounds the petiole.

There was a long discussion about squirrel corn and Dutchman’s breeches.  They have similar dissected leaves, which to me are as beautiful as the flowers.  The
Dutchman's britches
Dutchman’s breeches flower has the shape of upside down breeches .  Squirrel corn is also a white flower but it is shaped more like a heart.  Sue asked how we were sure that the leaf we called squirrel corn was that plant.  Well, because the sign beside it named it so.  The flower was not yet blooming.

Common blue violets were everywhere, as were golden ragwort.  The latter is something of a thug.
Along here we saw the common Piedmont trillium that we call ‘sweet Betsy.’  The garden sign made its common name to be
Sweet Betsy trillium
Whippoorwill .  Along the path here was Rue anemone.  We would see a lot of this outside the Dunson Garden today.  On the right we found shooting star leaves and stems with buds, but not blooming yet.  The name has recently been changed from Dodecatheon meadia to Primula meadia.  That is great! For once a new name simpler than the old.  Toothworts were next.  These were cutleaf
Cut-leaf toothwort
toothworts.  On the other side of the trail before the bridge were a number of Sharp lobed hepaticas, sometimes called liverleaf because of the shape of their leaves.  These are a different species than the Round lobed hepaticas we see on the Orange Trail, and which bloom much earlier in the year.  They both have hairy stems and buds.

Crossing the bridge we found painted buckeye, Aesculus
Painted Buckeye inflorescense
.  They were just budding and were not in bloom yet.  Here we stopped to discuss the many hybrids between the red and painted buckeyes in the Piedmont.  Steve Bowling speculates that hummingbirds are responsible for carrying the pollen from the Coastal Plain, where red buckeye is common, to the painted buckeyes which bloom as the birds are migrating north.  The reverse, of course, cannot happen because the birds are going north, not south, when the plants are in bloom.  Thus hybrids are found in the Piedmont, but not in the Coastal Plain.  Next to the painted buckeye was a Dwarf pawpaw its small flower buds not yet open.

We passed the decumbent or trailing trillium in full bloom.  We were reminded that the
Yellow wood poppy
Yellow wood poppy or Celandine poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum, Virginia bluebells, and the decumbent trillium are common plants at the pocket at Pigeon Mountain.  This
Virginia bluebells
weekend is the traditional time for the Botanical Society to visit the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail in the pocket because it will be peak bloom time there.  A Cranefly orchid leaf that was along the path several weeks ago has now disappeared.  We shall see if the orchid flowers actually come up along the path in summer.  It doesn’t always generate a blooming plant.

The next point of interest was the Dwarf trillium, Trillium pussilum.  Three were in bloom.  Over 15 years ago we photographed the newly found population in an industrial park near Dalton.  It was a great find for Tom Patrick, one of the State botanists, because he is a specialist in trilliums, and because it made Georgia the state with most trillium species.  These plants must have come from a plant rescue operation at that site.  Crossing the dry
Foam flower
stream again, we found many more Virginia bluebells, wood poppies, and trout lilies.  On one side of the trail the spice bush was in bloom.  On the other was a new find, Foam flower, Tiarella cordifolia.  I mentioned that Carol and I had tried to grow this in our Piedmont yard.  The first year was fine but it declined and disappeared after a few years.

We found a reddish stalk with leaves just unfolding at the top, which we think was the
Blue Phlox
beginning of Black cohosh, Actea racemosa.  Across the path was the first Blue phlox, Phlox divaricata.  We wondered about why there seem to be so few blue flowers among the early spring woodland wildflowers.  Mayapples were spreading, as they are on the trails in the natural areas.  Next was a nice scene that I hope we see more of in the future, a mix of the yellow wood poppy and the Virginia bluebells.  Yellow and blue make a striking combination.

Edna’s trillium, Trillium persistens, was in bloom.  This is a rare plant from South Carolina
Edna's trillium
and Georgia along the Savannah River north of Toccoa.  The Athens members of the Georgia Botanical Society call it Edna’s trillium because she was the one who found it and wondered what it was.  She and her husband, the chemist, John Garst, took it to Wilbur Duncan.  Wilbur said it was like a trillium he had seen years ago and did not know what it was.  Wilbur and John ended up writing it up as a new species in the early 1970s.  In amongst these beauties was the halberd leaf yellow violet.

Passing along the wetland we saw a number of bloodroot flowers, as well as many more
Blueberry flowers
painted buckeyes.  We talked about how the dry stream we followed through the Garden takes runoff from the slopes, bringing the water to this wetland with its Bald cypress and Ogechee lime tree.  Across the wetland was an Ilex decidua with red berries.  Along the rail fence were two blooming blueberry bushes, Vaccinium corymbosum.

Power line right-of-way:
Purple dead-nettle
Next of note were the three European imports in the power line right-of-way.  We were able
to see the distinction between henbit, purple dead-nettle, and ground ivy.  Interestingly, all are mints. 
Ground Ivy
There were a lot of Johnny-jump-ups, a few grape hyacinths, and even star chickweed.  A yellow flower from the Indian strawberry was spotted in a couple of places in the power line right-of-way.  Another yellow flower was the Kidney leaved buttercup.

We came across a red flag designating a bird count spot.  There are a number of these flags scattered around the natural areas of the Garden.  Ben, a high school student, is conducting a study to determine what birds can be heard or seen at these sites.  The idea is to see what is happening as privet is removed and the natural environment is changed around the Garden.

We turned around at the river and started back to the lower parking lot.  First stop on the
Rue Anemone
return was a really fine group of Rue anemone on the White Trail going back up the hill to the parking lot.  After viewing them, however, we returned instead to the Dunson Native Flora Garden to walk areas we missed on the first pass.  We found more rue anemone, toothworts, and spring beauties.  Some new finds were Trillium maculatum, Spotted trilliums, and Running ground pine, Lycopodium digitatum.  There were also a number of Black cohosh plants that had leafed out, but will not bloom until summer.

Returning to the Lower Parking Lot, many of us retired to Donderos for conversation and refreshment.

Hugh Nourse

Common Name
Scientific Name
At the Arbor
Ginkgo biloba
American beech
Fagus grandifolia
Cercis canadensis
Shade Garden
Camellia "Monah Johnstone"
Camellia japonica
Siberian bugloss
Brunnera macrophylla
Dunson Garden
Sessileleaf bellwort
Uvularia sessilifolia
Perfoliate bellwort
Uvularia perfoliata
Virginia bluebells
Mertensia virginica
Chattahoochee trillium
Trillium decipiens
Sweet Betsy trillium
Trillium cuneatum
Spring beauty
Claytonia virginica
Early meadow rue
Thalictrum dioicum
Yellow trout lily
Erythronium americanum
Dimpled trout lily
Erythronium umbilicatum
Dutchman’s breeches
Dicentra cucullaria
Common blue violet
Viola sororia
Rue anemone
Thalictrum thalictroides
Golden ragwort
Packera aurea
Painted buckeye
Aesculus sylvatica
Sharp lobed hepatica
Anemone acutiloba
Sanguinaria canadensis
Cutleaf toothwort
Dentaria laciniata
Wild ginger
Hexatylis arifolia
Foam flower
Tiarella cordifolia
Blue Phlox
Phlox divaricata.
Halberdleaf yellow violet
Viola hastata
"Edna’s" Trillium
Trillium persistens
Podophyllum peltatum
Natural Area (Powerline ROW)
High bush blueberry
Vaccinium corymbosum
Herb Robert
Geranium robertianum
Lamium amplexicaule
Purple deadnettle
Lamium purpureum
Ground ivy
Glechoma hederacea
Indian strawberry
Duchesnea indica
Star chickweed
Stellaria pubera
Johnny Jump Ups
Viola bicolor
Kidneyleaf buttercup
Ranunculus abortivus
Grape hyacinth
Muscari armeniacum

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