Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ramble Report June 4 2015

Today's report was written by Hugh Nourse.

Extra stuff:
Rosemary Woodel has posted videos of her adventures on YouTube and many people have wondered how to access them. This link should do the trick:

Today 23 Ramblers assembled at 8AM at the Arbor to hear Bob Ambrose recite one of his recent poems on nature, To Remember a Moment.

Today's route: was through the Shade Garden to the White Trail, then across the power line right-of-way to the Blue Trail.  At the end of the Blue Trail we walked back to the power line right of way on the White Trail along the Oconee River.  From here we took the White Trail spur back to the Lower Parking Lot.

Shade Garden: Our first stop was to comment on the huge Japanese maple at the Oleander Plaza.  It is the champion Japanese maple in Clarke County, but one wonders how that was measured because the tree has three trunks.  Do they measure one at breast height or all of them? Just past the Red Bud Plaza there is a white ash.  It is very hard to distinguish from green ash which is actually the dominant canopy tree in the flood plain.  One way is to look at the fruit.  The samara of the green ash extends 1/3 to 1/2 way down the body of the fruit, whereas the white ash samara does not.  It is terminal to the fruit.

Nearby a black cohosh was in bloom, so we stopped to talk about its supposed medicinal uses.  At one time it was used to treat menopause symptoms, as well as labor pains in childbirth. Other ailments for which it was used include rheumatism, arthritis, asthma, and hysteria, and as a gargle for sore throats.  The individual florets have no petals, only stamens.  Bumblebees release the pollen by sonic vibrations. (See Wildflowers of Tennessee, p. 56.)

Our usual stop at the American witch hazel revealed galls on the leaves, as well as fruit.

There is a lovely river birch tree at the turn.  It is a wonderful landscape tree because of the bark texture.  As these trees grow older, however, they lose that wonderful texture, as we can see along the White Trail by observing the older river birches there. 

The thimbleweed that was blooming last week had gone to fruit, which was like a thimble and from which it gets its name.  There were unusual, white, and profuse fungi at the bottom of a tree off the trail.  We did not know what it was.

False turkey tail
White trail: Crossing the road, we found a mushroom we did know, False turkey tail.  Along this part of the trail we noted that the wild petunia was in bloom.  We have been waiting for the bottlebrush buckeye to bloom for a long time, at least 4 weeks.  It is still not blooming.  Blackberries were, however, in bloom, as was daisy fleabane and Carolina horse nettle.  It had rained earlier, so it was nice to see mushrooms finally making a show. Right in the path was a Japanese parasol mushroom.
Tumbling flower beetle
Under the power line we found many Queen Anne’s lace.  Some had tumbling flower beetles.  We also looked for the dark purple center flower, which one story suggests is blood from Queen Anne’s finger that spilled on the lace.  We did find it on some of the blooms.

Red bud fruit (seed pod)
As we entered the woods a red bud tree was fruiting with its bean pods, and a Virginia creeper was twining up the trunk. On the dead northern red oak there were mustard yellow polypore mushrooms, and a muscadine grape was twining up the trunk.

Pin lichen
Blue trail: Walking down the Blue Trail we spotted an ebony spleenwort.  A wonderful stop was to observe the pin lichen (Cladonia macilenta) on a loblolly pine, which also had a kind of Green shield lichen.  As we walked along a level terrace we noted the way the land on both sides of the trail was terraced.  This is a result of early cotton farming.  In fact this part of the Blue Trail is a successional forest.  It was one of the last areas farmed.  The pines still dominate the canopy, but the hardwood trees are beginning to take over.

Lanceleaf greenbrier
On the persimmon tree a poison ivy vine was growing, as well as the lanceleaf greenbrier.  In the fall one can find persimmon fruit under this tree.

The next stop was for the huge water oak which has very little growing under it.  There are a few pines trying to make it, but they are not doing well.  Under the tree was another of the land art structures made by Chris Taylor. He uses twigs and other forest floor debris to form large “bird’s nests”. Behind us was one of those asian hollies with only four points on the leaves.

We came to the clearing where Thomas Peters first removed privet.  On the ground at our feet were the basal leaves of elephant’s foot.  Because the forest along the Blue Trail is a transitional forest  there were
Script lichen
a number of black cherry trees.  On one we found a common script lichen (Graphis scripta).  We also stopped to admire the sawtooth oak which had several vines climbing up it.  One was a trumpet vine and the other was muscadine.

Ox-eye daisies caught everybody’s eye as we entered the meadow.  Don reminded us that this is the area to find the frost flowers on a cold early winter morning.  In fact we saw many wingstems.  These were opposite leaved yellow flowered ones, called Verbesina occidentalis.  They were not flowering yet. The frost flowers actually come from Verbesina virginica, an alternate leaved white flowered wingstem that comes later.  There is also a yellow flowered alternate
Fleabane (E. annuus)
leaved wingstem called Verbesina alternifolia.  Daisy fleabanes were also blooming in the meadow, both Erigeron annuus  with thick wide leaves and E. strigosus with scarce thin narrow leaves.  A grass with a white stripe down its leaf had to be Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense) because it is too early for silver plume, which has similar leaves.  Later, we found another example down on the white trail in the power line right of way along the Oconee River.  This is a bad  exotic grass that “spreads rapidly by seed or by vigorous rhizomes.  A single mature plant may produce over 80,000 seeds and 200 feet of rhizomes.  The seed can remain viable in the soil for up to 25 years and begins producing lateral rhizomes 6-9 weeks after germination.” (see Wildflowers of Tennessee, p. 402)

Large stand of Christmas fern
As we entered the forest again we saw a large black cherry with black knot fungus cankers.  At the beginning of the slope down to the floodplain, there was a hog plum tree (Prunus umbellata) that has been marked with blue tape for study by the Conservation Group at the Garden.  The question is why they are not bearing fruit, although they do flower in the spring.  Going down the slope we marveled at the spread of Christmas fern all along the slope.  The end of the frond that carried the spores was pointed out to all.  Nearby were rubber cup mushrooms.  We also
Rubber cup mushroom
noted a deer trail crossing the trail and going down through the ferns.  Farther down the trail before reaching the flood plain several Jack-in-the-pulpits were in fruit.  Avis commented on the five leaves instead of three, but the guide books do
Jack in the pulpit fruit
indicate this plant can have three to five leaves.  We also talked about how this plant can change gender from year to year.  If it gets enough light, nutrients, and water by August, it will become a female plant the next spring.  If it does not, it will become a male plant next spring, which does not require as much energy.  It was really fun to also see the leaves of green dragon (Arisaema dracontium) in the same area.

Common anglepod flowers
Once down on the floodplain we found that the common anglepod that we saw last year (Matalea gonocarpos) was in flower.  It is a milk vine so has milky sap.  We should have looked for a white crab spider that is supposed to make its home on these vines.

As we reached the White Trail there was an old robust poison ivy on one of the trees.

White trail (river section):The walk along the river on the White Trail was incredible.  We have a list of over 30 species.  No wonder this was a long walk.  We started at 8 AM and finished about 10:30AM.  We should not have gone so long, but since we had started there was only one way to go back, the White Trail along the river.

Since the list is available below, let me just mention some of the highlights.  One was our discussion of the stinging nettle (Laportea canadensis).  Jennie thought it was the false stinging nettle, but she found out otherwise.  The false stinging nettle has opposite leaves.  These leaves were alternate.  To cause further confusion there is a stinging nettle with opposite leaves too.

I like to show off the sugarberry tree with its warty bark.  Some want to call it hackberry.  Duncan in his tree book, actually uses both sugarberry and hackberry for this particular tree.

Beaver chew on Ironwood
A highlight was a musclewood (AKA Ironwood) tree with fresh beaver tooth marks and wood chips all around.  Quite a sight.

In the first area in which privet had been removed several years ago, privet was growing back along with pokeweed and wingstem, but even worse was princess tree, a very invasive exotic.

Vines were a highlight, too.  Bur cucumber, cat greenbrier, roundleaf greenbrier, saw greenbrier (Smilax bona-nox), muscadine, Virginia creeper, and yellow passionflower (Passiflora lutea), were all there to be identified and compared, but none of them  was in bloom.

Musclewood fruit

Another comparison was of white mulberry and red mulberry.  Missed by some was the fruit of a musclewood tree.  It was interesting to compare it to the hophornbeam fruit that we saw earlier near the power line right-of-way.

Lizard's tail
Two more finds were important.  One was flowering white avens.  We often see leaves of this plant early in spring, but now it was in flower, but not really very showy.  The greatest find of the day was probably the lizard’s tail in the floodplain area cleared of privet by Thomas Peters.  I cannot recall seeing that before, although it is on the list of plants previously recorded in the Garden’s natural areas.

As usual many of us retired to Donderos for snacks and conversations.  It was a great ramble, but a little long.  Although we tried walkie talkies to make it easier for everyone to hear what was being discussed, they were not a complete success.  We are going to have to work more on how to communicate with everyone better.


Common Name
Scientific Name
Shade Garden
Japanese maple
Acer palmatum
White ash
Fraxinus americana
Black cohosh
Actea racemosa
American witch hazel
Hamamelis virginiana
River birch
Betula nigra
Anemone virginiana
White trail
False turkey tail
Stereum ostrea
Wild petunia
Ruellia caroliniensis
Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora
Rubus fruticosus
Daisy fleabane
Erigeron annuus
Daisy fleabane
Erigeron strigosus
Carolina horsenettle
Solarum carolinense
Japanese parasol mushroom
Coprinus plicatilis
Queen Anne’s Lace
Daucus carota
Damsel bug
Nabis sp.
Cercis canadensis
Blue trail
Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Red oak
Quercus rubra
Mustard yellow polypore
Phellinus gilvus
Vitis rotundifolia
Ebony spleenwort
Asplenium platyneuron
Loblolly pine
Pinus taeda
Pin lichen
Cladonia sp.
Greenshield lichen
Flavoparmelia sp.
Poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans
Diospyros virginiana
Lanceleaf greenbrier
Smilax smallii
Water oak
Quercus nigra
Chinese holly
Ilex cornuta
Elephants foot
Elephantopus tomentosus
Black cherry
Prunus serotina
Script lichen
Graphis sp.
Sawtooth oak
Quercus acutissima
Trumpet vine
Campsis radicans
Ox-eye daisy
Leucanthemum vulgare
(=Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)
Johnson grass
Sorghum halepense
Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides
Rubber cup mushroom
Galiella rufa
Arisaema triphyllum
White trail (riverside)
Common anglepod
Gonolobus suberosus
(=Matelea gonocarpos)
River cane
Arundinaria gigantea
Roundleaf greenbrier
Smilax rotundifolia
Japanese privet
Ligustrum japonicum
Stinging nettle
Laportea canadensis
Box elder
Acer negundo
Oregon grape
Mahonia aquifolium
Bur cucumber
Sicyos angulatus
Celtis laevigata
North American beaver
Castor canadensis
American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis
Resurrection fern
Pleopeltis polypodioides
Princess tree
Paulownia tomentosa
Rose of Sharron
Hibiscus syriacus
Wood ear fungus
Auricularia sp.
River oats
Chasmanthium latifolium
Cat greenbrier
Smilax glaucus
Common elderberry
Sambucus canadensis
White mulberry
Morus alba
Phytolacca americana
Red mulberry
Morus rubra
English ivy
Hedera helix
Great yellow woodsorrel
Oxalis grandis
Virginia buttonweed
Dioda virginiana
White avens
Geum canadense
Lizards tail
Saururus cernuus

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