Friday, August 14, 2015

Ramble Report August 13 2015



Today's report was written by Hugh Nourse. The photos that appear in this blog are taken by Don Hunter; you can see all the photos Don took of today's Ramble here

Twenty-three ramblers met at the Arbor at 8:00AM on a beautiful, cool morning just right for a ramble.

Today's reading: Hugh read from Simon Barnes, How to be Wild, p. 144-145:

All of life is a miraculous cosmic scheme designed entirely for the benefit of humanity.  That is because humanity is the supreme creation of nature, and it is only right and proper that all things should come to us.  Humans are the centre of life: nothing less.

That has been the traditional view across the ages, dressed up in a thousand different ways.  Freud took another line.  He listed three colossal blows that humanity had taken: “Humanity has in the course of time had to endure from the hand of science two great outrages upon its naive self-love.  The first was when it realized that our earth was not the centre of the universe, but only a speck in a world system of a magnitude hardly conceivable…The second was when biological research robbed man of his particular privilege of having been specially created and relegated him to a descent from the animal world.

These lines are quoted by Stephen Jay Gould, one of the great scientists and writers that we have been blessed with in recent years.  And he added:  “In one of history’s least modest pronouncements, Freud then stated that his own work had toppled the next, and perhaps last pedestal of this unhappy retreat - the solace that, though evolved from a lowly ape, we at least possessed rational minds.

Next, Ed told of seeing a mother deer and fawn and the gastro-colic reflex…fawn nursing on mom and mom eating the feces the fawn was defecating while nursing. Ed suggested that the doe was consuming her fawn's feces to eliminate any odors that might betray the fawn's presence to potential predators.

Today’s Route:  Leaving the arbor, we made our way down the mulched White Trail Spur to the Dunson Native Flora Garden, where we wove our way among the paths looking at several plants that were blooming.  From the lower section of the the Dunson Garden we made our way to the power line right-of-way and out the White Trail to the Oconee River.  At the river we first went right to the first bridge, then turned around and went along the Orange Trail to the intersection with the Orange Trail Spur.  Turning left we returned to the Lower Parking Lot via the Orange Trail Spur and White Trail.

Roughleaf catchfly
Our first stop in the Dunson Native Flora Garden was to discuss the blooming roughleaf catchfly.  How did it get its name?  Dale suggested that some species of the genus, such as the royal catchfly have sticky glands on stems and/or leaves that can catch insects.  However, unlike carnivorous plants, these plant do not utilize or absorb nutrients from the insects.  Nearby, Hugh reported on the rattlesnake plantain orchids that he had seen by a tree stump at the corner of the trails.  They had been planted by George, Joey’s assistant.  He got them from family property near Ceasar’s Head.  However, they lasted only a few days; probably eaten by deer.

Hairy Skullcap
Next across the wash was a skullcap.  I believe it is hairy skullcap, but the species of this genus, Scutellaria, are hard to distinguish.  This one has bristly hairs on the stem, on the tops and bottoms of the leaves.  The leaves have short petioles, and the leaves are crenate, at least I think so.  On this plant the difference between serrate and crenate is hard to judge.

The last time we walked in this area, we saw a mass of elephant’s foot.  And we saw them again today, although flowering was definitely on the wane.  We discussed how it is different from leafy elephant’s foot.  This one has a rosette of large basal leaves and few stem leaves, whereas the leafy elephant’s foot has a very leafy stem and few or no basal leaves.  Later we were to see the leafy elephant’s foot along the Orange Trail along the River.

Crossing the bridge we could see what was left of the stems of the spider lily.  The flowers were gone.  But farther on there was still a blooming plant by the sycamore tree.  This gave us a chance to talk about the Bot Soc trip to Hard Labor Creek to see lots of these plants several weeks ago.  Rosemary called us back to look at a chanterelle mushroom.  It was pretty small.

Spicebush with berry
The spice bush was not blooming, but was fruiting with beautiful red berries.  The leaves were still aromatic.  Rosemary again pointed out the running pine.  Someone wondered if it had a bloom.  No, it is a fern relative and has spores on a column, although they were not showing today.  We also stopped to see an unusual fern, the royal fern.  It usually likes wet areas.  In the wild they grow in a wet area across the road from Track Rock Gap with cardinal flowers blooming amongst them, which makes a beautiful garden scene.

Cardinal flower

Great blue lobelia

Lizard's tail

Yellow crownbeard
We talked about the wetland at the end of the Dunson Garden created by the wash carrying runoff through the Shade and Dunson Native Flora Gardens.  Two recently added plants were now flowering:  cardinal flower and great blue lobelia.  There was still a flowering lizards tail.  Someone asked why there was only one.  Aren’t they usually together in large numbers?  Yes, they are, but this is the end of its flowering and only one was left.  One could see the row of horsetails, an ancient plant,  across the wetlands on the side near the road.  The bald cypress tree was right at home in this wetland with many “knees” showing.  While Don was photographing the lobelias, people asked what the yellow flowering plant was.  Surprise!  It was another yellow crownbeard, and it came with a caterpillar.

Silvery checkerspot caterpillar

Silvery checkerspot
It has always seemed odd to find the rattlesnake master here in the wetlands.  I am used to thinking of it as plant for drier areas.  But there it is.  Beside it were many swamp mallows.  Across the path was a stand of spotted beebalm or horsemint.  Rosemary pointed out a butterfly, which turned out to be a silvery checkerspot.  There was also a caterpillar.  Two other plants flowering here were red hibiscus (Hibiscus coccinius) and a mountain mint which we would see more of later.

Sweet Autumn clematis

Pokeweed berries

Wild senna
As we left the Dunson Garden and walked along the White Trail in the power line right-of-way our first find was sweet autumn clematis, an asian import.  We talked about how to tell the difference between it and virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana).  The sweet autumn clematis usually has five leaflets, all entire (smooth edges), and anthers longer than .06 inches, whereas the virgin’s bower has three leaflets that are toothed, and anthers less than .06 inches long.  There was a lot of pokeweed flowering, and a neat colony of wild senna.  Low to the ground was Carolina horse nettle, a member of the solanum family that includes potatoes and tomatoes.  A solitary wasp was crawling on the ground.  Farther along a hairy sunflower was hiding amidst pokeweed.  A better example was found about twenty yards later.  There were lots of mountain mint and the late flowering thoroughwort.

Ironweed

Just inside the old deer fence there was a lone bitterweed with a spittle bug.  Don was asked if he was going to try eating it.  No, been there, done that!  Now here in the flood plain there was lots to talk about.  First was a daisy fleabane.  Then Rosemary said there was a milkweed vine  somewhere on the corner, and sure enough we found it.  However, it was not in flower so we could not tell whether it was an anglepod or a spiny anglepod.  On its leaves someone spotted a tiger moth caterpillar.  We were hoping to see the tall ironweed in bloom, and it was.  It was really tall, maybe 12 feet high!

Cicada tymbals just behind legs
Dale talked about a goldenrod with an apical gall that shuts down growth of the internode and causes a dense leafiness.  Then the plant responds by sending out branches around the spot.  He also got another chance to demonstrate how the cicada makes it noise by vibrating its timbals.

Passion vine

Wild potato vine
Along here there is almost always Virginia buttonweed crawling along the ground.  But this time we also found two wonderful vines:  passion vine (Passiflora incarnata), and wild potato vine in the morning glory family. Its roots can weigh as much as 30 pounds, and someone said they can be up to four feet long!  It was an important food source for Native Americans.  Andy told us that it is related to the sweet potato vine used commercially to grow sweet potatoes.  The guide book suggests that the wild potato vine root is more bitter.

Turning right at the river we went to the first bridge to see jewel weed and tall goldenrod in bloom.  Several participants remembered that crushing the leaves of jewel weed was a good antidote for poison ivy.  On the other side of the bridge, not in bloom, was bur cucumber with its attractive tendrils.  We were to see a lot more today along the Orange Trail. 

Going back the way we had come and continuing on the Orange Trail we first noticed river oats, and commented on Avis’s name for it, “fish on a pole.”  Around it was common wood sorrel, which we were to see more of.  At this hour the flower was still closed up.  Then we talked about how Thomas Peters cut down the privet in this area and painted the stumps with roundup.  Some of the privet trunks, however, were too big for his hand saw, so he came back later and girdled the tree and treated it with roundup.  The method seems to be working as the tree had no new green growth.  Avis said that that was the origin of the phrase, “My girdle is killing me!”

Late blooming thoroughwort

Indian heliotrope
Along this trail we were having trouble because with 23 of us in single file on the narrow path it was difficult to explain to everyone what was happening.  Some of the flowering plants we saw were sweet autumn clematis, fireweed/pilewort (this does not look at all like the western or northern fireweed), leafy elephant’s foot, late blooming thoroughwort, Pennsylvania smartweed, and indian heliotrope.  A new find this year was camphorweed.  There was a nice stand of river cane, which we noted is what we would like to grow in place of the privet.  Thomas Peters, the fellow removing the privet, is learning to propagate river cane, and has reestablished it in Cowpens Battlefield so it looks like it did when that battle took place.  One wishes that he could be paid to reestablish it here on the floodplain of the Oconee River.  The leaves of one of the wingstems we found had been totally eaten by the same black caterpillar that we had seen previously on other wingstems.  There was a Virginia dayflower that we could identify because the third small petal was blue, not white, as in the Asiatic dayflower.

The highlight of the day, however, was when Jeff asked to comment on a dead green ash about ten feet from the trail.  He said that it had been killed by an ash borer.  I did not know the ash borer had got this far south.  But looking on the internet I found the emerald ash borer officially arrived in Georgia in the summer of 2013.  It is devastating to ash trees.  Jeff has said that an ash borer killed a stand of green ash trees in the floodplain of his property.  I have reported our sighting of ash borer damage to the administration of the Garden.  They have called the emerald ash borer specialist to check this tree out on Monday.  There are more species of ash borer than the emerald ash borer from Japan.  It could be a local ash borer.  I have learned that the emerald ash borer apparently prefers green ash to white ash, although it will go after white ash if the green ash is not around.  The emerald ash borer has spread from a place in Michigan, where it is thought to have arrived on shipping pallets.

A slime mold
We turned left on the Orange Spur to return to the arbor.  Still in the floodplain a false wood nettle was in flower.  Just beyond that were slime molds that kept Don and Rosemary busy with macro photography.

From there it was a speedy return to the arbor.  Many went on to Donderos for snacks and conversation.

Hugh

SUMMARY OF OBSERVED SPECIES:
Rough leaf catchfly
Silene ovata
Hairy skullcap
Scuttelaria elliptica
Elephant’s foot
Elephantopus tomentosus
Spider lily
Hymenocallis latifolia
Chanterelles
Cantharellus “cibarius”
Spice bush
Lindera benzoin
Running pine
Diphasiastrum digitatum
(=Lycopodium digitatum)
Royal fern
Osmunda regalis
Great blue lobelia
Lobelia siphillitica
Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis
Lizard’s tail
Saururus cernus
Horsetail
Equisitum arvense
Yellow crownbeard
Verbesina occidentalis
Silvery checkerspot
(butterfly and caterpillars)
Chlosyne nycteis
Rattlesnake master
Eryngium yuccifolium
Swamp mallow
Hibiscus moscheutos
Spotted beebalm
Monarda punctata
 Sweet autumn clematis
Clematis terniflora
Pokeweed
Phytolacca americana
Carolina horsenettle
Solanum carolinense
Solitary wasp
Order Hymenoptera
Maryland senna
Senna marilandica
Hairy sunflower
Helianthus hirsutus
Mountain mint
Pyncnanthemum incanum
Late flowering thoroughwort
Eupatorium serotinum
Bitterweed
Helenium amarum
Spittlebug
Superfamily Cercopoidea
Daisy fleabane
Erigeron sp.
Spinypod
Gonolobus suberosus
Tigermoth caterpillar
Family Erebidae
Tall ironweed
Vernonia gigantea
Goldenrod
Solidago sp.
Cicada
Neotibicen sp.
Virginia buttonweed
Diodia virginiana
Potato vine morning glory
Ipomoea pandurata
Jewel weed
Impatiens capensis
Bur cucumber
Sicyos angulatus
Tall goldenrod
Solidago altissima
River oats
Chasmanthium latiflolium
Common yellow wood sorrel
Oxalis stricta
Privet tree
Ligustrum sinense
Fireweed
Erechtites hieracifolia
Leafy elephants foot
Elephantopus carolinianus
Camphor weed
Pluchea camphorata
Wingstem
Verbesina alternafolia
Pennsylvania smartweed
Polygonum penslyvanicum
Indian heliotrope
Heliotropium indicum
River cane
Arundinaria gigantea
Green ash
Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Green ash borer (inferred, not seen)
Agrilus planipennis
Virginia dayflower
Commelina virginica
False wood nettle
Boehmeria cylindrica
White coral slime mold
Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa
Other white slime molds

Handsome trig,
Red-headed Bush Cricket
Phyllopalpus pulchellus

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