Friday, September 11, 2015

Ramble Report September 10 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.

On a cloudy day with rain threatening, fifteen Ramblers met at the Arbor at 8:30AM.

Today's reading: Catherine read an excerpt from Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. It is a huge book, but the sample she read shows how interestingly they were written back in 1911:

When we were children we spent hours poking these interesting creatures with straws to see them push forth their brilliant orange horns. We knew this was an act of resentment, but we did not realize that from these horns was exhaled the nauseating odor of caraway which greeted our nostrils. We incidentally discovered that they did not waste this odor upon each other, for once we saw two of the full-grown caterpillars meet on a caraway stem. Neither seemed to know that the other was there until they touched; then both drew back the head and butted each other like billy goats, whack! whack! Then both turned laboriously around and hurried off in a panic.
From Handbook of Nature Study, p. 302, "The Black Swallowtail Butterfly":

Our route for today was through the Shade Garden and out the White Trail to the power line right-of-way, which is now the Elaine Nash Prairie, then walking up the prairie to the fence at the top of the hill.  From here we  would return to the Arbor.

Given all of the rain, it was not surprising that the first stop on the ramble was for a
Lactarius sp. mushroom
mushroom (Lactarius).  None of us could remember the name from last week’s walk when Bill was there to help us.  Jennie said that if she had a smart phone, she would take its photo and e-mail it to Bill for help.  Eleanor did have an iPhone, took a picture, and e-mailed it to Bill.  He soon returned the answer, which we have noted above.

Oyster mushrooms
By the red surprise lilies there is a stump from a hickory tree that had been cut down.  This morning it was covered with a beautiful stand of oyster mushrooms.  More of them were on the other side of the sidewalk.  There was also a probable amanita mushroom nearby.  The
Beauty berry fruits
last item in the Shade Garden was the beautiful purple fruit of the beauty berry.

Crossing the service road to climb up the hill on the White Trail our first find was camphorweed.  Beside it was a mass of elephant’s foot with rosettes of big leaves and few
Anole keeping an eye on Don
leaves on the stem.  The flowers were still blooming.  On the other side of the path was dog fennel and beside it was the opposite leaved wingstem with yellow flowers.   Don noticed there was an anole camped on one of the leaves.  Near the ground was a fragrant flat sedge. At the site, we did not remember its name, but Dale found that Linda Chafin had identified it last year.

Walking up the path we found river oats, and Jennie pointed out a mushroom attacked by
another fungus behind the group of river oats.  Next there was an interesting group of puff balls inside a hollowed out log.  Tom noted the nuts of the beech tree that were still present.  And the first of many rabbit tobacco plants was just below the tree.  Creeping bush clover
Creeping bush clover
was nearby and would also be found in great numbers in the prairie near the fence at the top of the hill.  There was so much to see.  Sweet autumn clematis had invaded the vegetation beside the path.  Yellow crownbeard showed up.   Mary Ann pointed to a whole group of beautiful false turkey tail mushrooms tucked under tree limbs back in the woods.  They were a very striking brown with white edges.  The hophornbeam tree was still showing its fruit.  So many hophornbeams are in the woods, but this one was flush with fruit this year. The light must be right for it at the edge of the woods here.  But Dale said that it had not had such a crop last year, which was the same experience he had with the hophornbeam in his yard.

On the other side of the path in the old flower garden we found a white beauty berry.  Very nice. 

Right where the White Trail came down from the Upper Parking Lot and met our White Trail
Blue curls
spur was a great find—blue curls, just one lone plant.  Don remembered that last year he and Lee had gone around the fence at the top of the hill and found this plant down the hill on the other side. There it had been with a liatris.  After we got to the top of the hill and were returning, Don and Lee went searching for them again.  The area had been mowed!  Not there this year.   Behind the blue curls was a hawthorn in fruit.

As we came into the power line right-of-way, there was lots of dog fennel surrounding the late blooming thoroughwort.  Someone noticed a linear ant mound

Turning up the path through the Elaine Nash Prairie there were many plants blooming.  With so many eyes, lots of plants that I did not see the day before were found.  The goldenrod was really just beginning to flower.  But the golden aster was now in bloom.  I have discovered that it is also called camphorweed, not to be confused with the Pluchea camphorata that is also called camphorweed.  Don pointed out the horse nettle in the middle
White crownbeard (Frostweed)
of the path.  We found more wingstem, or opposite leaved yellow crownbeard.  But of the wingstem plants, the white crownbeard was most profuse along the path.  We talked about its other common name, frostweed because after the first frost the water in the stem freezes and forms beautiful flower like formations.  Everywhere we found bitterweed.  Field thistles were still blooming, and on this cloudy morning even attracted a few pollinators.  I think they were skippers, but am not sure.  We did see a buckeye butterfly.

Slender ladies tresses

Slender ladies tresses closeup
The find of the day was probably the scattered slender ladies’ tresses.  So exquisite!  The first was in a mess of vegetation that prevented the flowers from making a nice spiral around the stem;  they were sort of mushed together.  We had the right species because the flowers had the tell tale green centers.  In amongst the vegetation, Don found a small white flower  that was hard to identify.  He scrambled around for the leaves and determined that it was flowering spurge.

Sue asked for the name of a yellow plant with pinnately compound leaves and yellow flowers with red anthers.  I thought I knew immediately that it was partridge pea.  When we looked on the page of the guide  book there were two plants very much alike.  As usual, Sue asks, “How do you know the difference?”  Good question.  Reading the guide we found the difference to be that partridge pea has 10 stamens and the other, wild sensitive plant has five stamens.  Don took a close up photo and counted the stamens—five.  So, it was not partridge pea, It was wild sensitive plant.  We tried touching the leaves to see if they would close up.  They did not seem to move.  The guide book did suggest that it was disappointingly slow in reacting to touch.  We forgot to look at it later on our way back to see if  the leaves had folded up.  This plant is not on the Garden’s list of wildflowers in the natural areas!

Someone showed Dale a mealy bug destroyer, which was the same insect that was used in
Broad-headed bug
the Conservatory to eradicate the mealy bug problem there.  Later, someone found a Broad-headed bug on Dale’s shirt.

The silver plume grass was flowering and reminded us of the Johnson grass we saw two weeks ago.  They have the same white stripe down the middle of their leaves, but once blooming, silver plume’s tall plume makes it easy to distinguish the two.  In the grass of the path was our old friend,Virginia buttonweed.  Surprisingly, Don found a yellow star grass.  It was hard to be sure because its leaves were confused with the surrounding vegetation.  I found a sunflower-like plant, but could not identify it.  Call it a darn yellow composite (dyc).  There were small brown mushrooms and small red mushrooms.

Someone caught a grasshopper and handed it to Dale.  We were right to call it a grasshopper because of its short antenna.  He pointed out that it also had short wings, so it was of a group that do not fly.  Those with large wings do fly.  He tried to identify the sex, but it was difficult for this particular species.

One of the mountain mints was still barely blooming.  Most had gone to seed.

As we got toward the top of the hill, the vegetation changed.  It seemed a drier place
British soldiers lichen
because of the many dixie reindeer lichens (can be told from reindeer lichen because it is greenish and the stems fork in 3s or more; reindeer lichen is white to grey and the stems fork in 2s.). A group of lichens included nice red British soldiers next to a group of pixie
Grass leaved golden aster
cups.  The golden asters here were the grass leaved golden aster.  And there were many pine weeds.  Like the lichens, one finds them on rock outcrops, such as Rock and Shoals Outcrop Natural Area.

In the mud in the path were deer tracks.  Surprise, surprise!  I think we must see them every time we take this route, so long as the path is somewhat wet.

Juniper leaf
Other plants found up at the top of the hill near the fence were juniperleaf, and poor Joe (AKA roughleaved buttonweed), reclining St. Johnswort, and lots of creeping lespedeza.  The prairie had lots for us to find today.  It did not rain on us, but the wet grass soaked our shoes and pants legs.

Looking at the time, we found it was close to 10 AM and time to return to the Arbor where many went on to Donderos for snacks and conversation.


Lactarius mushroom
Lactarius sp.
Oyster mushroom
Pleurotus ostreatus 
Fruit flies (on oyster mushroom)
Drosophila sp.
Red spider lily
Lycoris radiata
Beauty berry (inc. white cultivar)
Callicarpa americana
Unidentified mushroom
Amanita sp.
Marsh fleabane/Camphorweed
Pluchea camphorata
Elephants foot
Elephantopus tomentosus
Yellow crownbeard
Verbesina occidentalis
Verbesina alternifolia
Dog fennel
Eupatorium capillifolium
(False)Nut sedge ??
Cyperus sp.
American chameleon/green anole
Anolis carolinensis
River oats
Chasmanthium latifolium
Puff ball mushrooms
Schleroderma areolatum??
American beech tree
Fagus grandifolia
Rabbit tobacco
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium
Creeping bush clover
Lespedeza repens
Sweet autumn clematis
Clematis terniflora
False turkey tail mushroom
Stereum ostrea
Greasy grass/Purple top
Tridens flavus
Ostraya virginiana
Forked bluecurls
Trichostema dichotomum
Crataegus collina (from SBG species)
Late flowering thoroughwort
Eupatorium serotinum
Ants (Linear ant mound)
Family Formicidae
Solidago sp.
Golden aster
Heterotheca latifolia
Carolina horsenettle
Solanum carolinense
White crownbeard
Verbesina virginica
Helenium amarum
Red morning glory
Ipomoea coccinea
Field thistle
Cirsium discolor
Green-lipped (slender) ladies tresses
Spiranthes gracilis
Flowering spurge
Euphorbia corollata
Wild sensitive plant
Chamaecrista nictitans
Mealybug destroyer
Cryptolaemus montrouzieri
Hairy bush clover
Lespedeza hirta
Silver Plume grass
Saccharum ravennae
Broad-headed bug
Hemiptera: Alydidae
Virginia buttonweed
Diodia virginiana
Yellow star grass
Hypoxis hirsuta
American Ceasar’s
Amanita caesarea
Order Orthoptera
Mountain mint
Pycnanthemum sp.
Grass-leaf golden aster
Pityopsis graminifolia
White-tailed deer (tracks)
Odocoileus virginianus
Dixie reindeer lichen
Cladonia (cladinus) subtenuis
British soldiers
Cladonia cristatella
Hypericum gentianoides
Reclining St. John’s-wort
Hypericum stragulum
Pixie cup lichen
Cladonia sp.
Poor Joe
Diodia teres
Polypremum procumbens
Ocola skipper
Panoquina ocola

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