Friday, October 23, 2015

Ramble Report October 22 2015

Today's report was written by Hugh Nourse. Most of 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-one Ramblers assembled at  8:30AM at the Arbor by the Lower Parking Lot.  The forecast was for 79 degrees later in the day, so many dressed for that, but the temperature at 8:30 was about 45 degrees. Some were a bit chilly!

Catherine read from Who named the daisy, who named the rose, a roving dictionary of North American Wildflowers by Mary Durant.  The topic was the etymology of witch hazel:

WITCH - HAZEL has nothing whatsoever to do with witches, despite the plant's mystic knack as a divining rod for water and precious ores. The old name is quite prosaic, no magical spells here. Witch comes from wych, a variant of the Anglo-Saxon wican, to bend. (This is also the root word for wicker, which is woven from bendable or pliable branches.)

The name witch-hazel was given to the shrub because the leaves resembled those of the English elm tree with long, drooping branches that was known as the wych-elm; that is, "the bending elm." And the wych-elm was also called wych-hazel, because its leaves resembled those of the hazel tree. (The origins of elm and hazel, both Old English, are uncertain.) Over the years, "wych" was transformed into "witch." (The other kind of witch comes from the early English wicca, a wizard.)

The flowering shrubs we know as witch-hazel are native to America, Japan, and China, six species in all that bloom in fall, winter, or early spring, wreathing the leafless twigs with spidery blossoms. American witch-hazel was introduced to England in the 1690'S, the Chinese in 1879.

The Indians had always cultivated witch-hazel for its medicinal value. A poultice from the inner bark cured eye diseases, and an extract of the bark soothed bruises and skin irritations, the use to which it is still put today.

Today’s Ramble was a tree walk, a repeat of the same walk a year ago. Route today: down the mulched path to the Dunson Native Flora Garden;  up the paved road to the White Trail spur to the power line ROW;  across the ROW into the woods and up the Green Trail to the service road; left on the Service Road to the Blue Trail; back to the White and out into the ROW.  From there we made our way up the paved path through the Shade Garden back to the parking lot. 

We saw so much today, many plants and trees we have talked about before, so I think I will follow Dale’s lead from last week and condense the discussion to the highlights of our ramble.  The list of plants and other observations are listed at the end, as usual.

Before leaving the Arbor, we turned around to observe the blackgum tree (Tupelo Family) which often branches at right angles to the trunk.  Setting the stage for the rest of the walk, I quoted from Dan D. Williams, Tree Facts and Folklore, p. 70:  “The genus name Nyssa was the name of a mythical Greek water nymph, while tupelo resembles the Creek Indian word for swamp. Blackgum is misnamed, producing no black wood and no gum!  Blackgum is the longest-living non-clonal flowering plant in Eastern North America, capable of ages exceeding 650 years….Heart rot frequently hollows the blackgum trunk which Pioneers used as “bee-gums” to house honey bees.”

Immediately upon leaving the parking lot, we stopped to identify trees by their leaf and bark.  Two unusual trees were in the Dunson Native Flora Garden.  The first was a huge
Mockernut Hickory beginning to change color
mockernut hickory tree, which is listed as the champion for Athens-Clarke County.  We took time to discuss the nut and the compound leaves.  On this ramble we started counting leaflets on a compound leaf to help identify species of hickory trees.  This one had 7 and 9 leaflets.  The other tree in the Dunson Native Flora Garden that was unusual was the yellowwood tree. It is so unusual that Dan does not report on it in his book.  We had to resort to L. Katherine Kirkman, et al., Native Trees of the Southeast: An Identification Guide to look for its family and distribution.  The distribution map had only a few dots in Kentucky, Tennessee, North
Carolina, Arkansas, and Alabama. No dots in Georgia, but the written range was “In mesic sites along streams or in coves, especially on calcareous soil, primarily in the southern Appalachians in Western Virginia, North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. Rare localities occur in northwestern Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.”  The map and written description are not altogether the same. Duncan in Trees  of the Southeastern United States describes this tree as rare. Found in rich rocky coves of mountains, limestone cliffs, rich hardwood forests below 1080 meters in elevation.

The next notable tree was on the White Trail from the paved road to the Elaine Nash Prairie.  We have walked by this tree many times over the last three or four years of these rambles and never once identified this blackjack oak along the path.  We looked at the trunk and then at the leaves and were stumped.  At first I thought it was a water oak on steroids because of the wedge shaped leaf with three lobes on the end.  Everyone told me I was wrong, so looked up the leaf shape and character in Dan Williams.  Leaves are “simple, alternate, 3-lobed or unlobed triangular, lobes bristle tipped, leaves thick and leathery, leaves dark green shiny above, hairy below.” Bark is “black and breaking into square plates.”  What a find!  Blackjack oak is not in the Plant List for the Natural Areas of the Garden!!   It is one of the few trees that can survive serpentine barrens which have high magnesium content in their soils.

On the Green Trail a few highlights included the cranefly orchid leaves that were accordion
Cranefly orchid leaves
pleated and green on top but purple underneath.  The leaves appear in early fall and absorb light during the winter when the overhead tree leaves are down, and disappear in later spring (May).  In July the flower blooms with beautiful tan/yellow flowers in a raceme on a stalk about 18 inches high. It is difficult to see because it blends so well with the downed dried leaves surrounding it. The orchid’s leaves are gone at that time. Of great interest to the group was a swarm of puff ball mushrooms. Emily and others spent some time puffing out the spores in yellow clouds.  Don tried to photograph the cloud
Puffballs -- danger! Finger approaching
of spores, but it was pretty tricky, so I am not sure he succeeded.  Then we came to an American beech with a lower branch loaded with the beech blight aphids.  Below was a line of very black sooty mold growing on the sugary droppings of the
Sooty mold fungus with earlier yellow stage growth
aphids.  But on top of that was an early stage of the mold, which Don captured in his photos.  Along here we also found a
Beech blight aphids
chalk maple.  To distinguish the chalk maple from the southern sugar maple, you need to notice the size (chalk maple leaf is
Chalk maple
smaller), and the back side.  Counter to your intuition, the chalk maple leaf is green and slightly fuzzy on the underside, whereas the southern sugar maple leaf underside is whitish and slightly fuzzy. Chalk maple’s name  refers to the chalky appearance of the bark.

Rambling along the service road is fun in the fall.  It is like walking a country road.  Perhaps the highlight was the beautiful red of sparkleberry.  It reminded me of the trip Carol and I took to Graveyard fields on the Blue ridge Parkway last week. In the open
valley there we photographed the intense reds of the blueberry leaves (like sparkleberry, a member of the genus Vaccinium).  Today we stopped for a redbud tree with its yellow heart shaped leaves. We noted that it was a member of the bean family, with bean-like seed pods hanging from the branches.  Common tree, right?  But Dan Williams notes that redbud, unlike most members of the bean family, does not fix nitrogen from the air and store it in its roots. Although we had looked at a shagbark hickory with an identifying sign on the Green Trail, it was great to see a number of them here with even shaggier bark and with branches low enough to see clearly the compound leaves of five leaflets. The shagbark hickory prefers calcareous soil the same as chalk maple.  We did tend to see them near each other on our ramble.  As we approached the Blue Trail, the mix of trees began to change to more pine and water oaks, suggesting we had reached a forest in an earlier stage of succession.

The big event at our connection to the Blue Trail, however, occurred at a pine tree. I took a bundle of needles from a branch low to the ground, and showed that there were three
Green anole
needles per bundle.  What would that make the pine tree?  The needles were long,  making it a loblolly pine.  Catherine leaned over and picked up a large cone (hand sized with sharp prickles).  Out popped an anole from between the plates of the cone.  She caught it, then it leaped to the ground, and she caught it again for Dale to identify.  It was a great surprise to see that head pop out from the platelets of the cone! [It is the green anole, Anolis carolinensis, capable of changing color in a few minutes from brown to green or vice versa. Another common name for this lizard is American chameleon, but this is not a true chameleon – they are found only in Africa and Madagascar. There are a couple of ways to pronounce "anole." Some people pronounce it as "ah-Knoll", with the terminal "e" silent and emphasizing the "Knoll". Others say it like "ah-knoll-ee", pronouncing the terminal "e." There is no preferred pronunciation.]DH

Along the Blue Trail we stopped to show everyone where the white crownbeard plants were so that when the first deep freeze occurs,  people would know where to look for the beautiful frost flowers at the bottom of their stems.  We also stopped to look at the sawtooth oak.  It is not a native tree, being from Asia.  It was brought to the US to plant for wildlife because of their acorns.  The unusual acorns have frilly caps, which is how I first found this tree.  Search as we might, no one found an acorn. It must not be a good year.  Dale has discussed the mystery of these mast years when oaks produce many more acorns than usual. It is not so much a mystery that trees use a lot of energy to create these acorns, and then have to rest several years before doing so again.  What is a mystery is that heavy acorn production is synchronized so that all trees in an area seem to mast the same year. Why should that be? One theory is that with so many acorns, not all of them will be eaten by wildlife and more will survive to grow into oaks. [Sawtooth oak was planted by wildlife managers because it is a consistent acorn producer, dropping nearly the same number of acorns every year. Unlike our native oaks it is not a masting species.]DH

Mullein and Dog fennel
The next highlight on the Blue Trail was the patch cleared of privet by Thomas Peters.  What was growing it its place?  Mullein and dog fennel!  Beyond that was the large old water oak, which unlike most other trees in a closed forest had wide spreading branches, suggesting that it was growing there before the other trees grew up around it.  Perhaps it was close to the house where the Mimsie Lanier Center is now when cotton crops were all around it on the terraces we still see today. Andie has called this a lone wolf tree.

Perhaps the last highlight was to see resurrection fern on a rock opposite an upturned tree stump.  Resurrection fern grows on
Resurrection fern
trees and rocks, but rock cap fern, which looks like it, grows only on rocks.  The difference between the two is that the stipe (stem) is 4 to 15 cm long and is smooth green on the rock cap fern and the stipe is 2 to 8 cm long and densely scaled on the resurrection fern.  The blade of the rock cap fern is 6 to 20 cm long and 2 to 6 cm broad and is bright green above and light green below—smooth on both sides.  The blade of the resurrection fern is 3 to 10 cm long and 1.5 to 3.5 cm wide and is dark green and smooth above, but densely scaled and silvery brown below.

Although we followed the same ramble as last year, we took much longer to complete it this year.  We are now seeing more and talking about things a lot more.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the longer ramble.  As usual some retired to Donderos for snacks and refreshment.


Common Name
Scientific Name
Black gum
Nyssa sylvatica
Oxydendrum arboreum
White oak
Quercus alba
Northern red oak
Quercus rubra
American beech
Fagus grandifolia
Red maple
Acer rubrum
Mockernut hickory
Carya tomentosa
Mist flower
Conoclinium coelestinum
Ovate catchfly
Silene ovata
Pennsylvania smartweed
Polygonum pensylvanicum
White heath aster
Symphyotrichum pilosum
Cladrastis kentukea
River oats
Chasmanthium latifolium
Blackjack oak
Quercus marilandica
Winged elm
Ulmus alata
Yaupon holly
Ilex vomitoria
Dog fennel
Eupatorium capillifolium
Camphorweed/golden aster
Heterotheca latifolia
Post oak
Quercus stellata
American holly
Ilex opaca
Crataegus sp.
Ostrya virginiana
Late blue aster
Symphyotrichum patens
Black cherry
Prunus serotina
Solidago sp.
Rabbit tobacco
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium
Tulip poplar
Lirodendron tulipifera
(Black) sooty mold
Scoriosa spongiosa
Unidentified fungus

Cranefly orchid
Tipularia discolor
False turkey tail
Stereum ostrea
Shagbark hickory
Carya ovata
Chalk maple
Acer leucoderme
Beech blight aphids
Grylloprociphilus imbricator
Southern red oak
Quercus falcata
Pignut hickory
Carya glabra
Vaccinium arboreum
Redbud tree
Cercis canadensis
Scarlet oak
Quercus coccinea
Shortleaf pine
Pinus echinata
Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana
Loblolly pine
Pinus taeda
Yellow crownbeard
Verbesina occidentalis 
Coffee weed/sickle pod
Senna obtusifolia
Red morning glory
Ipomoea coccinea
Bowl and doily spider(web)
Frontinella communis
White crownbeard
Verbesina virginica
Saw-tooth oak
Quercus acutissima
Trumpet vine
Campsis radicans
Water oak
Quercus nigra
Persimmon tree
Diospyros virginiana
Cornus florida
Black knot fungus canker
Apiosporina morbosa
Puff ball mushroom
Lycoperdon sp.
Anolis carolinensis
Crowded parchment fungus
Stereum complicatum
Common mullein
Verbascum thapsus
Pin lichen
Cladonia sp.
Resurrection fern
Pleopeltis polypodioides
Hornbeam disc mushroom
Aleurodiscus oakesii

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