Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ramble Report October 8 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.

Upcoming Events
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Bartram Celebration Closing Event
7:00 p.m., Special Collections Library Auditorium (Second Floor)
"The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire, and the Birth of an Obsession" presented by Andrea Wulf, New York Times best-selling author
Tuesdays, October 13, 20, & 27
4:00 p.m., Sandy Creek Nature Center
Courtney Brissey, a Warnell graduate, will lead Tree ID walks at the nature center on each Tuesday afternoon in October, beginning October 13.

Today was a special day.  We began with a poetry reading by Bob Ambrose in the Theater in the Woods, which is the first completed part of the Children’s Garden.  This was the first adult program in the Theater.  Bob selected poems cycling through the four seasons and included three about our rambles this past summer.  It was an amazing performance that we all enjoyed.  We could relate to the particulars of the past rambles.  Wilf Nicholls introduced Bob as a person he has played golf with and who, he says, swings a mean club. This took us to 9 AM.  For the reading there were at least 30 attendees.
Note: The video of Bob's performance is available here on YouTube. The link will be posted here and sent to all the Ramblers when it is available. (Here is a page listing all the poems Bob read, with links to each one.)

For the morning ramble we started with 25 participants.  We split into two groups:  one led by Hugh and one led by Dale.  Our intended route for the day was the Short Tree Trail, which we reached by taking the wood chip trail from the Theater down to the Dunson Native Flora Garden, then a short way through that garden to the White Trail.  The Tree Trail  follows the White Trail which we took to the Red Sourwood Spur, rejoined the White Trail, and then returned on the Green Trail to the White Trail and Shade Garden to the Arbor.

It was a beautiful cool morning.  At the start I repeated our motto, “Seeking What We Find.” Today that turned out to mean that everyone sought their own preferred find.  Before we were through, the group had divided into about six groups.  I will describe what the six of us saw who followed the route mentioned at the beginning.

Crown-tipped Coral mushroom
On the wood chipped path to the Dunson Native Flora Garden, we stopped to talk about a Northern Red Oak with “ski slopes” on the bark and distinctive leaves with bristles on the end of points.  Next we found Chanterelle mushrooms, which were in a lot of places today.  As we went down the slope Don found a crown tipped coral mushroom.  A leaf like the Northern Red Oak leaf but with much deeper incisions was from a scarlet oak. Rosemary noticed it had a critter on it, which Don named a mantle slug.

Silene ovata
In the Dunson Native Flora Garden our first stop was to show off the champion mockernut hickory of Clarke County.  What makes it a champion?  It depends on the measurement of the girth at chest height and the shape of the crown.  Searching the ground we found the large hickory nuts from this tree.  The next stop was the still-blooming horsebalm from the mint family.  Today it looked rather ragged with only a few blooms. I said it did not look much different than when in full bloom on the Blue Ridge Parkway in early September.  Some of us were able to smell the lemon balm fragrance of this plant.  Next to it was Silene ovata with just a few blooms left.  It is a rare plant in Georgia.  Crossing the little bridge over the
Mist flower (Ageratum)
dry wash, we spotted a mist flower on the edge of the wash, a really nice splash of blue color.  It used to be called ageratum, and with film photography, it was hard to get the  blue color exposed properly because the film was more sensitive to infrared light than our eyes are.  It always came out pink, as you notice in the Tennessee guide book, where the photo is pink, although it was taken by a very excellent professional photographer, David Duhl.  Several flowers had this problem, and it came to be called the Ageratum Effect.  Then we stopped for the yellowwood tree. Yellowwood is a member of the bean family.  Linda had earlier told me that Michaux, a french botanist, discovered this plant and sent it to Bartram for his garden.  The plant is still growing there. 

River Oats (AKA "Fish-on-a-pole")
Hawthorn fruits
As we started up the slope of the White Trail toward the Elaine Nash Prairie under the power line, there was a large group of elephant’s foot that reminded us of one of the lines in Bob’s poetry in which he talked about the waving tops of the plant.  In the old flower garden Don spotted a foxtail type grass, but Linda several weeks ago indicated it was probably a cultivar from the old garden rather than a native grass.  Along the path was a yaupon holly whose leaves were used by the American Indians to make a ceremonial drink, which is how it gets its scientific name of Ilex vomitoria.  Dale later showed me a reading that indicated that Yaupon has caffeine in its leaves, and that the American Indians used it not only as an emetic for ceremonies, but in lesser amounts for a regular drink, as we use coffee.  Along here a number of escaped garden plants show up, such as stinking hellebore and Lenten Rose (Helleborus x hybridus).  The late blooming native aster brought more blue color to the side of the path. We stopped again at the hophornbeam tree with all of the dried seed pods hanging.  This has been discussed a lot lately, but I thought it worth mentioning that the
Hophornbeam seed pods
hophornbeam gets its name from the pods that look like hops.  We also mentioned its bark that looks like a cat scratched it. Then we identified a little blue stem grass with its alternate red and green stem, and with its blue green color.  Nearby was a split beard (Andropogon ternarius) that has the same barber pole red and green stem, but is more yellow green than blue green in color, and has  split white tufted spikes.  River oats was still around.  It is amazing that it not only grows along the river but upland like this spot.  One person mentioned that it really spreads easily in a garden.  The blue curls were on their last leg;  Rosemary found one flower left.  Behind it at the edge of the woods is a hawthorn shrub with green fruit, which will eventually turn red. Its thorns were very prominent.

Crossing the Elaine Nash Prairie we found a number of bowl and doily spider webs in the dog fennel.  Don discovered a Basilica orb weaver.  The goldenrods were still going strong, but the yellow crownbeard was fading.  Goldenaster was really bright and cheerful.  We tried to smell the camphor odor of the leaves, which gives it another common name, camphorweed, but were not too successful with the leaves we tried.  Before leaving the Prairie we noted rabbit tobacco, which youngsters in Georgia tried to smoke.  Don always tells us it was not a good experience.  Jennie asked if the genus was Gnaphalium.  Unfortunately, the scientists have been at work and changed it to Pseudognaphalium.  I tried to find out why, but Weakly just changed it and does not explain the change.  Would have to go to the references.

The next section of the trail was in the woods along the White Trail.  Our first stop was to compare the bark and nuts of the Mockernut hickory and the pignut hickory.  The bark of this mockernut tree had very distinctive deep-grooved diamond-shaped grids.  The forest around the Garden is thought to have a swarm of pignut hickory.  Foresters often distinguish a red hickory (Carya ovalis)  from pignut hickory, but the botanists, Kirkman and Duncan, argue that there is such a gradual transition from the characteristics of a pignut to the red hickory that they do not know where to separate the species, and so lump them together.  This forest includes many of these varieties of pignut hickory, hence a swarm.  Bill and Don starting finding a lot of mushrooms.  Behind us across the path they found a gem studded
Gem studded puffball
puff ball.  The orange mushrooms all over downed wood turned out to be a species of false turkeytail.  As we walked up the path, we pointed out to Don and Bill a group of purple cort mushrooms.  One group stayed with the mushrooms, and the rest of us found a leaf from
Purple cort mushrooms
the cranefly orchid already surfacing.  Last summer’s flower stalk was still standing.  The leaves of this plant disappear in the spring, and the flower blooms in July.  Now in October, the leaf returns to gather light during the winter before it disappears next spring.  The leaf has pleats, is green above and purple on the underside.  An orb weaver was working on its web.  It was fascinating to watch it go around in circles filling in the web.  We admired the large white oaks, and then found another group of mushrooms, which included the amazing flower-like earthstar.  This one had already shed its spores.  We called to Don and Bill to see this new group of mushrooms.  Their group spent the rest of the day mushrooming.  We went on to the service road where we decided that there was time enough to go on and check out the sourwood spur.  Two decided they had enough walk and went back down the road to the Green Trail and returned to the Arbor.  The rest of us went down the slope of the White Trail.  Our first stop was a sweet gum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua).  It is a pioneer tree, one of the first trees to come up in an abandoned field.  This plant needs light, but will last a long time after the forest trees grow taller around it.  It does tend to be clonal from its roots.  Then we found three red oak leaves that dramatically showed the difference in their shapes:  Southern red oak (Quercus falcata) with leaves curved like a sword,  bell shaped next to stem, and often with a long tip end; northern red oak, and scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea).  On the ground were a number of grape ferns with fertile fronds (Botrychium biternatum). At the turn in the trail was a common script lichen (Graphis scripta) on a small beech tree.  From here we admired the large number of beech (Fagus grandifolia), and talked about how they hold their leaves in the winter.  After they turn light tan, sunlight on this slope is a fabulous sight.  We talked about the sourwood trees (Oxydendrum arboreum) on the other side of the trail, how they tend to the bend to the light, and how deeply furrowed is their bark.  George showed us a sourwood that must have been blown in a storm against another sourwood and now it seems to have grown together with the other tree.  Interesting!  Somewhere along here we also found a beech tree with beech aphids and with black mold below where the droppings of the aphids fell. 

Turning onto the sourwood spur (Red Trail), more Chanterelles lined the trail.   Going up the hill we found the really large very straight sourwood tree for which this spur is named.  After admiring it for awhile and noticing that one large branch had broken, we moved on to a short section of White Trail to connect to the Green Trail.  We found more mushrooms along this section.  At the junction we looked at the map attached to the shelter.  The person who made the map must never have walked this section of the trail because they put the shelter at the intersection of the sourwood spur and the White Trail, not at its location at the connection with the Green Trail.

Our first stop on the Green Trail was to look at the PawPaw patch (Asimina sp.).  We smelled the leaves for the tell tale green pepper odor, and talked about the difficulty of seeing fruit because the forest animals eat it just before it gets ripe.  Next we checked out the bark and leaves of a southern red oak right at the service road.  Across the trail from the southern red oak is a black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), whose leaves turn bright red in fall and are among the first leaves to turn in the forest.  One of the few shagbark hickories (Carya ovata) occurs along this Green Trail.  As we observed its bark someone mentioned that the bark is hard to tell from a white oak, but the leaves are very different.  The shagbark hickory has compound leaves, whereas the white oak does not.  We do not see many shagbark hickories in this forest.  They prefer calcium abundant soils (more basic soils) than ours.  They are more common in Northeast George where the underlying soil is limestone.  Toward the end of the Green Trail there is a beaten path to a place with lots of sticks arranged as tepees.  This was a village created by summer camp kids with Cora Keber last summer .  Our last stop was at another beech with aphids.  Those that have not seen them before do get a blast out of watching these “dancing ballerinas” wave their rumps about when the twig is shaken.

At that point we returned to the Arbor.  Some went on to Donderos for snacks (or lunch).

This was only one story for the day.  There must have been at least five others.  In any case, a great time was had by all.

Hugh

SUMMARY OF OBSERVED SPECIES:
Red oak
Quercus rubra
Chanterelle mushroom
Cantharellus cibarius
Crown tipped coral mushroom
Artomyces pyxidatus
Scarlet oak
Quercus coccinea
Slug
No ID
Mockernut hickory
Carya tomentosa
Canadian horsebalm
Collinsonia canadensis
Ovate catchfly
Ovate catchfly
Mist flower
Conoclinium coelestinum
Red russula mushroom
Russula sp.
Yellowwood tree
Cladrastis kentukea
Elephant’s foot
Elephantopus tomentosus
Foxtail grass (probably a cultivar)
?
Yaupon holly
Ilex vomitoria
Stinking hellebore
Helleborus foetidus
Late blue aster
Symphyotrichum patens
Hophornbeam tree
Ostrya virginiana
False Turkeytail mushroom
Stereum ostrea
Bug nymph on Hophornbeam
Order Hemiptera;
Suborder Heteroptera
Little bluestem grass
Schizachyrium scoparium
River oats
Chasmanthium latifolium
Little blue curls
Trichostema dichotomum
Hawthorn shrub
Crategus sp.
Bowl and doily spider
Fontinella communis
Basilica orb weaver
Mecynogea lemniscata
Dog fennel
Eupatorium capillifolium
Goldenrod
Solidago sp.
Yellow crownbeard
Verbesina occidentalis
Golden aster
Heterotheca latifolia
Rabbit tobacco
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium
Gem studded puff ball
Lycoperdon perlatum
Pignut hickory
Carya glabra
Bitter oyster mushroom
Panellus stipticus
Crowded parchment fungus
Stereum complicatum
Purple cort mushroom
Cortinarius iodes
Unidentified spiny orbweaver
Micrathena sp.
Deflated earth star
Scleroderma geaster
Unidentified brown gilled mushroom
Cortinarius sp.
American Caesar mushroom
Amanita caesarea
Unidentified white gilled mushroom
Russula sp. ?
Turkey tail mushroom
Trametes versicolor
Multicolor gilled polypore
Lenzites betulina
Unidentified creamy-white toothed polypore
?


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