Friday, November 20, 2015

Ramble Report November 19 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.


  1.     Emily is putting in the T-shirt order tomorrow, so if you wish to purchase one you need to get your money and order to her quickly. 
  2.    There is a special ramble on December 3, the Thursday after Thanksgiving, on Herbarium Specimens. Wendy Zomlefer, the Curator of the UGA Herbarium will demonstrate how herbarium specimens are prepared, and let us press a few plants ourselves.
  3.     Walt Cook will be leading a walk at Sandy Creek Nature Center on December 2, at 9:00AM, the first Wednesday in December.
4.    Update to the Hike Inn opportunity:
  • Ramblers can send an e-mail to "" with their name, phone contact information, and "January 27 Georgia Forest Watch." The Reservation clerk will then call back. We cannot book our room through e-mail messages, but it helps reduce the phone tag.
  • The Hike Inn has reserved all rooms for Ramblers at this time.
  • The cost is a little more than quoted in the notice you received: Double occupancy, $102.75; Single occupnacy, $72.28
  • ·         [Note: Jackie Elsner is the person responsible for initiating this field trip; I am just the guy that sends out the emails. Give her the credit, not me. -- DH]

Twenty eight Ramblers met at the Arbor on a spectacular November morning: 60+ degrees after a night of rain, bright blue sky, sun shining through autumn leaves and sparkling off water droplets on every leaf and twig. 
The last Ramble of the year

Today's readings:

First Jackie read a poem by Herbert Byron Reece, from Ballad of the Bones and other Poems, 1945:

I Go By Ways of Rust and Flame

I go by ways of rust and flame
Beneath the bent and lonely sky;
Behind me on the ways I came
I see the hedges lying bare,
But neither question nor reply.

A solitary thing am I
Upon the roads of rust and flame
That thin at sunset to the air.
I call upon no word nor name,
And neither question nor reply
But walk alone as all men must
Upon the roads of flame and rust.

I had asked Bob Ambrose to grace us on this last ramble of the year with one of his poems.  He chose one on November on thinking about Moby-Dick, the novel by Herman Melville:

Here is the link to Bob's poem, The Second Soul of November.

Today’s route was the Short Tree Trail.  We took the path to the right of the Arbor through the Shade Garden to the White Trail at the Service Road.  After entering the woods, we went out on the Green Trail to the old service road.  Turning right we walked to the top of the power line right-of-way, then back to the White Trail.  Turning left we walked back the way we had come to the paved service road and took the mulched path through the Dunson Native Flora Garden to the Lower Parking Lot.

Our first stop was at a southern sugar maple.  It is hard to tell the leaves of this tree from that of chalk maple.  Contrary to one’s expectation, the southern sugar maple leaf is whitish on the underside, whereas the chalk maple leaf is yellow-green on the underside.  The sign on the tree listed the scientific name as Acer barbatum.  That was the name first given by Michaux, but his speciman was actually a sugar maple, Acer sacharum. The name has been changed recently to Acer floridanum, the name Chapman gave to the real southern sugar maple.  The tree prefers calcium rich soils along streams.  In Georgia it is more common in the Ridge and Valley of northwest Georgia which is underlain with limestone.  It appears in the Piedmont and along the lower Chattahoochee River in the Coastal Plain. Dan Williams says in his book, Tree Facts and Folklore, “Though related to sugar maple, southern sugar maple is too small to tap for sugar.”

Japanese maple
Beside it was a beautiful Japanese maple in full fall color.  Across the path was a patch of the rice-paper plant.  As one of the gardeners in our group said, however, it is very invasive, which one could tell by the spread in front of us.  Bill spotted a green tree frog hugging one of the leaf petioles. The green tree frog’s color matched the green of the plant and was hard to spot.  Good eyes! 
Green tree frog
Next was the tea plant that we had already seen earlier on a walk in the International Garden.  Some disputed me, but I thought this fall was not among our best, and colors are weak from all the rain and warm weather.  No sunny days with freezing nights.  On the other hand, the camellias, such as the tea plant have done extremely well this year with many blooms—no brown petals from frost.  Next
Bigleaf magnolia
was a big leaf magnolia, whose leaf is even longer and wider than that of the Fraser magnolia.  The ears on the Fraser magnolia leaf are more prominent.

As we approached the Laurel Plaza we passed a Portuguese laurel.  Each of the Plazas of the Shade Garden:  Magnolia, Laurel, Dogwood, Redbud, Camellia, etc, honors a district of the Garden Clubs of Georgia, who were major contributors to the funding of the Shade Garden.  The Garden would like to plant trees or shrubs representing each of those districts around the appropriate Plaza. Unfortunately, laurel trees do not grow well here, so the ‘laurel’ trees are actually those with common names including laurel.  The two we pointed out were Portuguese laurel and cherry laurel, both in the Prunus genus.  Interestingly, the Portuguese laurel was planted on estates in England in the 18th Century at the same time Bartram was sending seeds of American plants to them.

Beech leaves
Walking up the White Trail we admired the beautiful bronze-colored leaves of the many beech trees along the path and deep into the woods.  We checked out the leaves of a water oak, many of which looked like that of laurel oak or willow oak, but searching among the leaves a number were found with the three lobes.  I do not
Young Water oak with atypical leaves that resemble
leaves of Willow oak or Laurel oak
know why the water oak’s scientific name is Quercus nigra. When I was first learning the scientific names I wanted to call it Quercus aqua. 

Meanwhile, Bill, Dale, and Don were off looking at a mushroom that they could not identify.  Along this ramble many mushrooms were found.  If you would like more detail, visit Don’s Facebook page.

The eastern red cedar did not have any berry-like cones.  These trees are unisexual (dioecious).  Mature seed cones (blue berries) would be found now on female trees, so this one was a male. I really like eastern red cedars because they are so durable.  The wood is rot resistant and therefore was used for fence posts.  Also used for lining of closets, as well as pencils.  Unfortunately, the eastern red cedar is an alternate host for apple rust.  You will see it as an orange fungus on some trees.  Because it will spread to nearby apple trees and cause serious damage, eastern red cedars are eliminated from around apple orchards.

We stopped to talk about a hawthorn (Crateagus) shrub that had sharp thorns, but no leaves.  I commented on the difficulty of naming hawthorns to species.  For example, Dan Williams does not even include it in his tree book!  And it is a quite common plant.  Kay Kirkman has this to say, “Crataegus is a large genus of woody plants and one of the most difficult taxonomically.  Much controversy exists as to the number of kinds and their taxonomic ranks, apparently the result of widespread hybridization and apomixis [meaning the plant produces seeds that are genetically identical to their parent]. …… Because of the complexity of this group and the difficulty in distinguishing the numerous species, we do not include a key to species but rather photographs that indicate the diversity of leaf shapes found in the genus.”  Ron Lance has written a recent book on Hawthorns, which is entitled “Haws,” and discusses hundreds of species.

Grasses in the Elaine Nash prairie
Crossing the power line right of way, we were awed by the beauty of the grasses in the Elaine Nash Prairie.  I asked everyone to turn around and look down the hill at the mowed area above the paved service road.  The Conservation group at the Garden wants to extend this grassland over that whole area.  Wow!  It will be something when they achieve that.  There was still one goldenaster bloom hanging on.  Just before leaving the Prairie, we found wingstems.  Closest was a yellow crownbeard, Verbesina alternifolia, but in the group were also the opposite leaved white crownbeard which will show beautiful frost flowers at the base of their stalks when we get the first hard freeze.  Actually, on the walk this week last year, we did observe frost flowers.

As we entered the woods, Ed pointed out a young autumn olive, Eleagnus umbellata. They are very invasive.  He said he missed it on his walks to eliminate it from the natural areas.  One cannot just pull it up because it has extremely long roots.  Next to it was a tulip tree sapling.

Sooty mold on Beech twigs
Entering the Green Trail we admired a huge white oak.  Below it was a high bush blueberry, of which Sue said the latin name, Vaccinium elliotii,  just rolls off the tongue.  Nearby was the beech tree on which we had previously observed the beech aphids (Dancing Ballerinas).  Today we saw the remains, a sooty mold growing on the aphid’s accumulated droppings.

Shagbark hickory
We stopped to talk about the shagbark hickory.  It has compound leaves with five leaflets.  It prefers calcium rich soils, so is found more often in the Ridge and Valley region of the state which is underlain with limestone rock.  Nearby was a beautiful orange-red chalk maple that just stood out in the woods compared to the other colors.  It is also a plant preferring calcium in the soil. When we find these plants In the Garden, it may indicate amphibolite in the soil at that spot.  On the ground around us were  cranefly orchids, pipsissewa, and on downed wood, false turkeytail mushrooms.

Farther on we asked Emily to puff the puff ball mushrooms in the same place we had seen them before.  Some were all puffed out, but she did find some that smoked.  I asked if anyone could identify the young sapling beside the trail.  Tim noted that although many of the leaves resembled those of willow oak, there were some with the telltale three lobes at the end of the leaf, making it a another water oak.  We admired the bronze colored leaves of a swarm of beech trees along the trail.  Then Sue and Emily noted a maple, which after some discussion we decided was a red maple because of the characteristic three lobed leaves.

At the service road I talked about a black gum tree that had already shed its leaves.  We could still identify it by its right-angled branching pattern.  Reading Dan Williams, “Wood is moderately hard, very strong, lacks rot-resistance and is very nearly impossible to split due to interlocked wood grain.  Kephart calls it “unwedgeable”.…. Heart rot frequently hollows the blackgum trunk which Pioneers used as “bee-gums” to house honey bees.”  This led to a discussion of Kephart.  Horace Kephart around the beginning of the 20th century was director of the Mercantile Library in St. Louis, which is where I got my first job after high school in 1951.  He became an alcoholic, abandoned his wife and many children, and went to Bryson City, North Carolina.  He had a cabin up one of the coves near the city.  He wrote several well received books.  One was Camping and Woodcraft, which went through many editions.  It advocated practices in the woods that we do not think are appropriate today, such as cutting the boughs of pine trees to make a mattress for sleeping.  Another book was Southern Highlanders, which is regarded as an excellent discussion of the culture and practices of the Scotch-Irish mountain people. He was also one of the strong advocates for creating the Smoky Mountain National Park.

The next tree was a southern red oak, Quercus falcata.  Searching the ground we found an amazing number of shapes for the leaves of this tree.  Some did not show the curve of the typical leaf.  Dan Williams writes: “In Virginia and the North this tree is called Spanish oak.  The name originated in print with William Penn when he wrote of it in 1683.  The origin of this name is obscure, but it may refer to the Spanish dagger-like appearance of the leaves.  The Latin name falcata refers to an ancient sword in use during Roman times on the Iberian Peninsula.”

It was fun to walk along the country road (service road) with the fall color all around.  We came out to the power line right of way, and stopped to look at the Dixie reindeer lichens and pixie cups on the poor soil here at the top of the hill. Dixie lichens can be differentiated from reindeer lichens because their color is greenish rather than whitish, and the forks in the branches are in twos, whereas in reindeer lichens they are branched in threes (or even fours).  The somewhat muddy soil of the road revealed deer and raccoon footprints.

We stopped to see if we could identify a small tree. The black, squared bark plates and the twigs with round fruit on the ends gave it away as a flowering dogwood.   Don noted that it was also covered in lichens.  Dan Williams wrote: “Dogwood is very hard, and strong with a shock resistance second only to hickory.” Several people commented on the hardness of the wood.  One tried to cut a dogwood in her yard that had been killed by the anthracnose fungus with a saw and then an axe.  The axe blade bounced off! Dan further notes “Indians drank a tea made from the petals for colds and chewed the bark for headache.  They bathed in bark tea to treat poison ivy. Pioneers made a tea from the flowers, fruit and root bark to treat fevers and malaria.  A root infusion was used as a cure for worms.  …many trees have been killed by the exotic dogwood anthracnose fungus.”

The next tree was a redbud.  Someone asked if those here were planted.  I did not think so.  It was just that all other trees have been eliminated by annual mowing.  The Power Company leaves the redbuds because they are small and will not interfere with maintaining the power lines.  Dan Williams again on red buds: “Redbud wood is hard, flexible and springy.  Western Indians made bows from the wood of western redbud (C. occidentalis).  Redbud flowers are edible raw or cooked.  Tender young bean pods may be eaten sauteed. ….Unlike most bean family members, redbud does not fix nitrogen from the air and store it in its roots.”  Jennie commented that many other plants in the bean family do not do that.

Moving right along, we returned to the White Trail and crossed the paved service road to go through the Dunson Native Flora Garden on the mulched path.  Here we noted a bedraggled ovate catchfly with one last remaining flower.

In the parking lot we stopped to look at the paper bark maple.  I noted that when back lit the paper bark, which typically  rolls back from the trunk, glows a beautiful orange color.  Nearby was a real sugar maple that has been planted here.  They are a more northern tree.  The trunk was riddled with sapsucker holes.

Many retired to Donderos for snacks and drinks.  Amazingly a table was reserved for us?!


Southern sugar maple
Acer floridanum
Rice paper plant
Tetrapanax papyrifer
Japanese maple
Acer palmatum
Green tree frog
Hyla cinerea
Tea plant
Camellia sinensis
Portugese laurel
Prunus lusitanica
Big leaf magnolia
Magolia macrophylla
Cherry laurel
Prunus caroliniana
Violet toothed polypore
Trichaptum biforme
Turkey Tail mushrooms
Trametes versicolor
American beech
Fagus grandifolia
Crowded parchment fungus
Stereum complicatum
Water oak
Quercus nigra
Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana
Crataegus sp.
Golden aster
Heterotheca latifolia
White crownbeard
Verbesina virginica
Tulip poplar
Liriodendron tulipifera
Autumn olive
Elaeagnus umbellata
White oak
Quercus alba
High bush blueberry
Vaccinium elliottii
Sooty mold
Scorias spongiosa
Cranefly orchid
Tipularia discolor
False turkey tail mushrooms
Stereum ostrea
Chimaphila umbellata
Shagbark hickory
Carya ovata
Puffball mushrooms
Lycoperdon pyriforme
Chalk maple
Acer leucoderme
Red maple
Acer rubrum
Nyssa sylvatica
Ceramic parchment fungus
Xylobolus frustulatus
Mollusca: Gastropoda
American White-tail Deer (tracks)
Odocoileus virginianus
Raccoon (tracks)
Procyon lotor
Cladonia lichens
Cladonia sp.
Flowering dogwood
Cornus florida
Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis
Ovate catchfly
Silene ovata
Paperbark maple
Acer griseum
Sugar maple
Acer saccharum

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a comment