Saturday, March 26, 2016

Ramble Report March 24 2016



Here's the link to Don's Facebook album for today's Ramble. (All the photos in this post are complements of Don.)
Today's post was written by Don Hunter, Linda Chafin and Dale Hoyt.

Twenty-eight Ramblers met today – a glorious spring morning!

Today's reading: Jackie Elsner sang a poem by Byron Herbert Reece, a north Georgia poet (1917-1958). Jackie has been adapting Reece poems to the music of Christian Harmony Shape Note songs. This one is sung to the tune of "Watchman" (No. 255 )

We Could Wish Them a Longer Stay

Plum, peach, apple and pear
And the service tree on the hill
Unfold blossom and leaf.
From them comes scented air
As the brotherly petals spill.
Their tenure is bright and brief.

We could wish them a longer stay,
We could wish them a charmed bough
On a hill untouched by the flow
Of consuming time; but they
Are lovelier, dearer now
Because they are soon to go,
Plum, peach, apple and pear
And the service blooms whiter than snow.

Byron Herbert Reece (1917-1958)
Bow Down In Jericho, 1950, pages 109-110

Jackie pointed out that the service tree in the poem is what we today call serviceberry (Amelanchior arborea), and was/is pronounced "sarvis" in Appalachian dialect. The "service" refers to the early blooming period of the tree that coincided with the thawing of the Appalachian mountain soil, allowing the burial of people who had died during the winter. This was the time that mountain roads became passable and itinerant preachers could reach remote communities to perform funeral services and weddings. Mary Ann pointed out that in the Northeastern US the same plant is called the shadbush because its flowering coincides with the running of shad, a marine fish that enters the rivers in enormous numbers to breed at that time.

Today's route: We left the parking lot via the Shade Garden path that begins to the right of the arbor.  We wound our way down through the Shade Garden on the sidewalk and entered the Dunson Native Flora Garden.  We walked most of the mulched path through the Dunson garden before heading back to the parking lot, then through the International Garden to the large pawpaw bushes in the Heritage Garden.  From here we made our way into the Visitor Center and Dondero's for refreshments and conversation.

Shade Garden:
Dogwoods in our area have not succumbed to the anthracnose fungus (Discula destructiva) as feared earlier. Trees need to be located where there is abundant air flow. This apparently makes it more difficult for the fungus to establish. The prominent white petals of the dogwood are not really petals; they are modified leaves, properly called bracts. They perform the function of petals, though, which is to attract pollinators. Each set of four bracts surrounds a cluster of 30-40 tiny flowers. Those that are fertilized develop into bright red berries that are devoured by squirrels and birds in the fall.

Sensitive fern is seen high up on the hillside in the Shade Garden. The typical habitat of this plant in lower down in moister areas and in wetlands.  Last year’s dried fertile fronds are still present along with this year’s fresh sterile fronds. The fertile fronds produce spores; sterile fronds are incapable of spore production.

Trillium sp.are seen along path. These have probably been carried to this location by ants as seeds from trilliums growing in the Dunson Garden (see below for more about ant transport of seeds).

A large group of Mariana maiden fern is seen along the path – it is an invasive Asian species.

Piedmont azalea; note projecting stamens and pistil
A beautiful white cultivar of our native Piedmont azalea is currently blooming. If you look at the photo of the flowers you will notice that the stamens and pistil extend far in front of the face of the petals, raising the question of what kind of pollinator this plant relies on. It was recently discovered that Tiger Swallowtails and other large butterflies are effective pollinators of Azaleas – but not in the way you might think. When these butterflies are sipping nectar from the base of the flowers their upper wing surfaces come in contact with the stamens, picking up pollen. The pollen is carried on the wings to the next flower. The flapping wings both carry pollen and transfer it to the pistil!

One of the ornamental plants in this part of the garden is Mahonia, Oregon grape holly, a plant that is invasive in many parts of the country.

Dunson Native Flora Garden: DNFG is filled with plants from all over the state of Georgia, bringing together plants that are normally separated by hundreds of miles. This has led to some strange hybrids, especially among the trilliums here.

Virginia bluebells
Virginia bluebells are in the borage (forget-me-not) family. Plants in this family have unique flower clusters that begin as a flat coil of unopened buds that mature from the bottommost to the top. As the buds open the coil gradually unwinds bringing the newly opened flowers to the upper, exposed position of the inflorescence. Because the shape of the coil is reminiscent of the way a scorpion holds its tail botanists call this a “scorpioid” inflorescence.

Large flowered bellwort
Two bellworts can be found in the DNFG. The common name refers to the way the flowers dangle downward, like a bell hanging from the stem. (The genus name, Uvularia, also refers to the dangling flowers. Look into a mirror and open your mouth really wide. You may need a flashlight to see the back of your throat. You will see a small finger-like piece of tissue, the uvula, hanging down from your soft palate. This is the origin of the genus name for bellworts.) The smaller of the two species, the Perfoliate bellwort, is just beginning to bloom; the larger species is the Large-flowered bellwort which, in addition to being a more robust plant, has larger, twisted petals. Both species have stems that seem to perforate the leaves, the basis of the Perfoliate (from per-, meaning through and –foliate, refering to foliage or leaves) part of the common name. The dangling flower is pollinted by beetles and small flies.

Trilliums: Georgia has 23 trillium species, more than any other state in the country and the DNFG has a small sample of trillium species from around the state. Trilliums were not found in the Botanical Garden's natural areas in 1998, so any that are found outside the Dunson garden undoubtedly came from seed produced by plants growing here. We have found trillium in the Shade garden, the Scout trail and on the White trail hundreds of feet above the DNFG. Trillium seed is heavy and not blown about like dandelion seed. How could it travel so far? Trilliums, like many other spring ephemeral plants, produce seeds that have fat and protein rich "handles" called elaiosomes. When the seed is mature and falls to the ground it is discovered by foraging ants. The ants carry the seed back to their nest where the elaisome is removed and fed to nest mates and ant larvae. The seed itself is not recognized as food and is carried out of the nest and dropped in the ant's waste dump where it sits among the bodies of dead ants and other organic debris removed from the nest. This is fertile ground for a germinating seed and clusters of trilliums can be found on former ant dumps. Even longer distance dispersal of trillium seed can be attributed to Yellow jacket wasps; they have been observed removing seeds from the seed capsules of trilliums.

Trilliums can be divided into two groups based on their flowers: stalked and sessile. (Sessile means attached.) Most of the species that we saw blooming today are sessile trilliums – they have flowers that are attached directly to the leaves beneath them. The stalked trilliums have the flowers on a stalk that arises from the point where the three leaves emerge from the stem. Stalked trillium typically have solid green leaves whereas the sessile flowered trilliums have heavily mottled leaves.

Chattahoochee trillium

Spotted trillium

Sweet Betsy trillium
Today we saw three sessile flowered trilliums: Sweet Betsy, Spotted and Chattahoochee. The Chattahoochee trillium has a silvery stripe on the midvein of the leaves; this stripe is lacking in the Sweet Betsy trillium (but it does have a light green irregular marking along the leaf midvein). The petals of the Spotted trillium's upright flower taper at the base so you can see through to the stamens within. In the Chattahoochee and Sweet Betsy the base of the petals overlap, so you can't see the stamens through the side of the flower. Sweet Betsy is widespread in the state; Spotted is found in the Coastal plain in moist ravines and Chattahoochee is found in the southwestern corner of the state.

Dwarf trillium

Edna's trillium
Two species of stalked trillium were blooming today: Dwarf trillium (Dwarf wakerobin) and Edna's trillium. Edna's trillium (Persistent trillium) was discovered by Edna Garth near Toccoa and was described by Wilbur Duncan, the late, well-known UGA botanist. It is also found in adjacent South Carolina.

Small-flowered pawpaw flowers
There is only one kind of Paw Paw in the DNFG, the Small-flowered pawpaw (Asimina parviflora). It is a small shrub. In the Heritage garden there are several large Paw Paw trees (Asimina triloba). Both species are currently flowering and their flowers are very similar, differing mostly in size. They are dark purple or maroon in color, resembling rotten flesh and are reported by some to have a foul smell. Others say that the flowers have a yeasty odor. The color and odors are typical of fly-pollinated plants.

Spring beauty.is not open this early in the morning, but the flowers will be open in the afternoon on a warm day. It is pollinated by native solitary bees and flies and has one pollinator that is totally dependent on it – the Spring beauty bee (Andrena erigeniae). The Spring beauty bee gathers pollen only from Spring beauty flowers and in the course of its visits to other Spring beauty flowers some of the pollen it has collected is brushed onto a receptive pistil. The rest of the pollen is taken home to a solitary nest where it is fashioned into a ball, moistened with a little nectar and an egg is laid on it. That chamber of the nest is then sealed off and the whole process repeated. But the mother bee never sees her offspring. She will die later in the spring and her young will feed on their pollen cakes, pupate and emerge as adult bees next year at the time that Spring beauty begins to bloom.

Dimpled trout lily (closed flower)
There are two species of trout lily in the DNFG: American trout lily and Dimpled trout lily. Both have a life history similar to trillium. The first several years after the seed germinates they produce a single leaf and no flowers, but after several years and under right conditions, two leaves are sent up and flowering starts. The American trout lily forms large patches of clonal plants, as seen at the base of a large Tulip tree in the DNFG. The Dimpled trout lily does not form these large clones. To tell the two species apart you have to wait for the seed capsule to form. The front end of the capsule has a dimple or is flat in the Dimpled trout lily and is tapered in the American trout lily.

Meadow rue female flowers;
note the pollen grains on the stigmas


Meadow rue male flowers;
note the many stamens


Meadow rue is a dioecious plant, meaning that there are separate male and female plants (all the flowers on a single plant are the same sex). This species is wind pollinated -- the petals are absent or very reduced.

Silver-leaf violet

Long-spurred violet
There are several violets that have been planted in the DNFG. Today we saw Silver-leaf violet, a stemmed yellow violet formerly called Halberd-leaf violet. (A halberd is an mediaeval weapon consisting of a spear with an axe blade mounted below the spear point. It is carried ceremonially by the Pontifical Swiss Guard in the Vatican.) Long-spurred violet has a long tube that contains nectar projecting back from the purple flowers. And, of course, there is the Common violet that is found everywhere in the garden.

Cinnamon fern
We took note of a few ferns today. Southern maiden hair fern leaves are longer than broad with leaflets arranged pinnately along the shiny, black stem.  Northern maidenhair fern (not in the gardend) leaves are wider than they are long, and the leaflets are fanned out in a semi-circle. The Cinnamon fern has two types of fronds, the green leafy sterile frond that does not produce spores and the taller, cinnamon-colored fertile fronds that produce the reproductive spores.

There are several buckeye species found in Georgia. The Ohio buckeye tree is found only in northwest Georgia where the soils are basic. The Yellow buckeye tree found in the mountains of northeast Georgia. It has a bark textured like the older, patchy bark of the Sycamore and grows to considerable size. Of three other buckeyes planted in the garden only Painted buckeye is in the DNFG. It has large inflorescences of tubular pale yellow flowers and has just begun to flower. Only one or two flowers of each inflorescence are currently open. It naturally grows in the piedmont. Elsewhere in the garden are planted Red buckeyes and these are now in full bloom. (See the later account in this post.) (The third species is Bottlebrush buckeye; there is one in the International Garden and one on the White trail. It blooms much later in the summer.)

Mayapple with bud visible between the two leaves
Toward the bottom of the DNFG is a large patch of Mayapple, some with flower buds (found only on plants with two leaves). The ripe fruit can be eaten by humans but unripe fruit is toxic, as is all the other parts of the plant. Box turtles are the primary disperser of the seeds. One chemical extracted from this plant, podophylline, is or has been used in cancer chemotherapy; it is also used to get rid of warts.

Ground pine
New to the DNFG is Ground pine/ground cedar, which is a club moss, a member of a very early group of vascular plants. Vascular plants have specialized tissues that conduct water and dissolved nutrients to distant parts of the plant body. The evolution of vascular tissue allowed plants to grow to very large sizes and our Pennsylvanian age forests were filled with giant Club moss relatives. The remains of these forests were converted to coal and oil by geological processes and are now being used to contribute to global warming.

We were a little dismayed to find a few Spanish bells in the DNFG, especially because two years ago Ramblers spent 21 man hours digging these invasive plants out of the DNFG.

Dwarf crested iris
Dwarf crested iris has started to bloom. The colorful, pollinator-attracting structures are sepals, with the yellow, blue, and white patch, not petals.

A few short stems of Coral honeysuckle have just emerged. Like other woody vines, they will not bloom if they can't run up a fence, trellis or shrub toward the sun (also toward pollinators).

A patch of Lion's foot exhibiting highly variable leaf shapes was seen. Shapes vary from a single, arrowhead shaped leaf to a three lobed leaf.

Like the edible strawberry, Lobed barren strawberry is in the Rose family, but the fruit is an inedible, dry achene.   This species is rare in Georgia and on our Special Concern list.

Coral bells are most often found growing on rocks or shallow, rocky soil.

Woodland phlox
Woodland phlox are found in several places, their flowers in shades of pink to blue.

Cut-leaf toothwort

Ashe's magnolia, newly opened bud
Ashe’s magnolia -- finally leafing out      

Green-and-gold patch really coming into full flower now after a winter of a few, scattered flowers.

Windflower/Rue anemone

Golden ragwort -- scattered all throughout Dunson garden.

Wood poppy is blooming in several locations.

Wild ginger and Heart leaved ginger.

Bloodroot; the flower closed this early in the morning but will open later in the day.

Shooting star
Shooting stars
Leatherwood now in full, beautiful leaf
Foam flower
Bedstraw/Cleavers
Seersucker/plantain-leaved/pleated sedge
Allegheny spurge is still in bud, not flowering yet.
Doll's eyes (?)   not flowering yet  should have bud....have to wait for flowers to distinguish from black cohosh
Columbine   from Spanish word for dove (genus Aquilegia means eagle). Pollinated by hummingbirds.
Sparkleberry in early leaf
A Pileated woodpecker was heard drumming on a tree.
A Sedge, Carex sp., was seen but we'll have to wait for mature fruits to identify it.

Visitor Center Parking Lot:
On the SW corner of the lot there are several Red buckeyes, which is mostly a coastal plain species. Hummingbirds that visit red buckeyes on their northward migration may sometimes bring red buckeye pollen north to the piedmont on their bills.  Sometimes that pollen is transferred to the flowers of the piedmont’s Painted buckeye which has pale yellow flowers. This pollen transfer may result in offspring with traits of both the red buckeye and the painted buckeye, most noticeably in a multi-colored flower.

Redbud with enhanced cauliflory

Redbud with doubled floral structures
Near the Arbor is a horticultural variety of Redbud with two unusual features: doubled flowers and prominent cauliflory (flower clusters emerging directly from buds beneath the bark of the branches and trunk). Doubled flowers does not mean that there are twice as many; it means that the number of petals per flower has increased by two or more times. When plant breeders create doubled flowers the additional petals are usually formed from the sexual parts (stamens and pistils) that have been converted into petals. As a result the flowers are sterile or have greatly lowered fertility. Wild Redbuds are weakly cauliflorous, having a small number of flowers on the trunk and branches. Cauliflory is largely a trait of tropical plants, like Papaya and Cacao, from which we get chocolate. You can learn more about cauliflory here.

Heritage Garden:
Paw paw flower interior
Anthers surround the pistil
yellow flecks are pollen


Paw paw flowers
We saw the Small-flowered pawpaw, a small shrub with tiny flowers, in the DNFG and here there are several large Paw Paw trees (Asimina triloba). You probably remember the old ditty:
"Picking up paw-paws; put 'em in a basket.
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch
"
It refers to the delicious fruit produced by this tree. The flowers are larger versions of the small flowered species and their dark maroon color mimics rotting flesh, making them attractive to flies, their major pollinator. In addition to the color they are reported by some to have a foul smell. Others say that the flowers have a yeasty odor. Jeff told us that an effective way to guarantee paw paw fruit production is to hang ripe road killed possum in the paw paw patch, which should have led to a new chorus line in the old song: "Picking up possums; put 'em in a paw paw patch".

SUMMARY OF OBSERVED SPECIES

Shade Garden
Dogwood
Cornus florida
Sensitive fern
Onoclea sensibilis
Mariana maiden fern
Macrothelypteris torresiana 
Piedmont azalea
Rhododendron canescens
Oregon grape mahonia
Holly-leaved barberry
Mahonia aquifolium
Virginia bluebells
Mertensia virginica 
Perfoliate bellwort
Uvularia perfoliata
Sweet Betsy trillium
Trillium cuneatum
Dunson Native Flora Garden
Small-flowered pawpaw
Asimina parviflora
Chattahoochee trillium
Trillium decipiens
Lion's paw
Prenanthes altissima
Spring beauty
Claytonia caroliniana
Spanish bells
Hyacinthoides hispanica
American trout lily
Erythronium americanum
Meadow rue
Thalictrum dioicum
Southern maidenhair fern
Adiantum capillus-veneris
Coral bells
Heuchera americana
Woodland phlox
Phlox divaricata
Large-flowered bellwort
Uvularia grandiflora
Dwarf crested iris
Iris cristata
Cut-leaf toothwort
Cardamine laciniata
Ashe's magnolia
Magnolia asheii
Green-and-gold
Chrysogonum virginianum
Windflower/Rue anemone
Thalictrum thalictroides
Golden ragwort
Packera aurea
Long spurred violet
Viola rostrata
Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens
Mayapple
Podophyllum peltatum
Painted buckeye
Aesculus sylvatica
Wood poppy
Stylophorum diphyllum
Wild ginger
Hexastylis arifolia
Heart-leaved ginger
Hexastylis shuttleworthii
Bloodroot
Sanguinaria canadensis
Dwarf wake-robin
Trillium pusillum
Shooting stars
Dodecatheon meadia
Dimpled trout lilies
Erythronium umbilicatum
Eastern Leatherwood
Dirca palustris
Foam flower
Tiarella cordifolia
Lobed barren strawberry
Geum lobatum
(-Waldsteinia lobata)
Bedstraw/Cleavers
Galium aparine
Cinnamon fern
Osmundastrum cinnamomeum
Edna's trillium
Trillium persistens
Silver-leaf violet
Viola hastata
Spotted trillium
Trillium maculatum
Ground pine/ground cedar
Lycopodium digitatum
(= Diphasiastrum digitatum)
Seersucker sedge
plantain-leaved sedge
pleated sedge
Carex plantaginea 
Allegheny Spurge
Pachysandra procumbens
Doll's eyes? or
Black cohosh?
Actaea pachypoda?
Actaea racemosa?
Columbine
Aquilegia canadensis
Sparkleberry
Vaccinium arboreum
Pileated woodpecker
Hylatomus pileatus
Sedge
Carex sp.
Visitor Center Parking Lot
Red buckeye
Aesculus pavia
Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis
Heritage Garden
Paw Paw
Asimina triloba

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