Friday, July 22, 2016

Ramble Report July 21 2016

Today's Ramble was lead by Dale Hoyt.

Except where stated otherwise, all the photos in this post were taken by Rosemary Woodel. (Don Hunter is still indisposed. We miss you, Don! Please get well soon.)

Today's post was written by Dale Hoyt.

Eighteen Ramblers met today, which started out overcast and cool for July. Good for us but not as good for butterflies!

Today's reading: Rosemary read a poem by John Moffitt from the collection: Teaching with Fire, edited by S. M. Intrator and M. Scribner.

To Look at Any Thing

To look at any thing,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:
To look at this green and say,
"I have seen spring in these
Woods," will not do - you must
Be the thing you see:
You must be the dark snakes of
Stems and ferny plumes of leaves,
You must enter in
To the small silences between
The leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace
They issue from.

Today's route: We went through the formal garden in search of butterflies, pausing whenever we encountered them. In the Heritage garden we stopped to look at the great variety of insects on the Sorghum. From there we walked a short way through the Flower garden and retraced our steps back to the Conservatory.

Red Admiral butterfly: The injured tree near the Arbor was still exuding sap and attracting a variety of insects, including hornets and three Red Admiral butterflies. Red Admirals are easily recognized by the reddish-orange band on the upper side of the fore wings and the margin of the hind wings. The caterpillar feeds on nettles! It is not a rare butterfly here in the Athens area, but it is not common, either.
Red Admiral; sipping fermented sap

(Forgive the following personal anecdote; feel free to skip to the next topic.) This butterfly has a special significance for me. When I was in kindergarten I contracted rheumatic fever and was confined to bed for six weeks. The doctor told my mother that under no circumstances was I to exert myself or leave the bed, so she had to carry me to the bathroom even though she was pregnant. (In addition to being pregnant my mother was very small woman, only 4'11" and weighed 95 lbs. Today Rheumatic fever is easily treated by a round of antibiotics, but at that time bed rest was the only treatment. Penicillin had been produced was not available to the civilian population during WWII.) My brother was born in early March and soon thereafter the doctor decided that I could resume activity. But I discovered that I could no longer walk – my muscles had atrophied during the month and a half I was bed-ridden and I had forgotten how to maintain my balance – I could only crawl like a baby.

It was a beautiful March day and my father carried me outside to join my mother and new baby brother. We were sitting on the steps enjoying the sun and warmth of early spring when I noticed a butterfly on our clothes line pole. Like us, it was basking in the warmth of the springtime sun. I crawled over to the pole to get a closer look at it. It flew off, of course. I had no idea what it was then, other than a butterfly, but three years later I saw a picture of a dark butterfly with bright orange bands on its wings – the caption read: Red Admiral. Every time I see one now I am reminded of the smell of spring grass and the feeling of awe I felt on that day in March, 1944.

Ecological consequences of "prettier" flowers

Plant breeders have succeeded in producing many "improved" varieties of cutting flowers, selecting for larger and showier blooms. Take Zinnias as an example. The original form of the zinnia was like a daisy: a disk of tiny florets surrounded by a flat plane of ray florets. This was the quintessential composite "flower." The breeders succeeded in creating plants with pom-pom shaped flower heads. This transformation was achieved by converting disk florets into ray florets. The most extremely modified varieties have no disk florets, just a beautiful hemispherical cluster of ray florets. But a price is paid by this transformation. In the composite family (Asteraceae or Compositae) the ray florets with their single, strap-shaped petal (more properly called a ligule) are usually sterile, lacking both stamens and pistil. Their function is to attract pollinators, signaling the presence of nectar and pollen that is produced by the disk florets. So when the outer whorl of disk florets is converted to ray florets the total number of nectar and pollen yielding florets is decreased at the expense of doubling the "petals." The more the breeders selected for the pom-pom shaped flower the fewer fertile florets remained. The result was a flower that looked beautiful to the human eye but that gave no pollen or nectar bounty to the pollinators. A similar process occurred with the non-composite flowers. Selection for doubling the number of petals actually converts the stamens into petals. Those wonderful tea roses are mostly sterile. The moral is simple: if you want to attract butterflies to your garden you should plant the old fashioned varieties of flowers. By walking through the Botanical Garden you can see for yourself what plants are most attractive to the type of insects you want to attract.

Praying mantis. Someone spotted a cast off exoskeleton of a Praying mantis and another sharp-eyed observer found a newly molted Chinese mantis nearby. It's wings were fully expanded, but the exoskeleton was still soft and unable to afford it flight. (It takes a period of time for the exoskeleton to harden after each molt. During that time the insect is almost defenseless and unable to fly until it stiffens up.

American Dagger Moth caterpillar - best to not touch it


Butterflies are flying pointillist art. The beautiful and often intricate color patterns on the canvas of their wings is made of millions of tiny, flat scales, each a single color. The scales are so small that a square 1/25th of an inch on a side contains hundreds. To the human eye the individual scale is like a mote of dust, but when massed together on the planar surface of the wing they combine to produce the loveliest color patterns in the living world, each scale a single color. Like human hair and fingernails, butterfly scales are not living; each is secreted by a single cell that dies when its work is done. The resulting scale is only weakly attached to the wing surface and is easily detached. This property is useful in encounters with spider webs – the scales stick to the silk but break away, allowing the butterfly or moth to sometimes escape.

Are Butterflies and Skippers different? Some lepidopterists treat Skippers a type of butterfly (like cats are a type of carnivorous mammal). Other regard the Skippers as a distinct subgroup of the Lepidoptera: Moths, Skippers and Butterflies. The Skippers don't care.

How are Skippers and Butterflies different? Most Skippers have stout, husky bodies, i.e., their body is large in relation to the size of their wings. The butterflies have comparatively large wings for the size of their body. Skipper flight is very fast and seemingly erratic, from which the common name "skipper" is derived. The antennae are clubbed, like a butterfly's , but has a hooked projection beyond the club. (You need a hand lens to see this in most cases.)

There are several different subgroups of skippers but in our area we have to deal with just two: the grass skippers and the spread-wing skippers.

Grass skippers tend to be smaller and their caterpillars feed on grasses. When they are visiting flowers their wings are usually held together over their back, except when basking (more on basking below). 

Spread-wing skippers, as their name implies, hold their wings horizontally when they are resting or nectaring. But some of the spread-wings, like the Silver-spotted skipper, just hold their wings in a slight V-angle that may range from 90 to just a few degrees. 

Fiery skipper; typical basking pose, hind wings almost horizonal; fore wings less open.
Basking grass skippers hold their wings in a characteristic pose: both wings are held open, but the hind wings are held almost horizontally while the forewings are only slightly opened. The body is oriented so that it is maximally exposed to the sun. This enables the skipper to gain heat rapidly and keep its body temperature high enough for rapid flight.

Fiery skipper

Silver-spotted skipper; note husky body.

There were two common Skippers nectaring in the Flower garden today: Silver spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus), which is a spread-wing skipper and a Fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus), a grass skipper. The Silver spotted skipper is a large skipper with a prominent silver spot on the underside of the hind wings and a large orange spot on the underside of the front wings. The fiery skipper is yellowish-tan with a scattering of black dots on the underside of both wings. 

Ocola skipper (photo by Don Hunter)
Long-tailed skipper
We saw one individual each of the Ocola skipper (Panoquin ocola), a Long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus) and a Duskywing skipper (Katherine said it might be Horace's duskywing (Erynnis horatius).

Eastern tiger swallowtail; male - note absence of blue color on the dark border of the hind wings
The Eastern Tiger swallowtail is the state butterfly of Georgia. This large yellow butterfly with black stripes is common and very distinct. The swallowtail in the name refers to the projections from the hind wings that are reminiscent of the tail feathers of a swallow. At the base of tails there is a circular marking that, together with the swallowtail makes this area of the wing resemble a head with large eye and antennae. Predators may mistakenly attack this pseudo-head and get a mouthful of wings while the butterfly escapes, a little more ragged but still alive. At least that is the theory. In support is the frequent occurrence of damage to this part of the hind wing suggesting that predatory attacks really are misdirected.
Eastern tiger swallowtail; melanic female
The tiger stripes are still faintly visible.

There is another color form of the Eastern tiger swallowtail, one that is uniformly dark in color. This results from the presence of a dark pigment, melanin, the same substance that is produced in human skin exposed to sunlight. The yellow areas of the wing are black, obscuring the tiger stripes. (They can still be seen if the wings are back lit by the sun.) The curious thing is that these melanic forms are only found in females; the males are always the black and yellow form. In our area about 80% of the females are melanic. It is thought that the melanic females are mimicking a distasteful swallowtail, the Pipevine swallowtail, which, like the Monarch butterfly, acquires a foul taste from its larval food. Support for this idea is found in the proportion of melanic females: it is highest in the South where the Pipevine swallowtail is common. In more northern areas, where the Pipevine is rarer, the melanic tiger swallowtail is less common. And in Canada, where the Pipevine swallowtail is not found, all the tiger swallowtails are yellow with black stripes. So it appears that natural selection favors the melanic form where its model is common. This is thought to be an example of what is called Batesian mimicry. (A Batesian mimic is harmless and edible but resembles a poisonous or distasteful species and thereby gains protection from predators.) 

The puzzle is why the melanic condition is restricted to the females. Some have suggested that the yellow and black pattern is necessary for mate recognition by females, but this idea has not been tested, so far as I know.

You can distinguish tiger swallowtail sexes by the presence or absence of blue scales on the dark border of the hind wing. If it is densely blue then it is a female, otherwise it is a male.

Summer Azure butterfly

 Speaking of blue -- there was a single Azure butterfly nectaring on some of the flowers, probably a Summer Azure. The Azures are a bit unsettled at present. Some think that there may be at least five different species that differ in their food plants and flight times. Others think that is too many. But all would agree that the blue on the upper surface of the wings is like a piece of the sky.

The surprise for today was a Giant swallowtail, the largest butterfly in North America nectaring in the flower garden. The food plant for this species is citrus. If there are any planted in the garden they may have caterpillars. They also breed on a native plant species, Wafer Ash. I have only seen one of these in the garden, so we'll have to check it out also.
Giant swallowtail nectaring

Sorghum ecosystem

Sorghum; looks like corn but no ears in the leaf axils;
Flowers are at the top; that's where the seed appears;
Corn has tassels (male flowers) on top.

In the Heritage garden there is a row of Sorghum plants that are infested with aphids. Right now the aphid population is relatively small, but aphid populations can grow rapidly and in a few more weeks every plant will be covered with them. But you won't find them on the upper surfaces of the leaves – you'll have to lift the leaves to see them. The aphids are sucking the sweet Sorghum sap and they excrete what they don't use as a tiny droplet of what is euphemistically called "honeydew." This sweet fluid accumulates on the leaves below the aphid colonies and attracts many kinds of bees and wasps, who scurry across the leaves searching for the sweet residue.
Small aphid colony on underside of Sorghum leaf

Ladybug larva; these beetle larvae are voracious eaters of aphids

Asian multicolored lady bugs mating;
like their larvae, these beetles also eat aphids.

The attendees at these sugar parties are flies, wasps and bees. Today the party was dominated by two categories of wasps: social wasps and solitary wasps. The social wasps you're probably familiar with – yellowjackets, paper wasps, and hornets. They live in nests made of paper and form large colonies in which only one individual lays eggs, while the others perform non-reproductive tasks: foraging, nest construction and cleaning, larval feeding and colony defense.

Social wasps

Polistes carolina; a paper wasp

Another paper wasp

Another paper wasp, possibly Polistes fuscatus
Solitary wasps were by far the most abundant wasps today and we were able to recognize many distinct kinds, even though we couldn't identify them. 
A scoliid wasp; preys on scarab beetle (like Japanese beetles) larvae

A solitary wasp

Another solitary wasp; pretty orange legs

Yet another solitary wasp
Male honey bee (Drone); big eyes - the better to find a mate with.
(photo by Angeli Menon)

I think this one is a Mud dauber
(photo by Angeli Menon)

Two more wasps
(photo by Angeli Menon)

Solitary wasp and lady beetle (lady bug)
(photo by Angeli Menon)

Looks like a Yellowjacket, but I don't think it is.
(photo by Angeli Menon)

As the name implies, this type of wasp does not live in colonies. Each female constructs her own nest, typically a burrow in the soil or an excavation in a twig. She then searches for food for her offspring and each kind of wasp seeks a specific type of prey: crickets, spiders, grasshoppers, caterpillars, etc. Many have very narrow tastes. For example, one wasp preys only on the queen ants of one species. 

When the prey is found it is paralyzed, not killed, by the sting and then carried back to the nest where the female lays a single egg on it and closes the nest. The female wasp then repeats this process until it dies.

When the egg hatches the wasp larva feeds in darkness on the still living body of its host until it reaches the size to pupate. The pupal stage may last until the following year or there may be two or more generations in a single year. When the adult emerges from the pupa it digs its way out and starts the next generation.

That's it for today's post!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ramble Report July 14 2016

Today's Ramble was lead by Linda Chafin.

All the photos in this post are compliments of Rosemary Woodel.

Today's post was written by Dale Hoyt.

Eighteen Ramblers met today.


Ed Wilde made the following announcement:

The “Nature Ramble” has become, for many of us, an important part of our week and an experience that has changed the way we look at and pass through the natural world. This remarkable experience is free, but there is a lot of work that goes into maintaining both the Ramble itself, and the documentation in the report by Dale, Don, and others.

It seems like it would be a good idea to show our appreciation to the Botanical Garden, and to the volunteers who diligently give of their time week after week.

I'm sure there are several ways to show this appreciation, but one way would be to make sure we all become members of the Friends of the Garden, and to either raise the level of our support, or give an additional donation beyond the cost of a basic membership. This can be done fairly easily by going online, or contacting the Garden directly. If you do this, please also mention that the Ramble is the inspiration for your financial support so that the Garden recognizes the significance of the efforts of those volunteers

Thank you, Ed!

Today's reading:

Lee Boyer supplied us with another of his historical curiosities, an article about Toccoa Falls from The Charleston Courier published in 1849.

The Charleston Courier, (Charleston, S.C), October 6, 1849, page 2.


The Falls of Toccoa lie on a creek of the same name, about eight miles from Wiley's ford, bridge or ferry, in Habersham county, Georgia. This creek is a tributary of Tugaloo river, which unites with the Seneca, from the S. Carolina side, to form the Savannah. The meaning of TOCCOA, is "Beautiful," or "The Beautiful," and it is a cascade of such charm and loveliness, as to be richly entitled to the epithet. It leaps suddenly, from a rocky precipice, 186 feet perpendicular descent in a sheet of sparking spray, and swells into bolder beauty, and is even lashed into angry foam, in seasons of deluge from the chambers of heaven. The view of the Fall, from the public road, which runs hard by, is very beautiful; and easy pathways, tending directly to its bring and its basin, bring the spectator into closer intimacy with its attractions. Near the basin are, or were, two large fragments of rock, detached and hurled from the precipice, by some shock or convulsion of nature, or perhaps by the attrition of water, within not very distant memory, the severances of which has somewhat diminished the original height of the rocky rampart. The descent of the curved waters, into an unbroken stream of spray and foam, (occasionally waving to and fro in the wind,) into the mimic lake below, is exceedingly graceful; and the volume of the fall being generally small and narrow, and its voice rather the music of a gentle cascade than the thunder of a roaring cataract, there are usually a quiet beauty and soft charm about it, which favor reposed more than excitement, and fill the fancy with dreams of fairies and naiads, than of water-demons or even syrens. When lit up with moonlight, or when Iris arches, with brilliant dies and dolphin hues, in the silver spray, the scene partakes still more of fairy enchantment. The valley of the fall, too, is lovely and romantic, and creatively suggestive of slyphs and dryads.

The sudden and abrupt plunge of the waters over the rock, without any previous warning, or "note of preparation," has probably 'given rise to a legend or tradition, which may be converted to poetic use. An Indian Chief is said to have become enamoured of a faithless maiden of another and hostile tribe, who pretended such a full return of his love, as to have impressed him with the delusive belief that she would betray her own tribe into his power. She accordingly arranged her plot; and, one dark night, affecting to pilot her confiding lover and his followers to the surprise of their enemy's camp, she treacherously led them over the precipice, to their utter destruction and the extinction of their tribe.

Today's route: From the arbor we took the mulched White trail down to the Orange connector trail; turning left on the connector we arrived at the Orange trail by the river. We followed the Orange trail downstream, turned left and walked a short distance to the first spur that lead into the beaver marsh. Then we returned back to the Orange trail and retraced our steps to the Purple trail which we took back to the Conservatory/Visitors Center and Donderos' Kitchen.


Among the regular ramblers are some who know their birds. Today Page, Tom, Sarah, and Linda were able to identify these birds by voice alone: Broad-winged hawk, Red-tailed hawk, Hooded warbler, Carolina wren, Acadian flycatcher and Pileated woodpecker

Insects and other Arthropods

European Hornet sipping fermented sap
A White oak at the back edge of the Arbor appeared to have been injured and was seeping sap which, because of the hot and humid weather, was starting to ferment. The odor attracted a number of insects, among them Yellow jacket wasps and a large European hornet. Also seen was a Red Admiral butterfly and a number of tiny flying insects too small to be identified.Sometimes an insect will imbibe so much fermented sap that it becomes drunk and unable to fly. We share a lot with insects. After a couple of beers I'm unable to fly.

Beetle antenna three times as large as the ant carrying it.
As we left the Arbor Emily noticed a large Carpenter ant carrying an unusual object in its mouth. Jeff thought it was an antenna from a large beetle. We can't be certain, but both of us think the beetle was a type of Longhorn beetle, family Cerambycidae, genus Prionus, that has similar antennae.

Lynx spider
While photographing some of the plants Rosemary noticed a small Lynx spider. This type of spider does not construct a web to capture its prey. It hangs out on flowers and vegetation and simply grabs any suitably sized insect and paralyzes it with a quick bite.

Praying mantis nymph on the back of someone's hand

Fall webworm nest; the black dots are caterpillar frass.
We found several nests of the Fall webworm on a single tree. This colony of caterpillars  caterpillar is the  Fall webworm is often confused with the Eastern Tent caterpillar (ETC). The ETC emerges in the early spring at the same time the leaves of its host plant, Black Cherry, emerge. The silken nest is built in the crotch of the tree and the caterpillars move out of the nest each day to feed on leaves. In contrast, the Fall webworm emerges much later, in mid- or late summer and encloses the leaves on the ends of branches in a silken web. To some extent the caterpillars are protected from predators by the web as they feed on the leaves. They progressively expand the nest to enclose fresh leaves. In my neighborhood I frequently see Fall webworm nests in the leaves of Pecans and Hickories, but many other kinds of trees are recorded as host plants. To some extent the silken nest prevents predators from eating the caterpillars, but over 50 species of parasitic flies and wasps have been recorded as attacking the caterpillars. I've seen paper wasps search in vain to find an opening in the nest. The nests are unsightly but the caterpillars do little harm to the tree, eating leaves from just a few branches. You will get more pleasure out of watching the caterpillars feed and develop than if you remove the nests.

A rolled leaf formerly containing a caterpillar
Another insect was not seen, but sign of its presence was obvious. A leaf was suspiciously rolled into a cylinder and when opened contained a small amount of frass (a polite term for caterpillar poop). No sign of the caterpillar, though. Leaf rolling is a common strategy that many insects and spiders adopt. It provides a shelter from rain and some protection from predators. I don't know how the caterpillar accomplishes the task of rolling up a leaf though. The layers are anchored with silk and it would be interesting to watch the process in action.

Female Katydid; the curved structure at the end of her abdomen is the ovipositor;
 the three white objects in front of the ovipositor are eggs she extruded.
In the beaver marsh Emily caught a female Katydid that was in the act of laying eggs. The photo shows a scimitar-shaped structure at the end of the Katydid's abdomen. This is an ovipositor – an egg laying device. She uses it to cut a slit in the stem of a plant and then deposits an egg in the slit. You can see several eggs at the base of the ovipositor.

Ecological Grass types

Grasses are divided into two general groups: cool season and warm season grasses. The cool-season grasses actively grow during winter, early spring or fall, becoming dormant in the summer; warm-season grasses are just the reverse. So grasses that flowered earlier this year are cool-season and will be setting seed right now. Examples of cool-season grasses we saw today are: Foxtail, Wild Rye Grass, River oats, Johnson grass, Rice cut grass and River cane.

Linda is raising cane
River cane

There are two species of native bamboos in our area: River cane and Switch cane. River cane (Arundinaria gigantea) is tall, reaching 10 feet or more in height while Switch cane (A. tecta) is much shorter – only 4 to 6 feet high. These native canes are little peculiar in that they don't produce seed every year. In fact, they only flower after growing 70 years, plus or minus. Furthermore, the entire population of cane flowers at the same time and then dies. During the years that cane is not flowering it is spreading vegetatively via rhizomes, so the large stands that in early colonial times covered the southern river bottoms may have been composed of only a few genetic types. (Vegetative reproduction produces clones of genetically identical plants.) This may explain, in part, their synchronous reproduction. The cane was used by Native Americans in many ways: making musical instruments, baskets, arrows and wattle-and-daub shelters.

Jimson weed
Jimson weed

Jimson weed is not native to the US, it was brought to America by the English, probably as a medicinal plant, and it first grew wild in the area around Jamestown. ("Jimson" is a corruption of Jamestown.) It is a member of the Nightshade family which are notorious for being poisonous and so are all parts of Jimson weed. It is also, at lower doses, hallucinogenic. One of the substances derived from this plant, scopolamine, is often featured in WWII movies where it is referred to as "truth serum" and administered to captured allied soldiers by their Nazi interrogators.

Muscadine grape leaves
Muscadine grapes

One of the many pleasures I receive from these rambles is when I am confronted with something that ought to have been obvious but that I had never thought about. One of the more abundant plants on forest floor in most of the SBGG is the Muscadine grape. In some areas it almost seems to be the only plant in the herbaceous layer. Year after year these small plants never seem to increase in size and I should have been aware of the obvious question: Why aren't these grape vines climbing trees? In many places in the SBGG there are large Muscadine vines growing up and hanging from trees, but I've never noticed any young vines climbing a tree. The solution to this puzzle is that grape vines can only grow up trees that are adjacent to them. All those little grape plants scattered over the forest floor and distant from trees are waiting for a tree seed to germinate next to them so they can literally grow up with it. Those large grape vines you sometimes see dangling from a tree are just as old as the tree is – they started out life together.

I've noticed another thing about these little grape plants on the forest floor. They don't show any signs of being eaten. And there are plenty of deer around to eat them, yet they seem immune. Do they taste bad? I googled "Do deer eat muscadine grape leaves" and found a lot of hits from sites that talked about deer eating grapes (the fruit), but few mentioned the leaves, let alone Muscadine leaves. One site suggested that Muscadine leaves didn't taste as good as ordinary grape leaves, but offered no evidence. Most websites were concerned with keeping deer out of their vinyards, chiefly to prevent loss of the wine-making fruits. They only mentioned that the deer would eat leaves in passing. I'm left feeling that the question is unanswered.

Succession on former cotton fields

Much of Clarke County was in cotton cultivation, if not continuously, at least at one time or another. The legacy of this era are our red clay "soils" that are really the mineral soil underlayment – all that is left after the top soil with its nutrients has been lost by years of erosion and crops that were "heavy feeders." One of the things Linda remarked on was the absence of plants with showy flowers growing dry shaded woods. Could their absence be due to the impact of cotton agriculture? Or is it due to the presence of deer? Deer were hunted nearly to extinction in the southeastern states in the 19th century. There was a program of reintroduction to Georgia from 1928 to 1979, some deer coming from populations as far away as Wisconsin. But the last 37 years have seen tremendous growth in the deer population and they could be an important factor affecting the herbaceous layer in our forests. Earlier this year I toured Walt Cook's property and was amazed at the number of seedling and sapling oaks and hickories I saw. I asked Walt if there were many deer on his property and he replied, "No." The difference between Walt's property and the SBGG was very dramatic.

Tipularia flower stalk with unopened flower buds
Cranefly orchid (Tipularia)

Linda told us that last winter she had seen the leaves of the Cranefly orchid in this area of the Garden and wanted us to look for the flowering stalks that should be appearing right now. She had failed to find any previously. Almost immediately Ed and Tim located some. The buds had not opened yet, so we will need to monitor this area carefully. Tipularia flowers are very small and colored brown and gray, just like the leaves on the forest floor, so they are difficult to find, blending as they do with the background.

Northern Red Oak snag

White Avens fruits; note the hooked bristles

White Avens flower
White Avens

White Avens is a plant we see almost year round, but we never seem to be present when it is flowering. At last, today we got to see both the flowers and the fruits. The plant in winter has a basal rosette that is composed of simple leaves. As the season progresses the new leaves emerge and are compound, looking almost like a different plant. Each of the seeds is surrounded by scales that bear hooked bristles to catch on the fur or socks of passing animals.

False nettle leaf

False nettle inflorescence with buds
False nettle

This plant resembles Wood nettle which is also found in the Garden. To distinguish them look at how the leaves are arranged. In False nettle the leaves are opposite; in Wood nettle the leaves are alternate. Wood nettle also has many hairs on its stems and leaves. Each hair contains the substance that stings if you brush against them.

Johnson grass

Johnson grass; the broad white mid-vein is characteristic, but not unique.

American Elm

American Elm leaf; note the oblique leaf base

Misc. Photos
Climbing Milkweed seed pod

Lurid sedge fruits

Elderberry fruit

Green Ash seeds on the path

Poison hemlock; the plant that killed Socrates

Wingstem flowers


Summary of Observed Species

Common Name
Scientific Name
European hornet
Vespa crabro
Yellow jacket
Vespula sp.
Red Admiral
Vanessa atalanta
Foxtail grass
Setaria sp.
Jimson weed
Datura stramonium
Poke weed
Phytolacca americana
Muscadine grape
Muscadinia rotundifolia
Northern Red Oak
Quercus rubra
Cross vine
Bignonia capreolata
White avens
Geum canadense
Wild Rye grass
Elymus glabriflorus
Hammock Spider-lilly
Hymenocalis occidentalis
False nettle
Boehmeria cylindrica
Ebony spleenwort
Asplenium platyneuron
Blood root
Sanguineria canadensis
Lemon Balm
Melissa officinalis
Acadian flycatcher
Empidonax virescens
Praying mantis
Fall webworm
Arctinae: Hyphantria cunea
Dwarf St. Johnswort
Hypericum mutilum
Climbing Milk weed
Gonolobus suberosus
Red spotted purple
Limenitis arthemis
Beefsteak plant
Perilla frutescens
Impatiens capensis
Johnson grass
Sorghum halepense
Verbesina alternafolia
Green ash
Fraxinus pensyllvanica
Box Elder
Acer negundo
Sambucus canadensis
Flat scale sedge
Cyperus sp.
American Elm
Ulmus americanus
River oats
Chasmanthium latifolium
Leafy elephant's foot
Elephantopus carolinianus
Bur cucumber
Sicyos angulatus
Common Day Flower
Commelina communis?
River cane
Arundinaria tecta or gigantea
Sensitive fern
Onoclea sensibilis
Carolina wren
Thryothorus ludovicianus
Heal all
Prunella vulgaris
Hooded warbler
Setophaga citrina
Red-tailed hawk
Buteo jamaicensis
Poison hemlock
Conium maculatum
Rice cut grass
Leersia oryzoides
Duck potato
Sagittaria arifolia
Lurid sedge
Carex lurida
Broad-winged hawk
Buteo platypterus