Friday, June 9, 2017

Ramble Report June 8 2017



Today's Ramble was led by Dale Hoyt.
The photos in this post, except where noted, came from Don's Facebook album (here's the link).
Today's post was written by Dale Hoyt.



25 Ramblers today

Today's reading:  Don read from an article about the Japanese practice of “tree bathing.”

Today's Route:   Through the Shade Garden to the White Trail and across the road to the power line RoW, then turning south, down the RoW, crossing the road and going a short way before running out of time and heading back to the Visitor Center and Cafe Botanica for refreshments and conversation.  


White Trail, between road and Power line RoW:

Hophornbeam fruits are abundant this year
Hophornbeam fruits are abundant this year, at least on the trees in this section of the White trail. It is the fruit that gives this understory tree its common name: they resemble the fruits of the Hop vine that give the bite to beer. (Hops were originally used to preserve beer, that is, extend its shelf life.) If you tease apart one of the fruits you'll see that it's made of a cluster of small, papery sacs, each with a single small seed attached to a central stalk. It is thought that these paper bags allow the seeds to float downstream and colonize new areas. But Hophornbeam is a very abundant subcanopy tree in areas well away from water, so the seeds must also be dispersed by other means.
Looking back over previous Ramble Reports I noticed that Hophornbeam seems to flower (and therefore produce fruit) heavily every other year. We commented on the absence of fruit in 2016, 2014 and 2012.

American beech fruit contains 1-3 three-sided nuts
An American beech is located near the Hophornbeams and currently sports a few spiny fruits.

Red shouldered hawk
Red shouldered hawks were harassing (or being harassed) by a pair of crows.

Post oak leaf
Also in the same area are two Post oaks, whose leaves have lobes arranged to resemble a Maltese cross.

Green ash
A young Green ash is an example of a tree with opposite, compound leaves.

Young Water oak variation in leaf lobing

Another young Water oak with variable leaf shape

Sue pointed out several sapling Water oaks that display leaves that are quite different than leaves seen on mature trees. Some leaves on these immature trees are long and thin, like a willow, others have three prominent lobes at the end, others only two. As the tree matures the leaves widen out toward the end, with just the suggestion of lobes. This variation makes it hard to recognize sapling oaks, prompting one of our Ramblers to suggest that "Oaks are like men, never trust a young one." 
Most oaks typically grow in dry situations like ridge tops or slopes with southern exposures, but Water oaks can grow in wetter situations, e.g., streamsides. This tolerance of moisture is probably the origin of their common name. Water oak grows more rapidly than many other oak species which is probably why it is frequently planted as a street or shade tree. Sylvics of North America states that it grows two feet/year for the first 25 years.

Hawthorn with developing fruit
Sue also found a small Hawthorn with developing fruits. If you thought the fruit looked like a tiny apple you were right, Hawthorns, like apples, belong to the Rose family (Rosaceae). The fruits of hawthorns are called "haws," and are usually tart to the point of inedibility. There are exceptions, however. One type of hawthorn, the Mayhaw, produces fruit with a delicate flavor and jelly made from it is a southern specialty; it commands a premium price. Look for it at roadside fruit stands. I think I once found it for sale at one of the stands between Madison and Athens. Hawthorns are notoriously difficult to identify, so we are just calling this one Crataegus sp.

Ohio spiderwort

Wild petunia
Other flowering plants seen in this part of the White trail are Ohio spiderworts and Wild petunias. The spiderworts are left over from the time when this part of the garden was planted with numerous horticultural varieties of garden flowers. Both species are native, but only the Wild petunia got here on its own.

Power line Right of Way:  

Ellie stalking grasshoppers
By the time we reached the RoW the sun had been out long enough to warm up the insects and we started to see them flying away from our disturbing presence. Our two young Ramblers, Ronnie and his sister Ellie, helped with spotting and catching a variety of grasshoppers and katydids.

Yellow crownbeard; note the wings on the stem and the opposite leaves.
This time of year is intermission as far as wild flowers are concerned. The colorful spring ephemerals are making seeds and the fall perennials are still in the process of vegetative growth. It's relatively easy to identify some of these perennial plants, like the wingstems, genus Verbesina, even though they don't have any flowers yet. All the members of the genus have flat ridges of plant tissue that run the length of the stem, making it easy to identify them. One of the three wingstems in our area has opposite leaves, so if you see a wingstem with opposite leaves you know it is V. occidentalis, Yellow crownbeard. (The other two species have alternate leaves and one has yellow flowers while the other has white flowers. Next week we'll see how to distinguish these two even without flowers.)

Carolina grasshopper. Short antennae on the left; mottled brown color that is perfect camouflage; large hind legs adapted for jumping.
The long, straplike forewing of the Carolina grasshopper.
Carolina grasshopper. The hind wing is held expanded as it would be when flying.
The Carolina grasshopper is difficult to spot when it is simply standing still on bare soil. It's body is brown with a few darker areas and, if it's motionless, it just blends in with its background so perfectly that it is almost impossible to notice. But when it is disturbed it leaps into the air, propelled by its enormous, powerful hind legs and then flies away, displaying beautiful black and yellow wings. After flying 10-15 yards it suddenly folds its wings and lands, disappearing from sight again. It's a clever trick. The eye follows the prominently colored wings and continues to look for them in the direction of flight, even after the insect has dropped out of sight.

Many kinds of insects have two pairs of wings. In grasshoppers the first pair of wings are straight and strap-like; the second pair are shaped like a fan. It is the second pair that supply the power for flying; the first pair cover the hind wings and contribute to camouflage of the grasshopper when it is on the ground.

A little bit about Insect classification. Insects are divided into smaller groups called "Orders" that share a common set of features, the structure of the wings being an important feature that differs between Orders. Grasshoppers are members of the Order Orthoptera (pronounced "or-THOP-ter-ah"), which means "straight wing" and refers to the shape of first pair of wings. (The prefix ortho- means straight and the suffix –ptera means wing.) The names of many Insect Orders end in –ptera and the prefix refers to the different ways the wings are modified. For example, butterflies and moths are in the Order Lepidoptera (pronounced "lep-eh-DOP-ter-ah." Lepido- means scale and refers to the colored scales that cover the wings of moths and butterflies like shingles cover a roof.
Within the level of Order insects are grouped into Families. For example, Grasshoppers are in the family Acrididae (pronounced "a-CRID-uh-dee," and Katydids are in the family Tettigoniidae (pronounced "tet-uh-go-NIGH-uh-dee.") Sometimes it's easier to just use the common names, but these order and family names are universal, whereas the common names for the groups differ depending on the language being spoken. In Spanish the name for butterfly is mariposa; in German it is Schmetterling. But no matter what country you're in Lepidoptera would be recognized as referring to butterflies and moths.

Female Katydid. Note the very thin, long antennae on the right and the scimitar-shaped ovipositor at the end of the abdomen on the left.

Hind wing of the female Katydid; it's about the same size and shape as the Carolina grasshopper's but is almost completely transparent.
Grasshoppers have short antennae, no longer than the head is high; Katydids have long, whip-like antennae, much longer than their body. Grasshoppers lay their eggs in soil, while Katydids have a well-developed ovipositor (an egg layer) that slits open stems and deposits eggs into the slit. The eggs are protected from predators while inside the stem and, when they hatch, the tiny katydids emerge and climb up into the leaves and begin to chew them up.

Cottonwood leaves
There were light breezes keeping us cool this morning and also stirring the leaves of an Eastern cottonwood. The petiole of the leaf is flattened and flexible so when a breeze hits the leaf blade the leaf "trembles" in the wind. The sight of the leaves dancing in a zephyr is fascinating, almost like watching the waves come onto the beach. A relative of the cottonwood, Trembling aspen, is named and noted for the same characteristic fluttering.

Trumpet vine
A Trumpet vine is in bloom. The scarlet blossoms are favored by hummingbirds. There is another vine, past blooming and now setting fruit, climbing the tree next door – poison ivy. The fruits are devoured by birds without problems and that accounts for the wide occurrence of the vine.

We finally located some of the Butterfly milkweed in the area where it is being protected. The plants are still in early growth, no flower buds in evidence.

SUMMARY OF OBSERVED SPECIES:

American hophornbeam
Ostrya virginiana
American beech
Fagus grandifolia
Post oak
Quercus stellata
Green ash
Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Water oak
Quercus nigra
Spadefoot toad
Scaphiopus holbrookii
Red shouldered hawk
Buteo lineatus
American crow
Corvus brachyrhynchos
Hawthorn
Crataegus sp.
Smooth (Ohio) spiderwort
Tradescantia ohioensis
Wild petunia
Ruellia caroliniensis
Carolina grasshopper
Dissosteira carolina
Yellow crownbeard
Verbesina occidentalis
Eastern cottonwood
Populus deltoides
Meadow grasshopper
Orchelimum sp.
Trumpet vine
Campsis radicans
Poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans
Heal-all
Prunella vulgaris
Butterfly weed
Asclepias tuberosa
Ox-eye daisy
Leucanthemum vulgare
Rough daisy fleabane
Erigeron strigosus
Spotted cat's ear
Hypochaeris maculata
White avens
Geum canadensis
Katydid
Family Tettigoniidae

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Berkeley Boone, we now know that the newly metamorphosed toad that Ronnie caught is not an American Toad. It is a Spadefoot toad. They sneaked some eggs into the temporary pools that formed after those few heavy rains we had this spring. I'll change the species list.

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