Friday, April 22, 2016

Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata)


April 11th.  Some years ago, I found a couple of Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata) plants nestled between a large boulder and a tree.


Each year, I look forward to seeing them bloom. Last year, one flower produced a seed capsule. This year I noted that there were five plants, all of which were blooming.

Reference: 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Uvularia perfoliata

Friday, April 8, 2016

Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)


March 24th.  Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is one of the earliest blooming wildflowers in our area. The vines are unobtrusive, either crawling across the ground and climbing anything within reach, or high up in tall trees where it’s impossible to appreciate their flowers. 


This vine made the mistake of climbing up a small pine and hanging down within arm’s reach. Its blooms were unusually dense along the terminal end of the vine. 

So beautiful!

Reference: 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Gelsemium sempervirens

Sunday, April 3, 2016

American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) & Eggs


March 9th. A creek runs behind our home. Periodically the floodplain above it floods during heavy rains. In either December or January, Upland Chorus frogs (Pseudacris feriarum) breed in shallow water containers around the house. It occurred to us that, if we dug a pond on the floodplain above the creek, we could encourage Upland Chorus frogs to breed there. 


So, W has been digging a shallow pond, expanding it during the dry summer months. It’s not particularly pretty, but it has been a success, and for more than just the chorus frogs.

On a recent walk during the middle of the day, I found a…


pair of American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) in amplexus (laying/fertilizing eggs) in the pond. The female is noticeably larger than the male.


They had obviously been at work for a considerable period of time. 


The eggs are laid in gelatinous strands. The gelatinous material is not visible around recently laid eggs, but absorbs water and swells to become clearly visible as sand attaches to it. This material will protect the eggs against dessication if the water level in the pond drops too low before the eggs hatch and the tadpoles can swim into deeper water. 


I made my way around the pond and found enlarged gelatin tubes from at least two to three previous rounds of egg laying. 

American Taods may lay several thousand eggs. Eggs may take up to two weeks to hatch and transformation from tadpoles to adults in about to months.  They reach reproductive age in two to three years. 

Here’s hoping we have a healthy populations of American Toads in our area before too long. 

Reference:
Savahhan River Ecology Laboratory: American Toad (Bufo [Anaxyrus]americanus).

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Getting An Early Start: Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)


March 22nd. The trail from the picnic shelter to the Old Fort at Fort Yargo State Park follows the west shore of the reservoir. Sections of the trail are relatively open and get a lot of sun exposure at this time of year. 


Some Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) bushes are making the most of the warmth and are already blooming. Most won’t bloom until April. 

Reference
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Calycanthus floridus

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Early Spring Wildflowers At Oconee Heritage Park


March 14th, 2016. I went on a fungus hunt with a couple of mycophiles yesterday, hoping that we’d find some mushrooms after the recent rain. 


We walked along the equestrian trail to the creek and began to work our way back across county.


We explored one of the side drainages, and spent some time accessing areas to the side of one of the trails – circled in blue - that I had walked a couple of weeks ago. This area is a deciduous forest that hadn’t leafed out yet. I hadn’t expected to see many wildflowers but I was to be surprised.


Buckeyes (Aesculus sp.) were leafing and budding out throughout the area. I’m betting most of these are Painted Buckeyes (Aesculus sylvatica); this is a common species in this area. But time will tell…


As I climbed from the creek bottom to the trail running along a ridge, I almost stepped on this Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) plant, looking like a little, lime-green torpedo, just pushing its way out of the ground. Just two plants in this location, in a small ‘gully’ where water ran down the hillside when it rained.


Beside the trail, I found a lone Wlld Geranium (Geranium maculatum) blooming. Judging by the number of geranium leaves in this area, this may be a mini-meadow of geranium blooms before too long. 


On the other side of the trail, down the hill in another small drainage gully, another pair of Mayapple plants making their appearance. 

When I first walked this trail, I’d seen a single Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa) blooming at the base of a tree. This particular plant had finished blooming, but I found…


several plants in full bloom, as well as… 


one that had new buds. 


Another surprise! One of several Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) plants in bloom along this section of trail. 


The final wildflower blooming along this section of the trail was Green-and-gold (Chrysogonum virginianum). 

We made our way from the trail back down to the main stream. As I worked my way along the steep hill above the creek, I was rewarded with finding another…


Bloodroot plant in bloom. This one looked like a ‘double.’ 


And finally, back to the main trail that led up the hill and back to the parking lot.
I was surprised by the variety of early wildflowers in this area that, a couple of weeks previously, was a forest floor covered with leaf litter with little sign of herbaceous plant life.

References:
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Aesculus sylvatica 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Podophyllum peltatum 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Geranium maculatum 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Sanguinaria canadensis 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Chrysogonum virginianum

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)


March 10th, 2016. Spring has arrived! At least the temperatures have risen, and the early wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is one of my favorite spring wildflowers. Several are blooming in the Dunstan Garden at the State Botanical Garden in Athens, Georgia.

I found this one blooming at the junction of the White and Green Trails in the woods. The leaf, as attractive as the flower, is just visible at the base of the stem.



A better view of the developing leaf. A few inches away, I found a couple more leaves just visible in the leaf litter.

Reference: 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Sanguinaria canadensis

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Summer At Fort Yargo State Park: Shelter A To The Old Fort, September 14th, 2015 (Part 3)


September 14th. (Continued from…). I started to walk again at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. One of my favorite walks is from the Group Shelter A to the Old Fort and back. This is a rewarding walk for viewing wildflowers and I’ve This is a rewarding walk for viewing wildflowers and I’ve been walking it every week

The route, which I described here, here, and here. 

The early spring wildflowers have finished blooming; it’s time to watch the developing fruit. Summer wildflowers were still blooming but it was time to turn attention to the fungi in the woods. There were quite a number on this walk including more tooth fungi.


The Resurrection Fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides) fronds near the beginning of the ‘Rock Garden’ trail were showing the tell-tale ‘bumps’ indicating that the fern had produced sori (clusters of sporangia). Inspection of their undersides showed that they had already released their spores.


The seed capsules on the Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) vine just below the Resurrection Fern had opened during the previous week. They open at the top of the capsule and the seeds remained nestled deep within them. 

Near the end of the Rock Garden trail, I found a most unusual mushroom. I posted pictures to the Facebook Mushroom Identification Forum and was provided with an identification.


This was a Drab Tooth (Bankera fuligineoalba) mushroom


It had thick, ‘corky’ flesh and… 


teeth instead of gills.


Below the Old Fort, the Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) vines were developing seeds.


A Yellow Bear (Spilosoma virginica) caterpillar, the larva of the Virginia Tiger Moth, was making its way over the vines.


Another surprise. Nestled among the other plants in this location was a small Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) plant in bloom. I knew that a few Spotted Jewelweed plants grew under the road bridge, but these were inaccessible except by boat. I was delighted to find this plant in an accessible location, even if it had only a few flowers. 

I turned back along the trail. At one place, on my way north along the trail, I saw some odd growths on the slope just above the trail. I wasn’t sure if they were plants or fungi. I took the time on my way back to take a few photos. These I also submitted to the Facebook Mushroom Identification Forum for an identification. It turned out that these were…


the False Coral Fungua (Sebacina schweinitzii). This fungus is also known by the scientific names Tremellodendron schweinitzii and Sebacina pallida. 

References: 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Dioscorea villosa 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Pleopeltis polypodioides 
Mushroom Observer (Terri Clements/Donna Fulton): Bankera fuligineoalba 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Clematis terniflora 
Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Impatiens capensis 
Mushroom Observer (Judi T): Sebacina schweinitzii 

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