Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Rain Rain Go Away
Nothing has changed since my last post. So out into the wet we go....
I decided if I could keep the camera dry, the heck with the rain. Over the weekend I wanted to explore the Hocking Hills area. I know some of the plants I was searching for are not in bloom yet, but at least the Dwarf Iris was plentiful at Ash Cave.
It was very dark out, but I find that adds to the quality of photographs. The Mayapple is now coming into peak bloom.
Remember the Tent Caterpillars from my last post? Well here is a Prunus serotina, Wild Cherry, completely defoliated by them.
Desperate for something to eat, they all moved to the Multi-flora Rose nearby. The last time I saw this happen, there were tons of last instar caterpillars hanging dead on Rose. It's less nutritious, but they'll eat anything halfway edible when their primary host is gone. They are so hungry at this point, they were eating in a pouring rain.
Other than the spots and hairy body, Tent Caterpillars can be recognized by the white stripe down the middle of the back. Let's face it, anything that will attempt to eat Multi-flora Rose can't be all bad.
Solomon's Seal, the smaller species. We have others around here, including the Giant Solomon's Seal which stands 4-5 feet tall.
Rain or shine, it's always nice to find orchids. This is the Showy Orchis, Galearis (Orchis) spectabilis. A small orchid recognized by the pink-purple and white colored petals. While preferring rich moist woods, the Showy can tolerate disturbed forest areas. This one was found in an opening. The shape of the lips make it ideal for pollination by almost exclusively, bumblebees.
Some people mistake this plant for a Smilax Greenbrier. This is Wild Yam, Dioscorea villosa. The leaves originate from a center stalk and branch out in multiple directions. Classified as a herbaceous vine, the roots are not edible like store bought yams. It's had many medicinal uses in the past, and contains the same chemical used in early birth control pills.
Growing along the roadside, many people probably dismiss this as just a dandelion. Cynthia (Krigia biflora) has leaves slightly lobed or toothed, but never divided like a dandelion. The flower stalk is usually leafless, but any leaves found there will be small, and they clasp the stem. The flowers often have a tinge of orange, making them darker than dandelion. The center stalk may produce more than one flower head, hence the latin name, and the other common name, Two-flowered Cynthia.
Sometimes your eye is drawn to things that at first glance seem commonplace. Don't presume this is just Rosa multiflora, a closer look will find these thorns just a bit different. This is the Climbing or Prairie Rose, Rosa setigera, one of our NATIVE roses. Rather than maintaining a rigid shrub form it will send its upper branches out and they will 'climb' over other plants. To verify the identification, look for leaves in threes. Like all our native roses, they bloom pink, not white.
Growing in open disturbed sites is one of the many colorful Speedwells. This is Thyme-leaved Speedwell. Unfortunately it is a non-native.
Always reliable in the Hocking Hills is one phlox I look forward to seeing. This pink species, with the un-notched petals is Creeping Phlox, Phlox stolonifera.
One of the goals of exploring is the hope of coming across things you haven't seen in a long time, or perhaps never. This is Dwarf Ginseng, Panax trifolius. The cotton-ball flower heads range from white to pink, and have five petals. The divided leaves are whorled and branch out in three directions. The plant is small, and the leaves are easily distinguished from the larger American Ginseng. This was a new species for me. It may not be as showy or exciting as some others, but new is new!
While photographing the dwarf ginseng, this critter hopped into the area. The Wood Frog is an early spring sighting, but I have seen them everywhere this year, more than usual. This brown frog is recognized by the black mask through the eyes.