Friday, July 31, 2009
The area recently experienced something of a tropical storm--high winds and 2-4" of rain. I noticed that after the storm some branches displayed split open bark like we see here.
There was also a good deal of peeled bark on the ground around the clump of trees. Here I arranged some of the fallen material. Reminds me of cinnamon stick.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
What I like about this tree is its determination to survive. Although everything above the main trunk had died off, there are sprouts from the trunk reaching out.
It's a short post today--finally wrapped up late night new car shopping! Phew, glad that's over...
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
As reherceth to vs this fable
Of a crowe whiche vpon a day came for to drynke oute of a boket
and by cause that she myght not reche to the water
she dyd fyll the boket ful of small stones
in soo moche that the water came vpward
wherof she dranke thenne at her wylle
And therfore hit appiereth wel
that wytte or sapyence is a moche fayr verture
For by sapyence or wytte
thow shalt mowe resyste to all faultes
The Crow and the Pitcher
1484 translation by William Caxton
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Well, it's really not fair to the trees when I pay so much attention to the little plants, even though before we know it they'll all have slipped away under winter's blanket. So, here is an effort to give fair due to one of my taller friends.
The samaras of this Ash tree are well developed. One can narrow down the species based on their size and shape. By the slenderness and the fact that the seed takes up nearly half the length of the samara, we're down to either Red or Green. That is, Blue, Black, and White, the remaining local possibilities, are left behind.
The fuzziness of the petioles and undersides of the leaves eliminates the Green. So here we are with the Red Ash, Fraxinus pennsylvanica.
Everything I needed for this ID was made possible with The Tree Identification Book by George W.D. Symonds. It's an awesome book!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Here's some very cool and informative quotes from Wild Flowers Worth Knowing:
"Seeds below, a circle of insignificant purple-blue flowers in the centre, and buds at the top of the vervain's slender spires do not produce a striking effect, yet this common plant certainly does not lack beauty. John Burroughs, ever ready to say a kindly, appreciative word for any weed, speaks of its drooping, knotted threads, that "make a pretty etching upon the winter snow." Bees, the vervain's benefactors, are usually seen clinging to the blooming spikes, and apparently asleep on them. Borrowing the name of Simpler's Joy from its European sister, the flower has also appropriated much of the tradition and folk-lore centred about that plant which herb-gatherers, or simplers, truly delighted to see, since none was once more salable."
vervain—found growing on Mount Calvary, and therefore possessing every sort of miraculous power, according to the logic of simple peasant folk—the Druids had counted it among their sacred plants. "When the dog-star arose from unsunned spots" the priests gathered it. Did not Shakespeare's witches learn some of their uncanny rites from these reverend men of old? One is impressed with the striking similarity of many customs recorded of both. Two of the most frequently used ingredients in witches' cauldrons were the vervain and the rue. "The former probably derived its notoriety from the fact of its being sacred to Thor, an honor which marked it out, like other lightning plants, as peculiarly adapted for occult uses," says Mr. Thiselton Dyer in his "Folk-lore of Plants." "Although vervain, therefore, as the enchanter's plant, was gathered by witches to do mischief in their incantations, yet, as Aubrey says, it 'hinders witches from their will,' a circumstance to which Drayton further refers when he speaks of the vervain as "gainst witchcraft much avayling.'" Now we understand why the children of Shakespeare's time hung vervain and dill with a horseshoe over the door."
Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. New York, 1917. 185-6. Web. Google Book Search. 26 Jul 2009.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
"Special concern" (SC) species are native species which have been documented by biological research or inventory to have suffered a decline that could threaten the species if allowed to continue unchecked, or which occur in such small numbers or with such restricted distribution or specialized habitat requirements that they could easily become threatened within Massachusetts.
Below are quotes from the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program fact sheet for this species.
Threats: Plymouth Gentian is threatened by any activity that changes the hydrologic regime, water, quality, or soil integrity of the coastal plain pond it inhabits. Region-wide, coastal plain ponds are imperiled due to shoreline development, water table drawdown (from wells), eutrophication (resulting from fertilizers and septic systems), and soil disturbance from heavy recreational use (ORV, horse, and foot traffic; camping; boat-launching; raking and digging).
Management recommendations: Management of Plymouth Gentian requires protection of the hydrology, water quality, and soil integrity of its habitat. Like many other coastal plain pondshore plant species, Plymouth Gentian requires pronounced water-level fluctuations, acidic, nutrient-poor water and substrate, and an open, exposed shoreline, free from major soil disturbance. The hydrologic regime is particularly important; coastal plain pondshore species often require low water years for reproduction, but their persistence at a site depends on high water years to keep dense woody vegetation from taking over the shoreline. Protection of Plymouth Gentian habitat may require exclusion of new wells and septic systems, prohibitions on fertilizer use, and restrictions on recreational use of the site. Recreational activities such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and ORV use should be diverted from the plant population location by re-routing trails, installing fences, and providing alternative locations for the activities.
And here's a little video that I put together last evening. Movie making is a fascinating media that I'd love to explore.
Plymouth Gentian, Sabatia kennedyana. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. Web. Updated Jun 2007. Accessed 25 Jul 2009.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
"Digging one day for fish-worms I discovered the ground-nut (Apios tuberosa) on its string, the potato of the aborigines, a sort of fabulous fruit, which I had begun to doubt if I had ever dug and eaten in childhood, as I had told, and had not dreamed it. I had often since seen its crimpled red velvety blossom supported by the stems of other plants without knowing it to be the same. Cultivation has well - nigh exterminated it. It has a sweetish taste, much like that of a frost-bitten potato, and I found it better boiled than roasted. This tuber seemed like a faint promise of Nature to rear her own children and feed them simply here at some future period. In these days of fatted cattle and waving grain-fields this humble root, which was once the totem of an Indian tribe, is quite forgotten, or known only by its flowering vine; but let wild Nature reign here once more, and the tender and luxurious English grains will probably disappear before a myriad of foes, and without the care of man the crow may carry back even the last seed of corn to the great corn-field of the Indian's God in the south - west, whence he is said to have brought it; but the now almost exterminated ground-nut will perhaps revive and flourish in spite of frosts and wildness, prove itself indigenous, and resume its ancient importance and dignity as the diet of the hunter tribe. Some Indian Ceres or Minerva must have been the inventor and bestower of it; and when the reign of poetry commences here, its leaves and string of nuts may be represented on our works of art."
From Useful Wild Plants:
"Narratives of white travelers in our American wilderness bear abundant evidence to the Groundnut's part in saving them from serious hunger. Being a vegetable, it made a grateful complement to the enforced meat diet of pioneers and explorers; and Major Long, whose share in making known the Rocky Mountain region to the world is commemorated in the name of one of our country's loftiest peaks, tells in his journal of his soldiers' finding the little tubers in quantities of a peck or more hoarded up in the brumal retreats of the field mice against the lean days of winter. They may be cooked either by boiling or by roasting."
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Boston, New York, 1897. 370-1. Web. Google Book Search. 24 Jul 2009.
Saunders, Charles Francis. Useful Wild Plants. New York, 1920. 3-4. Web. Google Book Search. 24 Jul 2009.
Friday, July 24, 2009
As the posts have rolled along, the ID blues have never left my side. Just yesterday I popped through with a couple of new IDs. There were days of work behind the breakthroughs. To me, it is a labor of love and I consider myself lucky to have stumbled upon such an endeavor.
So here we finally get to see flowers! They have been long coming--I have been shooting buds for weeks, always anticipating a quick blossom. This is a very patient bush.
From A Guide to the Wildflowers:
"One of the joys of the late season is the bursting into bloom of the clethra. Its delicate blossoms and the intense fragrance that it sheds about recall again the early spring days of timid flowers and soft green leaves which have later become sadly overheated or dusty beyond recognition. It seeks its home in shady lanes along the coast, where the air is moist, and which is undoubtedly the reason of its freshness so late in the season, and of the vigour of its dark green leaves. It remains in bloom a long time. When bruised the foliage emits a peculiar odour."
Lounsberry, Alice. A Guide to the Wildflowers. New Yor, 1899. 308. Web. Google Book Search. 23 Jul 2009.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
"In purchasing a squirrel, be careful to select a young one: when taken old, they are sulky and morose in disposition, and almost incapable of being tamed, besides being far less beautiful in their appearance. Old squirrels may easily be distinguished from the young, for they are larger, have stouter limbs, are of darker colour, more inclining to sandy-brown, with less of the reddish tinge in it; their teeth are also larger and stronger, and perfectly yellow, and their tails by no means so full and bushy as those of young animals. A fine young squirrel may be purchased of a bird-fancier for about five shillings. In the country they may be obtained, much cheaper, of the boys who sometimes catch them. They are often brought to Whitechapel hay market by the farmers' boys."
Cassell's Handbooks. Handbook About Our Domestic Pets. New York, London, 1862. 60. Web. Google Book Search. 21 Jul 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I don't know why one set of cones is clean and the other has all those flowery remnants but I suspect at some time I'll find out.
From American Forest Trees:
The alders are old inhabitants of the earth. They had a place in the Eocene and Miocene forests of the old world and new. It is not apparent that they have either gained or lost in extent of range during the hundreds of thousands of years which measure their tenancy on the earth. They have not been aggressive in pushing their way, nor have they shown a disposition to retire before the aggression of other trees. Some alders bear seeds equipped with wings for wind distribution, others produce wingless seeds which depend on water to bear them to suitable situations and plant them. Of course, the water-borne seeds are planted on muddy shores or on the banks of running streams, and the trees of those species are confined to such situations. The alders belong to the birch family.
Gibson, Henry H. American Forest Trees. Chicago, 1913. 589. Web. Google Book Search. 21 Jul 2009.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Today's quoting comes from Rhodora, the journal of The New England Botanical Club first published in 1899.
REMARKABLE PERSISTENCE OF THE BUTTON-BUSH.
It seems a strange and anomalous condition of things, a perversion of the laws that govern the distribution of plants, to see our common Button-bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis, L.) growing in a dry hen- yard behind a barn. Yet such is the case and the shrubs flourish from year to year in this quaint spot, though their natural habitat is swamps and the wet borders of ponds and streams. The story is an interesting one and illustrates well the dogged persistence that some plants show in the hard struggle for life.
The scene is in Shelburne, New Hampshire, on the farm of Mr. A. E. Philbrook. On one part of this farm, as early as 1860, there stood a small pond on whose borders grew in greater or less abundance the Button-bush. The water was shallow and muddy, and in summer the pond was reduced to a very swampy piece of land. Between 1860 and 1865, the owner of the land, in order to make a suitable site for a barn, decided to fill up the pond. To lighten this task a small neighboring stream was turned so as to flow along the foot of a sandy hill close by the pond. The water undermining the bank brought down a good supply of sand, and the pond was finally filled, the level of the ground being about three feet above the former surface of the water. The Button-bush was buried out of sight, for whatever may have been above ground was cut off or trampled down, and on this new land the barn was built and an area left in the rear was used as a wood-yard. Soon sprouts of the buried plants began to appear, but they were continually cut off or trodden under foot until finally the place was turned into a hen-yard and fenced in. Not long after this, the sprouts again appeared and ere long the plants were of normal size, in good condition, and flowering and fruiting regularly, though the roots were buried at least three feet deeper than when the plants grew beside the pond. The place has been fenced in ever since and used either for hens or pigs or both, and yet through all this time to the present day the plants have continued to thrive.
I first saw this Button-bush on the Philbrook Farm in the summer of 1882. It was growing in a thick clump, some four feet high, the bushes were in full flower and the hens sought shelter from the hot sun under the shady branches. The next time I saw the plants was in October of the present year, fifteen years since my last visit. On repairing to the spot I found the conditions in no wise changed. The little yard was still there, fenced in as formerly. Fifteen little pigs and some hens were roaming about the enclosure. There on one side within a space thirty-three by twenty-eight feet in extent grew the Button-bush. I counted as many as seventy stems rising above the ground which was dry and hard as formerly, and packed closely about the plants by the many feet of the strange companions of these water-loving shrubs. They were from three to seven and one half feet in height, and were setting a good crop of fruit. Mr. Philbrook who has kindly given me the early history of this plant says that the roots are at least six feet below the surface of the ground, but that at that depth the soil is always wet in this particular locality. In this respect only does the plant in any degree follow the normal habit of the species. The shoots of the Button- bush are not so numerous as they were a few years ago, but this is due to the fact that they receive pretty hard treatment from the pigs that root about the stems and rub continually against them. The hens also pick at the young shoots within reach. Still for thirty- seven years under these unnatural conditions have the plants flourished and, if unmolested, there seems to be no reason for putting any limit to their vitality.
Rhodora, Journal of the New England Botanical Club. Volume 4. No. 37. January.1902. 243 .
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
From Forage Plants and Their Culture:
"Red clover was not known as a crop by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was apparently first cultivated in Media and south of the Caspian Sea, in the same general region where alfalfa was first domesticated. In Europe its use as an agricultural plant is comparatively modern, the first mention of its use as feed for cows being by Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth century. There are definite. records of its cultivation in Italy in 1550, in Flanders in 1566, in France in 1583. From Flanders it was introduced into England in 1645, and shortly afterwards its culture was described in several books. Its use in Europe became extensive about the end of the eighteenth century.
It was probably introduced into the United States by the early English colonists, but the first published mention of its culture was by Jared Eliot, who wrote of its being grown in Massachusetts in 1747."
From The Farmer's Manual:
"Some farmers complain that red clover, when sown for mowing upon their orchard grounds, causes the trees to wither and decay. This may be remedied by sowing plaster of Paris upon your clover; your orchards will flourish as well as upon English mowing; one bushel to the acre in the spring, or fall, annually, will answer. It is of no consequence to inquire, why a crop so fertilizing as clover, should injure the orchard, nor why the plaster should prevent it; facts are stubborn things, and are generally, all that are of importance in good farming."
Piper, Charles Vancouver. Forage Plants and Their Culture. New York, 1916. 361-2. Web. Google Book Search. 18 Jul 2009.
Butler, Frederick. The Farmer's Manual. Hartfort, CN, 1819. 7. Web. Google Book Search. 18 Jul 2009.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
There's a good deal of Pennsylvania Smartweed, Persicaria pensylvanica, around the lake and most of it likes to grow out of cracks between sidewalk and curbstone.
From A Manual of Weeds:
"A pest of lowland clover fields, as it ripens its earlier seeds about the time of clover cutting. Stems two to five feet tall, somewhat hard and woody when old, and of rather branching and sprawling habit, the lower part smooth but the topmost leaves and the flower- stalks set with gland-tipped hairs. Leaves two to ten inches long, lance-shaped, with short petioles; sheathing stipules smooth and thin. Flowers in short, crowded, erect spikes, cylindric, often blunt at the end, deep pink; they are frequently affected with a smut or fungus which turns the heads into a mass of purple spores, destroying the fruits so that "purplehead" is a benefit from the farmer's point of view."
Georgia, Ada Eljiva. A Manual of Weeds. New York, 1919. 100-1. Web. Google Book Search. 16 Jul 2009.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
From Wild Flowers:
"The Long Purples, as country people call the Loosestrife, are among the most conspicuous as well as the most richly- tinted of all the flowers which grow among the rushes and sedges of our streams. Far away, and long ere any other blossom can be discerned, the tall rich spikes may be seen bowing slightly to the breeze which ripples the current, and colouring the landscape for miles along the margin of the waters. The square stem is two, three, or sometimes even four feet high, and often more than a foot of its upper portion is during July and August crowded with the whorls of blossoms."
Pratt, Anne. Wild Flowers. London, 1853. 189. Web. Google Book Search. 15 Jul 2009.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
From Wild Flowers Worth Knowing:
"When the Pokeweed is "all on fire with ripeness," as Thoreau said; when the stout vigorous stem (which he coveted for a cane), the large leaves, and even the footstalks, take on splendid tints of crimson lake, and the dark berries hang heavy with juice in the thickets, then the birds, with increased hungry families, gather in flocks as a preliminary step to travelling southward. Has the brilliant, strong-scented plant no ulterior motive in thus attracting their attention at this particular time? Surely! Robins, flickers, and downy woodpeckers, chewinks and rose-breasted grosbeaks, among other feathered agents, may be detected in the act of gormandizing on the fruit, whose undigested seeds they will disperse far and wide. "
And here Doctor Laurence presents a rather uncomfortable assessment of Pokeweed's medicinal abilities:
"All parts of the plant possess acrid and somewhat narcotic properties. The juice of the fresh plant, or a strong decoction of the root, applied locally, may strongly irritate the skin, especially if tender or abraded. Taken internally it produces nausea, vomiting, and purging, and, in overdoses, acro-narcotic poisoning. It has been employed with more or less satisfactory results in a great variety of cutaneous affections, and in rheumatism, especially when chronic or of a syphilitic origin. There is little doubt that, in view of the uncertainty which at present exists regarding it, this plant would well repay further careful experimentation."
Blanchan, Neltje. Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. New York, 1917. 47. Web. Google Book Search. 14 Jul 2009.
Johnson, Laurence. A Manual of the Medical Botany of North America. New York, 1884. 234. Web. Google Book Search. 14 Jul 2009.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
My sister called last year from Nebraska in awe with word that the trees were absolutely covered with the migration resting while on its way to Mexico.
I thought I'd add a couple of extras to today's post. Here's a recent look at one of the Wood Sower Galls we viewed in an earlier entry. It looks like this marshmallow has seen its better days.
And here's a little bunny who posed for me before ducking into the brush.
Monday, July 13, 2009
From Nut Growing:
"Hazels belong to a very ancient family, and some of the fossil hazel leaves are hardly to be distinguished from those of species which are living today. The American hazels comprise two species, Corylus americana and Corylus cornuta—the latter being called the "horn hazel," "beak hazel," "tail hazel," and other names referring to the shape of the involucre, which extends out into a prolongation beyond the apex of the nut. The quality of the kernel is inferior to that of the common American hazel. This latter species constitutes almost a weed and a nuisance in miles of old pasture, bearing a nut of good quality as a rule, but seldom large enough to be of value in the market. The shell is for the most part too thick to please any connoisseurs aside from jays, boys, and squirrels. Doubtless a number of thin-shelled, large-meated American hazels will be found eventually and I have two varieties which are being cultivated experimentally, because they are superior to the common hazel crowd out in the pasture."
Morris, Robert T. Nut Growing. New York 1921. 203. Web. Google Book Search. 11 Jul 2009.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
An excerpt from The Elderbush:
The little boy lay in his bed; he did not know if he had dreamed or
not, or if he had been listening while someone told him the story. The
tea-pot was standing on the table, but no Elder Tree was growing out
of it! And the old man, who had been talking, was just on the point of
going out at the door, and he did go.
"How splendid that was!" said the little boy. "Mother, I have been to
"So I should think," said his mother. "When one has drunk two good
cupfuls of Elder-flower tea, 'tis likely enough one goes into warm
climates"; and she tucked him up nicely, least he should take cold. "You
have had a good sleep while I have been sitting here, and arguing with
him whether it was a story or a fairy tale."
"And where is old Nanny?" asked the little boy.
"In the tea-pot," said his mother; "and there she may remain."
-Hans Christian Andersen
Here is a really fantastic article on Elder with even a recipe for Elder Fritters. The Hermitage is so touchingly beautiful to me.
Andersen's Fairy Tales. Hans Christian Andersen. Gutenberg EBook Posting Date: October 10, 2008 [EBook #1597] 4 Jul 2009.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
A Monograph of Azaleas:
"Rhododendron viscosum was apparently first observed by John Banister, an English missionary who sent a drawing of it to Dr. Compton, Bishop of London. Dr. Compton communicated it to Plukenet, who published it in 1691 in his Phytographia. The plant was introduced into England apparently in the first half of the 18th century by John Bartram, who sent seeds or plants to Peter Collinson, but the exact date is not known."
Wilson, Ernest Henry and Rehder, Alfred. A Monograph of Azaleas. Cambridge 1921. 160. Web. Google Book Search. 10 Jul 2009.