Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Monday: 23 April 2007

Blogger Bioblitz, Day 2  -  @ 05:16:43
I spent too much time on writing up Saturday's results on Sunday, so didn't give this the attention it deserves. I may go back especially if the weather changes.

The site I visited on Day 2 of the Blogger Bioblitz was what I call Mayapple Forest. We actually have four sites on the property, two rather small and two quite large, where Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) grow. This is one of the large ones.

Here's a map of the area. Mayapple Forest is just a 300-foot walk up that roadcut from the Goulding Creek site I surveyed yesterday:


Here are photographs of the site itself, and because of the large volume of pictures, these are thumbnails. You can get a larger image, in a new window, by clicking on a thumbnail.

From left to right:
Walking from the west, from the relatively open floodplain, you walk into a much more canopied area. The roadcut is obvious, though it certainly doesn't look fresh. On the left is a dry creek, and then a 4 to 6 foot terrace.

A little farther into the forest, and the aforementioned dry creek.

Up the terrace on the left, and there's all the Mayapples!



The upper canopy consists of a couple of dozen Northern Red Oaks, Quercus rubra, with a couple of Tulip Poplars thrown in. Six of the red oaks are over 2 feet in diameter with the rest at least a foot in diameter. Up to this year they have provided the moderately deep shade that this area enjoys.

This year may be different. The cold snap I analyzed a few days ago resulted in the loss of leaves from nearly all the Northern Red Oaks, White Oaks, Post Oaks, and Blackjack Oaks. There is no evidence yet of regeneration, and this is how much of the canopy throughout this thousand foot hollow looks. I have a request into a forestry neighbor on his take on this, and what he predicts. I can't imagine this being the status quo until next year, or worse.




Again, I'm going to have to delay the rest of the post until after noon, sometime.

UPDATE:

News from the forestry scientist neighbor of ours: He's been watching that too, and added that blueberries were devastated as well. He does say that the affected trees should put out another crop of leaves, but may be delayed because of our extremely dry weather. MarkP in comments a few posts below (and recall he's about a hundred miles northwest of here) had been observing all this stuff, and reflected my concern that he hadn't seen any leaves re-emerging on oaks in his area either. I suppose we shall wait and watch. Thanks, John!

Animalia. Animalia was scarce on Sunday, at least in this area. Part of the problem is that I was taken up with the plants, and the other part is that despite a decent recent rain, it's still terribly dry around here. I doubt if that's going to change much through the rest of this week.

As always, though, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails waft through on their way to parties elsewhere. This pair was actually in midair, and so the photo was a catch as you can sort of thing. Females can have a dark form, and I presume that's what's going on here, though for all I know it could be some kind of interspecies trucking.


Plantae, though, in this area, are fairly diverse, though individuals of each species may not necessarily be abundant. The most populous of three or four species tend to occur together, according to our resident Geranium maculatum expert, and so I have included them together. They comprise the understory shrubs and forbs:
From left to right, first row:
The Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) will be gone in a month or so, and are for the most part past flowering, but here is one hanging on. Each plant in its second year produces one flower. You know it's in its second year because it has *two* large leaves, rather than one.

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum is not always so abundant but seems to do well wherever Mayapples are.

And Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is to be found on the ground, and if it's lucky, creeping up through the trees.

Overlooking all this are the intermediate shrubs, Painted Buckeye (Aesculus sylvatica). And they really are past flowering. One of the first understory shrubs to flower around here, and offer returning hummingbirds something fresh and homemade.




The painted buckeye and poison ivy above are to be found elsewhere, of course and so are two ferns:
Christmas Fern, Polystichum acrostichoides, is very abundant, and produces large masses of outgrowths in shady or semishady, reasonably moist areas.

Similarly for the much smaller Botrychium virginianum, Grapefern, or as it is sometimes called, Rattlesnake Fern. This one is producing a fertile leaf, which will not do photosynthesis but rather will make spores.

This unknown species of Viola, which is quite a good citizen and produces these frosty, somewhat variegated leaves, has already flowered. Unlike the above, we tend to find this one only in the Mayapple Forest. If anyone knows what it is, please let us know!

The pretty little white flower is of an iris, "Blue-eyed Grass", Sisyrhinchium angustifolium, probably. Mostly the flower is blue, and can be found along the creek banks in the shade. This one happens to be white, though.



Finally, at the lower end of Mayapple Forest is a Pawpaw Patch. This is Dwarf Pawpaw, Asimina parviflora, aka Smallflower Pawpaw. This is not the cultivated species, A. triloba, but did survive the cold snap whereas our planted cultivars lost all their leaves and flowers. This colony appears to all be clones, and therefore infertile with each other, but we talked about that a couple of years ago when I did some cross pollinations.


That was Sunday. Today, Monday Day 3, I revisted the Saturday and Sunday sites checking for insects. That will have to wait for tomorrow.

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