Journal archives for February 2013

February 06, 2013

Smilax: more smile than ax

I had never paid much attention to greenbrier, but the abundant fruit clusters on this individual really caught my eye. It was late October, and the vine had clambered seven feet up into a sweetgum growing on the northwestern edge of the old field at Johnston Mill Nature Preserve. The visually-enticing fruit was bland to taste, more skin and seed than pulp. With later reading, I learned that these berries are important late winter and early spring fare for a variety of birds and mammals, presumably when tastier options are lacking. We have a greenbrier in our backyard scaling about 18 feet up an American elm. In late February, it still has a few brown-green leaves, but never has had any berries.

Greenbriers, like hollies, are dioecious, so ours may have fertile staminate but infertile pistillate flowers. When blooms come in April or May, I will keep eyes peeled, looking for identifying flowers.

According to a cross-check of the USDA’s and UNC Herbarium’s online distribution maps, there are seven other Smilax species in our area:
S. bona-nox, S. glauca, S. herbacea, S. hispida, S. pulverulenta, S. smallii, S. walterii.

Posted on February 06, 2013 14:37 by scadwell scadwell | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 16, 2013

Johnston Mill Nature Preserve- Old Field Trail

It's the first time in several weeks that I've made it back to JMNP. While my partner had her horseback riding lesson, I wandered out into the rain (later snow) to review what I've learned from NCBG classes.

Time of day and weather conditions didn't make for great picture taking, so much of what I noticed I didn't shoot: heartleaf, crane-fly orchid, striped wintergreen, and trout lily leaves with flowers closed tight.

Looking for other bits of green while on the wooded portion of the trail, I noticed running cedar growing amidst some Christmas fern (photo). That area of the woods appears to have sustained significant damage from Hurricane Fran (1996).

Dawdling as I do, I didn't make it far down the trail before having to turn back. I made it to the Shagbark hickory, which I was the first I'd noticed. There were many old, shaggy-barked white oaks visible from the trail before then. But the tree that really caught my eye was a sourwood with three large, interwined branches.

Speaking of sourwood, there's an area where red maples and sourwood are the predominant understory trees. When I was focused on the trunks of the sourwoods, I noticed that some stump sprouts were very smooth-trunked and easy to confuse (at least for me) with the red maples. I also noticed a red maple sapling with branching as crooked as a sourwood, and it was only when I looked at the bud arrangement that I figure out what it was. When I have more time, I want to spend some time further disambiguating this for myself!

Posted on February 16, 2013 16:58 by scadwell scadwell | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment