Tuesday, July 29, 2014



July has been a cold month and today most have been the coldest at around 60. One of the trees creaked as I walked by it, making me aware of the strong wind that blew through the meadow. The sun’s rays barely made it to the ground through the cloud soaked sky. Bee Balm has lost its radiance and the goldenrod has now become more pronounce but not yet come into bloom.

The focus, today, is on trees of the meadow and what is living in it. The meadow is surrounded by different types of tress and it has slowly started being taken over by different shrubs. I still can’t identify one of the main shrubs in the meadow but I hope to have it identified by the end of the summer.

Walking through my ecosystem the brush it thick and at the beginning of the meadow the grasses were blown down or were they trampled by an animal? The two trees that I looked at had to be at least 10 to 15 years old, standing 15 to 20 feet tall. The Red Maple had lots of bushes around it that must have been from the birds reliving themselves.

Let us identity

Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

This tree is highly valued by its medicinal uses and traditional uses. Bark was used for rope for baskets and other storage baskets. Almost each tribe had their own uses for the tree from sores eyes to helping with childbirth. Today the tree is still found in herb stores and used for throat relief. It is also used in commercial furniture but may be better for its medicinal uses.

The biggest identifying feature of the tree are leafs that are sharply toothed and leafs that are rough on top and hairy on the bottom. “Slippery” comes from the inner bark. Slippery Elms loves the Great Lakes region and the Midwest, which is where Indiana is located. The elm also is a pioneer species especially after fires. While my meadow may not have been hit by fire it is located in the Midwest and the meadow was in a state of being occupied by pioneer species.
Caldecott, T. (n.d.). Slippery Elm. toddcaldecott. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://toddcaldecott.com/herbs/slippery-elm/

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

One of the largest trees in my meadow is, what I believe, is a Red Maple that was easy to identify within the maple family but was more difficult in determining the species of maple. One of the biggest indicators that I found was that the twigs were red. Most other maples have the characteristic of having 5 lobes while the Red Maple only has three pronounce lobes. Like all maples, the fruits are the helicopters spreading by wind making it one of the first trees to be spread into the meadow.

I cannot wait for fall to come to see the bright foliage of the red leafs that it will display. The maple also love dry slopes. The tree can be used in low quality wood but also can have some medicinal uses. Bark can be used for relief and treatment of sores eyes.
Maples. (n.d.). A Modern Herbal. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/maples14.html#red
Red Maple Tree. (n.d.). Red Maple Tree. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://maple.dnr.cornell.edu/kids/tree_red.htm

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

I am surprised that the gray catbird has not been heard earlier. The first sign of my little visitor was the distinct cry that sounds like a cat meowing. At first I was afraid of something attacking me but after a while the gray bird flew to the top of the tree about ten feet from me. It has an impressive voice for both the way it sounds like a cat and that it can last up to 10 minutes.

Dumetella, its genus, means “small thicket” and that is exactly where I found it. I was near the edge of the meadow where the bushes and the smaller trees have started creeping in and has started to look like a young forest. They live in clearings, roadsides, and abandoned farmland which is what the meadow use to be.

You can also see the Catbirds during the winter months protecting their habitat which is unusual for most species. They will even destroy nests of other birds making them a very territorial bird. But, gray catbirds are common in much of the U.S. making it no surprise in me hearing and finally seeing it.
Gray Catbird. (n.d.). , Life History, All About Birds. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/gray_catbird/lifehistory

Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

Most of what I have learned about Black Raspberries has come from the professors at Merry Lea. I do not know if I had Black Raspberries before coming to M.L. because I thought they were Blackberries. But, they love to invade into areas near forests and take over meadows in succession. They can become so bad that the process of succession can be halted for a few years.

I still am afraid that leafs were poison ivy but the thorns on the stems and the black berries are a giveaway that it is Black Raspberries. The fruits are delicious to eat and make a great snack. The plant has begun to creep into the meadow and can be seen near the edge of the meadow and other shrubs located in the meadow.
Rubus occidentalis Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Rubus occidentalis Fact Sheet. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=138



1st Stanza

The grasses grow tall, swaying in the strong, cold wind

Trees are scattered across the dry old field

The suns make the field be revealed

Walking in the meadow gives me a better presence of mind

I look around for the loud called of the car bird that I finally find

You never know what you are going to see so keep your eyes peeled

I will identify many trees and I will not yield

The meadow is a place that I can unwind

2nd Stanza

When I walk away, I still smell the Bee Balm

The sun continues to shine bright

The birds continue to sing

I know why David wrote a psalm

Because he could see the light

Especially when the meadow in spring

Question of the week?

Ecotone is the transition between different ecosystems. The meadow is already in a transition between prairie and forest making the transition between the two is convoluted. Shrubs have started dominating the landscape but a few areas have long strips of grass growing all the way to the edge of the forest. While, shrubs and trees are invading the landscape there is a distinct change between the large trees near the border, where vines and undergrowth are running rampant.
Graves, R. (2011, March 13). Ecology Theory-Ecotone. . Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/152345/
There is a distinct separation between the grasses and than the trees in the foreground while the picture bellow shows a lot of shrubs and smaller trees before the transition into forest 

The picture above shows the way that the meadow goes down into the forest but also has edges that are creeping into the meadow. 

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