Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Will to Survive


I missed the rain by only a few hours. But, it was humid and in the mid-70s. Bea Balm is almost all gone but the few spots within the meadow. There were still familiar signs of the animals that I have seen there before. The groundhog’s hole was still there with many small trails leading out, as well as the flattened grass that must have been used by deer for their beds. The butterflies and moths were not out as much but still could be seen. But, the will to survive was in full swing. Each species today had an adaptation to survive by plants having rots that emitting a toxin or caterpillars eating plants to make them toxic. The meadow has begun to change over this last few weeks and I am not interested in the way that it will change through the seasons.
I would have thought my meadow would have seen more changes since the beginning. The largest changes I saw were the increase in goldenrods, the death of the bergamot but the grasses have not changed and the bushes and trees have stayed the same. Colors will be the biggest change in the autumn than covered with snow back to green leaves.

Lets Identify

Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

The tail of the Tall Goldenrod seems to look like the tail of many other goldenrods. It is really difficult to distinguish between lots of the common species especially around this area. I have decided that the one species that I looked at was the Tall species but it very well could be Canada Goldenrod or something similar. The reason I believe it is Tall is because of the smooth steam and the slightly rough leafs on top but the biggest clue was the three main veins running through leafs. Canada also has the three vein structure. I like the golden rod family because of the type of flowers being disk and ray. Both Canada and Tall are found in roadsides but Tall prefers drier sandier areas and that is where I found it on top of the hill. The hill was extremely dry and since we are near the esker, I believe, the soil is more gravelly and sandy. The plant can also be toxic because they release toxins from their roots that discourage other plants from growing around it.
Taylor, D. (2012, January 1). Plant of the Week. Retrieved August 12, 2014.

Sessile-leaved Tick Trefoil (Desmodium sessilifolium)

Taking my advice from last week, I was looking down and the plant hit me in the face. We have identified one tick trefoil in class but this one varies in the way leafs look. Leafs are heavily divided with a short petiole connecting it to the base of the stem. Leafs are lancelet being longer that they are wide. The flower I ran to must be the tallest the plant gets as the usually only grow to be 3 feet tall. The flower was found in its favorite spot in full sun and at the top of the hill where rocky soil is found. Unlike the goldenrod the plant adds nitrogen to the soil. The bumblebees that have been swarming the Bea Balm will now like the Sessile-Leaved Tick Trefoil. My turkeys and the deer that I see around the meadow eat the seeds.
Hilty, J. (2014, July 28). Sessile-Leaved Tick Trefoil (Desmodium sessilifolium). Retrieved August 12, 2014.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar (Danaus plexippus)

I have finally seen my favorite insect. As a kid I remember going around in the diches and looking for the favorite plant of the Monarch Caterpillar. After I finally found the little yellow, green and black caterpillar I would bring it back to my house and watch it change into a butterfly. That is exactly what I did here. The caterpillar was on its favorite food in my meadow which was dominating the top of the hill. But, sadly some kids may never have my same experience growing a butterfly watching it transform in from of you. Monarchs are known for their migration down south but their habitat is being destroyed as well as their food source around here is being killed by herbicides. The butterflies go through three to four generations in a season until the last generation starts to make its journey south. I like them because both the caterpillar and butterfly are bright colored. They are able to be so bright because they are toxic from the milkweeds they eat.
Monarch Butterflies, Monarch Butterfly Pictures, Monarch Butterfly Facts - National Geographic. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2014.

Autumn-Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)

The bush that has been bothering me the whole summer has finally been identified but sadly it had been one of the first plants we identified in class. This is defiantly one of the invasive species of the meadow. Like the goldenrod it releases some toxins that prevent other plants from growing around it adding to its invasive properties. No surprise that the shrub is in my meadow because it likes the full sun that it is getting as well as it distributes many seeds. The silvery leafs make the bush shine in the sun but it is also has yellow leafs that must have been sun burnt.

Autumn olive Elaeagnus umbellata. (2012, February 1). Retrieved August 12, 2014.

 Question of the Week

  The largest non-native species I have found is defiantly the Autumn-Olive. Smooth Brome is both non-native and it can become invasive in some areas. But, Autumn-olive take as many advantages it can I clamming an area (Autumn olive). It thrives in open areas such as my meadow but can also survive in shade tolerant regions. It reproduces by producing thousands of red berries that are distributed by animals and by the birds that feed upon. If that isn't enough it also produces a toxin in its roots that decreases the growth of other native plants. Originally brought in for bank control and livestock feeding it know has taking over. I don’t know why they didn't find something native but what are you to do. They are hard to get rid of with a lot of times chemicals being the only way to truly get rid of them.
  Smooth brome says to be invasive which can be true (Bush). The non-native species native to Europe has taken root in the same types of environment. The root systems make the grass able to survive in many habitats but it can be easily controlled with proper controlled burning but rarely happens. The grass loves ditches and is so commonly seen that it is not recognized as a problem for most but can be a problem if trying to restore an area.

Autumn olive Elaeagnus umbellata. (2012, February 1). Retrieved August 12, 2014.
Bush, T. (2002, February 1). Plant Fact Sheet for Smooth Brome. . Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_brin2.pdf

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