Sunday, March 22, 2009

Adams County Exploring

Sorry about the absence of posts, lately. I have been very busy with many projects. Anyway, Sunday I had a chance to visit Adams county and hang with a few of my pals. We went exploring in search of Micro-botany, lots of tiny amazing things that are sometimes overlooked. Here are a few of the treasures we discovered.

Here is the organizer, John Howard, standing behind a Dwarf Hackberry. (The twisty, skinny tree smack dab in the center). He was our chauffeur and very knowledgeable guide, knowing just where to find all the rarities. Cheryl Harner and I joked that he could be the new Brawny towel guy , with the red flannel.

One of the first plants we encountered, I had been wishing to see for quite a while. Last year, I found it when the petals were just beginning to unfurl at Clifton Gorge. Snow Trillium, Trillium nivale was open in all its niveous glory. Gorgeous!

A little further in our journey, we encountered some interesting lichens on the path, Pixie Cup Lichen, Cladonia chlorophaea, looks like miniature goblets fit for a mythical woodland creature. If you drink out of them, will you see these creatures??? Hmmmm.... I need a willing guinea pig to test this out. Photo by John Howard.

On the same log was Common Powderhorn Lichen, Cladonia coniocraea. They look like little bony fingers coming out of the wood.

After climbing up a steep ravine, I knew what it was like to be a mountain goat. Baaaaaaaah! But after reaching the top, we were well rewarded with all kinds of cool finds. The basal rosette of Wedge-leaved Whitlow-grass, Draba cuneifolia, is not much bigger than a nickel. John Howard's "mad skillz" with the camera was able to capture the minuscule downy hairs on the leaves. In a week or so, a stem will shoot up from the center and will grow about two inches tall. It will be topped with beautiful tiny white flowers. Drabas are in the Mustard family along with other favorites that will be blooming soon like Cut-leaf Toothwort and Purple Cress.

Here is a view from atop Walton's mountain. Ummm, well, I don't really know what this spot is really called, but it sounds good to me. :)

Another find from atop "WM" was Michaux's Sandwort, Minuartia michauxii. It is in the Pink family, the same family Fire Pinks are in. This plant will also have tiny white flowers that you can view here. Photo by John Howard.

Back down "WM" we went, while trying really hard not to slide down the slope on my bottom. We cut through a field and made a fascinating discovery.

Here is a shot of the gang, left to right: John Howard, Cheryl Harner, Jessica and Jeff Huxmann. What are they all intently scrutinizing?

American Hazelnut, Corylus americana, in bloom. I had never seen the female flower of hazelnut before. It is a diminutive wonder, a tiny fuschia firework. John took this awesome photo. It is nearly impossible to focus on such a small, delicate subject.

Just for fun, here is one of my attempts. This would be a great "What is wrong with this picture" quiz. Sigh...

Here is a shot of the male catkins. Hazelnut are dioecious, possessing both male and female flowers.

Off to another site with more micro-botany. This time we were in search of two more tiny mustards.
Michaux's Leavenworthia, Leavenworthia uniflora with its compound basal rosette. Note the acorn cap in the picture for size reference.

Also present was Carolina Whitlow-grass, Draba reptans. This one was farther behind and was not ready to bloom, yet. Note the dense hairs on the leaves.

One last plant from our micro-botany foray. This one is a real rarity. Canby's Mountain-lover, Paxistima canbyi. It is in the same family as bittersweet and euonymus.

It has unique evergreen foliage and lovely pink teensy-weensy flowers. I loved it. The pink petals and the contrasting yellow stamens were fantastic.

Hopefully, you will get out soon and look for some of natures small wonders, as well.

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