Thursday, October 20, 2011

Morning Walk Near Sable Falls -- Post 2

The fall weather is back again this morning. It is raining and blustery with temperatures around 40 and winds gusting to near 50 mph. I was going to go for another walk this morning, but I think I'll wait to see if the circulating low pressure system moves off to the northeast. Besides, I have a lot to get done today before leaving early tomorrow morning for the Mason show.

Today I will post the second half of photos taken on yesterday's walk. Let us continue down the path.....

Just so you know, the colors in the photo below are natural.  Some sections of the trail really seemed to be glowing with color.

When I was around a half mile from the foot bridge, I headed left off the trail and up an old dune bushwhacking to see what I could fiind.  I snapped this photo of a happy clump of white birch trees.

The bark of a white birch is like a natural canvas.

After wondering around up and down a few old dunes, I circled back to the trail.

Even with the rain we have had, there are not a lot of mushrooms out like there are some years.  But here is a shot of a nice one.

And then I spotted this artistic arrangement of shelf fungi.  The largest ones on the right were around 20 inches wide.

One of my favorite florest-floor plants is equisetum.  Equisetum ( /ˌɛkwɨˈsiːtəm).  The common names are horsetail, snake grass, or puzzlegrass.  This plant is truly a living fossil since it is the only living genus in the Equisetaceae, a family of vascular plants that reproduce by spores rather than seeds.  This group of plants dominated forests over one hundred million years ago, when the various subgroups were much more diverse in the understory of late Paleozoic forests. Some Equisetopsida were large trees reaching to almost 18 feet tall (30 m)!   Left over remails from extinct Equisetum relataives deposited during the Carboniferous period  formed into vast coal deposits. 

For you mathematically inclined people, it is interesting to note that the pattern of spacing of nodes in horsetails, wherein those toward the apex of the shoot are increasingly close together, inspired Napier to discover logarithms

The name "horsetail", often used for the entire group, arose because the branched species somewhat resemble a horse's tail.  In these plants the leaves are greatly reduced and usually non-photosynthetic. Each individual plant growing from the rhizome is a single, non-branching stalk  The leaves of horsetails grow in whorls that circle the stalk.  Instead of the leaves gathering the light of the sun, the stalkswhich are green perform the photosynthetic task. As many of you know, the stalks are distinctive in that they are hollow, jointed and ridged (with sometimes 3 but usually 6-40 ridges).  When I was a kid weoften played with horsetail stalks by separating and then seamlessly rejoining the segments.  We also used to try to make whisteles out of them. In the photo below that I took off the internet, you can see a close up of the whorls of small leaves. In the photo, B = branch in whorl; I = internode; L = leaves; N = node.

Here is a close up of some of the stalks.

Eauisetum exists world wide on every continent except Anartica.  Many plants in this genus prefer wet sandy soils, though some are semi-aquatic and others are adapted to wet claysoils. The stalks arise from rhizomes, which can be thought of as underground branches.  When horsetails start to invade private homes, some consider them a nuisance weed since they readily regrow from the rhizome after being pulled out. It is also unaffected by many herbicides designed to kill seed plants. 

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