Wednesday, November 13, 2013

First Hike in the Snow

Yesterday afternoon I went hiking with Lois.  Her husband, Jamey, is busy this time of year with hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.  She picked me up and drove on the icy roads west on H58.  We parked at the pull off and hiked down the Masse Homestead trail.  Other areas in the U.P. received several inches of snow.  We only have a couple.


Lois said she likes club moss, so of course I had to document it.... 

...and research it:  Lycopodiopsida is a class of plants often loosely grouped as the fern allies. Traditionally the group included not only the clubmosses and firmosses, but also the spikemosses.  Clubmosses are thought to be structurally similar to the earliest vascular plants, with small, scale-like leaves, homosporous spores borne at the bases of the leaves, branching stems (usually dichotomous), and generally simple form. 

Here is a close up photo from the internet...

The common name “clubmoss” is based on the premise that at first glance these plants resemble mosses (mosses are bryophytes and thus, non-vascular plants), and because they often grow club-like cylindrical structures. Clubmosses are all perennial evergreen plants with numerous small leaves. Individual plants are connected by horizontal stems that run above ground (runners) or below ground (rhizomes); the actual roots are rather shallow. None of the clubmosses are flowering plants, but all are vascular plants with an interesting strategy of releasing spores at a life stage that few people see—outside of a science lab.

Clubmosses evolved 410 million years ago as one of the earliest groups of vascular plants (plants with special tissues xylem and phloem to conduct water and food, respectively).  Some 300-plus million years ago, tree forms of both clubmosses and horsetails along with ferns dominated the great coal swamps of the Carboniferous geological period. Tree forms of tree clubmosses that once reached heights of 100 feet have left an excellent fossil record of the woody tissue of tree forms.

We actually missed the connector trail up into the dunes, most likely because the trail was covered in snow, but caught it on the way back after we turned around.  I just love the Grand Sable Dunes, especially with a light dusting of snow.

The melting and refreezing of the snow sometimes makes cool designs in the dune grass...

On the way back I spotted this woodpecker masterpiece...


1 comment:

  1. Club moss is very cool and the history is very interesting. Thanks, Karen!