A Walk in Fern Bluff Park
March 15, 2001 

Page 5: A Shrub, Another Grape, Oak Leaves & Tassels

AArchives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001

Our oak bud continues to develop. Photos taken in next week's walk should allow us to arrive at firm conclusions concerning which of the two major groupings of oaks this tree belongs to. Note the tassels and flowers in the photos below. The tassels are male flowers; female flowers are inconspicuous.

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Archives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001

 

Trees almost demand our attention, and it seems natural to want to know their names. But the shrubby undergrowth of the forest presents such a diversity of plant life as to make it seem nearly impossible to get to know their members more intimately. Even the shrubs have names, however, and they are not as hard to discover as we tend to think. In 1978 an effort was made on my part to try harder to become better acquainted with the smaller members of the forest. Using easily obtainable reference books on shrubs and vines, it was possible to identify a few of the shrubs in the forests nearby just from the seasonal foliage present on them at our first meeting. By observing the changes that the seasons wrought, many of the remaining questionable plants could be named. It was a rewarding process. We will follow a similar process with the plant pictured at left.

In this photo, we can see the juvenile leaves, the flower buds, and the twigs. It is a deciduous plant (the leaves are not present throughout the winter months). The leaves are toothless (no indentations on their margins), pubescent (hairy), and opposite, with rolled edges. The undersides of the leaves have about the same coloration as their upper surfaces. It is not possible to tell from the photo if the twig has true end buds, or the nature of the mature bark of the main trunk. We will be following this shrub, which has representatives present in several sectors of the park, as its features mature.

Below is another member of the Grape Family (Vitaceae). By the way, not all members of this family produce grapes. The familiar Virginia Creeper (along with a couple of similar vines) is also a member of this family. But the vine pictured is almost certainly a grape-producer. It is not uncommon to find several leaf shapes present on the same vine, but only about five species found in this area have the deeply 3-5 lobed features shown here. If you look closely, you will see the tendrils at the base of the twigs, which help identify this as a grape, especially if the tendrils are forked (not distinguishable in the photo). 


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