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Chattahoochee Florida

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June 15, 2014

Another hot sweaty day made cooler by being in the deep woods, and another volunteer day at Angus Gholson Nature Park in Chattahoochee FL. The usual suspects - Diana from across the GA border hosting, Leigh and Carmen who are local, Guy and Jan from the other side of the Apalachicola, and me from the east side of the county. Maybe I ought to move west since I spend so much time over there. Diana is good with food so we had a chance for tea and cake before with more goodies after - all topped off with an exchange of notes on things we see and do.

We were after the usual invasive plants (ardisia, nandina, privet, honeysuckle, etc.) but we were in an area where, altho we had not patrolled it before, did not have a lot of bad stuff.  I helped Leigh on some kudzu near the power lines that run down to the river. She tried with a root jack, then I dug in with my stick, but the root grew from ½" to 1" thick and finally broke off when I tugged. It was a lot of root for a lousy 6 foot vine so I can see why they are hard to eradicate. Guy went back later with herbicide.

We found some good plants, somewhat rare or uncommon, that would excite only a botanist. Not too much was in bloom but just being out there and wandering and looking is most the fun. For that (and 5 6 chiggers) I trade my labor.

This Damselfly with the bright emerald color caught my eye right off. Besides being more colorful than the usual black ones, it was also bigger.

Here's matching mole's comment (with links) from when I posted a photo 6-14.

 I meant to comment on this earlier and forgot (i.e. got side-tracked).  What PH has there is Calopteryx maculata otherwise known as the ebony jewelwing.  It is one of my favourite insects, just incredibly beautiful.  Males have jet black wings and iridescent bodies.

It belongs to a different family from most damselflies, the Calopterygidae.  These are mostly stream dwelling insects often in forested areas.  C. maculata is widespread in eastern forest areas.  I've tried to take photos before but they are kind of wary and usually in areas with poor light.

Western species in the family are in the genus Hetaerina.  H. americana is apparently known from all states in the lower 48 except Washington and Idaho according to bug guide.  They are known as rubyspots because of a red stigma on the wings of the males.  They are attractive insects but can't really match Calopteryx in terms of aesthetics.

More discoveries below the fold...

We got into a slope with limestone outcroppings. Not a natural one tho - this one was created by erosion on a logging road from decades ago, long enough for limestone-loving plants like this spikemoss to find and colonize it.  As I get into research, what do I learn? More botanical mixups - is spikemoss still in the same family as clubmoss or not? Well not for the last 100 years. But is this plant a separate species (Selaginella ludoviciana) or not (Selaginella apoda var. ludoviciana)? I think I'll stick with the common name Gulf Spikemoss.

This plant prompted a lot of discussion between Leigh and Guy.
False Aloe (Manfreda virginica) Perhaps if we had seen it blooming, I'd know why it is also called Rattlesnake Master.
Alert!! That common name is also used by this plant, a reason not to use common names.

Green Dragons - here is a lovely colony that Carmen spotted nestled among the roots of a huge Beech tree.  Arisaema dracontium related to Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Looking closer - the spathe with berries formed and soon to turn a orange-red. Guess they don't fall far from home.

ForesterBob did a bucket on leaf miners last week. This small Green Dragon sure looks like it has been mined. That or it has shut down photosynthesis as its growth season ends.

My mystery plant - Leigh told me what it was but I immediately forgot. It was the only one I saw. Looks like it will bloom soon.

And finally this DYC*, a sunflower perhaps. I should know since it has such a distinctive leaf. Stalks were 3-5' high and growing along one of the trails; leaves are 6" long. Given that it is beside a trail, I discount the chance of it being there naturally; maybe seed carried in on someone's boot or clothing.

* DYC - Damn Yellow Composites. So named because there are so many of these confusing yellow flowers in the Composite family (that is now called Aster or Asteraceae.) Composites because they have outer petal-like rays with an inner disc of tiny flowers altho some asters have either ray or disc but not both.

That's all for me. Thanks for coming along on this last volunteer workday at Angus Gholson Nature Park until next December when it cools off, drys out, and debugs making it a lot more pleasant in the woods. Speaking of, what's happening in your neck of the woods? The Daily Bucket is now open for your thoughts and observations.

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Originally posted to Backyard Science on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 05:22 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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