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Old guy, new nature leaf

I’m an amateur naturalist and a pro (technically, I’ve earned $5.81 on Adobe Stock so far) photographer, with tons of photos and years of personal observation of what’s going on in the ever-fascinating world of nature.

So I’m going to post a pic and a bit of text every day. I hope you find it interesting, or enlightening or refreshing.

Any comments — and I’d love to hear your thoughts — can be directed to me at bobqsix@Verizon.net.

Pictured is Opie, our precious 17-pound rescue dog and best woods buddy ever.

Enjoy and please come back often.opie edit (640x426)

 

Of Subarus, cockleburs and the endless rain

 

After dropping off my car at Wyo Valley Subaru to see about the battery (I’m still gettng free work from them after complaining to the head of Subaru America about getting stuck with a loaner with no gas; still getting free treatment at U. of Penn after complaining to president there about my treatment…is there a common thread here?) it started raining, of course.

Without my car didn’t have all my gear but still had an umbrella and plastic bag for camera so got four decent pics I think, but not fun juggling umbrella and camera. First, cocklebur or clotbur, an angry looking plant, pictured here. Also saw dittany, burg marigold and climbing false buckwheat. Not bad for 45 minutes and fogged everything.cloth

Cocklebur is herbaceous plant that belongs to the sunflower family. It originates from eastern Asia and North and South America, but it can be found around the world today. Cocklebur grows in the wastelands, along the roads, in the fields, meadows, pastures, near the rivers and streams and in the seasonally flooded areas. It prefers rich soil and areas that provide enough moisture. Cocklebur is classified as weed in most areas outside its native range.
Interesting Cocklebur Facts:

Cocklebur develops erect, hairy stem with numerous branches covered with red spots. Plant can reach 20 to 47 inches in height.
Cocklebur has heart-shaped or broadly ovate leaves. They are toothed or shallowly lobed on the edges and have coarse texture. Leaves are alternately arranged on the branches.
Cocklebur is monoecious plant which means that each plant develops individual male and female flowers. Male flowers are inconspicuous and formed at the tips of terminal branches. Greenish flowers arranged in pairs that grow from the axils of leaves contain female reproductive organs.
Cocklebur blooms from July to October in the northern hemisphere. It requires prolonged night for the successful development of flowers (short-day plant). Cocklebur is designed for the pollination by wind.
Fruit of cocklebur is oval-shaped achene enclosed in bur with hooked spines on the surface. Fruit is divided in two chambers, each filled with one seed.
Hooked spines facilitate dispersal of seed. Animals collect fruit that easily attach to their fur and skin, when they pass near the plant.
Cocklebur propagates only via seed that retains ability to germinate for many years.
Cocklebur is also known as “hitchhiker” because of its ability to travel large distances attached to the body of animals or socks, shoes and cloth of humans. Miniature spines are even able to penetrate through the upper layer of the humans’ skin.
Thickets of cocklebur can be a death trap for small birds (hooks keep them firmly attached to the clusters of spiny fruit).
Consumption of seed and young cockleburs leads to death of pigs, sheep, horses and cattle. Old plants do not contain toxins, but they are not palatable because of the rough texture and bitter taste

Short post after day of #_#”@_@ car problems.

Nothing like the hush of a totally dead battery to get the day off to a rotten start. Especially since the AAA guy who started the car said the battery was fine. What fun!  Trying to find the one wire or whatever that is causing this could take months, as it once did about 30 years ago with a Subaru when the problem turned out to be — yep, a single wire. Oh well. On to sweeter things.

Found this sweet little orchid in the mire at Deep Hollow. Tiny but beautiful.

Nodding Ladies’ Tresses.
Other Common Name: Common Ladies’ Tresses; Ladies’ Tresses Orchid

Family: Orchidaceae (orchids)

Description: Nodding ladies’ tresses, in bloom, is a slender green stalk with small white orchid flowers arranged in a spiral. Flowers are white with a pointed lip, arranged in a spiral around the stem, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch long, and each points slightly downward. Flowers usually have a “lily of the valley” fragrance. Blooms August–November. Stem leaves are few, very narrow, clasping the flowering stem. The basal leaves have usually disappeared before the flowers appear.

There are six other Spiranthes species found in Missouri; one, shining ladies’ tresses (S. lucida), flowers in May–Jnoddingune and is restricted to fens and seeps in the Ozark and Ozark Border regions; the other five bloom in late summer and fall.

Size: Height: to 18 inches

Gentian Redux: Even prettier second time around

Fringed gentian, still in the act of opening. Think I might have been a couple or three days early for the grand finale but this was good enough. At least 100 plants in a small area so that was very good to see. I managed to set a personal sticktight record but it was worth it. Deep Hollow holds many, many fascinating plants and is an undiscovered jewel –which I am quite content to keep to myself.gentian

Gentianopsis crinita or Greater Fringed Gentian or Blue Gentian is one of the most beautiful of the gentians, with its delicately fringed petals and striking blue color, it is becoming rare and must not be picked. It is a biennial, and along with the other gentians, is among the last wildflowers to bloom in the late summer and fall.

Fringed Gentian is about 1-3′ tall, native to eastern USA and eastern Canada. It ranges from the southern Appalachian Mountains north into New England and west to Manitoba and Iowa, though it can grow as far south as the mountains of Georgia. It is uncommon in much of its range. It is very rare in the Southeast.

Stalking the elusive fringed gentian

fringedFringed gentian may be the most beautiful of all the wildflowers. After years of looking in vain, super naturalist Stan Galicki told me where to find it at Deep Hollow Dam and that’s where I got this photo last year. But I was a little late and this was the solitary gentian I saw. Heading back today and hoping to get some better pics of this beauty. Harder to do because picking is a no-non since it’s so rare so it’s down into the goo to get the pic.
Gentianopsis crinita or Greater Fringed Gentian or Blue Gentian is one of the most beautiful of the gentians, with its delicately fringed petals and striking blue color, it is becoming rare and must not be picked. It is a biennial, and along with the other gentians, is among the last wildflowers to bloom in the late summer and fall.

Fringed Gentian is about 1-3′ tall, native to eastern USA and eastern Canada. It ranges from the southern Appalachian Mountains north into New England and west to Manitoba and Iowa, though it can grow as far south as the mountains of Georgia. It is uncommon in much of its range. It is very rare in the Southeast.

Gentianopsis crinita

photo by Sherman, Doug

Fringed gentian flowers open on sunny days, but generally remain closed on cloudy days and during the night. So it is best spotted on bright sunny days during the peak of flowering. There is no noticeable floral scent. Individual plants live for only one or two years. They flower only in their second season. This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself.

The stems are light green, yellowish green, or reddish green; they are terete and glabrous. Pairs of opposite leaves occur along these stems. The leaves have prominent central veins and a slightly succulent texture.

Fringed gentian is found in shallow, near-neutral soils, in damp, sunny meadows associated with magnesium rich rock (amphibolite, serpentine).

Blue Gentian

The Fringed Gentian’s fleeting, exquisite beauty has had the attention of artists and poets for hundreds of years. It has inspired well known 19th century writers such as William Cullen Bryant, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau.

To the Fringed Gentian

Thou blossom bright with autumn dew,
And colored with the heaven’s own blue,
That openest when the quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.

Thou comest not when violets lean
O’er wandering brooks and springs unseen,
Or columbines, in purple dressed,
Nod o’er the ground-bird’s hidden nest.

Thou waitest late and com’st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frosts and shortening days portend
The aged year is near his end.

Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye
Look through its fringes to the sky,
Blue-blue-as if that sky let fall
A flower from its cerulean wall.

I would that thus, when I shall see
The hour of death draw near to me,
Hope, blossoming within my heart,
May look to heaven as I depart.

I fall into a pond…..and cranberries.

Went to the Pheasant Field ponds with Debb Krysickiyesterday, where she got to enjoy cranthe treat of me hopping onto what I thought was a little shelf extending out from a pond shore but was, in fact, a floating mat, and I plunged nearly up to my waist in water. And she didn’t even laugh. Here are the cranberry flowers I spoke of — there were tons of berries there yesterday. And Kenneth Klemow. I took two large pieces of cardboard and duct tape to secure the rattlesnake root on the way back but we ended up doing a loop hike and I forgot to go back for it. Sorry! My bad.

The Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is native to the swamps and bogs of northeastern North America. It belongs to the Heath, or Heather family (Ericaceae), which is a very widespread family of about 125 genera and about 3500 species! Members of the family occur from polar regions to the tropics in both hemispheres. The cranberry plant is described as a low-growing, woody perennial with small, oval leaves borne on fine, vine-like shoots. Horizontal stems, or runners, grow along the soil surface, rooting at intervals to form a dense mat. Its flower buds, formed on short, upright shoots, open from May to June and produce ripe fruit in late September to early October. In Maine, the cranberry bloom period lasts generally from late June to mid-July, and berries are usually not fully ripe until the first week of October, which is when most Maine growers begin to harvest their beds.

[The following is taken partially from the “Cranberry Agriculture In Maine: Grower’s Guide – 1996 version”]:

The American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) grows wild from the mountains of Georgia to the Canadian Maritimes, and as far west as Minnesota. It has been cultivated in the Cape Cod area since the early 1800s and was an active industry in Maine during much of the last century. The cultivated cranberry industry then spread to New Jersey by the 1830s, Wisconsin by the 1850s, and the Pacific Northwest by the 1880s. Many Maine farms with suitable land produced small plots of cranberries, mostly for home use and a small marketable surplus. The Maine commercial cranberry industry was virtually eliminated in the early 1900s by a combination of factors, including lack of adequate technology for frost protection, the spread of disease and pests, depressed demand during World War I, the increasing trend toward specialized farming, the replacement of fresh cranberries in the market with the new canned cranberry sauce, and its relative distance to markets. Cranberry production is a vital new industry in the State of Maine. It is a ‘new’ industry in the sense that it represents the rebirth of an industry that left the State in the first half of this century and until 1988 there were no commercial producers in the state. 1991 saw Maine’s first modern commercial harvest and by 1992 there were at least five growers with planted vines and several new plantations under development.

Time to stalk the beautiful maidenhair fern again….

It’s almost time to hike the Goeringer Preserve again. It was about this time last year I found this beautiful maidenhair fern there, and the shores are covered with enough wild cranberries to feed an army.

This is a piece I wrote for the Citizens’ Voice when I first explored the preserve.maidenhair fern

By Bob Quarteroni
It is so beautiful around here that we are the only valley in the nation to have a state named after us.
That’s right, the state of Wyoming is named for the Wyoming Valley. U.S. Representative James Ashley of Ohio proposed the name in 1865, having been born in Pennsylvania and familiar with our Valley with A Heart.
Its beauty has been praised everywhere. In 1904, Henry William Elson in the “History of the United States of America,” had this to say.
“In northern Pennsylvania, there lies a beautiful valley, nestled between two mountain ranges that rise high on either side, as if nature had chosen to guard the lovely spot from the outer world. This valley of Wyoming, watered by the sparkling Susquehanna that winds among the hills like a belt of silver, seems from a distant view like a dream of Eden…..”
So we are blessed with beauty, both in the Valley proper and in the emerald lands that surround it on all sides. Our bounty of beauty doesn’t stop at the valley’s hills, but blesses our entire region.
We are also blessed with a surprising number of nature preserves and retreats that are not all that well known to the public.
To correct that deficiency, a series on our preserves and sanctuaries will appear in the Citizens’ Voice on an intermittent basis. We hope you enjoy the trip.
HARRY AND MARY GOERINGER PRESERVE
One of our hidden gems is the Harry and Mary Goeringer Preserve, off Hollenback Road near Penn Lake
It’s 390 acres of oak heath forest, characterized by well-drained, acidic soils, lots of oaks and plants of the heath family: huckleberry, heath, heather, trailing arbutus, etc
The preserve hosts a globally rare, endangered plant – not named here to insure its protection — and bird species such as scarlet tanagers, hermit thrush and rose breasted grosbeak.
The preserve is open to the public for passive outdoor recreation such as hiking, birdwatching and photography. Hunting is also allowed. The Nature Conservancy does not allow trapping at this preserve.
Fishing is also allowed on one of the jewels of the preserve, Wright Creek.
According to the Nature Conservancy, Wright Creek is “An exceptional stream, along which one can find atypical vernal pools which serve as nurseries for frogs and salamanders.” It also contains a fair population of wild brook trout.
To reach the Preserve, access Hollenback Road from Bear Creek Road at the second entrance to Penn Lake, traveling toward White Haven.
Proceed on the road until the houses stop and the paving ends. In about a mile you’ll see a small parking area on the left and a signboard. To reach the start of the trail, you need to walk up the road a few hundreds yards to the trailhead on the left.
There you will find a flattish hiking/ biking trail following an old railroad bed. An isolated lake – surrounded by enormous mats of wild cranberry — is one of the highlights of the trail. It crosses the preserve’s border and stops approximately one-quarter mile from the Black Diamond Trail. The land between the two is private and heavily posted.
The Black Diamond Trail is a 10- mile stretch from Middleburg Road near White Haven to Route 437 just below Glen Summit in Mountain Top.
the land comprising the preserve was originally used as an “ice lake” for sending blocks of ice to Philadelphia. Today, it connects with parcels owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, the Natural Lands Trust, and the Wildlands Conservancy to extend a corridor of protected lands from Nescopeck State Park all the way to 6,400 acres protected at Bear Creek.
The Preserve is named for Harry and Mary Goeringer, who established the surrounding community of Penn Lake Park in the late 1930’s. The Goeringers’ daughter, Carolyn Goeringer Basler, sold much of the remaining undeveloped lands to The Nature Conservancy at what was termed “a bargain price” in 2012.
At its 2013 dedication, Ellen Lott, a project manager at The Nature Conservancy, said, “Because Mrs. Basler sold it at half the market value, we are naming it in honor of her parents.

From suicide to sorrel….

sorHarrisburg printed my suicide piece today so I can move on from that.Hope it gets people thinking.

Now back to simpler things: yellow wood sorrel, been blooming since spring and will continue right up to the frost. Love these little guys and how clear the air was the day I took the pic and allowed it to be SO sharp and crisp.

 

Yellow wood sorrel flowers are buttery yellow in color and relatively small, measuring 1.5 cm. in width. This radially symmetrical flower has five petals that surround ten stamens and a singular, erect central pistil. Flowers are widely spaced and moderate in number per plant.

Fruit:

The small, capsule-like fruit is positioned at a sharp angle atop the terminal shoot of a straight or ascending stalk.

Leaves:

The clover-shaped leaves of the yellow wood sorrel are relatively small, measuring approximately 1.5-2 cm. in width. Leaves are palmately divided into three distinct lobes and have a mildly sour taste. These leaves open at dawn and close at dusk or when exposed to environmental stresses.Each plant holds several leaves, creating a dense, carpet-like growth form.

Habitat:

The yellow wood sorrel grows best in open field, along roadways, and around waste areas.

Fun Facts:

Yellow wood sorrel is also known as sour grass because its leaves have a mildly sour taste. In fact, every part o this flower, including the leaves, flowers, and seed pods, are edible. Sorrel is a common addition to salads, soups, and sauces and can be used to make tea.

It contains high levels of vitamin C, potassium oxalate, and oxalic acid, the last two of which can be potentially hazardous to people with kidney disease, arthritis, or gout.

Medicinally, in moderate dosages, wood sorrel is cooling (refrigerant, febrifuge), diuretic, stomachic (soothing to the stomach, relieves indigestion), astringent, and catalytic. It’s also attributed with blood cleansing properties and is sometimes taken by cancer patients.

The whole plant produces an orange to yellow dye.

My suicide piece on PennLive.com today:

When my time comes, I want the right to make the final call on my exit …

3 hours ago – By Bob Quarteroni. Albert Camus said suicide was the only real question of interest, philosophically. For me, at age 70, it’s the only question, …