With the decoration of a little seasonal plant–mistletoe–that you humans seem to be attracted to during this season, all of here at The Squirrel Nutwork wish you a happy and safe holiday. We hope the weather in your area lets you get outside and enjoy what nature offers. We’ll see you out there!
Can you believe it, we’ve found another small mystery evergreen to try to stump you with?
Please note the needles on this one are NOT flat like last week’s Ground Cedar (and it’s in the background for comparison). Good luck!
We hope you guessed this is another type of clubmoss, one fondly called Princess Pine, Lycopodium clavatum. It is bushy and upright—more so than the Ground Cedar of last week—and does look like a miniature pine.
A fun fact is the spores—primitive seeds—are flammable, explosively so. They used to be used for flash powder for long-ago photos.
Please, don’t go out collecting it for your holiday photography, or any other holiday decorating. These slow-growing clubmosses suffer from over-collecting and can’t recover like hardier invasive species do.
We squirrels have been getting a bit more sleep these last few weeks…up until today. Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year. From now on, our days will get longer.
Interestingly, Miz Flora told us the Solstice isn’t the entire day, but actually a moment. And it’s a time that changes from year to year, anywhere between December 20th to 23rd. On that minute–12:11 this year–the sun is actually its farthest from the North Pole. At 12:12, the tipping starts to go back the other way. It’s just so slow we don’t notice for days…and days if you’re a cold squirrel not emerging from your leaf nest much.
So we will leave the measuring to you humans and enjoy our extra time of sleeping. See, it really did pay to gather all those acorns this fall. Or in Hickory’s case, stake out the best decks and feeders.
Not that I haven’t indulged in a good table feast myself.
Hey! We have another native evergreen for your mystery today.
I’ll be back to check for your answers later!
Hey there, back again!
This little evergreen is a clubmoss called Ground Cedar, Lycopodium digitatum. It’s a primitive plant that looks like a vine because it has a stem that travels over the ground, but you humans can tell it’s not a vine because it doesn’t have a woody stem. The branches are somewhat flat and fan-like on Ground Cedar, like a cedar tree’s needles.
You might think this plant would make a great ground cover for your backyard habitat, but please don’t try to dig it up to try this. Ground Cedar is very hard to grow and harder to transplant.
Hickory squirrel here, leaping over the closed notice! I can’t help seeing the attention you humans are giving to evergreens–’tis the season, some of you say, to bring them indoors. But do you know your native evergreens? Test your skill on this one, minus the green!
Be back later to check your answers.
We had a good guess today! Yes, it’s a cedar–Eastern Red Cedar is our native one.
The foliage is a flat needle.
The fragrance is wonderful, the very reason, Miz Flora tells us, that some of you humans use the wood in your homes. But we’d suggest using the whole tree this time of year…
maybe not strung with spider webs.
I’m sorry to say it was time for me to make a decision to stop blogging. I don’t know if we’re closing The Squirrel Nutwork down for a short time, or permanently.
My goal at the start of blogging was to share nature in suburbia, not just for Eastern Gray Squirrels, but for all wildlife and humans who live in the suburbs of Washington D.C. I think it’s been a good conversation with my fellow squirrels, Hickory, Ol’ Wally and Miz Flora—despite her not ever actually writing a post—and you human readers. We had a few surprises with Field Correspondents volunteering to share from their different habitats—Coney the Pine Squirrel from the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and Lob the Delmarva Fox Squirrel from the Delmarva Peninsula at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. I think their contributions showed how variable squirrels’ needs are and how adaptable we can be. And it was fun!
We’ve enjoyed sharing our lives and suburban habitat with you. Thank you for being our readers.
In poking around to find all our possible food sources for this winter, Miz Flora reacquainted us with Witch Hazel. She’d noticed my photos of this shrub from earlier this fall.
“Look at all those flowers,” she said. “Why don’t you go check to see if they’ve set seeds?”
We scampered out to the shrubs planted in our neighborhood—under the oaks ironically. They are just ripening and thanks to Miz Flora will make up for those lean acorns.
“Not as energy-producing as a decent acorn,” she told us, “but will fill our bellies. Now that I won’t hear any grumbling from you younger squirrels, you might say a word to your readers that I’d like a few ears of corn put out, if they have an inclination to help us. That’s good protein for squirrels.”
You head her; I’m passing that along word-for-word.
“And tell them thank you,” Miz Flora said. “I can tell from your readers there’s a lot of good humans. I’m glad I’ve come to know them better through our blog.”
This old squirrel has a lot to be thankful for, most of all his squirrel friends and good human neighbors around the golf course. If Ol’ Wally didn’t have you-all it’d be a lot harder for a squirrel to get what he needed in this skimpy woods. You know I prefer a good clean stream, even if it is swamped with leaves these days.
But those just aren’t too common in suburbia, so I’m sending out a big thank you to all the humans who thoughtfully provide us wild animals with good clean water year-round.
Word is we’re going into semi-hibernation here on The Squirrel Nutwork. (I sure hope you humans know that’s just a turn-of-phrase; we squirrel don’t hibernate.) It’s been a real pleasure talking with you humans once a week. I hope you continue to keep wildlife in your thoughts and lives. We suburban squirrels certainly think about you when we venture out of our leaf nests each morning. Keep yourselves warm and well-watered this winter!