One of Nature’s Mysteries To Solve

Hey there!  Any guesses today on what these might be?

Will check in with you all later!


These are the nuts of the Black Walnut, Juglans nigra, still in the husk.

It’s quite nasty to get off and stains our paws, so we don’t bother collecting these until the winter weather has disintegrated the husk. Miz Flora says humans used to collect them and use the husks for dye.

By the way, each of those long ‘branches’ of drooping leaves is one single leaf with many leaflets.

Like other forest mast producers, the Black Walnut trees we spotted are flush with nuts this year.

Quite scary actually for Nutmeg and I to be below them, so we stuck to the branches around its perimeter.

Beautiful, but enjoy at a distance.


Black Oak Acorns

It’s Hickory back again today with a note on another of our favorite foods.

These acorns are smaller than the White Oak ones. I know this is a Black Oak, Quercus velutina, not a red, because of the size of the acorns, but also because the leaves have little tufts of hair at the axils of the veins on the back of the leaves.

White Oak Acorns

Hey there, it’s Hickory filling in for Nutmeg today. And yes, I’m getting the hint that she’s busy collecting acorns and doesn’t have time to post, but I do. All right already, everyone!  I’m going to start collecting acorns. I looked up that reference to the Grasshopper, and it wasn’t a pretty story.

But before I go, here’s a shot of White Oak, Quercus alba, acorns, the ones growing on that beautiful tree I presented on Sunday.

They are really falling in large numbers. The amount of mast–the fruit of forest trees–is quite high this year. Every few years the trees produce bumper crops. This is one of them, which is why I haven’t been particularly worried. Enough for everyone.

See, I’m not totally ignoring that fall is here!

Thirsty Thursday

Getting a little crazy around here with the female squirrels collecting acorns, so Ol’ Wally is going to be brief today and add to his collection.

This here is a fine example of a bird bath. See the engraving patterns on the surface of the bowl? That is especially helpful to birds that want to immerse themselves. Even if you humans for get to change the water–not sayin’ you do, but sometimes that happens–then is a bit of algae grows, there’s still a way for the avian toes to get traction.

Food Dropping

Acorns and cones alike are dropping like crazy around here in Northern Virginia.

I’m not sure if it’s true that this means the winter will be bad. I asked Hickory, just to see him squirm.

He shrugged. “How would a tree predict the weather? Wait a second—are you trying to trick me into work?”

“Well, the rest of us have been burying acorns for a few weeks now.”

Miz Flora leaped up. “You know what they say about The Grasshopper and the Ants.”

“No, what?”

“To work today is to eat tomorrow.”

She ran off and I ran after her. I hope he gets the hint.

One of Nature’s Mysteries To Solve

All right, I’m telling you up front this is not a native species, but these large examples of this mystery fruit are the same shape as the native one. So what is it?


These beauties are rose hips, the fruit of roses.

Heh, you can tell by the flower color it’s an ornamental species. When the rose hips are ripe, they can be tasty. But it’s nothing a squirrel would like to make a steady diet of.

Mature Poison Ivy

Hickory and I ran across this tree downed in the storm that had been cut and removed.

We noticed the base still had green leaves and on closer look, backed away—Poison Ivy.

The thick vine has clumps of the reddish root hairs we showed you before on the smaller vines. The humans did seem to know enough not to cut it and release the oils that cause the itching, but we sure high-tailed it out of there.

A Boneset Species

This blue-black wasp caught my eye and got me to notice a plain white flower that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Many insects were feeding on it, much like the Blue Mistflower closer to my leaf nest.

Miz Flora had some trouble identifying the plant. “I can narrow it to species related to both the Mistflower and the Joe-Pye Weed, the Eupatorium family. Checking my book, I think with the flower heads longer than wide and the uppermost leaves alternate, it may be Eupatorium serotinum, Late-flowering Boneset.”

I did see the few lone leaves at the top, whereas in the lower pars of the stalk, the leaves all matched opposite.

“Which is typical in bonesets,” Miz Flora said. “I’m not sure what they are comparing for the lateness of the bloom, but the flower heads are oblong shaped.” She snapped her book closed. “Close as you’ll get, Nutmeg. Lots to do now, with fall approaching. Acorns, you know,” she said and leaped off.

Hmm. Nothing since I met Miz Flora last spring had put her off a plant identification. I started gathering acorns myself.