One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

And the June 30th mystery of the day answers (Please find the photos below!) are:

Photo #1: Virginia Creeper – Five leaflets to a leaf, right?

Photo #2: Poison Ivy – Three leaflets to a leaf.

Photo #3: Poison Ivy

Photo #4: The brighter leaves are Poison Ivy, the darker are Virginia Creeper. Please note, the leaves just happen to look this way in this photo! It’s not always the case in real life.

Photo #5: Virginia Creeper

Photo #6: Poison Ivy in the middle, Virginia Creeper lower

Have fun out there and don’t get poison ivy!

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One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey, we’re going to try something a little different for this Sunday’s mystery. Nutmeg and I found the worst, most awful patch of poison ivy mixed with Virginia Creeper this week. The vines were so thick and intertwined, we edged to the other side of the path and crept our way past. No way were we going up in those trees!

Vines overtaking woods

Summer seems to mean vine days in the suburbs. This is a great challenge for you human readers to sort and identify the vines—creeper or ivy. So here is a series of photos for you to try your hand at identifying which vine is in which from the safety of your home—no chance of getting the itches!

Photo #1

Mystery #62; Photo #1

Photo #2

Mystery #62; Photo #2

Photo #3

Mystery #62; Photo #3

Photo #4

Mystery #62; Photo #4

Photo #5

Mystery #62; Photo #5

Photo #6

Mystery #62; Photo #6

Later we’ll post the answers.  If you’re having a bit of trouble, check out our most popular previous posts on Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy.

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The Mystery of Crows

Hickory and I were hanging out in an oak one evening when two crows landed below us. We froze and waited to see what they’d do on the sidewalk.

American Crow

To our surprise, they cocked their heads and strutted around, then got into a bit of a squabble. One left and the other…

American Crow

Proceeded to peck at different spots.

“What’s he eating,” Hickory asked me. “Maybe we should check and see if we’d like it.”

So we scrambled down the trunk, scared off the crows and looked around. Nothing.

Then finally in disgust, Hickory said, “Ants. They were fighting about nothing better than ants!”

Sassafras

Here’s a tree name that’s fun to say and fun to find. Four different leaves should make it confusing, but the ‘mitten’ tree has got to be the easiest to identify.

Sassafras

Double mitten.

Sassafras

Left mitten

Sassafras

Right mitten.

Sassafras

No mitten, which could also be called baby mitten, Miz Flora says, since those strollers she peeks into have the baby hands incased in no-thumb mitts.

The new leaves seem to emerge on tendril-like stems.

Sassafras

Fun plant!

Coral Honeysuckle

Miz Flora dragged me to a side yard and pointed out these little trumpet flowers, also a honeysuckle.

Coral Honeysuckle

But unlike the taking-over Japanese Honeysuckle from last week, Coral Honeysuckle is native and does not seem to be everywhere you don’t want it to be.

Coral Honeysuckle

Please correct us if we’re wrong, but Miz Flora says she just doesn’t see this vine much on her walks.

House Wrens

House Wren

This pair of parent birds have kept busy bringing moths and other juicy insects to their noisy babies.

House Wren

I nearly fell off a limb laughing when Hickory decided to cross ‘their yard.’ That little moma chased him up over the utility fence and had him pinned to the house wall before he dove off into a bush and hid.

House Wren

We sure hope they fledge soon so the neighborhood can go back to normal.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!  Two weeks ago saw you human readers spouting off the mystery wildflower name before midmorning. Since I hardly put a challenge to you, here’s a more nondescript one to chew over this week.

mystery #61

Check back with you later!

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Perhaps you took your clues from the leaves of this shrub. That’s right, shrub—this is the Common Elderberry, Sambucus nigra L. ssp. canadensis.

Common Elderberry

Miz Flora tells me this plant was highly prized for its edible berries by Native Americans. They collected the berries and ate little else when they were in season. They were dried for winter, which is a skill I wish we squirrels would learn I get really tired of having only acorns over the winter.

Common Elderberry

Leaves of Common Elderberry

Now I’m not suggesting you humans go out and gather these Elderberries to eat based on our little description here. Please, learn to identify any plant you plant to consume, based on several sources. It doesn’t have drawings or detailed pictures for identification, but one source we like for background information is the US Department of Agriculture plant guides. Here’s the Elderberry page.

Cool and Shady

We end up running all over our neighborhood, even between the houses where most humans don’t see the hidden garden corners. This human has made the best of a shady canyon between townhouses.

Shade Garden

Not even Ol’ Wally remembers, but this spot must have been wet; now a  gravel surface lets the water flow by.

shady fern garden

Nice ferns, huh? The shrubs are native Oak Leaf Hydrangeas, Hydrangea quercifolia. The stone wall contains the plants, and keeps them out of traffic—not to mention, we’ve seen a skink or two living in those crevices.