Boneset…is a Lateflowering Thoroughwort

**We have a correction to this post–this wildflower is called Lateflowering Thoroughwort. It’s a member of the Eupatorium  family.

Seems to be the season for noticing this white-flowered plant.

Bonset flowers

Exactly three years ago, Ms. Flora helped me narrow it down to Boneset, but we never did determine a specific species. This year, we squirrels are seeing the plant–one we never noticed when it wasn’t blooming–along roadways and in all sorts of corners.

Boneset plant

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One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey,

These long, long leaves may not be too familiar to many of you…but we squirrels love them. What tree is it?

Mystery # 133

Check back with you later!

~~~

Difficult one today, huh?

These very chewed up leaves of the Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra, are compound leaves and look pretty much like Ash, Tree of Heaven and Sumac tree leaves, so we squirrels don’t blame you for your confusion. Also like the last two of these, the walnut likes sun and will grow along the edges of woods. But the thing that makes walnut trees oh so much better than those other species, is hitting the ground right now.

Eastern Black Walnut

You guessed it, walnuts!

Now the Black Walnut’s nut arrives in a pretty nasty hull. It falls, green and hard, and starts to rot on the ground, turning into a sticky black mush that will leave your paws black, too. In fact, we squirrels have heard tell that these hulls were used by humans as a dye. It doesn’t come out.

The smart thing to do is leave those walnuts on the ground–wherever they fall–until the fall rains wash off the hull.

Eastern Black walnuts collecting on ground

I did spy a clever chipmunk raiding the nut meats from the crushed walnuts that fell in the street in our neighborhood and were run over.

DSC08270

We collect them, chew through the very hard shell and devour the nut meat. It has a strong taste which isn’t for everyone.

Happily, that just means more for us squirrels!

Preparing for winter

Notice anything odd about this bird house?

bird house with squirrel chewing

Some squirrel–not any of us!–has decided he’d rather renovate a birdhouse by gnawing at the small hole opening to enlarge it. Probably a young one, who would rather chew than construct his own leaf nest. True, a good old fashioned hollow tree, or a appropriately sized squirrel nest box, keep the cold and wind out better.

Squirrel Nest Box

Perhaps you have one lying around?

Thirsty Thursday

Cracks in mud

It’s been many years since I’ve seen cracks such as these! Take another look.

Dry Ground

A squirrel could lose a paw down a crack this wide! We had rain Monday and Tuesday, but it doesn’t seem to have made a bit of difference to these trees.

Tree without mulch

This old squirrel hopes you humans see the benefits of leaving leaf litter in place, or putting down your human mulch. It’s not just for hiding acorns, you know! (And give your street trees a long sprinkle if you can, please.)

Welcome to Fall!

sun through trees

The Autumnal Equinox occurred this morning at 4:21–Eastern time. Not even we squirrels were up to greet it. Equinoxes marks the two times a year when the daylight hours equal the dark hours and the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. From now until the Winter Solstice on December 22nd, the days will grow shorter, then lengthen again until day and night are of equal lengths on March 20, 2016 at 12:31 a.m. Eastern time.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey,

It’s been a long week, looking at…this!

Mystery # 132

Give me your guesses!

~~~

We had a great guess, a walnut with the meat missing. Close, but this is my namesake tree, the Mockernut Hickory, Carya tomentosa. You humans may not see it quite this way–this nut has been chewed open by me, Hickory Squirrel. (see my mighty tooth marks?) When they fall from the tree, the nut is covered in a thick covering that splits four ways, releasing the hard nut inside.

Mockernut Hickory

Which they are doing right now! Look for a tree with 5 to 9 leaflets arranged like in the photo below, and you will find hickory nuts.

Hickory Tree leaves

Happy foraging!