One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

We squirrels are having too lazy a day inside our warm dreys, but a few plants are still greening our landscape, collecting the sun’s rays when they can.

Recognize this one? If you do, give us a guess in our comments. We’l be back later to check your answers!

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These little cuties greening up our winter landscape are polypody ferns, Polypodium sp.

Like most ferns, these grow in the shade and partial shade, but polypody ferns sprout in cracks between rocks, or on old stumps or logs. They prefer a rich soil and steady moisture found along streams and rivers.

Color on a gray winter’s day

We squirrels don’t know about you humans, but coming upon these witch hazel blossoms in the winter really brightens our day!

This native shrub, Hamamelis virginiana, blooms at the oddest times. Anytime from October–thus the reference to witches!–to March. And sometimes twice! All the better to enjoy!

Along with this cheer, we must announce that we’ll be suspending the blog this week for our winter hiatus. Look for one last post, then we’ll see you in the spring!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Have you ever seen such a stickery sticker stem?

We squirrel do NOT climb this one! What is it?

Give us your guesses in the comments, and we’ll check back later to confirm!

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Heh! A tougher than normal mystery. Perhaps we should take a step back…

 

Do you recognize this plant? Teasels–numerous members of the Dipsacus family–have prickly stems and leaves in common. We aren’t sure exactly which one this is, but apparently they are all introduced to North America. These prickly seed heads were introduced and grown for use in the textile industry where they were used to raise the nap on fabric. Because the teasel break and need to be replaced often, industries eventually replaced them with metal cards. In the meantime, the teasel plants spread.

And spread. They tend to form tight groups and push out other plants, so have been labelled invasive.

The flowers bloom with multiple blossoms to attract bees and, afterward, the full seed heads lure in goldfinches. So teasel isn’t that a bad of plant to keep around!

Thankful Thirsty Thursday

Ol’ Wally here today. Seems there are some human celebrations going on inside your warm burrows, while outside…

Look who is back on the pond!

Hooded Mergansers enjoying a warmer location than their Canadian summer lakes now offer.

Ol’ Wally hopes you humans will get outside and enjoy a bit of nature with your holiday celebrations!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ol’ Wally, Nutmeg, Hickory and Miz Flora

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

We’re all curling up against the cold…

but what is this?

I’ll check back for your guesses in the comments!

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It doesn’t actually take low temperatures for Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota, to curl up. As soon as the seeds are developed, the plant dries up.

The lacy umbels of flowers pull into the center and form what some humans call ‘bird’s nest’.

It’s very easy to see why! Look carefully and you can see the eggs–the tiny brown seeds of the Queen Anne’s Lace.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Can you tell what this is? And why would looking at it be important?

I’ll check in for your guesses in the comments later!

~~~

Well, we had a couple of people worried that this was a diseased leaf! No, not at all. A number of leaves, including this oak species, have tufts of hair in the axils of the veins on the lower side of the leaves. In fact, it is one of the ways to identify this leaf.

The second on this tree’s leaves, is the space between the lobes. The oak leaves in this family, the red oak group, are tricky to tell apart. Of course we squirrels, who pick up the acorns each year, find them easy to identify by the shape and size of the acorns and their caps, a third identification method. But acorns aren’t always on the trees.

So, a look at the leaves: These oak leaves have what’s called ‘variable sinuses’, meaning the space between the indentations is not regular. That, plus the tufts of hair on the back, means these leaves come from a Black Oak, Quercus veluntina.

It’s a stately tree, which we need more of on our rapidly changing planet. Maybe this season, you humans can gather acorns and bury them, and then forget to dig them up?