One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Nutmeg and I are signing off this coming week for our winter hiatus, so here is a last mystery for a bit.

Mystery #174

This plant has held its leaves late in the season.

If you know what it is, give us a guess in the comments.

I’ll check back later!

~~~

Arrowwood Viburnum

Spectacular leaves, aren’t they?

Arrowwood Viburnum native shrub

Arrowwood Viburnum, Viburnum dentatum, is a native shrub that produces food for wildlife, too. The drupes grow from clusters of white flowers that bloom in the spring and look like look like dark blue berries when they ripen. A variety of viburnums live from Maine down to Florida and east to Texas, and feed many types of birds, including thrushes, bluebirds, robins, catbirds, cardinals, finches and waxwings.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Another shot of our changing leaves.

Mystery #171

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Any guesses for what they are?

I’ll be back later to check your answers!

~~~

Isn’t that a gorgeous tree! It’s an oak, and common, maybe more so than you humans realize.

Acorn of the Chestnut Oak

Chestnut Oak, Quercus prinus, is easily identified by its large rounded teeth along the margins of the leaves and growing in the higher, drier soils. The acorns are bigger than most oaks, and oval in shape.

And speaking of acorns… We squirrels are having a plentiful year, but as always, it’s a tiring chore preparing for winter. A regular reader asked if we’d be taking our winter hiatus again, and the answer is yes. We have some catching up to do. Nutmeg and I need to pick when, but it’ll be soon.

Get outside while the weather is good, folks!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there,

Staying seasonal with our mystery, what are these red leaves?

Mystery # 170

Or if you want a challenge, what are the green ones?

I’ll check back later for your guesses!

~~~

This beautiful fall color brought to you by Red Maple, Acer rubric, and Metasequoia, Metasequoia glyptostroboides. Enjoy!

Jack-o’-Lantern Mushroom

It’s orange, so you bet this mushroom has been named for your human holiday!

Jack-o'-Lantern mushroom

We’re a few days late, but Hickory and I just ran across a Jack-o’-Lantern mushroom, Omphalotus olearius, and wanted to share it.

Not only is this mushroom orange, but its gills glows in the dark–when the mushrooms are newly sprouted, which these are not. We squirrels didn’t try to photograph the glow, so suggest you look at the Cornell Mushroom Blog. The cool thing is, it’s the same luminescent enzyme, luciferase, that makes fireflies glow.

Jack-o'-Lantern mushroom

Besides looking a bit ragged, these may even be eaten around the edges, but that’s not by humans! Do not touch this species, because like many of the scary things about Halloween, this mushroom is poisonous.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s fall, how about a leaf mystery?

Mystery #169

We’ll check in later!

~~~

The Black Tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica, always turns a beautiful color in our woods–though it might be reds to purples as you see here, or yellows and oranges.

Black Tupelo Blackgum tree leaves

Sometimes known as Black Gum or Blackgum, this native tree blooms in late spring and produces a berry that is high in energy for birds. You humans hardly ever see them because they are so small and get eaten very quickly.

The name ‘tupelo’ comes from the Native American Creek words “ito” for tree and “opilwa” for swamp. We don’t have many swampy areas where we live, so haven’t taken note of that. Maybe if they do live in wetter areas, the tree grows larger. Here in Northern Virginia, the Black Tupelo is a smaller, slow growing tree.

Black Tupelo tree

That’s one, in the center foreground, with the yellowish leaves, right beside the trunk of a mature Black Tupelo tree. Very pretty, and one we’d sure recommend you humans look at if you are picking out something native and helpful for wildlife!

Black Tupelo Black Gum tree leaves