Posts Tagged ‘spring’

“Blue Crystal and other Discoveries

A “blue crystal” … I’m not sure what the light’s reflecting from.

This piece of wood’s mostly covered with a variety of lichens and a couple of teeny pale red mushrooms.

A yellow-bellied sapsucker went first to the pine tree. You can tell the holes they drill by the way they’re in straight and horizontal lines. Sap flows from the holes and the sap suckers feed on it.

Clouds also add a variety of their shapes

Spring’s slowly arriving, and the spiders are already beginning to work on their small

 and large webs.

Advertisements

Trilliums in my Spring Garden

IMG_2064 gar

 My spring wildflower garden grows between a pine on the left and a hackberry tree on the right. The middle tree is a sweet gum, and it grows 15 feet or so back from the garden.

(I wrote this blog around a month ago.)

IMG_2101 red

Purple trilliums (Trillium recurvatum) are the most common trillium in southern Illinois. All trilliums have parts in threes — three leaves, three petals (which stand upright) and three sepals (angling downward from the base of the flower). The purple ones grow 12- to 17 inches tall in my garden.

IMG_2086

White trilliums (trillium flexipes) are scattered in the woods. They grow to 14 inches tall, and are not as numerous as the purple trilliums.

IMG_1926 red

Only one yellow trillium (Trillium luteum) grows in my spring wildflower garden. It was a gift from a friend several years ago. It only stands ten inches tall and easily hides among the other trilliums.

A Late Bloomer

   Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) usually blooms in May through early June.

IMG_2354

I found these flower on June 27.

IMG_2332

The plants grow from 12 – 18 inches tall and usually bloom May through early June.

IMG_2342

Their range includes Illinois, down through Texas and over to Virginia.

IMG_2724

Then I found this one blooming on July 13th. This should be the last of them since there’s no more buds.

.Maybe they bloomed later to get more attention.

Glide in For a Landing … and More

Today started out sounding like spring with a robin loudly singing in our front yard, and a great horned owl hooting to the north.

——-

The kitchen sink isn’t exactly my favorite place to be, but I often see interesting things while there. The window faces west.

IMG_8304 crop

 Strands of silk drifted in on a light breeze and landed close to the porch. The silk measured approximately 3 1/4 inches long.

IMG_8308 crop

I first suspected an adult spider had spun it because of the size of the silk … only adult spiders wouldn’t do this.  Spiderlings produce silk but don’t build a web.

IMG_8306 crop

 Maybe it was the spiderling of a larger species of spider. Today turned out to be a sunny day with the temperature reaching 67. An eastern phoebe repeated its name in the backyard this afternoon.

So…. our days finally look and feel much more like spring is here in southern Illinois!

—————–

The spiders had a surprise waiting for me in the evening.

IMG_8314

 The sun was getting lower, and I noticed spider silk reflecting the sunlight. I hurried out in the front yard with my camera.

IMG_8315

A light breeze added movement to the single strands of silk.

IMG_8320

The camera seemed to have a mind of its own as to how the pictures turned out.

IMG_8328

 I just snapped and snapped pictures with the light quickly changing.

IMG_8336

Then I noticed the dramatic effect on the other side of the highway. I stood on our hill and zoomed in for closer pictures of across the road. The speed of the sun lowering in the sky didn’t give me much time to do anything but quickly snap pictures. The reflected light shimmered with a light breeze.

Everywhere I looked, and as far as I could see, there were strands of spider silk.

IMG_8340

The breezes moved the spiderlings’ strands in the trees, grass and other dried vegetation.

I took thirty-eight pictures in eleven minutes before the sun sank to the horizon.

Then, when I remembered to check the next day, every bit of the spiders’ silk was gone.

I can’t imagine what the sky looked like with so many ballooning spiderlings! I sure wish I’d seen it!

Eggs and a Predator

While searching the wild cherry tree for a hibernating caterpillar, I found an egg mass.

Eastern tent caterpillars will hatch from these in the spring … unless the spider I saw when I found them, decides to return. The white area shows where the spider had gotten through the dried foam to the eggs. The egg mass measured 1/2 inch long.

The uncooperative spider didn’t like my being there. Its silhouetted on the right side of the branch, with its abdomen down. The little bump is its cephalothorax (fused head and thorax). Legs go on up together from the body. I don’t know how many of its 8 legs do that.

I’ve seen tent caterpillar egg masses eaten or partially eaten before. I never suspected a spider … not that I’d given it much thought.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

The theme for our hike at my rural property seemed to be “green.” Buffy and I walked into the ravine. The trees were mostly leafed out. The west slope of the ravine, where it was burned was greening with new growth. The shrub layer of spicebush was all leafed out. Very few of the early spring wildflowers still bloomed. The sky was clear, producing a ravine canopy of mixed sunlit yellow-greens, deeper shaded greens and all patch-worked with the sky’s blue. The wind gave it all movement.

One Virginia bluebell had 3 flowers and 2 pink buds. Christmas fern fronds stood to mid-thigh. The creek was actually dry. We’re almost 4 inches behind in rainfall for the year. Water runs off at this higher elevation, and the creek doesn’t have water as long as lower-elevation ones do. The birds were quiet except for a Northern parula warbler’s buzzy call, that rose in pitch and came to an abrupt stop. The only other noise (besides our walking) was the wind.

Jack-in-the-pulpits were more numerous than usual.  A patch of them covered approximately  10×6 feet. I counted 68 plants, and most were “babies” about 3″ tall. The blooming ones were 12 or more inches tall. Only 8 were blooming. I pulled back the hood, called the spathe, on one plant. Jack, the preacher, stood in the middle with tiny dark flowers at the base. The column is called the spadix.

Tiny dark flowers at base of the spadix

Jack-in-the pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum)  averages 18 inches tall; some can reach 2 1/2 feet. The plants have either 1 or 2 leaves, and each is divided into 3 leaflets. They grow from a corm. The plants bloom April into May and die back in the fall, leaving a stalk with a cluster of bright red berries. The striped spathe can also be maroon and green.

I researched online and found some really amazing facts about Jack-in-the-pulpit: The spadix produces an odor of mushrooms to attract tiny insects, known as “fungus gnats.” They fly in to lay their eggs, then become confused because the hood blocks the light. The lower part of the spathe is lighter. The gnats go lower and either pick up or drop off pollen, according to the sex of the flower. The way the spathe wraps around the male flowers leaves a small opening at the base where the gnats can get out. Ones that fly into female flowers aren’t able to get out.

Young plants are only able to produce enough energy to form leaves the next year. After several more years of growing the plants have male flowers. As they grow bigger over several more years, they then produce a spadix with male and female flowers. It then takes many more years of accumulating energy for the plant to produce a spadix with only female flowers. Apparently undisturbed populations can have plants to 100 years old.

In the fall, as the flower and leaf buds form, older plants can decide whether to be male or female. If there had been a dry year, the plant might decide to be male. That way it would only produce pollen, where a female plant would need enough energy to produce pollen and seeds.

I had no idea this was possible for some plants! (And I’ve giggled over the conversation a plant might have with itself on what sex to be next year.)

Perfect Day

Christmas fern fiddleheads

Virginia bluebells

Moss and lichens on tree bark

Sweet William

Ants hatching

View to the "mountains"

Redbud flowers and honeybee. Notice full pollen sac on bee's leg.

Daisy fleabane

Wild geranium

Pine about to bloom

Dandelion seeed head

Violet

Red galls on maple leaves

Maple leaves emerging

American toad

Lilac

What a perfect day!

Every day’s a perfect day.

Every day is just the way it’s meant to be.