Today is Master Naturalist field trip day!
We certainly couldn’t ask for a nicer day. A cold front blew in last night, and it is actually JACKET WEATHER! The group is a nice size–enough people to be interested and ask good questions, but small enough to be able to pay attention to everyone.
We…are…moving…very…very…s l o w l y. The human female has a lot to say about a lot of things. The information just keeps coming! It’s like trying to drink from a fire hose.
Great Frigga’s Corset! One of the budding Master Naturalists has spotted a plant the human female has not recorded before in the park. It’s a great, tall grass with spikelets like nothing I have seen before.
Eastern Gama Grass. The male flowers are at the top of the spike (to the left, but not open yet.) The female flowers are lower down in the inflorescence (to the right) and have these fantastic, purple, fuzzy styles. The male flowers will fall away once their work is done, and the fruit of each female flower will be hard and cylindrical like a bead and eventually fall separately. Nice find!
Trees. More trees. More grass. Some shrubs. Things with berries. Things without berries. More trees. Stupid bench.
Sigyn, look! What’s that?
Ow! Squealing! Apparently it is ladies’ tresses orchid season and that is one of them. It’s not one of the Navasota ladies’ tresses–those are endangered and much less common–but it is still an orchid. Sigyn thinks the way the flowers are in two spirals up the stem is pretty cool. I like the way the plants blooom without their leaves (which are up only in the spring) and how none of the scientists has figured out yet what weather conditions make for a good orchid year. The human female is doing something complicated with her hand, showing how the shapes of the flowers of the common and rare ones are different. Everyone is looking at her blankly. And yet she is undeterred.
Oh, how my wrath shall grow and rage until I smite the human female with all that is in me! We finished the field trip and are home now. The human female is counting it as a success, as several people wanted to stay past the allotted time and explore with her. I count it as a disaster! You know how nature nerds always say, “Take only photos, leave only footprints”? Well, the human female left something in the park and I’m not sure I shall ever get it back.
We were down by the Great Desolation again, looking at all of the white-flowered, no-longer-a-mystery white Bidens. While everyone was oohing and ahhing over the silly thing, Sigyn and I sat down in the shade to rest a bit. I took off my helmet because the day was growing a little hot after all. I told the human female to be sure to carry it back to the car for me (it does get heavy), but she was too busy yakking and I guess she did not hear my instructions, because when we disembarked at home just now, my gorgeous horns were nowhere to be found! That hag LOST my helmet somewhere near the sedge meadow, probably in a patch of that stinky Pluchea! She swears it was an accident, but I’m fairly certain she did it on purpose. I’ve had to magic up a spare. Do you see now why whatever mischief I whip up for her is no more than she deserves?
She did manage to come back with this:
She says it is probably Carolina laurel cherry. It has alternate, simple leaves, and the bark “looked Prunus-y”–whatever that means. It is, however, missing one of the diagnostic features of Prunus caroliniana, two tiny, dark glands on the underside of the leaf, one on each side of the leaf stalk. Do you see any glands, love?
She says she’ll have to go back in the spring and see what the flowers look like. If she can remember where it is…
The mystery plant sample is not all that followed us home today.
There is, she says, rather a lot of panicle-leaved tick-trefoil in the park this year. It has small, pink beany flowers and little legumes that break up into one-seeded segments just loaded with microscopic, hooked hairs. They really do cling like ticks.
This will teach her not to tie her jacket around her waist and then wade through the tall stuff! She is well and truly covered with these little clingers, and she’s going to have to sit and pick them off her pants, jacket, sweatshirt, and bootlaces one… by… one… by… one. (Serves her right!)
Ehehehe! That is a LOT of little velcro-y bits! And that’s not even counting the one ones she hasn’t found yet. She’ll be finding them in the laundry for weeks, if I have anything to say about it.
Augh! I can feel…. They’re on me, too, aren’t they Sigyn?
Get them off! Get them off! I was very careful not to get any at the park. These are just from her picking them off her clothes and flinging them every which way. She is just about as hapless as it is possible for a single mortal to be, and this day’s work will cost her another few years of grief from me—and she’s getting off lightly.
Grumble, grumble, grumble. Plot, plot, plot…