toxicodendron radicans

A Very Colorful Fall Walk

The recent local weather (hot cold hot cold rainy sunny cold hot again), while making wardrobe deliberations a maddening ordeal with at best a 50-50 percent chance of success, have had an unexpected effect.  The local flora, famous for not giving a fig for seasonal expectations and remaining green until January, has decided, for once, to oblige Sigyn’s longing for a colored autumn.

We have therefore embarked upon a tour of the yard, the surrounding neighborhood, and the park at the end of the street, in order to take in all the offerings on this bright and sunny afternoon.

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cedar elm

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pecan

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woolly bucket or gum bumelia (both ludicrous names)

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upland swamp privet (an oxymoron if I ever heard one)

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yaupon holly

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post oak

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aster

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winged elm

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farkleberry

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bitterweed

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more asters

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more yaupon

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ditto (can you tell Sigyn really likes holly?)

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greenbriar

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a whole galaxy of asters  (Time for a little rest.  Dangling is hard work)

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white mulberry

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miniature dragon

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poison ivy  (Go on, human female, pat the pretty plant!)

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more mulberry

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copperleaf (Aptly named, I’d say.)

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More elmage

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honey locust

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bald cypress

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yet more elms

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many shot of a truly splendid farkleberry

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blackjack oak

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They say some medieval craftsman invented stained glass.  I’m not so sure.

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Loki’s Mostly-Accurate Vine Primer

While the humans are finishing up with their photographs and questionable nomenclature, I’ve decided to review what I learned about the local vines.  You will see that I know quite as much as the human female.  Probably more.  For each vine, I will provide a handy mnemonic jingle.

Sigyn, don’t touch that!   I know the new growth is shiny and red,

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but this is Poison Ivy.  Some people can be immune, but it’s best not to push one’s luck.  Leaves of three, let it be!  Frost Giants are immune, so I’ll just pick a bit to put in the human female’s next lunchtime salad.  (She’s always complaining that her packed lunches at work are boring.  I’m just trying to help.)

This plant, greenbriar, is scarcely less pleasant to deal with.  Sigyn and I have run into it several times before.

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Look at those prickles!  It is the botanical equivalent of barbed wire!  Smilax vine makes you whine!  It can make some very dense, flesh-shredding tangles and has left its mark on every field botanist in the South.  (Do not ask to see the human female’s scars.  Some things are better left to the imagination. )

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This plant looks like greenbriar, but it isn’t  prickly.  I’ve heard it called snailseed, but I can’t remember why.  I really never listen very closely when the human female talks.  Snailseed does no mean deed.

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Oops, back to prickly things.  This is our local blackberry or dewberry.  It has both prickles …

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And little red glandular hairs.

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Dewberry, dewberry, make me a pie.  Beware of the prickles, it WILL make you cry!

Are you keeping score?  That’s one poisonous plant, two prickly plants, and one not-prickly plant rather cryptically named for a mollusc.

Our last vine of the day is Creepy Virginia.  It has leaves sort of like poison ivy and sort of like dewberry.  It climbs like poison ivy, but belongs to the grape family.  No prickles.

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Five leaflets, harmless, up trees it will climb./ For words like “Virginia” there isn’t a rhyme.

Hey, there’s nothing to this poetry stuff!  Bet I can do a limerick.

A mighty Frost Giant named Loki/  Taught vines while the humans were pokey./  She won’t have a hunch/ P.I.’s in her lunch/ My mischief is naughty and joke-y.

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