Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bio-Blitz - Day 1

What could be more perfect than bio-blitzing around the cabin on the day when spring explodes into its fullest self? Not much, I’m sure. First, I get to spend even more time outside than I usually do. Second, I have a purpose to be outside even longer than I usually do. I don’t have to pretend I’m doing outside work. I don’t even have to pretend I’m thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow. I’m bio-blitzing, thank you very much. Everything else can wait.

My goal for the cabin bio-blitz is to make a concerted effort to identify more plants. I tend to be a bird and animal kind of girl. I will stop dead at the sound of a bird calling in the distance to try and identify it, while every day I walk right past the little green things on the floor of my front forest and not have a clue about what I’m not seeing. For me, bio-blitzing will be an educational project that will force me to find/buy more guidebooks so I can identify what I’m looking at.

Here’s what I’ve found so far:
Trees (9 species):
Red oak – these are majestic beauties
American beech- 2 large ones in the front forest. Their light gray bark is beautiful
Tulip poplar
Sassafras – my dad taught me to chew the end of the leaf stem when I was a kid. Now that's a good flavor!
Redbud – I can begin to see the red, but they’re not fully in bloom yet
Dogwood – I have 2 small ones just starting to bloom.
American Chestnut - one of these looks pretty large to me. I'm holding my breath that it will continue to do well.

Plants (13 species):
Mayapple – the most common plant at the cabin right now. I’ve counted 87 plants in about 2 square yards, got tired of counting, so I stopped. It's safe to say hundreds are here, and more are appearing every day.

Trout lily – known locally as dog-toothed violet (but it’s not a violet). I have a nice bed of these right behind where I park the car. That’s where I took this photo (top photo).

Bloodroot - Currently, I have about 18 flowers in 3 different bunches. The root of the bloodroot was used by native Americans and others to make red dye. Isn’t it amazing that someone would even think to dig up this little plant to look at the root and then somehow figure out that you could make dye from it? All I can say is that you must only need a little bit to make a lot of dye or there used to be a lot more of these plants around than there are today. Notice how the leaves of this plant kind of curl around the stem (second photo). That's typical.
Spring beauty – I usually have tons of these, but so far this spring they are slightly less abundant than usual. More are appearing every day, though.

Wild violet - I have several bunches of these right by my front steps but they’re not blooming yet.
Coltsfoot – several plants out by the lane
Bleeding heart – Native to the area but I planted the one I have.
Wild raspberry – I’m already waiting for these to be ripe. There’s nothing that tastes as good as wild black raspberries.
Autumn olive – I think
Multiflora rose – Another invasive species
Wild grapes

Moss and lichens – boy, are these difficult to identify. The majority of the Web resources I’ve found are checklists without pictures. I did learn that in a "preliminary survey" Pennsylvania was found to have 363 species of these. I think I will just let this go for now until I can find a good guide. Let's just say I have lots.

Tomorrow: Birds, butterflies, and mammals


Cathy said...

That's a pretty good list. Right now everything is just starting to come out. Do you have any wild blueberry or wintergreen plants in your yard. I have both by the side of the house.

Also somebody gave me telescope today. The only bad part about it, they calling for cloudy skies all weekend.

Carolyn H said...


So far the Bioblitz is fun and going well. I think this is going to mean I will need more guidebooks, though. Wow! You got a telscope! That's very cool. Too bad the weather won't cooperatre for a while. No, I don't have blueberry or wintergreen--not sure why not. Both plants grow nearby but not on Roundtop--maybe I should try and figure out why.

Carolyn h.

Anonymous said...

Bronwyn again here....I just read your blog more carefully and saw your beautiful bloodroot and trout lilies! Also noted your fave music - do yourself a favor and have a listen to Spiral Dance if you can find it - B. again

Crete said...

Great work.