We’ve finally seen some warm weather here and there is a lot of melting going on.
Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) spathes have opened to allow insects access to its flowers that line the spadix. The spadix lies deep inside their spathes so the flies and other insects that visit the plant have to enter through the gap to visit the flowers. Through a process known as thermogenesis the plants generate their own heat and experiments have shown that the temperature inside the spathe is much warmer than that of the surrounding air. One theory says that this warmth benefits the plants by enticing insects inside to pollinate the flowers.
The greenish yellow growth on the right side of this skunk cabbage plant is a leaf that hasn’t unfurled yet. I was surprised to see a leaf this early. They don’t usually appear until two or three weeks after the flowers.
I think this is a six spotted fishing spider (Dolomedes triton) but I can’t see any spots on its abdomen. It could be because of the light, which was coming from behind him, or maybe he was a juvenile. According to what I’ve read these spiders will dive under water and grab onto a plant when frightened, and that’s exactly what this one did. They can dive up to 7 inches deep to catch prey, which could be a tadpole, fish, or another spider.
It looked as if someone had painted this tree bright yellow around its old wounds, but it was covered with candle flame Lichen (Candelaria concolor).
Candle flame lichens are so very small that I can’t think of anything to compare them to, but fortunately they grow in large colonies and that makes them easier to see. They remind me of scrambled eggs.
If you gently heat the resin, called spruce gum, of the black spruce tree (Picea mariana), it will melt down into a liquid which can then be strained and poured into a shallow pan or other container to cool. After about a half hour it will be hardened and very brittle. When broken into bite sized pieces it can be chewed like any other gum. Spruce gum is very antiseptic and good for the teeth. It has been chewed by Native Americans for centuries and was the first chewing gum sold in the United States. You can see how one person makes the gum by clicking here.
American elm (Ulmus Americana) buds look like they’re swelling a bit. Elm flowers are small but beautiful and I’m looking forward to seeing them again.
Red maple buds are also getting bigger and look like they might break earlier than last year’s date of April 13th. That’s hard to believe after the winter that we’ve had. I was talking to a syrup maker the other day who said that he had gotten about a fifth of the sap he boiled last year, so the prices will most likely be going up.
Blackberry buds have broken and leaves will be appearing any day now if it stays warm. That’s my signal to start looking for striped maple and beech buds, which are among the most beautiful things in the forest when they have just opened.
In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against Nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. ~John Milton
Thanks for coming by.