Friday, June 19, 2015

Walk in the Park

Growing in furrows in the bark of a large willow tree
With the forecast of heavy rain and the threat of being flooded in by Bull Creek, we escaped early from Bull Mills and returned to Springfield to hike around the Springfield Botanical Gardens.  We were accompanied by Cole (7) and Paisley(5) who view the landscape from a lower level.  In addition to the beautiful gardens, we were looking for different views of nature, including the mystery finding above.

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar - Not an eye but don't tell a bird that.
We started at the Butterfly House where there were several species flying.  There were remnants of giant swallowtail eggs, partially eaten by their recent inhabitants.  This is usually the first meal of the newly hatched larva.  The Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar is always a hit with its cartoon "face" decorated like a character from Disney Studios.

In the deep wood mulch around the flower beds we found little fairy gardens of fungi, sending up their little umbrellas in an effort to reproduce by sending out their spores, the seeds of the next generation They are easy to overlook from above but interesting to view
from ground level. 

Paisley, Cole and "Cecilia"
There were Red-eared Slider turtles basking in the middle of the lake and families of geese strolling the grounds.  This turtle caught Paisley's attention as it headed north from the lake.  Earlier this year turtles were out crossing the roads looking for love.  This time of year is the end of the courtship cycle and we wondered if it wasn't a female looking for a site to bury its eggs.

The most dramatic finding was on the bark of a willow tree on along the walk south of Lake Drummond (see top of page).  There were bright red growths in the furrows of a large willow tree on the upland side of the walk.  I initially guessed that these might be some sort of fungi but Patrick Byers came up with an even more interesting explanation - adventitious roots!

Walter Reeves refers to this finding as "water roots" which form in times of rainfall and high humidity.  They are apparently normal and harmless, disappearing in a few weeks.

The term adventitious in botany refers to structures that develop in an unusual places.  Willows can grow from shoots placed in soil.  The stems have primordial nodes which develop these adventitial roots, establishing the root system for the willow to grow. This is the basis of using willow cuttings stuck in the ground for riparian planting. CC
Why the pink to red coloration? Apparently nobody knows, although there are some interesting theories.  I couldn't even find much about them by an extensive Google search, but I did come across this beauty in England to confirm their presence.

No comments:

Post a Comment