Monday, October 16, 2017

Bumble Bees and Lady Bugs

Back in mid-September I passed by the Japanese Knotweed as it was in flower and noticed an incredible number of bees attracted to the flowers. The bush was just covered in a swarm of insects. I never knew it was so incredibly popular.

There is just one bunch of invasive Japanese Knotweed in the area; it is along the fence line and the mower that comes by each fall keeps it in check. In terms of invasives, it isn't the worst out there as it rarely produces viable seeds and the most common way for a knew bush to get started is through a piece of root being moved either by humans or by some other natural agency. Dog Strangling Vine is the worst, I had just as much of it to clear this year from the patch at the end of Newhaven as I had in the previous two years, and noticed another patch about 20 meters further along the forest border.

The bird house I put up last fall wasn't a great success this year. I saw a woodpecker check it out and she increased the size of the hole, but she didn't stick around. This fall I made a couple of modifications in hopes that it is more successful next year. I gave the inside of the house a flatter floor, previously I thought it was a good idea to have a sloping floor so that there would be good drainage but perhaps birds want a flat floor for their nests. I also put a new piece of wood over the hole to reestablish the old smaller hole size and added a perch in front. Birds might not need a perch but I figure it might give the house a bit of "curb appeal".

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

More from the test plots

Cross Orb-weaver on lamb's quarters

This cross orb-weaver hanging out in the test plots is a pretty guy. Let nature take over a small plot for a year and that is where you will find all sorts of fantastic beasts like this.

A katydid on ragweed

Lamb's Quarters and Ragweed are two more really common roadside weeds that I haven't mentioned in this blog before because they just don't show up much unless you have a disturbed site like the test plots where the ground is bare. One interesting fact I learned about lamb's quarters is that it was one of the foundations of eastern north america's prehistoric agricultural revolution and is still commonly cultivated in some areas of India.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Small pink flowers found in the testplots

Pennsylvania Smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum)


Northern willow herb(Epilobium ciliatum)

The testplot area by the road is really helping me extend my knowledge of roadside plants. Getting rid of the grass allowed all sorts of disturbed site weeds to thrive which don't usually grow along here because of the competition from the grass. I find Pennsylvania Smartweed growing sometimes in the crack between the curb and the pavement along my street, but I haven't until now taken the time to identify it. I hadn't noticed Northern Willow Herb before. The plant in the testplot area was small and low to the ground but I later saw another one down by the Manotick Locks that was 4 feet tall and holding its own amongst the wild parsnip and goldenrod.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Prickly Lettuce

Prickly lettuce flowers

The Prickly lettuce plant looks quite similar to a sow-thistle before the flower heads start to appear, the big difference at that point is the row of spines down the midrib of each leaf. Once the flowers start to emerge it looks quite different, as instead of a few upright dandelion-like flowers they have several nodding pannicles of buds that once they flower stand upright in a wide spray of flowers and seed heads(see picture at bottom). The flowers close-up shop early in the day so when I usually come by in the later afternoon they are all closed up. I had to go out to the test-plot area at midday on purpose to see the actual blooms.

Prickly lettuce leaf with spines down the rib

According to the wikipedia article, this is the closest wild relative of our cultivated lettuce although it doesn't look very similar. It is supposed to be edible, but has a milky white sap that is quite bitter. I wouldn't put it in my salad.

A couple more july flowers

Motherwort

Narrow-leaf plantain

Monday, July 31, 2017

A few native wildflowers

Most roadside wildflowers aren't native to North America so it makes a nice change of pace to point out a few that are actually natives

Canada Fleabane(Conyza canadensis)


Spreading Dogbane(Apocynum androsaemifolium)


Milkweed(Asclepias syriaca)


Some Pink and Purple July Flowers

Himalayan Balsam(Impatiens glandulifera) likes moist areas like the banks of Pinecrest creek


Deptford Pink(Dianthus_armeria) is a delicate little flower


Bitter-sweet Nightshade(Solanum dulcamara) is quite poisonous


Lady Bells(Campanula rapunculoides) are pretty but very hard to manage


Burdock(Arctium minus) have pretty flowers but are better known for their very large leaves


Chicory(Cichorium intybus)