Cape Cod's Nature Place

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

Gray's Beach

October 30, 2013

I've been Otherwise Engaged for almost 2 months and thus hadn't been able to join the hiking crew for almost 2 months (not since the first hike of the "season", right after Labor Day).  Thus no new photos since then.  But hopefully you'll enjoy these pictures from our hike in the area of Gray's Beach in Yarmouthport last Wednesday (October 30). 

When looking for additional background, I found a terrific document on the Internet that provides the history of Yarmouth - it's Chapter XVII in "The History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts" - go to http://capecodhistory.us/Deyo/Yarmouth.html to access the full document.   The book was written in 1890 - thus the history is pretty "fresh" - and the Yarmouthport chapter is 56 pages long - thus there's a lot of interesting detail - too much in fact.  Thus I'm going to rely instead on the fact sheet that Connie, our intrepid leader, provided for us at the beginning of the hike.   The hike notes are quoted below - but unfortunately not attributed as there was not reference in the material that Connie provided.  Thus apologies to original sources.

Gray's Beach - on Pleasant Bay, near the Yarmouthport/Dennis border, which is marked at that point by Chase Garden Creek -  was "named for John Gray, an early settler".  The land had been part of a "land grand near Nobscusset Neck in 1642."   Chase Garden Creek was named for William Chase who lived nearby in 1654.

The mouth of Chase Garden Creek is called "Bass Hole".  The "Indian name for Bass Hole was 'Hockanom' which means 'hook-shaped'."  Legend says that the "Indians fought Thorvald Ericson (brother of Leif) at the Bass Hole in 1003.  Thorvald was shot with an arrow and as he lay dying, called the spot 'Crossness' and supposedly told his men to bury him there with a cross at his feet and one at his head and call it 'Crossness forevermore'.  In Cape Cod Pilot Jeremiah Digges says 'A small pine-covered hill beside the tidemarshes is the spot chosen for this historic event'."

"At Hockanom, the Bray family built ships in the early 1700s into 1750, 100 years before the famous Shiverick shipyard.  They built fishing schooners of 50 to 100 tons.  The Bray farm still exists on Chase Garden Creek at the end of Bray Road and was bought by the Town of Yarmouth in 1987." 

"Alms Road off Center Street is where the Yarmouth Alms House or Poor House was located for 100 years.  Built in 1831, it was operated as a farm with pasture, cattle and gardens.  In 1911 it closed and inhabitants were put out to board.  The contents were auctioned off as well as farm produce and livestock and the Town made $247.  The property was sold in 1918 (15 acres of upland, building and barn for $700).  The property changed hands several times and in the early 1920s Irving Bigelow bought it, borrowed $6000 to equip it as a hotel and ran it a year as Chilton Manor, a resort hotel.  He and his partner closed the hotel and it burned in 1932 when it was in the process of being converted to a convalescent home.  It was reported that the property which was worth around $3000 was insured for a much larger sum.  The property has come full circle, bought by the Town for conservation in 1974."

The "area (also) had several salt works."

We parked in the parking lot at Gray's Beach and headed into the woods, crossing a corner of a nifty children's playground with a very creative climbing structure (photo 1) - a giant web - or perhaps an "outdoor internet"?   Once in the woods we found many cedar trees - some of them fully embraced by thick vines (photo 2) - which in this photo are likely poison ivy vines.  Lots of poison ivy too - in various stages of fall color (flaming red and bright gold) - as well as some vines with big clusters of white berries.  Hikers beware!  Which of course makes you wonder - if a hiking companion falls into a poison ivy thicket - how do you get them out without getting covered with poison ivy yourself?  One thought would be to take off your socks and use them as "gloves".   Other ideas are welcome!

Next photo (#3) - a puzzle.   The vine leaves look like catbrier or greenbrier - but the cottony flowers-gone-to-seed make it a mystery.  I couldn't find anything in any of my reference books that would help to (easily) identify this one - and my internet efforts failed me.  Suggestions anyone?  This was indeed a vine - climbing into the trees - and not a docile shrub by the side of the trail.  There were several occurences early during the hike - but then no more.

The next vine (photo 4) is well-known - Asiatic bittersweet.  Photo 13 shows more of it - climbing even higher into more trees.  It's lovely to look at in the fall - but it's truly an invasive.  Trailside Treasures (by Nancy Wigley and Susan Carr) notes that it can grow up to 60 feet - in full sun or partial shade (thus basically anywhere).  "The introduction of oriental bittersweet appears to have happened befor 1879 and by the 1970s became widespread in New England south to Georgia and Louisiana.  It is a real problem wherever it establishes itself because it grows rapidly, shading and girdling native plants.. Blue jays, black-capped chickadees, starlings and mockingbirds feed on the seeds."    The book also notes that "importation, propagation and sale (of Asiatic bittersweet) have been prohibited since January 1, 2006." 

Trailside Treasures tells us that the groundsel tree in photo 5 is a "deciduous perennial in the sunflower family".  It is also known as "sea myrtle" and is "common in the higher parts of the marsh".  It is similar to the marsh elder, but the groundsel tree "can grow several feet taller" and have leaves that "are alternate along the stem and are duck-foot shaped with several irregular teeth along the upper edges.  The marsh elder's leaves are opposite on the stems and taper to a point at both the top and bottom with teeth nearly the full length of both edges.  The groundsel tree .. flowers  in late summer, followed by a display of prominent white-bristled seeds on the female plants (which) are described as looking like shaving brushes."  The trees provide "cover and nesting habitat for various species of birds.  Bees and small butterflies use the nectar from the male flowers."  You'll see the groundsel trees in several of the photos - typically along the edges of the marshes and marsh creeks.

Photo 6 - the hiking crew having a chat on one of many boardwalks over the marsh and marsh creeks and dikes.  That's Connie on the right with the red jacket. 

Photo 7 - a somewhat washed-out New England aster - the typical blue to violet color has faded to almost-white.  I've labeled this a New England aster because it looks like the leaves of the plants are grabbing onto the stems - a distinguishing marker for these flowers.    I forgot to check the hairiness of the stems - that's another distinction.  And there weren't any monarch butterflies nearby to ask - they like the nectar of New England asters.  

Photo 8 - even though we haven't yet had a "killer frost" (knock on wood), many plants are beginning to fade - including the ferns in this photo.  They're holding their shape pretty well though - and in the somewhat dim light of a gray day, they almost glowed with a golden brown color.   A little further down the path - on the left side - a GIGANTIC white pine (photo 9).  Look at the size of the main trunk!  There were a number of giant trees in the woods - in several sections of the woods - largely pines, but a few deciduous trees as well.

Next (photo 10) - some brightly colored turkey tail fungus.  This fungus comes in a wide array of colors - but I couldn't find anything to explain the color variations.  Most of the fungus is actually not visible.  And - here's something I didn't know - a year ago, the FDA approved further studies related to using extracts from turkey tail fungus for helping cancer patients improve their immune systems.  Apparently these "mushrooms" have been used for medicinal purposes in China for centuries (check it out on the internet).

Next - another tree - but this time with a pretty sloppy looking nest (photo 11).  There's more structure to this than simply a pile of leaves in a tree - but it doesn't look like it's going to last the winter! 

A little further on - about 20 feet off the path on the right side - toward the marsh - what looked like a pile of rocks (photo 12).  But there were no other rocks in the immediate vicinity - so why?  But - closer examination by those of us at the tail end of the hiking line noted that the "rocks" aren't rocks at all - but rather chunks of concrete.  Perhaps there had been a section of road, or a ramp or a sluiceway for a nearby cranberry bog?  But not rocks.

Photo 14 shows a black cherry tree with a very unslightly case of "black knot" - a common and often serious disease in plum and cherry (including wild cherry) and peach and apricot trees - though per the Internet, less of a problem for the latter trees.  An article on the Internet by Wayne Wilcox of Cornell University notes that once established, "the disease becomes progressively more severe each year unless control measures are taken.  Infected limbs and twigs lose vigor and may eventually die, and commercial plantings in which the disease becomes widespread are seldom economically viable to maintain.. The disease is characterized by elongated, rough black swellings or knots that develop on the woody portions of infected trees.  These knots are most common on small twigs and branches but may be found on main scaffold limbs and even the trunk in heavily infected orchards.  Knots often start to form near the point of leaf attachment.  They are initially green and soft but then turn brown, harden, and finally become black as they expand and age.  Mature knots eventually encircle the infected branch and may be several inches to 1 foot or more in length.  Old knots are sometimes partially covered with a powdery pink or white fungus growth and are often invaded by insect borers.  Numerous infections cause trees to lose vigor, bloom poorly and become increasingly unproductive and susceptible to winter injury. "   The disease is caused by the fungus Dibotryon morbosum.  "The fungus overwinters in knots on twigs and branches or in the infected wood immediately surrounding them.  In the spring, infective spores are produced in sacs contained within tiny fruiting bodies on the surface of the knots.  These spores are ejected into the airy during rainy periods and are blown for moderate distances by wind currents.  Only succulent green twigs of the current season's growth are susceptible to infection.  Spores that land on them may germinate and cause infection if the twigs remain wet for a sufficient length of time."  Poor trees!

Moving right along - to a more pleasant sight - photo 15 shows some lovely bright red berries - but I don't know who they belong to.  They could be viburnum berries from the shrub below.  I don't think they belong to the flattish "stick"  that cuts horizontally across the picture - and might be part of a vine.    Photo 16 is a bit of a puzzle too - but I'm guessing that it's lance-leafed goldenrod - based on the leaf shape (duh) as well as the position of the now-dried flower heads - in flattish clusters at the top of the plant (rather than flowers clusters along flower stems.  The focus of photo 17 is meant to be the Queen Anne's lace (aka "wild carrot") in the center.  We tend to ignore this because everyone knows what it is - right?  My Peterson's First Guide to Wildflowers notes that "after their bloom is past, the old umbels curl to form a cuplike 'birds' nest' which has given rise to another popular name (for the flower).  The leaves, savored by caterpillars of the Black Swallowtail butterfly, are finely cut, like those of a number of similar plants in the parsley or carrot family.  The wild carrot . . . lines the roadside in summer and literally turns some dry fields quite white with its lacy banners."  My Audubon Field Guide to Wildflowers notes that the plant is the "ancestor of the garden carrot; its long, first-year taproot can be cooked and eaten."  Hmm.   Further, "the plant has been reproduced from one embryonic cell in tissue culture, and has actually flowered, with even the usual different colored central flower present.".  That's pretty impressive!

Next (photo 18) I think might be serviceberry (aka shadbush) - based on the leaf shapes and the clustering and color of the berries (especially when I looked at photos on the Internet).  Other suggestions w/be welcome though.  The description of the fruit in my Reader's Digest North American Wildlife text notes "miniature apples with tiny seeds and sweet flesh".  I didn't cut one open or taste it - but the fruits certainly look like "miniature apples". 

Then our old friend, common mullein (photo 19) - looking very velvety against a bed of fall leaves.  What we're looking at in the photo is the basal leaves - minus the stem and flowers from the summer.  I've written about this before - citing information from my Audubon Wildflowers text:  "Roman soldiers purportedly dipped the flower spikes in grease for use as torches, and the leaves are still sometimes used as wicks.  Native Americans lined their moccasins with the leaves to keep out the cold, and colonists used htem in their stockings for the same purpose.  A tea made from the leaves was used to treat colds, and the flowers and roots were employed to treat various ailments from earache to croup.  The leaves are sometimes applied to the skin to soothe sunburn and other inflammations."  With all that value, I should have brought some home!

Next - something you might have at home - though I don't any more - a privet (photo 20) on fire with fall foliage and dark purple-black berries.  Interestingly, there's more privet in the next photo (21) - with bigger, yellow leaves, but the same purple-black berries.  Where I used to live in northern NJ, our privet was domesticated and nowhere near as flamboyant as all of this!  Go Mother Nature!  And speaking of which (flamboyant Mother Nature) - the winterberries in photo 22 are lovely to look at too.  Trailside Treasures notes that this is a deciduous holly that loses its leaves in the fall - thus the berries stand out quite prominently.  "This holly grows from Nova Scotia, south to Florida and west to Missouri."

Back from shrubs and berries to wildflowers.  And I'm thinking about changing my mind.  I looked through my wildflower reference books and had myself convinced that this next one (photo 23) might be hyssop-leaved thoroughwort - based on the leaf shape and the flower clusters at the top of the plants.  But then I've just noticed another goldenrod in Peterson's Wildflowers - slender fragrant goldenrod - a "flat-topped goldenrod (with) grasslike leaves (that) have only one nerve and are minutely dotted."  The drawing in Peterson's looks pretty close to the photo too (as does the photo of hyssop-leaved thoroughwort in Kate Carter's Wildflowers of Cape Cod.  And I didn't think to crush the leaves to see if they were fragrant when crushed - another indicator for the goldenrod.  Thus I'll see if anyone can help confirm an identification for us.

The next photo (25) looks like a mess - and it is - a very messy bird's nest in the right center of the photo.  Likely leftover from last spring - or maybe the year before.  On the other side of the path - a dozen pale yellow grape vine leaves (photo 26).  Trailside Treasures  notes that the "height" of the plant is determined by the "conditions, ie, the plant to which it is attached".  The vines have "large leaves, generally with 3-toothed lobes.  The dense, hairy undersurface is reddish when the leaves are young - then turns gray or whitish.  The grapes are from ½" to ¾" in diameter and are dusky purple.  Martha's Vineyard was named by explorer Bartholomew Gosnold in 1603 because he discovered wild grapes (growing there) in great profusion." 

Photos 27 and 28 are landscapes - first a marsh view, with groundsel in the foreground - and then a part of a creek or former dike running through a marsh, with part of a boardwalk bridge in the foreground - and if you look very closely, you'll see the osprey pole in the center left background (look for an out-of-place vertical white stripe with a brown tuft on top).  Also if you look closely you can probably tell that it was raining lightly when I took the picture!  We got a little wet on Wednesday! 

Further along, we took a path through the trees right down to the edge of the marsh.  Photo 29 and 31 show the in-the-marsh fall colors.  The bright red "grass" in the foreground is actually a form of slender glasswort.  I've labelled the photo Salicornia europaea because of the information in one of my references - but I think I'll change that now, based on my Audubon Wildflowers text to Salicornia maritima which describes a "fleshy, seemingly leafless, opposite-branched plant with green flower spikes, turning reddish, and thick, cylindrical stem joints longer than wide."  It grows on "coastal and inland marshes, especially bare peat, and salt licks.. This succulent turns reddish in the fall on northern tidal marshes.  It is very salty and can be pickled or added raw to salads."   What great color variation too!  And in between - in photo 30 - Connie's holding (empty) whelk egg cases.  My Reader's Digest North American Wildlife notes that whelks often prey on clams, and refers to the long strings of sturdy egg capsules, sometimes with young snails inside, that are often found by beachcombers.

 

Back into the woods - leaning precariously over the path - a bare-naked tree with the upper reaches snagged in other trees for support, and the bottom end practically chewed through by insects (photo 32).    If you look really carefully, you can see one of our hikers behind the tree on the right - not hiding - but proceeding up the trail - toward the next section of the woods where we found a number of young chestnuts (photo 33), with characteristic leaf shapes, and bright fall foliage.  A number of the chestnuts had pink plastic ribbons tied to individual branches (one or two per tree) - likely indicating that someone has been in the woods, studying the trees.  And someone else has been in the woods messing with the young white pine in photo 34 - a pine for all seasons - with a Fourth of July ribbon at the top and brightly colored fall leaves (maple and oak - from florist supplies it seemed) wired to its branches.   I'm sure there's a story - but the tree wasn't talking.  At least not to us. 

 

Next - an almost "Halloween tree" - with a bright orange fungus (I don't know what kind) that stands out starkly in what turned out to be a flash photo in the rain-darkened woods (photo 35).  Then a real striver in photo 36.   It's hard to see this - the light was pretty dim in the drizzle - but this is a vine stretching from the understory to the tree overhead.  Likely the ambitious vine grew and grew and grew and waved and waved in the wind - until finally it snagged a branch in the tree overhead.  Unless a squirrel or other creature of the forest took the end of the vine and carried it up the tree trunk and out onto the branch and anchored it there.  Which is possible I guess.  Either makes a great story!

Another marsh creek or dike - with lots of phragmites along one side (photo 37) - taken from yet-another boardwalk.  We must have crossed a dozen well-maintained boardwalks and "bridges" during our hike - some of them a couple times.  This is terrific hiking territory! 

And finally - on our way back to the parking lot - a single spotted knapweed flower (photo 38) along the roadway - looking a bit lonely but still smiling.  Wildflowers of Cape Cod describes "long-lasting lavender to pinkish flowers in thistle-like heads. leaves (are) sparse, divided into narrow segments; considered invasive in some states; (native of) Europe." 

Join us for the next hike - at Pilgrim Springs in Truro - or check the schedule posted on the Museum's website for more hikes.  Join us when you can!

LB

September 4, 2013
 
For our first walk of the new season (Wednesday, September 4) we returned to a favorite multi-season wildflower habitat - Thompson's Field in Harwich.  According to my notes from prior hikes, Thompson's Field is a 57 acre- preserve that  was once an old-fashined farm. However, prior to colonial land owenership, what is now "Thompsons Field" was known by Native American's as "Deep Valley" or "Long Hollow".  The land was acquired by the Thompson family between 1914 and 1917 and worked as a farm until 1978.  The Thompson family ran thefarm to supply their inn, the Snow Inn (and later, Thompson's Clam Bar) with fresh vegetables, egss, milk and cream.  During WWI, there were pigs, chickens, Guernsey cows and a mule occupying the northern area (the Route 39 side).  A substantial vegetable garden occupied the southern end, where one may still find hints of cultivated plants such as asparagus raspberries and lilacs even now.
 
In 1970, the northern half of the property was leased and graded, with a plan to build a small airport; however, permits were denied and the land waas returned to "nature" - which means the encroachment of red cedar and wild cherry and other grassland "invasives".
 
In 1984 the Town of Harwich acquired the property as conservation land.  There are lots and lots of wildflowers -- and a great variety of birds.  ANd people walking dogs. And good "maps" at both parking lots with wildflower pictures and descriptions (what to look for).  They also encourage you to come often because the flowers change from month to month as the seasons unfold.  Sometimes we see the spring flowers -- including apple trees in bloom and wild sarsparilla.  When we come in September, we see  what we saw today - various goldenrods, assorted asters, multiple mushrooms , smartweek, daisies, clover, butterfly weed and pokeweed.  And of course at any time of the year we see poison ivy and bittersweet!
 
First photo of the year - a sickle-leafed (leaved) golden aster.  Trailside Treasures by Nancy Wigley and Susan Carr notes that the "appearance of the sickle-leaved golden aster in late July heralds the first signs that summer's end is near."  The plant "can tolerate near desert-like conditions" and is "strictly a coastal plain plant found only from NJ to SE Massachusetts". The narrow leaves are "curved in the shape of a sickle" -- thus the name -- and are "covered with a soft, cottony 'wool' which helps protect it from the sun and salt spray." This is the only species of yellow aster in our are -- an actually " more closely related to goldenrods than asters."
 
Next is "Early Goldenrod" -- or at least I think it is -- from the way the "numberous tiny flowers line (the) top sides of branching stems, forming dense, arcing plumes."  That's the description in Kate Carter's Wildflowers of Cape Cod -- and I think it fits the photo pretty well "Leaves (are) alternate, bladelike; tiny leaflets grow where bigger leaves attach to stem." Often found in open woods, along roadsides, in dry soil (welcome to Cape Cod!).  Peterson's Wildflowers adds that goldenrod is a member of the daisy family -- though Kate Carter says that aster family.  Checking Audubon -- daisies are members of the aster family.  That makes sense.
 
Moving from flowers to trees -- the next photo shows a small-sized wild cherry -- wit ha few rather beat up leaves, some nice dark purple "cherries", and a bit of a problem on some of the twigs -- fairly common to the wild cherries.  As noted above, the wild cherry is one of the earliest trees to return to a former meadow.
 
The lovely little lavender-colored "daisey" in the next photo with the bright yellow center might be a "stiff aster".  My only hesitation -- the photos in the books show flower petals drooping downwards instead of tiping up from the center.  In Cape Cod Wildflowers by Mario DiGregorio and Jeff Wallner, the "stiff aster" is described as a "colonial plant, with many stems emanating from a subterranean rhisome".  They also not that individual plants aren't much to look at-- but sometimes you can find whole fields covered with these little beauties.  That would be lovely to see for sure.  Apparently the flower "is more common now than it was in the ninteenth century, when it was listed as rare in some botany texts."  There are over 150 aster species in North America alone; most have "showy, radiate flower heads from which they derive the common and scientific name, Aster, or star.". This was once known as the "frost aster", still flowering well into November.
 
I’m not as sure about the next one – particularly because of the leaves.  But maybe the leaves in the photo aren’t the leaves for the flower.  I think the flower might be “sheep’s bit” (Jasione montana).  Cape Cod Wildflowers notes that this is “a recent and little-noticed addition to America’s flora, with a range limited to local pockets of growth scattered from NJ to MA.”  It’s a “common field plant in Europe (where the ancient healer Theophrastus named it after iasus, the Greek word for healing), this delicate flower is only now coming into its own in our area.”  A member of the bluebell family, it bears little resemblance to its relatives – looking more like thistle or knapweed.  The leaf description in Wildflowers of Cape Cod is what confused me – “basal rosette of narrow pointed leaves”.  But it’s possible that the prominent jagged-edged leaves in the photo don’t belong to the flowers.  As noted above, this is the first walk of the season – I’ve got to get back into the swing of things with my photo-taking to be sure that I’m matching flowers with leaves!
 
Photo 6 I think is simple early “Early Goldenrod” – where the florets haven’t popped yet (see photo 2 for popped florets).   Then in photo 8 our first none-flora – a bright red “Boletus castaneus” (aka “Gyroporus castaneus”) – at least that’s what I think it is – from the Byzantine Greek for ‘chestnut’.  Simon & Schuster’sGuide to Mushrooms: “cap 3-10cm, hemispherical to convex, sometimes depressed, cuticle detachable from edge; reddish brown, fairly deeply colored”.  Also considered edible – “very good when young” (does that mean the mushroom, or the eater?).  Found “singly, or in small groups, beneath broadleaf trees, especially oak.” 
 
Photo 9 – the first of several photos of “long-bristled smartweed” – a member of the buckwheat family, originally from Asia. Wildflowers of Cape Codnotes that it’s a common weed of gardens (ha! I’ve got some 8’ tall!) and waste places and that there are several varieties with subtle differences here on the Cape.   
 
Just beyond the “smartweed”, the hikers gathered to admire a sassafras thicket with a dozen or more sassafras trees of various sizes and ages and leaf shapes (mittens and non-mittens).   That’s Connie, our leader, on the right in the turquoise T-shirt, turned away from the camera (smart Connie!).    A little further along, just before where the bike trail crosses the hiking path – what might be a cluster of ox-eye daisies – or perhaps daisy fleabane.  I think the former – because of the larger flower petals, and the longer individual flower stalks.   The photo of daisy fleabane in Wildflowers of Cape Cod shows a flower with more numerous white petals around the central yellow center, and multiple flowers on shorter stalks connecting to a single longer stem – thus my vote for ox-eye daisy. 
 
 
The next one is a pretty puzzle.  And a lousy photo.  Again – I have to remember not to try to take close-ups with my little digital camera (when I don’t bother to adjust the settings).  The flower is on the bright pink side of pink-violet – with an almost trumpet shape on slender grass-like stems.  I couldn’t find anything in any of my reference books that helped.  Suggestions would be much appreciated.
 
 
Photo 14 is easier – the pale blue petals and tough-looking stems of chicory.  Wildflowers of Cape Codnotes that “each flower lasts only a day” and that the often-maligned “coffee substitute/additive comes from this plant’s roots”.  Audubon’sField Guide to Wildflowersindicates that a European version of the plant is cultivated specifically as a coffee substitute.  A close relative is the salad plant Endive. 
 
 
Fun photo in #15 – “sweet everlasting”  or “catfoot” – a member of the daisy family.  Trailside Treasures notes that this can be “either a summer annual or a biennial plant.  Some overwinter as a low rosetter of leaves, while others complete their life cycle within a single year.”  The “sides of each of flower-head, the bracts, do not expand until the plant is in seed. Thus during the summer the flowers look as if they have not yet opened.”  In contrast, pearly everlasting, a member of the rose family, is showier, with bracts that spread a bit to expose the yellow centers (per Peterson’s
Wildflowers) Audubon notes that male and female flowers are on separate plants.  When the leaves of sweet everlasting are crushed, they have a “powerfully sweet, long-lasting balsam fragrance that has been used to scent drawers and closets since Elizabethan times.”  The plant is often collected for keeping in its dried state – thus the name “everlasting”.   The Greek name,Gnaphalium obtusifolium,“tuft of wool”, refers to the woolly nature of the plants per Audubon’s Field Guide to Wildflowers.
 
Next – photo 16 – “butter and eggs” or common toadflax – a member of the figwort or snapdragon family.  Audubon’s Field Guild to Wildflowersnotes that other family members include snapdragons, speedwells, beardtongues and slipper flowers.  A cardiac drug is extracted from one  (foxglove –Digitalis purpurea)The plant was introduced from Europe and is now naturalized over much of North America.  “It grows from creeping roots and can forms small to large colonies, thriving in dry sites.”  In several states it is considered a noxious weed.  “An orange path on the corolla’s lower lip leads to nectar contained in the long spur and serves as a ‘honey guide’ for nsects…. The name ‘toadflax’ refers to the opening of the corolla, which looks like the mouth of a toad, and to the leaves, which resemble thos of flax.  The common name, butter-and-eggs, alludes to the color combination of the corolla.” 
 
 
Peterson’sWildflowersnotes that the “familiar red clover (photo 17), an alien from Europe, is now quite happy in our fields and waysides.  Each leaflet of the tripartite leaves usually shows a pale chevron.” Wildflowers of Cape Codnotes that red clover is “used by farmers in crop rotation to restore nutrients, especially nitrogen, to the soil.”
 
 
Photo 18 shows the seed pods of the butterfly weed, and photo 22 shows the bright red-orange blossoms. Cape Cod Wildflowers considers the butterfly weed to be the most beautiful of the milkweeds.  “Once fairly common in southern New England, the decline of butterfly weed is related to the demise of agriculture, grazing and fires in the region… Its attractiveness has also resulted in over-collection by wildflower fanciers… Butterfly weed has a long history as a root medicine, actually being sold in drugstores till the early 20th century as pleurisy-root.  ‘It (was) used in disordered digestion and in affectioins of the lungs… to promote expectoration, relieve pains in the chest, and induce easier breathing.  It is also useful in producing perspiration.’” Wildflowers of Cape Cod notes that the plant is a particular favorite of monarch butterflies.  Peterson’s Wildflowers notes that the seedpods, 4-5” long, are more “spindle-shaped than the warty pods of the common milkweed.”  Also, the “hairy stemps are not ‘milky’ when broken”.  
 
Photo 19 might be hawkweed but here again I’m confused by the placement of the flowers on the stems – and the lack of clarifying leaves.   The plant is actually lying down, coming in toward the right from the bottom left corner of the photo – with any basal leaves obscured.   Poor photography – once again I didn’t get the leaves with the flowers. 
 
 
 
But then a surprise in photo 20 – in the distance, above the treeline toward Harwich center – a big yellow balloon – and an even bigger red one – both apparently tethered in place.  No idea re who or what or why.  A different shot of the same balloons in photo 35.  Maybe an “ad” for a car dealer?  Who knows.
 
 
Photo 21 – Connie giving a “lichen lesson” with a tangle of beard lichen.  A brief lichen lesson from my Smithsonian Natural History reference:  “lichens survive in the harshest parts of the world.  They are some of nature’s pioneers, creating foundations on which others can live.  A lichen is not a single organism, but a composite consisting of a green alga or cyanobacterium and a fungus, living together in a mutually beneficial association.  The algal partner provides nutrients through photosynthesis, while the fungal partner aids the alga by retaining water and capturing nutrients… Typically, the fungus surrounds the photosynthetic cells of the alga, enclosing them within special fungus tissues unique to lichens.  It appears that although neither partner is capable of surviving on its own, together they can endure the most extreme conditions.  Lichens have even been found some 250 miles from the South Pole… “
 
“Lichens broadly fall into 3 types, based on shape:  foliose lichens, which have leaves; crustose lichens, which form a crust; and frutiose lichens, which have branches.  However, there are some that defy this categorizatin, such as filamentous (hairlike) and gelatinous (water-absorbent) lichens.”  Perhaps another time we can extend the “lesson” to reproduction….
 
 
 
Moving right along – photo 23 – is “white campion” – aka “evening lychnis” or “white cockle” – a member of the carnation family. Wildflowers of Cape Codnotes that the flowers open at night and on overcast days.  The petals fold out at the end of veiny sacks – which are described by Audubon’s Field Guide to Wildflowers as an inflated calyx wth 20 veins on the female flower and 5 sharp ‘teeth’, and 10 veins on the male flower  and 10 stamens.  The “fruit” is a “vase-shaped, many-seeded capsule”.  Audubon further notes that “this European introduction, which has male and female flowers on separate plants, blooms at night and attracts moths that pollinate the flowers.” 
 
 
Photo 24 shows Thompson’s Field from a northeasterly approach – catching a bit of the meadow as well as a thicket of trees and a bluebird box – of which there were dozens scattered about the acreage.   Walking further along a wide trail on the edge of the meadow, we had good views of the great variety of flowers filling the meadow – including the purple coneflowers in photo 25.   MyField Guide to WIldflowers notes that the genus nameEchinacea is from the Greek echino, meaning ‘hedgehog’,an allusion to the spiny, brownish central disk. The flowers ofEchinaceaspecies are used to make an extremely popular herbal tea, purported to help strengthen the immune system…  Often cultivated, purple coneflower isa showy, easily grown garden plant.”
 
Photo 26 is another puzzle – though Connie might have identified it during the walk.  I’ve tried turning the photo upside down and sideways but that hasn’t helped with the identification.  Most of my wildflower reference books are very focused on the flowers – often not showing the leaves at all.  In photo 26, we have lots of leaves, and some tight maybe-going-to-be-yellow buds.   I’ve looked through every page of my books –with no good ideas resulting. 
Any suggestions, anyone?
 
Climbing in amongst the unidentified foliage – nightshade – often called “climbing” or “bittersweet” or “deadly” nightshade.  My Fieldguide to Wildflowers notes that “this vines, introduced from Europe, has distinctive leaves (halberd-shaped, with 2 basal lobes).  The leaves and unripe fruit contain the poisonous alkaloid solanine. Although the plant is sometimes called Deadly Nightshade, its toxin is not fatal; however, the berries are attractive to children and can cause poisoning if eaten in large quantity.  The species is called bittersweet because portions of the plant first taste bitter, then sweet.  Long ago the plant was used in England to counteract witchcraft.”  What fun!
 
Also along the edge of the meadow, a mini-thicket of smartweed and goldenrod (photo 28)  - right before at very healthy pokeweed “shrub” trying to become a tree (photo 29). Trailside Treasures tells us that “the berry seeds are poisonous to humans; however, the berries are eaten by birds, which are
not affected by the toxin because the s

eeds remain intact in the digestive system and are eliminated whole.  Seeds must pass through the digestive tract of birds/animals to germinate.”  As Connie noted during the walk, one could eat the young shoots of the pokeweed (eg, as a salad green); however, TrailsideTreasures cautions that the”toxins are present in all parts of the plant (though) less so in the young shoots.  However, authorities discourage eating pokeweed, no matter how young the shoots or how much boiling is done.  Eating pokeweek may cause severe retching, vomiting, possibly bloody diarrhea, and sometimes, convulsions.  If a large enough quantity is consumed, the above signs are followed by paralysis of the respiratory organs culminating in death.”  Sounds like something out of Agatha Christie or Brother Cadfael!

 
 
“Pokeweed juice was also used by the early American colonistsas ink for quill pens and was used for signing the Declaration of Independence.  Pokeweed berries are an important food-source for the mourning dove and were one of the favorite foods of the now-extinct passenger pigeon.”  My Field Guide to Wildflowers further notes that “the berry sap was used as a dye by the early colonists and has also been used to color cheap wine.”  Whoops.   See symptoms noted above.
 
On a much brighter note – photo 30 – evening primrose – with the last of 2 bright yellow flowers on the tall, leafy stalk with long, narrow “lanceolate” leaves.  Flowers open fully at night.  MyField Guide to Wildflowers notes that the flowers of some plants open fully in about 15 minutes.  That would be fun to watch!  “The plant takes 2 years to complete its life cycle, with basal leaves becoming established the first year and flowering occurring the second.  The first-year roots are edible, and the seeds are important as bird feed.  Hawk moths are among the pollinators of the plant.” 
 
Photo 31 shows what appears to be another shrub-like invasive with still-green berries.  Connie suggested a Chinese berry-type name but I couldn’t find anything useful on the Internet.  Any suggestions from anyone?
 
 
More positively – photo 32 shows a beautiful little flower – the Asiatic dayflower or “mouse flower” – a member of the spiderwort family.  There were several of these adjacent to the parking area off Route 28.  There’s a lovely close-up photo in my Fieldguide to Wildflowers– which also provides further info:  the plant was introduced from Asia and has flowers that open for just one day.  The genus name Commelina  refers to “3 Dutch brothers named Commelin:  Two (represented by the 2 larger petals) became well-known botanists; the third (represented by the small petal) died without any achievements in botany.  Some call this plant Mouse Flower because of the round, ear-like upper petals.”  Isn’t it lovely?  The blue is like bright blue summer sky – or the blue crayon in your crayon box – contrasting sharply to the bright white parts.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
From the far parking lot, we headed back the other way, following a different path along the eastern edge of the meadow, into the woods briefly, and then out into a broad open section of the property.  While in the woods, we found what I think is another bright red “Boletus castaneus” – this time with a very round shape (photo 33) – and this time somewhat chewed on – perhaps by a neighborhood chipmunk or squirrel or other wee furry beastie.  A few steps further along – a “woolly bear” caterpillar crossing the trail (photo 34) –heading southwest. 
 
At the far end of this next meadow, we were back into a narrow strip of woods on the south side of the bike path. There we spotted a nice family of “Indian pipes” (photo 36) – also known as “ghost plant” or “corpse plant” (lovely name!) – with some nestled below the log, and some above.   Although these might look like a fungal growth –they aren’t.  As explained byTrailside Treasures, this is actually a “herbaceious perennial plant lacking chlorophyll.  It is white and waxy in appearance but commonly has black flecks and a pale pink coloration” with small scale-like “leaves”.  

 The plant “grows in clusters (and) often springs up after a warm rain…. When pollinated, the head turns upward like a tiny trumpet.  The plant turns black as the fruit ripens and will remain standing throughout the winter…. The Indian pipe … was formerly thought to ab
sorb nutrients from decayed organic matters with the help of fungi (but it) is actually a parasite of fungi.  (It) uses the fungi to transfer energy from trees as it is unable to perform photosynthesis itself.  Thus a ‘menage a trois’- a 3-way relationship between a photosynthetic tree, a mycorrhizal fungus, and a parasitic plant.”  Life is complicated.
 
 
More simply – a little further along – rabbit foot clover (photo 37) – a native of Europe, aptly named for it’s rabbit-fur soft flower heads.Fieldguide to Wildflowersnotes that it is “frequently found in dry open spaces, where it is especially showy in masses.”  It also makes interesting dried flower arrangements, but the flower heads tend to fall apart easily.  A few steps further, several more interesting wildflowers.  One that’s a bit puzzling because of the drooping flower heads might well be wild lettuce (photo38). Fieldguide to Wildflowers describes it as a “tall plant with milky sap and an elongated cluster of small, pale yellow flower heads (with a) slight bloom on stem and leaves (which are) lanceolate to deeply lobed.”  My Reader’s DigestNorth American Wildlife notes that “Wild lettuces are sometimes called wild opium because the milky sap of older leaves resembles that of the Opium Poppy.  It is not a narcotic, but it does contain a bitter toxin that taints the milk of cows.  Tender young leaves … are edible.”  Looking for further confirmation on the internet, I found a reference to the reddish stems (see the photo) – and to the fact that the Hopis smoked a resin derived from the plants (not in the photo).  Hmmm.
 
In the same area, a hard-to-photograph plant (photo 40) that you might see better if you use the magnifying lens feature of your computer.  The leaves are small and thin – and look like they form a “cross”.  The “flowers” look like tight reddish buds.  Another challenge for me!  But this time I have a suspect.  Perhaps this is cross-leaf milkwort.  Peterson’sWildflowershas a colored sketch and a brief description –both of which fit fairly well.  “The tight, oblong, purplish red flowerhead suggests a clover, but the narrow leaves do not; they are in whorls of 4, forming crosses around the stem.  This low plant, only 4 to 10” tall, bloom from July to October in sandy soil, bogs, pinelands and marsh edges along the coast from ME southward…”.  Unless there’s another good idea, that works for me!
 
Across the path – a healthy-looking winged sumac (photo 41) – easily recognized, as described byTrailside Treasures, “by the large compound leaves that have paired leaflets and conspicuous ‘wings’ between the leaflets.  It also goes by the name Shining sumac (from the glossy leaves) or Dwarf sumac (from its small stature).  The foliage turns red during the fall and is quite attractive… It can spread by rhizomes to form colonies… Sumacs can be toxic to other plants through a chemical releasedby their roots and some sumacs are poisonous to humans as well, such as Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix). Sumacs are in the cashew family.  The pyramid-shaped cluster of small greenish-yellow flowers which blooms mid-summer is replaced by dark red hairy fruits which persist through the winter and gradually turn black.”  (see photo 41) “The fruits of the Winged sumac are relished by many kinds of birds:  quail, bluebirds, cardinals, catbirds, crow, mockingbirds and starlings.  Deer browse on the foliage and twigs. … Native Americans used the roots of Winged sumac to treat dystntery and made a dye from the berries.  It is usually the berries of the Smooth sumac and the Staghorn sumac that are used to make ‘Rhus juice’ or ‘Indian lemonade’”.
 
Still in the same general area, along the path – another bright yellow flower – this one slightly careworn –on somewhat confusing foliage.  I’m guessing that this might be St. Johnswort (in part because I think I remember hearing Connie mention that as a possibility – plus my wildflower reference books seem to back it up). Wildflowers of Cape Coddescribes a “bushy branching plant with many 5-petaled flowers.  Petals have black dots on margins.  Many prominent stamens.  Small opposite leaves.”  The dots and stames are visible in the photo –but the small leaves are.  Audubon’sFieldguide to Wildflowersnotesthat “In many western states it is considered a noxious weed because it can cause photodermatitis in animals that graze on it.  People who take (it) for medicinal purposes may develop increases sensitivity to sunlight.  The common name of these species and of the family derives from the fact that the flowers are said to bloom on Saint John’s Eve, June 24.”
 
The next photo is another (sorry) blurry one.  I’m going to have to learn to be more patient when I’m trying to take close-ups of tiny flowers!  This one (photo 43) is blue toadflax – “tiny barely visible pale blue/violet flowers on a single slender stem” per Wildflowers of Cape Cod.  “Small alternate leaves on stem’s lower half…. (bloom) June – August (in) sandy or dry soil.”
 
 
Then another “what is it” plant (photo 44).  Very distinctive leaves – with somewhat-spent florets at the top of the plant – and an obliging moth or butterfly on the top left.  Again, I looked at everything I could think of.  The leaves throw me off completely.  Help, anyone?
 
 
 
 
Finally – ending our first walk of the season with a classic New England aster (photo 45) – with toothless leaves clasping a hairy stem (unlike New York asters which have narrower, lanceolate leaves that don’t grab their stems).
 
 
 
See you next week for the hike from Grassy Pond to Baker’s Pond in Dennis!
 
Lynn
 
 

May 15,2013

This week's hike was in a conservation area in Dennis that provides trails from a parking area off Setucket Road (south of 6A and just east of the Yarmouth line) toward Flax Pond and then winding around toward Run Pond.  The last time that we hiked this way - or at least the last time I hiked this trail with the group - was 3 years ago - in early June of 2010.  It's interesting to see what was flowering in mid-May of 2013 vs early June of 2010.  The hike winds through a typical pine-and-oak woods, with a low undergrowth of highbush blueberry, sheep laurel and other woodsy shrubs.  In addition to Flax Pond and Run Pond, there are several smaller ponds and other mosquito-breeding wet areas.  And the usual adjacent golf course and town water department (pumping station). 

It was a bright sunny day  that got much warmer by the end of the walk.  Several dog walkers - though not as many golden retrievers as I had noted last time!

Shortly after we started the walk, we came out of the woods into a "power cut" - but this year, no red-tailed hawks nesting on the power towers like last time - or at least none that we noticed.  But there were a number of wildflowers along the edges - toward the shade of the woods.  The first (photo 1) is a tender purple flower) that Connie, our Fearless Leader, suggested might be a vetch of some kind.  I couldn't find anything else in any of my wildflower references that could be an alternative - so we'll stick with that answer - unless you've got another good idea.  The next though (photo 2) is given away by the clover-like leaves below the yellow flowers on tall stems - this is yellow wood sorrel.  My Peterson’s First Guide to Wildflowers notes that “each clover=like leaf is divided into 3 inverted heart-shaped leaflets” and that the “species is known by the sharp angle formed by the erect seedpods and their stalks”.  The flowers bloom from May to August and are found along roadsides and in fields and lawns.  Another yellow beauty – our “friend”, cypress spurge (photo 3), but as noted in recent weeks, Trailside Treasures (by Nancy Wigley and Susan Carr) tells us that “all parts of this plant are poisonous and if ingested cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  If handled (it) can cause skin irritation.”  So you can look, but don’t touch!  Trailside Treasures also notes that “the foliage resembes that of a tiny spruce or cypress tree, hence the name.”

Just as we entered the woods – the first of this year’s wild sarsaparilla (photo 4) – so new that the leaves of the plant – creating an “umbrella” over the globe-shaped flowers underneath – are still a reddish-brown.  In a few days the leaves will turn bright green and the dandelion-head flowers underneath will appear like clusters of stars.  Trailside Treasures tells us that wild sarsapparilla,a member of the ginseng family, was used to make a spicy beverage that was purported to “relieve lassitude and purify the blood”.  It was often used in patent medicines in the 19th century.  Another pretty trailside flower – the Canada mayflowers are beginning to bloom (photo 5).  We saw lots of leaves on last week’s walk and now the flowers are beginning to appear.  In another week or so, the florest floor will be carpeted with these spring beauties in many locations.  A less common sight though is the starflower (photo 6) – often occuring singly or with one or two friends.  The plant is  a member of the primrose family, with a formal name of “Trientalis borealis”.  Trailside Treasures notes that the “genus name ‘Trientalis’ means ‘one third of a foot’ which describes the plant’s average height of 4 inches.  The species name ‘borealis’ means ‘of the north’”.  I’d love to convince some wild sarsaparilla and starflowers to move into the woods in my garden.  Wouldn’t that be lovely?

A little less lovely – but a fairly common sight nonetheless – a cherry tree with a problem (photo 7).  This is “black knot” disease, caused by the fungus Dibotryon morbosum or Apiosporina morbosa.  According to the internet, the “disease is characterized by elongated, rough black swellings or knots that develop on the woody portions of infected trees.  These knots are most common on small twigs and branches but may be found on main scaffold limbs and even the trunk in heavily infected orchards.  Knots often start to form near the point of leaf attachment.  They are initially green and soft but then turn brown, harden , and finally become black as they expand and age.  Mature knots eventually encircle the infected branch and may be several inches to 1 foot or more in length.  Numerous infections cause trees to lose vigor, bloom poorly and become increasingly unproductiive and susceptible to winter injury.”  Poor tree!

 

On a more positive note – but a little harder to see – and also unidentified – what I think is a full-head-of-hair green grass – with a wild, bushy frond at the top of a slender stem.  There are sever  “grass heads” in the photo (photo 8).  You might have to use your magnifying glass to see these better.  And help me to identify the grass.  It looked like a cartoon character to me!  Very spring-like.

Further along, we came to the shore of Flax Pond (photo 9).  A Town report posted on the internet shows a size of 15 acres and a 29’ maximum depth for Flax Pond.  The photo is a bit mis-leading, with sunlight and shadows on shallow water making it look a bit like algae on the surface near the shore; however, the water was very clear.  An apple tree at the edge of the pond about to bloom – photo 10.  And a little further along – a common buttercup (photo 11).  My Audubon Field Guide to Wildflowers notes that “this European introduction is one of our tallest and most common buttercups.  As the species name (Ranunculus acris) implies, the sap from the stems and leaves is acrid, discouraging animals from browsing this somewhat poisonous plant.”  Who knew?

Not far from the pond “beach”, there’s a section of an old irrigation ditch (photo 12) from the abandoned cranberry bogs along the path through the woods.  You can still pick out the “flatness” of the former bogs in some areas, and occasionally you’ll come upon deep “borrow holes” in the woods where sane was “borrowed” to spread on the cranberry bogs every few years as part of the growing cycle. 

A little further along on the same side of the trail, sensitive fern is already thriving (photo 13).  Trailside Treasures notes that “the name ‘sensitive’ refers to the fern’s infertile fronds being very sensitive to the slightest frost and dying back.  This leaves the erect, fertile spikes standing alone, brown and dry, throughout the winter, until surrounded by fresh fronds the following summer.”  The other common name for “sensitive fern” is “bead fern” which come from the plant’s bead-like spore cases.

Next – the bell-shaped flowers of common low-bush blueberry (photo 14).  Trailside Treasures tells us that “Native Americans used blueberries, cranberries and venison to make ‘pemmican’, a form of ‘power bar’”.  Birds will eat less-than-ripe blueberries – thus beating the rest of us to the harvest!

Just leafing out – Clethra alnifolia – or “sweet pepper-bush” – a member of the White Alder family (photo 15) – which can reproduce with underground runners, resulting in sizable colonies.  The flowers are quite fragrant, providing a nectar source for many insects.  Trailside Treasures provides a biology lesson, noting that the spike-shaped, bottle-brush flowers are “first male and then female and the different sexual parts mature and present themselves in that order.  Flowers in the spike bloom from the bottom up, so the bottom flowers are functioning as female.  Visiting bees start working a new plant at the bottom, carry pollen from the top male flowers they just left to the bottom females.”  Being careful of bees, “wet your hands, rub them over the flowers, and you will notice they provide a ‘soap’”.  These are native shrubs but have been adapted for our local gardens.  There is lovely variety with pink flowers called “Sixteen Candles”.

Photo 15 – the woodland walkers.  It was still cool enough in the shade for most of us to be wearing sweatshirts or windbreakers – which we had shed by the end of the walk!  Next – I’m sure you know by now that I like trees.  Photo 16 – a “highrise” for birds – a dead tree re-purposed for our feathered friends. 

Then out of the woods and onto an access road along one side of the golf course – more early spring flowers.  First of these – photo 18 – common cinquefoil – Potentilla simplex.  “Cinquefoil” is French for “five-fingered” – which refers to the plant’s leaf arrangement of 5 dark green, sharply-toothed leaflets – per Wildflowers of Cape Cod (by Kate Carter). This native plant is common is dry fields and open woods.  The dwarf variety –Potentilla canadensis – is a smaller plant and is invading an edge of my garden! Audubon’s Wildflowers notes that both species are indicators of impoverished soil.  A little further along, another fern was unfurling (photo 19)– but in the harsher light along the dusty roadway, this one didn’t seem to be quite so happy as the sensitive fern in the woods. 

Next – the first mystery of the day – lovely little white blossoms (photo 20) that look like they’re on grass-like stems. I can’t find anything similar in my wildflower references though.  Help, anyone?  And then the next mystery – a chubby little songster, hidden within a tree (photo 21).  Dark gray with a white tummy, with some black markings on the wings.  Anyone?

Coming out at a corner of the golf course – gigantic vines enveloping a tree (photo 22).  I’m not sure what the vine was – and didn’t want to get too close – I didn’t want to be the next victim! 

Past the golf course, we found our way to the end of Run Pond and discovered these lovely little lance-leafed violets at the edge of the pond (photo 23).  According to that same Town reference on the internet, Run Pond covers about 9 acres.  No “maximum depth” was noted; however, it is apparently privately owned, with public access, and noted for rare plants (though which ones not specified).  Photo 24 shows what I think is the west end of Run Pond – a kind of pinched off piece with just a narrow channel to the larger section.  We could hear a large dog barking in the distance – protecting that end of the pond (more of which later).  On a fallen log next to the pond – a black-winged damselfly (photo 25).  My Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife reference notes that “as they fly, these hunters catch mosquitoes and other insects by making a basket-like trap of their legs.  Pairs often fly together, the male flying in front of the female and grasping her with an appendage on his abdomen.”  In the next photo of Run Pond (photo 26), the “scum” in the left-center of the photo is actually pollen – it’s that time of year again!  Notice how clear the water is in the foreground – with water plants beginning to grow up from the bottom.  Photo 27 shows Run Pond looking in the other direction.

Back into the woods – evidence of winter storm damage (photo 28) – though not nearly as much as we had seen last week.  Photo 29 might be the remnants of an old cartway – a lengthy, deep depression through the woods – too big for an irrigation channel. 

At one point we left the woods and walked along the walk/bike-path adjacent to Setucket Road for a quarter of a mile or so.  And we found where the Large Dog mentioned above lives (photo 30) – a very large black-on-white Great Dane, enjoying the Spring weather – and barking protectively!  Next door to the Great Dane – a horse came out of his stable to say hello (photo 31).  We wondered if the dog was protecting the horse too?  Also along the walkway – some very large Solomon’s seal plants (photo 32) – also enjoying the sunshine. 

Back into the woods – our regular readers might recall that we often find (and photograph) abandonned tin buckets in the woods.  Well – we haven’t seen a tin bucket in a long time!  But recently we saw the “sock tree”.  This week – a “logger’s strap” – used I’m sure for manually harvesting trees.  Note (photo 33) that the strap is firmly attached to the tree trunk.  And the tree has been pulled over.  One can only assume that the strap was used to “harvet” the tree – right?  And then left behind.

Continuing through the woods – the sunlight was catching the bright green new leaves above a marshy area – with the young leaves glinting like emeralds in the sunshine (photo 34) – a lovely spring day!

And finally – back to the edge of Flax Pond – and a photo of a few “Friends of Joe Dillon” (photo 35) – to wish him HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  From all of us on the hike, and all your friends at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History – Happy Birthday, Joe!

Our next hike (Wednesday, May 22) is at Great Island in Wellfleet.  See you then! Lynn