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Wednesday, October 18

  1. page home edited ... {buttonfungi.gif} {buttonplants.gif} {buttontreesandshrubs.gif} {buttoncreatures.gif} {…
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    "Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence." -The Desiderata
    Updated 26 September18 October 2017: Japanese Stiltgrass
    {Japanese Stiltgrass area_ATRT9_050626.jpg} Japanese Stiltgrass may one day become "the grass that covered the Earth" just as Kudzu was the "vine that ate the south."
    Mountain Ash or Rowan Tree
    {Mountain Ash Berries2_ATHawksbill_090829.jpg} A scene of autumnal beauty at Hawksbill Gap in Shenandoah National Park

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    7:08 am
  2. page Mountain Ash edited {MtnAsh.jpg} {Mountain Ash Berries2_ATHawksbill_090829.jpg} The Mountain AshCommon Ash Tree i…
    {MtnAsh.jpg}{Mountain Ash Berries2_ATHawksbill_090829.jpg} The Mountain AshCommonAsh Tree is named for the similarity of its pinnate leaves to those of the ash treeCommon Name: Mountain Ash, Rowan Tree (from Scandinavian word for Red)
    Scientific
    tree, American Mountain Ash – The pinnate leaves are similar in appearance to those of the ash tree, which is otherwise unrelated; it is most frequently found in mountainous terrain.
    Scientific
    Name: Sorbus Americana; Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
    A small shrub or tree commonly found adjacent to rock outcroppings at elevations above 2000 feet easily identifiable by its pinnate (from
    americana – The generic name is Latin pinna meaning featherfor ‘service tree’ which refersalludes through Indo-European roots to the leaflets on either side ofcolor red; the crimson berries are a main stem axis) leavesnotable characteristic. The species assignation indicates that it is indigenous to North America; the most common European service tree is Sorbus aucuparia, which was introduced and bright red berries.
    Potpourri:
    has become naturalized. The two species are very similar in appearance.
    Potpourri: The American
    Mountain Ash is contrarian in being a service tree and not related to thean ash trees (whichtree; its pinnately compounded ash-like leaflets are membersdeemed the cause for the misnomer. The confusion is exacerbated by the American serviceberry tree, whose red berries reminded early colonists of the olive family) butservice trees of their homeland; the fusion of Old and New World cultures resulted in many botanical malapropisms. The resultant ‘ash tree’ is really a service tree and the serviceberry tree is neither. It was so named because it has the pinnate leaf structuremultitude of new American species that inspired Linnaeus to formulate the genus-species taxonomy in the 18th century to bring some order to the chaos in botany; the resultant morphological Linnaean system is a characteristicbeing validated for DNA consistency according to the strictures of the ashes. It21st century. The tree will be the mountain ash regardless.
    {Mountain Ash_Pyrenees 150911.jpg} A rowan tree in the Pyrenees The Europeans solved the nomenclature problem by naming the indigenous Sorbus aucuparia “mountain ash” the rowan tree, eschewing the service tree assignation altogether. Rowan
    is actuallyalso etymologically related to the red color of the berries, derived from the Old Norse reynir which meant to redden. While there are several other Eurasian service trees which notably hybridize frequently leading to variable descriptions, S. aucuparia is the most prevalent, notably in northern and mountainous regions; a membersimilar geographical dispersion of S. americana in North America. Due to the Rose familyimport and naturalization of the European rowan tree and its similarity to the indigenous mountain ash, the names are typically used interchangeably; the latter is closely relatedsometimes referred to pearsas the American rowan tree in the United States and apples (the berries look like little apples).
    The fruit of
    the Mountain Ashformer is only produced at three year intervalssometimes called the European mountain ash in the United Kingdom. To confuse matters further, there is a third mountain ash; indigenous to Tasmania and Southern Australia, the giant Eucalyptus regnans is lowsecond in lipid (fat) content. Consequently, migratory birdssize globally only to the California coastal redwood. In this case, it is its ash-like wood, and not the leaves that depend on high fat contentinspired the comparative name. Common names are not required to providemake sense.
    The diminutive apple-like fruits of
    the energy for long distance flight generally pass them up. Mountain Ash berries therefore typicallymountain ash (and rowan) ripen in late autumn and persist well into winter, whenearly winter; {Mountain Ash Sorbus americana fruit2 AT Compton 171014.jpg} Mountain ash berries attract birds they becomeare accordingly a major food source for non-migratorymany birds such as the grouse and herbivores suchmammals, particularly those that neither migrate nor hibernate and must periodically struggle to survive when a paucity of nutrition persists. The crimson color is an obvious flag for concomitant sugary reward. Moose browse has been measured to be as high as 80 percent in controlled plots in northern Michigan; it has been estimated that these massive herbivores get more than fifty percent of their calories from mountain ash leaves, twigs, and berries. It is also one of the most palatable plants for deer and moose.
    The
    squirrels; the berries become palatableare 4.66 percent fat and 5.44 percent protein by dry weight. Among the birds, ruffed grouse, American robins, blue jays, and ptarmigans heavily browse mountain ash berries, providing the ecological impetus for the geographical dispersion of the tree across vast swaths of the sun-exposed hillsides that comprise its primary habitat. Avian field studies have shown that the average time between ingestion of the berry and defecation of the seeds is thirty minutes, allowing for dispersal for up to a mile from the host plant; why and how trees evolved to produce fruits in winter after at least one freezingthe first place. Since mountain ash is shade intolerant, seedling success depends on sun exposure. The tenuous nature of survival is reflected in the statistics of mountain ash dispersal, growth and maturation. In a study conducted in Michigan, seedlings averaged 1,660 per acre of which about 500 survived as saplings; only 80 reached full maturity. The effect of herbivore browsing of saplings is profound, as anyone subject to the white-tailed deer population bomb can be easily strippedattest. Where browsing occurred in the Michigan study area, there were only two or three fully grown mountain ash trees per acre; beyond decimation to near annihilation. Deer have essentially wiped out mountain ash in parts of Pennsylvania and New York.
    The historical relevance of S. americana to Native Americans and S. aucuparia to Eurasians is significant, the trees having served as food, medicine, and, somewhat ironically, bird bait. The species name aucuparia is taken directly
    from the twigs. They makeLatin aucupor meaning ‘to catch birds.’ Rowan berries were used as bait to attract birds for fowling, an excellent jelly. A decoction oferstwhile euphemism for killing birds, ostensibly for food but also for sport. It is not clear whether this meant that the hunter would skulk rowan tree habitats to await an avian visit or whether the berries were removed and positioned strategically to effect entrapment, likely both. According to one account, the berries were used to make birdlime, a sticky adhesive smeared on branches to immobilize and capture roosting birds, a practice used historically in Europe using boiled holly tree bark has beenpounded into a viscous paste. It is unlikely that mountain ash/rowan trees were used in this manner, but were rather directly used as bird bait taking advantage of their inherent allure.
    The renowned German chemist August von Hofmann discovered
    a tonic for fevers andnumber of chemicals derived from the distillation of rowanberry oil; using the genus name Sorbus as an antidotethe root word, he synthesized sorbic acid in 1859. The importance of this discovery was not manifest until the middle of the next century, when its antimicrobial properties were first noted; when converted to a salt such as potassium or sodium sorbate to facilitate handling, sorbic acid became a mainstay additive in food processing to minimize the risk of bacterial or fungal contamination, notably Clostridium botulinum which causes botulism. It is still widely used by vintners as a stabilizer to curtail yeast multiplication. Hofmann’s work ultimately established the scientific foundation for diarrhea.the development of the transformational German aniline chemical dye industry. The Welsh brewed aleinherent anti-microbial properties of sorbic acid from mountain ash and rowan were exploited in Europe for the treatment of sore throats and hemorrhoids (both involve orifices) and in North America for a wide assortment of conditions that varied according to individual tribal custom.
    With a modicum of cultural stereotyping, the chemistry of nutritive hydrocarbon sweetness that characterizes
    the berries of the closely related European Mountain Ash (Sorbus Aucuparia). rowan tree was discovered by a French chemist at about the same time that the German von Hofmann discovered sorbic acid. Jean-Baptiste Boussingault also used the genus Sorbus for the neologism sorbitol, a white, water- soluble compound that is of crystalline form that imparts sweetness to the palate; it is now widely used as one of myriad low calorie sugar substitutes. Boussingault operated one of the first agricultural research stations in the world where he established the importance of soil nitrogen to plant growth and laid the foundations for crop rotation. The berries were historically rendered into jams and jellies and even eaten raw as a somewhat bitter food of last resort on both sides of the Atlantic.

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    7:05 am

Wednesday, September 27

  1. page Japanese Stiltgrass edited ... The success of Japanese stiltgrass is a matter of botanical ecology; a combination of a plant …
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    The success of Japanese stiltgrass is a matter of botanical ecology; a combination of a plant that rapidly adapts to a new environment before that environment can adapt to it, nominally through balancing predation by either an herbivore or a pathogen. The introduced species phenomenon, which has historically occurred intermittently and only at sailing ship speed has been a matter of some note since 1492; the New World and the Old World exchanged everything from apples (from Eurasia) to turkeys (from the Americas), most of the time slowly and intentionally. The mass movement of goods and services across vast oceans and formerly insurmountable mountains with the advent of container ship freight and air transport since the middle of the last century has wreaked havoc on local ecologies on a global scale. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUNC) maintains a list of the 100 worst invasive species that are mostly animals such as rats, rabbits, and mosquitoes. While Japanese stiltgrass is not included, it is noted by the IUNC that “absence from the list does not imply that a species poses a lesser threat.” The Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), an organization dedicated to global environmental issues considers Japanese stiltgrass “a very serious invasive species and considered one of the most destructive introduced plants in the United States.”
    {Japanese Stiltgrass seeds 170906.jpg} Each Plant can produce up to 1,000 seedsOnce a new organism is introduced, there are three factors that contribute to its spread: The rate of reproduction, the physiological adaptability, and the extent of predation. Japanese Stiltgrass is an annual plant that dies at the end of every season, relying on its seeds for future progeny. Most grasses produce copious seeds as an evolutionary feature of their competitive survival. Japanese stiltgrass flowers are both cleistogamous (self-pollinating) and chasmogamous (cross pollinating) to take full advantage of the wind for pollen transport for fertilization. The result is up to 1,000 seeds per plant with fecundity exasperated by longevity; the seeds are viable for up to 5 years and can survive a 2 month water immersion. The resultant seed bank repository that builds up under and adjacent to the parent plants is gargantuan; as many as 4 million seeds per square meter. If only 0.01 percent (or one out of every 10,000) of the seeds germinate, that would yield 400 plants, which is about what a really dense stand looks like it might have. Once an infestation starts, the seeds are spread mechanically by hikers and vehicles; the wide bands of Japanese stiltgrass that border trails and country roads are the result.
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    increased competitive evolutionability (EICA) theory
    The extent of predation of Japanese stiltgrass outside its Asian homeland is essentially nil as there are no native predators, a condition that is generally true for all invasive plants and {Japanese Stiltgrass area_ATRT9_050626.jpg} Invasive nature of Japanese stiltgrass manifest in SNP animals. The complex ecological web of things eating and things being eaten takes centuries to evolve in any one locality. Insertion of a non-native species subverts the natural course. Cattle won’t eat Japanese stiltgrass and even goats reportedly avoid it. Ironically, our ubiquitous native herbivore white-tailed deer are daintily selective, consuming everything except the invasive species only to advance its onslaught; there is some evidence of forest regeneration failure under the synergetic effects of deer browse and stiltgrass spread. Arthropod predation of Japanese stiltgrass is measurably miniscule ranging from 0.4 to 10 percent of leaf removal. Insect populations actually declined by 39 percent and insect diversity declined by 19 percent in scientific field studies of stiltgrass infested areas compared to controls. More disturbingly, carnivores were reduced by 61 percent compared to 31 percent for herbivores; keystone species that maintain ecological balance are mostly in the former category. One study found that the natural regeneration of native species was reduced by 75 percent relative to control areas and those seedlings grew only half as high over a comparable growing season. All things considered, things do not bode well for a Japanese stiltgrass dominated environment.
    Based on the introduction of North American invasive plants to Great Britain in the 16th Century without any attempts at any countermanding controls, it is estimated that 500 years are necessary for a new set of predators to adapt and evolve to fill the emergent non-native nutrition niche. In the end that may be the only recourse to the current global problem, but alternative controls have been successful with other invasives and should be field tested and utilized according to result. There are four methods that merit consideration: biological control with exotics, biological control with endemics, extermination with herbicides, and extermination by mechanical means. Biological controls are the obvious preference as they offer a nature-like solution with human intervention for selection and scientific experimentation. Like the CRISPR gene-editing to produce clones and GMO’s in lieu of the blind trial and error cross breeding of animals and plants, science can offer a more precise technological solution.
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    4:52 am

Tuesday, September 26

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    {buttonfungi.gif} {buttonplants.gif} {buttontreesandshrubs.gif} {buttoncreatures.gif} {buttongeology.gif} {buttonenvironment.gif} {buttonhiking.gif}
    "Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence." -The Desiderata
    Updated 14 August26 September 2017: Periodical Cicada
    {Cicada_Columbia_Crop040516.jpg} A 17 year cicada from Brood X in 2004. A small number came back this year, 4 years early; perhaps an attempt to initiate a fourth 13-year brood.
    Japanese Stiltgrass
    {Japanese Stiltgrass area_ATRT9_050626.jpg} Japanese Stiltgrass may one day become "the grass that covered the Earth" just as Kudzu was the "vine that ate the south."

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    9:34 am
  2. page Plants Index edited ... Indian Cucumber Root Indian Strawberry Japanese Stiltgrass Kudzu Maidenhair Fern
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    Indian Cucumber Root
    Indian Strawberry
    Japanese Stiltgrass
    Kudzu
    Maidenhair Fern
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    9:32 am

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