Monday, September 19, 2016

Exploring Our Woods

We went on an adventure this morning exploring our(and our neighbor's) woods. We went in search of a plant that I have seen in the past but hadn't noticed in a couple of years. Apparently deer really like this plant so it is hard to spot because it is usually stripped down every year from the browsing beasts(and I do say that with affection I love them, they are beautiful...but why do they have to eat all the good stuff?)
Anyway, the plant we were searching for is called Euonymus americanus. Some of its common names are American strawberry bush, Strawberry bush, Hearts-a-burstin, or Bursting heart. It is from the staff tree or bittersweet family(Celastraceae) of plants. It is one of our North American native species.

This very distinct and unusual shrub has dark green stems, bright green oval lance shaped leaves that have almost no stem and are pointed on both ends. The leaves will turn red in fall. The flowers are small greenish five petal flowers that kind of float above the leaves on their long-ish stems. The fruits and seeds are odd hard little round capsules that are a pinkish red and bumpy. When they are ripe and pop open they reveal bright orange seeds that hang on to the bottom of the capsule usually in groups of 4 or 5. It can grow to be between 2-6 feet tall. The pictures I was able to get are difficult to really see what the plant looks like, because the deer have mostly eaten all of the leaves off of the plant. But now I know that I didn't lose it and will be able to protect it next year.

Some of the other things we found on our explore.

 A frog:

Lots of caterpillars and bugs:

Interesting mushrooms/fungi:

Lots of moss that was fuzzy to touch:

Lots and lots...and lots of spider webs and spiders:
We found some but most of them found us.

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