Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day!

"The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature."

                               -- Antoine-François Prévost

Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Closer Look

I saw this leopard frog beside a pond in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and snapped its picture. When I looked more closely I noticed that it was sitting on sphagnum moss and its right front paw is touching a carnivorous spoon-leaf sundew plant, Drosera intermedia.
Click to enlarge.
A spoon-leaf sundew. Those shiny droplets are sticky and insects get trapped in them and slowly digested to supplement the plant's diet. I wonder if the frog's foot got sticky.
There were other carnivorous plants around the pond including the purple pitcher plants pictured here, Sarracenia purpurea.


I took a photo of this rain-filled pitcher. Insects are attracted to the plant, slip into the water, and cannot get out because of downward facing hairs. They are eventually digested and supplement the plant's diet.
When I looked more closely at the photo I saw some insect trapping going on.
The ant on the left is in a dangerous spot. Those on the right have already been trapped.
Speaking of small things, I also saw this small, rare, and hard-to-find plant: the Little Curly Grass Fern, Schizaea pusilla. It's been called the most famous plant in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. I attest that you have to be on your hands and knees to find it. The plant rarely gets higher than about three inches. The curled green grass-like leaves are sterile. The brown upright leaves are taller, fertile, and produce spores from a comb-like structure at the top (there is one in this photo). The things you see when you take a closer look!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

More Wild Orchids

Pink lady's slipper orchids, Cypripedium acaule, bloom in the New Jersey Pine Barrens from early May to mid-June. That's now! Here are a few I saw on May 18th.                    Click to enlarge.
They are also called moccasin flowers.
They grow in association with a fungus that enables germination and provides nutrients to the plant. Once the plant is established it returns the favor by providing nutrients to the fungus.
Individual plants can live for 20 years and longer in the wild.  Once you find some, you can visit the same spot every spring to see them.
The lady's slipper flower smells good to bees and the big pouch has a slit in the front that allows a bee to enter. Once inside, hairs direct the bee to an upper exit that requires squeezing past a pollen mass. Tricky!