Thursday, October 15, 2009

October Orchids & Asters

October Ladies Tresses

October ladies tresses are a fragrant species of Orchid that grows right
here in Tennessee, and oddly it blooms in October,when the cold
night breeze wakes her up for her autumn show. The smell is sweet,
floral,and amazing, you'd want to bottle this one,but if you happen
to see one, NO PICKING!!they are quite rare in occurance within their range.
These are growing in very boggy,mossy
conditions in long, shallow,
soil and limestone gravel filled chasms in
the deep limestone bedrock that is exposed
nearby, their drainage is very poor,
the soil is VERY alkaline,
and they get all day blazing sun.

There are several
orchids native to north america and most are ground orchids like
this one, and a few others live in and around the glades, including
the cranefly orchid, which wakes it's leaves up for winter when
the sunlight can pierce the trees and reach the mossy floor in
the forest near the cedar glades.
Cranefly orchid,leaf

There are several species of Aster are coexisting in Tyler Glades,
they all seem to have their own spot in the glades that is just right
for them, I will attempt to name a few,although many of these
have been reclassified as symphyotrichum.

This is White Heath Aster

And this one is White wood aster, which is more of
a lavender,despite the name.

Here I am lost, but this one is definitely different.

This one is New England Aster, a classic.
Thank goodness for the cool weather,or I may have
alerted any number of tiny sweat bees that were sleeping
on its blossoms,and I hate sweat bees.
Yes,even though they are green and sparkly.

Here in the foreground you see the common Shorts aster,
Symphyotrichum shortii, this is the one you will most likely
see along the roadsides and throughout the open woods forming
a purple mist throughout.

So there's plenty going on while waiting for the fall colors
to fill out, and during what seems like a slow time for
flowers in the glade you may just find something
radically unusual, like an orchid!,and find yourself lying
in the mud oogling and snapping pictures!! Everyone agrees
there's just something about orchids...

This glade was very wet,it's basically a very wide,
very shallow river, normally equivalent to a
dry creek bed and a great quantity of water flows through

here in the wet season, shaping the glade and continuing
to wash away substrate where other cedar glades remain
more stagnant and you don't see so much active erosion.

Water oozes from the gravel,

it trickles from the grass,

it pours through the moss from between the trees,

it cascades between the stones in the paths,

and pours across the limestone flats,

it seems there are suddenly brooks babbling
and pools filling everywhere you look,

in what is normally the driest place in middle Tennessee.

Gattengers Lobelia is still blooming and seeding.
Usually gone by July, it has bloomed all year
in this wet weather.

Spiked gumweeds have also managed a few last minute blooms

And more from the dark side this Halloween season,
muahahaha!!! Here is an endemic roach in the cedar glades,
he has a remarkable vibrant red to black fade coloring,

ew ew ew I know right, roaches, but consider that in this
glade, in their habitat they are functional,beautiful little
critters, and their numbers are balanced by nature.

Some wicked looking mushrooms, fed by the rain,
are devouring the dead, muahahaha!!! and bringing life
to the soil of the karst between the limestone glade areas.

All sorts of beauty is washing up in this rain,

Huge snails in a wash collected by an aster.

Relics of an abundant and glorious season of lushness
in the Cedar glades, which have loved the excess rain
this year, unlike other areas which may have suffered.

Opuntia cacti are fruiting heavily, but I'll leave these prickly
boogers for the deer and coons over the winter.

And the promise of another season of bounty to come,
already showing SPROUTS!Widow's cross sedum is
sprouting before winter even comes, over the winter
it will grow low and trail along with these flat wide leaves
Next spring it will grow thick and full, before growing
little stalks with pointy leaves

and blooming along
with a full spring show here in the
Cedar Glades
of the Nashville basin.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Revisiting the Wild Rose

Let us revisit with the wild roses of the cedar glades.
This past year they have grown thick and full
in the wet and cool weather we've had in this
"year that summer never came" of 2009.
Rosa carolina ,curled petals

and rosa multiflora,sometimes pink
are quite common in the area, Beautiful and
although invasive in many areas,
their numbers are few in the glades.
Rosa carolina come in many forms,
and many in the glades seem dwarfed,
seen blooming and fruiting inches off the surface.

Rosa corolina, white form

The hips from both roses are sweet and edible, and contain
lots of vitamin c which means soury goodness.

Here's this year's rose hip harvest from a distant relative,
rosa rugosa ,hips.

since i dont like to let things go to waste these
tangy sour little goodies are going into treats for the holidays,
along with other gathered wild foods like hickory nuts and persimmons.
We'll soon say goodbye to madame rose for the season here in the Nashville
basin, and await her grand displays of next year, she's always been a favorite
of mankind around the globe, and her family brings us everything from apples
to loquats ,furniture and fragrances.

For extra credit bring me one of these rosa
carolina blooms from the feild next spring,
and i'll give you a zillion dollars!

Sun Drenched Islands in the Dark Cedars

You may have encountered a cedar glade before if you enjoy walking through the woods in the Nashville Tennessee area, you would have been walking along through the cedars and would have come to a clearing, upon passing through you may have noticed how hot and dry it was,if in summer,or how wet and spongy the limestone gravel was ,if in winter.You may have had many of my own first thoughts , wondering "is this an old lot? perhaps and old road of some sort long degraded" before you started to notice plants you hadn't ever seen in your life,even though you've lived your entire life in the Nashville area, and if you had been lucky enough to happen across one during spring bloom time you'd notice the rainbow of colors blooming on those never before encountered plants, what an exiting place these glades can be!
In truth that place you thought may have been an old lot is a natural limestone clearing, Sometimes tens of thousands of years old , old enough for the plants there to adapt to their unique micro climate.
It's feasible to think that these places have been visited by animals and humans alike, for thousands upon thousands of years, being a natural clearing where one could camp or simply gaze up at the sky,and the way it seems so much bigger in the glades somehow, you can see the whole milky way sparkling there on a clear summer night, these places truly are a gift of natural beauty and diversity and a testament to the strength of life and its ability to adapt.

Sadly most of this rare ecosystem has been lost forever ,and some endemic plants are either extinct or severely endangered, in the past they have been built on ,dumped in,and covered over with rubble, they are inundated by man made lakes and torn apart by people with atv's and four wheelers who do not realize what they are doing.
There may be less than 10% of what cedar glade
there was before the Nashville basin was settled, and that continues to shrink even today, So lets educate our friends in the world of horticulture about our cedar glades.

Here are some resources for Cedar Glade Research:

Cedar Glade Endemic Plants

Center for Cedar Glade Studies

Cedar Glade Wikipedia