Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mud Pond's Muddy Shore

A gorgeous blue-sky day today, but I only had time for an hour or so outdoors.  Mud Pond at Moreau seemed a perfect destination: close to home, easy to access from the road, and always alive with fascinating plant and animal life.

As soon as I set foot on the sandy trail that circles the pond, I saw the tiny radiant flowers of Blue Curls (Trichostema dichotomum), their gracefully arcing stamens curling over the spotted lower petals. 

Nearby were some large bushy plants of Tall Blue Lettuce (Lactuca biennis), with little puffs of sky-blue flowers that look like miniature Chicory. 

The wild clematis called Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana) was climbing over the pathside shrubbery, and there I saw this big beautiful Great Golden Digger Wasp feasting on the dainty white blooms.

It's funny how, in all my years of flower hunting, I never noticed this beautiful brightly colored wasp with its coat of golden fuzz until this summer, and now I have seen it over and over again.  I wonder if it only recently came to inhabit our area.

 Another beautiful insect, a copper-colored dragonfly, landed on some nearby Sweet Fern, and its wings appeared iridescent when they caught the light.

I made my way around the pond to where I hoped to explore a shore of mud flats, only to find that the mudflats were well under water.

I was happy to find that the mud, despite being submerged,  was firm enough to walk on, although I did sink up to my ankles at times.

Numerous tiny bright-yellow Humped Bladderworts (Utricularia gibba) were scattered across the rush-covered mud like stars in the sky.

The chubby yellowish-green blooms of Ditch Stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides) were blooming on vivid red stems.

The sprawling stems of Water Purslane (Ludwigia palustris) held tiny green flowers in the leaf axils.

It was just sheer luck that I happened to see the miniscule pale-blue flowers of False Pimpernel (Lindernia dubia), since they are so exceedingly tiny, and also, there were very few of them.

In contrast, the flowers of Water Smartweed (Persicaria amphibia) are large and brightly colored, with multi-flowered spikes of rosy bloom held high above their glossy green leaves on stiff stout stems.

Several other Persicaria species were thriving out on the mud, including this Arrow-leaved Tearthumb (Persicaria sagitata).

This Tearthumb's dainty pink color and cute little blooms belie its vicious nature, for this is a plant that does indeed tear at one's flesh with stems that are well-armed with lacerating barbs.  I might have stayed longer out on the mud, but my shins began to sting from pushing through these prickly plants, so I had to cut my visit short and go home to tend my wounds.  Next time I'll wear long pants.


Anonymous said...

I am a forestry consultant from WV. I am doing a research project for a large ownership in WV, VA, and KY about how their forest management operations affect rare, T&E species. I am needing a photo of the Humped Bladderwort to include in my reports. The ownership is also needing a photo of the species to put in a field guide for their foresters to use in their daily operations to help better protect the species. Would it be okay to use the image from this website in the report & field guide? If it is okay, you can just reply to this comment and I will check back to the web page for an answer.


Doug Alderman
Alderman Forest Management

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Doug Alderman, you are welcome to use my photo of Humped Bladderwort in your report and the field guide. It pleases me to know this photo might help to protect this vulnerable plant. My only requirement is that you credit the photo to me, Jacqueline Donnelly. I wish you luck in your efforts to protect the plants.