Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Beauty Berry

Beauty Berry in the family Lamiaceae contains up to 150 species. Most species are tropical, but many survive well in Temperate zones like Missouri. Those that grow in temperate zones will be deciduous, meaning they will lose their leaves in the winter. In tropical zones they are evergreen. They are native to Asia, Southeast North America, Australia, and Central America.
In the spring these bushes will develop pretty pink or white blooms. They grow to about 6 feet tall, and about 5 to 6 feet in diameter. After blooming the leaves appear....later in the season gorgeous metallic looking purplish berries make an appearance. These berries grow in small clusters all along the bare branches. These berries will last well into the cold winter months and are an important food source for hungry birds and other animals when all other food sources have been exhausted.

Many species of these plants are used as hosts to certain moths like Swift Moths and Ghost Moths of Asia.
Wine and jellies can be made from the berries. I personally have not tried them, but would curious what it would taste like. My bush is loaded with berries, perhaps I need to try it. One species of beauty berry called American Beauty Berry is a natural repellent against Mosquitoes and ticks. I say we need to plant these things everywhere around our farm, no mosquitoes or ticks? How grand would that be? These bushes are attractive and make wonderful additions to any landscape.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Miss Fluffy

Oh it's a Cats life.....
eat, sleep, and yawn,
   eat, sleep and yawn......
Catch a mouse,
catch a bird....."Did I say that? Don't tell my humans!"
"Ohhhh, all this hard work makes me tired."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Boreal Chorus Frog

I've previously posted about these little cutie-pies Boreal Chorus Frog . This photograph depicts an adult. To see the babies, click the link. I think they are so sweet, I just couldn't resist sharing another image.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More Shelf Mushrooms

These crazy-looking bracket or shelf mushrooms showed up on an old Maple tree in our front yard. I have never seen anything like them before. They are a pumpkin orange, and kind of velvety feeling. I haven't been able to find them in any of my field guides. If anyone knows what they are I would sure like to know. Probably 1/4 of the tree is covered in these growths.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Holler Conservation Area

Happy Holler is located about 8 miles North of where I live. It encompasses 2207 acres. The 102 River borders portions of the area and offers great fishing. We make many visits out there to fish for catfish.
Pictured here is my daughter Shaylyn and her boyfriend Jake, while they ended up not getting a single bite on this trip to the river, they did have fun trying. The area also offers a large lake for bass fishing, and bird watching. I captured these images of a tree swallow, white heron and Prothonotary warbler while Kayaking this spring.


Deer are plentiful in the area as well as turkey and you're almost guaranteed to see one or the other long about evening time. 
I love to drive the country roads that wind all through the area, I always see a lot of wildlife, beautiful wildflowers and tons of birds. If you like hunting, it is permitted within the boundaries of the conservation owned property. Horseback riding, hiking, and picnics are all activities that are easily enjoyed here. 

One of my favorite passtimes is to hunt for insects. I spend a large amount of time out at Happy Holler poking around in the wildflowers searching for whatever insects I can find. I am rarely disappointed, like pictured here is a stilt bug on a guara plant.

Here is Missouri Primrose which is plentiful all around the area, and certainly pretty to look at.
If you get the chance to visit this Conservation Area, do so. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Peek - A- Boo

I see you!
This adorable little gray tree frog (green color phase) found a safe hiding place on a stalk of corn. 

Friday, September 4, 2009

These gorgeous mushrooms were growing from the side of a tree along a busy city street in the town where I work. I spotted them on my way home and did not have my camera with me (When will I learn). I drove 15 miles home, and asked Joey if he wanted to take a road trip with me. He of course wanted to know where, and when I told him I needed to go back into town and get some pictures of some cool mushrooms that I spotted on my way home. He of course thought I was nuts, but he agreed to ride along. I had never seen anything quite like these before, they were growing up the side of the tree like stair steps. Their flesh was very bright white, and they had gorgeous "gills" on the underside. While I was busy snapping photos, a couple out for an evening walk stopped and hollered from across the street "If you hadn't of been taking pictures, we would have never noticed them". 
It just goes to show that each of us should slow down and look at what is around us, you never know just exactly what you will discover. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lady's Thumb

This common weed (or wildflower--depending upon your view) is Lady's Thumb (Polygonum persicaria), it also goes by many other common names such as Spotted Lady's-Thumb, Redleg, Adam's Plaster, Redshank and Persicaria. These little flowers while pretty at first, can fast become a nuisance, they spread rapidly and will take over any area where they are present. I made the mistake of encouraging it, mistakenly thinking it had an interesting flower, now it has choked out many of my other plants and shows no signs of stopping. Seems I will be yanking and pulling this stuff out before there is nothing left of my garden but Lady's Thumb. Polygonum is native to Europe and Asia, it was introduced to the United States, it has established itself in all the mainland states. This troublesome little weed was first discovered in the Great Lake regions in 1843 and is now considered an invasive weed in those parts. This plant can reach heights up to 2 feet, and it has lancet shaped leaves.This plant prefers sunlit moist conditions, but will easily adapt to poorer dirt and shady conditions.  There are several species and sub-species of this plant and I am unsure which one is pictured here. One species has a telltale purple splotch on the leaves. It can be found most anywhere, along roadsides, in ditches, along riverbanks or in backyards like the one pictured. This plant contains persicarin and tannins which were used to treat diahrrea and infections. Fresh leaves have been used to stop bleeding.
The nectar of the flowers attracts Halictid bees, wasps, and Syrphid flies primarily. Less comon visitors include small butterflies and bumblebees. Halictid bees also collect pollen occasionally. The foliage is eaten by the caterpillars of some Copper butterflies and several species of Moths, while the flowers and fruit are eaten by the caterpillars of the Gray Hairstreak butterfly. Japanese beetles are also quite fond of the foliage of this and other smartweeds. Mammalian herbivores rarely feed on the foliage of Lady's Thumb because the foliage is pungent, peppery, and slightly bitter. However, White-Tailed Deer may chomp off the tops of young plants upon occasion. The seeds of smartweeds are very popular with waterfowl and granivorous songbirds. The seeds of Lady's Thumb, in particular, are eaten by birds in both upland and wetland habitats. The ecological value of this little plant is rather high, notwithstanding its weedy nature.

Sources: www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/lady_thumb.htm

Tuesday, September 1, 2009