Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Woodland Mysteries

A walk through the woods this time of year yields some interesting sights.

For instance, this fungus (?) on a tree trunk resembles wet noodles…or mucous membrane.

I wish I could tell you what it is.

One pretty, but rather unassuming, wildflower from this past weekend also has me mystified. The feature that caught my attention was the spiral arrangement of the blooms running up the stem.

You might not know this, but in the Northern Hemisphere, such blooms always run in a clockwise pattern. If you go wildflowering south of the equator, however, you’ll see that any spiral of blooms runs in a counter-clockwise pattern.

Amazing, eh?

But back to the weekend mystery flower. I’ve decided that it is some type of goldenrod (Solidago genus). It is not what I picture when I think of goldenrod. Here's the typical goldenrod:

This large specimen from my pasture is the Common Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis). Or at least I think it is. Upon researching the possible identity of my weekend goldenrod, a much smaller plant, I considered and then ruled out some possibilities like the Roan Mountain Goldenrod (S. roanensis) and the Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (S. caesia).

At times like this, I really need to move beyond the wildflower guides and start using a key to help with identification. Maybe next year.

By the way, I was only joking about the clockwise and counter-clockwise arrangement of blooms…in a lame attempt at some wildflower humor. On this subject, I did find a reference to an article by H. A. Allard, The Ratios of Clockwise and Counterclockwise Spirality Observed in the Phyllotaxy of Some Wild Plants, (Castanea, The Journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club, March 1951).

That’s certainly one citation to add to my library list and perhaps I’ll pick up a copy of the article this week. Comparing Allard’s information with some of my texts on sacred geometry sounds like an evening’s entertainment to me.

Concerning the spiral goldenrod, I felt a little better about my trouble identifying the plant after finding this note in Gray's Manual of Botany:

Solidago is one of our most difficult genera. Natural hybridization frequently occurs. For proper study, full specimens, showing subterranean parts and basal leaves as well as the whole flowering stem, are essential.


Jim Parker said...

I admit it, I must be a real geek. The spending of time comparing Allard to sacred geometry does sound like fun.

GULAHIYI said...

I think geeks find more joy in life than those who worry about being perceived as geeks!

That said, I find a steep learning curve in the realm of the botanical geometry, so it is fortunate that I enjoy reading things I don't understand...once in a while.

If I can figure anything out, I'll get a blog post from it.