October weather is here and the trees are starting to change color in southwestern Pennsylvania. On the ground I found additional evidence of autumn last weekend.
Above, the shiny red fruits of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) hang from thorny branches. Watch out if you approach them, not because of the thorns but because of ticks. This invasive shrub creates thickets with the perfect micro-climate for black-legged ticks and their favorite host, white-footed mice.
Burdock, nature’s velcro, is still in bloom. The tiny hooks coating the sepal will soon dry out and cling to your clothes as you pass by.
Though burdock (Arctium minus) is an alien invasive, a local insect has found it tasty. Notice the trail of the leaf miner, highlighted below.
Lycopodium is a very ancient plant. It’s the last living relative of Lepidodendron, a mighty tree that predates the dinosaurs.
(photos by Kate St. John)
(*) Spores definition from Google dictionary: Spores are minute, typically one-celled, reproductive unit capable of giving rise to a new individual without sexual fusion, characteristic of lower plants, fungi, and protozoans.