Turtleheads and late boneset flowers at Schenley Park. Do you see the honeybee?
A rainbow with crows over Oakland.
Fiery sunset on 7 September.
Six deer in Schenley Park — only 5 made it into the photo.
But there’s a photo of deer I wish I’d been able to take: Friday morning 8 September along 5th Ave between the Cathedral of Learning and Clapp Hall I saw 3 deer — 2 does and 1 fawn — standing on the pavement at Clapp Hall. They were close to the curb of 5th Ave at Tennyson as they tried to figure out how to cross 5th Ave during rush hour.
Here’s a pretty plant, an invasive alien, that I’ve not seen in Pittsburgh but is easy to find in Lancaster County, PA where I took this picture.
Beefsteak plant (Perilla frutescens) is a member of the mint family native to Southeast Asia and the Indian highlands and is grown as a crop for Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine. Its common names include shiso and Korean perilla. The “beefsteak” name was coined because the darkest varieties have leaves as red as meat. The wild plants I saw in Lancaster County had green leaves and dark red stems.
Perilla frutescens is widely cultivated in Asia as an edible plant but it has downsides including contact dermatitis from touching the leaves and anaphylaxis after consuming a large amount of seeds. Those who cultivate it know what to do but the rest of us should be cautious.
Brought to the U.S. as an ornamental beefsteak plant escaped to the wild and is now invasive in six states from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. The plant is always toxic to cattle, horses and other ruminants including white-tailed deer.
Since deer don’t eat it, it may have been touted as a “deer resistant” plant at the nursery but don’t buy it! This plant spreads way too easily.
(credits are in the captions with links where applicable)
Yesterday turned into a nice day, but when eight of us met at Schenley Park at 8:30am the temperature was cool with low clouds and the sky was blank gray. Normally the birds would have slept in but the migrants were hungry. We found 22 species.
Best Bird is hard to choose. Was it the belted kingfisher that hunted over Panther Hollow Lake? The ruby-throated hummingbirds that floated among the trees? Or the warblers — Blackburnian, magnolia and chestnut-sided?
Between birds the bugs took center stage. Milkweed bugs swarmed on swamp milkweed pods …
Someone in my neighborhood planted common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) on the strip of land between the sidewalk and the street. This month it droops over the sidewalk, so tall that I barely have to duck to take this closeup of yellow with a golden cast. Did you know this food plant is native to the Americas?
This woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus), in a sunnier shade of yellow, was identified on the Botanical Society walk last Sunday at the Nine Mile Run Trail. The side of the flower is displayed because the bracts on the back and the bud are important. Click on the image to see a front view of the flower.
This very yellow “pale jewelweed” (Impatiens pallida) is a rarity in Schenley Park. Deer have eaten all the other jewelweed yet this patch thrives. Why? The clue is in middle of this ugly photo.
Do you see the prickly branch of wineberry draped over the jewelweed plant? The entire patch is protected by this invasive thorny plant. The deer cannot approach. (Wineberry stems are circled in purple below.)
And a Purple Host:
I don’t remember the exact species of tick trefoil seen on the Botanical Society walk but a butterfly confirmed the plant is thriving.
Tick trefoil is the host plant for the silver spotted skipper. This one was sipping on an wet abandoned shirt nearby its host.
Best Birds were a very cooperative yellow billed cuckoo and an elusive green heron. The cuckoo posed for us, the green heron zoomed away. Later the heron zoomed in and landed above us near a second green heron. Two!
In the Nine Mile Run valley I marveled at this confluence of a muddy tributary with the main stem of Nine Mile Run. This, in microcosm, is like the confluence of the clear-running Allegheny with the muddy Monongahela River at The Point.
Other than a few thunderstorms it’s been a quiet week in Pittsburgh.
At the Cathedral of Learning the garden beds are beautiful with begonias while the peregrines, Carla and Ecco, hang out and finish molting. The pair is no longer courting but sometimes bow together — less than once a day in late July.
On Thursday I was lucky to find the right mix of sun and shade to show off eastern enchanter’s nightshade’s (Circaea canadensis) bur-like fruits. They are notoriously difficult to photograph.
On 13 July a brief storm blew through Pittsburgh and broke this more than 100 year old London plane tree near Carnegie Library.
Meanwhile spotted lanternfly (SLF) red nymphs are everywhere, soon to become winged adults. I found thousands of them along the Allegheny River Trail near Herr’s Island plus three adults, the first I’ve seen this year. This winged adult probably just emerged from the crumpled exoskeleton above it. Eewwww!
A few people along the trail were stamping on the nymphs and might have been recording their victories in the Squishr app (described here by WHYY). However, as Howard Tobias remarked a few weeks ago, “Tramping on spotted lanternflies is like trying to empty the ocean with a spoon.”
Are you upset by the bugs? Go hit the Panic Button at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in the Main branch Music Department, 2nd floor. This Panic Button, built into a bookcase, used to be part of the old security system but was disconnected decades ago. Press it to your heart’s content. Very satisfying.
This week on Fourth of July morning, the birds were pretty good at Frick Park but the flowers, insects and an amazing mushroom were even better.
Humidity beaded the edge of a leaf while a great spangled fritillary* (Speyeria cybele) fed on butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). (* see the comments. This might be a different fritillary than what I wrote.)
A spider hid among the wingstem leaves.
A Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) had woven itself through a chainlink fence. Despite its invasive nature, American goldfinches love its seeds.
This mushroom certainly caught our attention along the Nine Mile Run Trail. I think it’s a wood ear mushroom, Auricularia species, whose “ears” look like they are made of jelly.
If you know what mushroom this is — or if I’ve misidentified anything — please leave a comment with the answer.
Filling the pollen sacks requires static electricity, grooming and a bit of nectar to make the pollen clump.
When a bee lands on a flower, the hairs all over the bees’ body attract pollen grains through electrostatic forces. Stiff hairs on their legs enable them to groom the pollen into specialized brushes or pockets on their legs or body, and then carry it back to their nest.