Oak Gall in Missouri

Willy Wonka gumball? World’s smallest dinosaur egg? Previously: Fifty Common Plant Galls of the Chicago Area ETA: Thanks to the lovely website iNaturalist.org, I’ve been informed that the gall may belong to the species Atrusca quercuscentricola, a gall wasp that forms galls on the leaves of post oaks, one of the most common trees in …

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Hinged Companions

For the next few weeks, I will be conducting tree surveys in Missouri – tramping about through the woods and sleeping in what will probably end up being a combination of rustic cabins and motels. I’m currently drafting this blog post while sitting near my very warm wood-burning stove in a small cabin a good …

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Fall Prairie at Jay Woods

One of the brightest prairie flowers blooming right now is New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), here with the ellipsoid (egg-shaped) seed heads of grey-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), whose seeds, by the way, smell pleasant enough to rid your hands of snake musk if you ever happen to be looking to remove that particular odor from …

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Prescribed Fire from Above

While working on a grant for restoration activity at Wolf Road Prairie earlier this year [Eliminate Phragmites Campaign!], I noticed a burn from this past spring was visible on Google Earth! Here is what the prairie normally looks like from above: and here is the photo from March 12th of this year. The sidewalks built …

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Knowing America

The following is a quote by botanist Gerould Wilhelm, in the book A Natural History of the Chicago Region by Joel Greenberg. He is recounting an early experience from his time with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, assessing whether different areas were suitable (low-quality enough) to dump dredge materials. We visited thirteen sites that …

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Glaucous Boxelder

Above demonstrates the glaucous/waxy bloom on a boxelder sapling (Acer negundo). This epicuticular wax functions as a hydrophobic barrier, preventing excess water loss in the new green growth of many plants. The slippery surface of a waxy bloom can both defend against and attract tiny herbivores (e.g. insects). In some cases there is a mutualistic …

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Marking Turtles

Marking turtles at the Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area / University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Field Station Field Herpetology class. All we found were painted turtles (Chrysemys picta). Some we found had been marked before by previous classes, some not, which gave us an opportunity to learn how to notch the marginal scutes to track …

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