(For pictures, click HERE)
Hi! I’m Herbie the hiking boot and today we went to the Bunched Arrowhead Heritage Preserve. It is a really cool place in Traveler’s Rest, SC and I never knew it was here. This preserve is 178.7 acres and is the habitat for the Bunched Arrowhead, an endangered plant because of the loss of habitat for it to grow in. While we walked around, we had to watch where we stepped because there were lots of poop around (dog and coyote that we know of) and who knows what else! I sure hate when that stuff gets on me because it sure stinks. And usually the hiker doesn’t smell it because his nose is further away than my nose is!
As we stood there and listened to Ranger Tim, we overlooked a meadow area, sometimes called a prairie or early succession field or old field succession. There will be a lot of mineral soil if it was plowed a lot. First there will be herbaceous stuff like asters and goldenrods. Lots of spiders will mean prey there.
We saw a thin legged wolf spider with an egg sac. We also saw tons of grasshoppers. The pictures will show many things that we saw such as morning glory, partridge pea (yellow flower), mulberry, staghorn sumac, black walnut, wild plum, rabbit tobacco, Queen Anne’s Lace (seeds feed mice and other small mammals. They are white multiple flowers and in the centers are a deep red which looks like where Queen Anne’s head would be with lace around the neck. Queen Anne had been beheaded.), Mullen (very medicinal plant, used as an antiseptic for wounds), sycamores, persimmon, sweet gum, honey locust (big thorns, birds can use these to store and spear prey), devil’s walking stick, maypop, verbena, and ferns.
I learned that sweet gum trees attract songbirds so I guess they are useful, even though I hate walking on those darn balls! The balls are actually the female part of the plant. They have actually developed some sweet gums that are all males but research shows that areas with these trees have high rates of asthma due to all the pollen they generate.
It was really cool when we came across a newborn box turtle. We think we saw the hole that it must have come out. If you look at their bottom shell, females are flat and males have a concave indentation on them which is necessary for mating.
After lunch, we went into the forest and learned how to identify ferns using a key. Good keys use reproductive structures and physical characteristic because you might be looking at a fern when the reproductive structures are not evident. I learned the following terms:
1. Frond is the whole fern leaf.
2. Blade is the leafy part of the frond.
3. Stalk or Stipe is below the blade.
4. Bipinnate means that it is like a leaf on a compound leaf.
5. Pinnatifid means the leaves are not individual and are lobed like an oak leaf; not divided.
We broke into small groups and had to identify five different ferns which were: Club Moss, Netted Chain Fern, Christmas Fern, Ebony Spleenwort, and Southern Lady Fern. There are over 800 ferns in the world and 34 are found in Mountain Bridge Wilderness.
Two books that Ranger Tim recommended were Peterson’s Guide to Ferns and Fern and Fern Allies of North America (Smithsonian Press) by David Lellenger.
Then we went to the piedmont seepage area where we saw the Bunched Arrowhead. They were in the water and not blooming at this time but they bloom in the spring. We had to crawl under the barbwire fence to get to them. I guess that fence is too keep people away and I’m glad that no one used me to step on the fence so people could get through.
As we walked around, we saw lots of bluebird boxes and we saw one at lunch on a power line. Did you know that bluebirds can have five broods a year? Each time they have less and less eggs but usually have five or six eggs the first time. European starlings like their boxes too. Boy, if I saw a starling in a bluebird box, I would probably nudge it with my toe and scare them away!
We walked to the area where DNR holds controlled burns. It was filled with many different grasses. On the way back we walked over an earthen dam and looked down on the bladderwort in the water.
Then everyone saw a red shouldered hawk but I didn’t because I was too low on the ground and by the time I looked up, it was gone. But I did see the “black knot” on the tree which looks like dog poop on a branch. I will remember this because when they tried to identify the verbena, someone said it was “verbena on a stick.”
Well, it was a full day and by the time we got back to the cars, my feet were tired. I’m just glad my laces stayed tied (most of the time). Sometimes when they get tired, they tend to act up!
(Here is another example of using creative writing to share facts that are learned. Students can choose the item or you can assign an item. It would be interesting to have different items tell the same story because then you can talk about perspectives. Maybe a hiking stick or binoculars might tell a different story than the hiking boot did. Have you ever done this? Did it work? If so, please share your experiences.)
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original Picture: Bunched Arrowhead by Pat Hensley