Tag Archives: Plants

Magnolias are in bloom

Actually, they have been blooming for weeks now. It seems to take them a while to open fully, possibly because they are just so enormous. There are magnolia trees everywhere around here, and the scent is wonderful.

  • Image of two enormous fully opened white magnolia blossoms, demonstrating large, dense cone of carpals and stamens, as well as matchstick-like stames which have fallen from the main cluster and collected in bottom petals
  • Image of two enormous fully opened white magnolia blossoms with a hand for size reference (hand is about the size of a single large outer petal)

I purposely included my hand in one of the shots in order to provide a size comparison. These are *big* blossoms. They rival even the sycamore leaves I photographed last fall (and will post about at some point), one lobe of which was about the same size as my shoe.

Here is a magnolia blossom that has not opened up yet.:

Partially opened large, white magnolia blossom, petals still curved in on each other, being held upright by a hand

And here is a little slideshow showing a close-up of the interior of a magnolia blossom:

  • Close-up of interior magnolia blossom, showing dense collection of carpals curling up like calamari from a cylindrical base of pale yellow stamens
  • Close-up of interior magnolia blossom, showing dense collection of carpals curling up like calamari from a cylindrical base of pale yellow stamens
  • Side view, close-up of interior magnolia blossom, showing dense collection of carpals curling up like calamari from a cylindrical base of pale yellow stamens
  • Close-up of interior magnolia blossom, showing dense collection of carpals curling up like calamari from a cylindrical base of pale yellow stamens, also showing stamens that have fallen down into a cupped petal, looking like small matchsticks with pale yellow stick-like bodies touched by deep purple at one end

The curly bits on top that look surprisingly like calamari are called carpels (part of the female part of the plant) and the narrow, yellow, stick-like parts that make up the base are called stamens (part of the male part of the plant). As I discovered, the stamens fall out en masse with the slightest touch, and tend to collect in the bottom-most petals of the flower. I think they look rather like matchsticks.

Here you can see the blossoms juxtaposed with the beautiful, glossy leaves:

Close-up of magnolia tree featuring two large, open, white blossoms and a number of large, shiny, green leaves

Other beautiful plants still in bloom include the coral honeysuckle (at least, I think that is what this is):

Coral honeysuckle from the side, featuring scarlet trumpet-like flowers

and these tiny, daisy-like flowers. Unfortunately I was unable to identify them because I spotted them while walking around my building at work, and didn’t have a flower ID guide with me. They look rather like ox-eyed daisies, so I’m assuming for now that they are some kind of daisy.

Collection of small, daisy-like flowers with many narrow white petals circled around a yellow center

Also on the subject of the beautiful area around my building, check out the woods that nestle right up against it:

Dense woods, with coniferous trees in the foreground, and deciduous in the background

I love it. I just wish I had an office that looked down on the woods rather than the parking lot. Our HR guy has an office on the first floor overlooking the forest and spots snakes all the time. I love watching snakes move, especially through the woods. They look like they are sailing across the forest floor.


Poison Ivy: Is it everywhere? (I think it might be)

While generally I have enjoyed living in North Carolina, there is one aspect of life here that I have difficulty dealing with (okay, a few, starting with the political climate and followed by the heat), and that is all the POISON IVY!

It is unbelievable. The stuff is everywhere. I can’t even get into the woods behind my apartment anymore because the stuff is so thick. I don’t just mean that there is a patch of it- there is a veritable garden. As if some urushiophile planted it, lovingly watered it everyday, sang to it, and read it bedtime stories until it grew as lush and thick as a miniature poison ivy jungle.

Think I’m kidding? Here are some pictures of the area behind the apartment immediately past mine:

  • Patch of poison ivy
    Yes, that's all poison ivy
  • Patch of poison ivy
    And still more
  • Patch of poison ivy
    How healthy they all look!
  • Patch of poison ivy
    Endless poison ivy plants
  • Patch of poison ivy
    All the way up the hill
  • Patch of poison ivy
    They all look so loved

Nearly every plant in these pictures, except for some plants on the periphery and the English ivy hiding below, is a poison ivy plant.

There is also a sort of path of mini plants that are making their way towards my neighbor’s apartment. If they turn to the right at all, they’re history.

Trailing row of small poison ivy plants 

All this poison ivy is really a shame, because there are some interesting plants that are now unreachable due to the poison ivy menace. For instance, this baby Devil’s Walking Stick, visible below in the picture below (which is fairly blurry because I had to keep my distance from its immediate neighbors):

Picture of a baby Devil's Walking Stick- a sapling with a thorny green trunk and an umbrella-like spread of leafy branches

Notice that its thorny trunk is green, rather than brown. I had never seen that before, that is until I noticed the new growth on this little sapling’s big brother, standing about 5 feet away and also surrounded by poison ivy, which I will take a picture of at some point (the picture came out too blurry to post). These awesome native Pacific West trees are all over in the woods behind my apartment, and some of them are quite large. At some point I will post some of the other pictures I have taken of these unique trees.

But first, I want to show the root (pun intended) of this expansive growth of poison ivy plants.

Wrist-thick poison ivy vine hanging off a tree

That wrist-thick hairy brown rope is the poison ivy vine. The hairs on the vine are actually the poison ivy’s aerial roots. I have read that you can kill the plant by severing the vine (although you have to be careful how you go about it), and I am definitely somewhat tempted to give it a shot. I would have to do some more reading though, and plan it out carefully so as not to expose myself to the poison ivy.

Anyway, as I was walking around my apartment building taking shots of poison ivy, I discovered this:

  • Unopened tulip poplar flower; 3 inches long, cone-shaped closed flower
    Unopened tulip poplar flower
  • Partially opened tulip poplar flower
    Partially opened tulip poplar flower
  • Partially opened tulip poplar flower
    Tulip poplar flower showing stamens and fruit

That (as identified for me by Sarah Haggerty at the last Plant Guild class), is a tulip poplar flower. Which means that there is a tulip poplar tree around my building, and once I started looking it was easy to spot. I’ll have to post a picture at some point, as they have very interesting leaves. The slider below shows some tulip poplar flowers I found at Lake Johnson (these are the ones Sarah identified):

  • Unopened tulip popular flower
    Awesome split tulip poplar flower
  • First tulip popular flower I ever found. It landed on the path next to me.

Speaking of the Piedmont Wildlife Center, the Wild Harvest class (Shoots and Summer Greens) yesterday was awesome, but that will have to wait for another post.

Before I sign off, I just wanted to post some pictures of my awesome new Coleman instant 4-man tent that is now set up on my patio. Perfect for mosquito-free summer chillin’, as well as providing a safe place for Ollie to enjoy the outdoors (he hasn’t been in there yet).

  • Coleman instant 4-man tent
  • Side view of Coleman 4-man tent