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Little Wonders in Spring

March 23rd, 2009

Lately our weather is so variable, with each day different from the rest- sounds like spring!  Today it’s cool and windy with some heavy rain the forecast.  It’s such a great time of year though- and we’ve been enjoying the time outdoors.  A walk through the forest yields some interesting sights, especially down at ground level.  We found ourselves admiring several of the Bryophytes… non-vascular plants that we call mosses.   We wander around and try not to step on them, and really have no idea what species or type they are… “Dad, what kind is this?”  “Ah… it’s one of the mosses.”  “Yeah, but what kind?!”  “Oh, there’s really so many…”  “So, you don’t know, is that it?”  “Ah, well, yes- I really don’t know, because…um, there’s so many… oh, Hey! Would you look at that bird over there!”

A bright green patch of moss looks so soft and inviting- there’s a rock in the middle of this patch.  Soft moss, soft moss, soft moss… reminds me of Tiger and Kipper.  Did you ever watch Kipper the dog?  Great little British cartoon.

forest-moss-in-missouri2

The tiny sporophytes sticking up from this moss species look like strange hairs on some green beast. 

moss-sporophytes

Another moss species has a different look and shows what we might call “moss flowers” but instead they are perichaetia – essentially organs in which the reproductive cells develop and fertilization occurs.  Very different from flowering plants with seeds.  Each little “tree” below is only as wide as a pinky finger, and as tall as a thumbnail- about the same scale as the fingertips in the photo above.  It’s very soft too…

forest-moss-in-missouri

We also found the first wildflower on our property last week- a wild Bluet. This is a tiny little flower found growing in patches- the young boy noticed it first and I was surprised I was sitting next to quite a few of them.  Well, not so suprising without my reading glasses since they’re tiny!

wild-bluet

Wild Bluet (Hedyotis crassifolia)

Here’s my three-inch pocketknife for a sense of scale- these are really little.

wild-bluet-and-pocketknife

It’s fun to get outdoors in spring and see the many changes. Soon we won’t be able to keep up with it all. Leaves are starting to emerge, and the trees will be covered in a months time. The purple martins and barn swallows should be returning over the next few weeks too.

9 Responses to “Little Wonders in Spring”

  1. Ronon 23 Mar 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Beautiful photos… my daughter and I call the moss around here “nature carpet”. We love to feel how soft it is. Those tiny flowers are nifty, I’ll have to see if we have any one of these days.

    Ron

  2. Ed Abbeyon 24 Mar 2009 at 7:36 am

    Who knew that there were different types of moss? Just joking of course but even my wildlife biologist brother doesn’t know every plant identification even if he knows ten times more than I will ever know. There is just too much to learn in this big world and too little time.

  3. pamelaon 24 Mar 2009 at 8:45 am

    How can a day get any better when you spend it investigating with your child? My children are grown, but I was so lucky a few weeks ago to spend the weekend with my NJ kids. My grandson recently turned two, and everything is an adventure with him. We came along a small herd of deer grazing one afternoon- the expression on his face as they bounded away was amazing. I hate that we don’t get to have those adventures every weekend.

  4. Beauon 24 Mar 2009 at 9:43 am

    Ron- That’s great, nature’s carpet! I’ll have to share it with our son.
     
    Ed- Isn’t that the truth? Too much to learn, and such a big world. But it sure is fun trying- I’ve always loved learning.
     
    Pamela- That is so cool! I can’t tell you how much I identify with that… my son is still 8, but things are getting busier, and I know will only continue like that. The last few years we explored nearly every day, even if just around the house, and now it’s like competing with his other interests, homework, tv… He just loves exploring though, and I hope we can always find a little time to remember that.

  5. R. Shermanon 24 Mar 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I recommend Edgar Denison’s Wildflowers of Missouri from the published by the Department of Conservation. When I was in high school, it was our Biology II text for the fourth quarter where we had to identify wildflowers by family, genus and species. Alas, I’ve forgotten too much of what I learned then.

    Cheers.

  6. Sageon 24 Mar 2009 at 2:16 pm

    In a few more weeks, the woods aroudn here, especially the ravines, will be filled with tiny flowers! Nice post, that moss looks like a good place for a nap, in nature’s Holiday Inn

  7. Beauon 24 Mar 2009 at 8:21 pm

    R.- Thanks, that sounds like a great handbook- I’ll certainly check it out.
     
    Sage- Ha! Nature’s Holiday Inn… and carpet. I can see a quiet, warm, sunny spring afternoon near that spot.

  8. Edelweiss Transplantedon 27 Mar 2009 at 10:43 pm

    I miss bluets now that I’ve moved away. They have many other names — my favorite one is Quaker Ladies. They’re also called Star Violets and Little Innocents.

    Try smelling them sometime — they smell like cinnamon and cloves.

    Thanks so much for the photo!

  9. Beauon 28 Mar 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Edelweiss- I’ve never heard of those wonderful names… I’m going to try to smell them this week, and my son loves to smell flowers too- he will think that’s cool… at least for now! :)

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