Saturday, December 26, 2009

Early winter, gray days

This pyracantha greets visitors to Silver Lake Recreational Park every winter. The berries are large and lusciously colored, but the plant itself climbs up through a sapling oak tree, and it is practically invisible until the berries begin to turn. When we see the occasional cedar waxwings in the park, they are usually dining on these berries.

The second picture is looking up through the branches of an oak tree draped with Spanish moss. Spanish moss is an epiphyte, an air plant, living on a host plant but drawing its food from air and rainwater. For some reason the oaks here have not grown proportionately with the Spanish moss, and the trees are overwhelmed, constantly dropping limbs heavy laden with moss. The moss has a reputation for harboring red bugs, but my sources tell me otherwise. Chiggers (aka red bugs) only infest the plant when it lies on the ground. If you ever get a chance to inspect Spanish moss up close, take a single strand and lay it out so you can see how it grows. Another fantastic child of Mother Nature!

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