Sunday, October 05, 2008

Early fall woods

It's too early for the self-avowed leaf peepers to start driving, ever slowly, through the Ozarks to photograph the splendid Kodachrome display our oaks and hickories offer. It's too late to see most of the sunflowers in bloom, but a trip to Ozark woods in early October can guarantee goldenrods and asters in full glory.

But I spent the day in the outer Ozark Border region just outside of Cape Girardeau in search of beech drops, little parasitic plants that come up around beech trees in early fall. On one slope of these woods, beech, cucumber magnolia, pignut hickory and tulip poplar trees cling to the sandy soils, representing the northern and western reaches of their range. A short hike away, maybe 5 miles, Ozark species dominate: white oak, dogwood, redbud, usual hickory suspects. We focussed on the Appalachian side of the woods where the beech drops grew. Solid Ozark woodland asters and goldenrods were absent here. No Aster patens, no Solidago ulmifolia, no Aster anomalous, all of whom I've seen literally by the thousands a few miles away. Oh, and, yes, of course, I'm aware all the asters have been renamed, but we go by Steyermark in my small world.

Because I've been on the road all day, and because I'll be on the road all week, I'm posting a whole mess of pictures of asters and goldenrods (and I'll throw in beech drops for a lark) taken from woodlands all over the Ozarks in the past two weeks. Goldenrods and asters can be tricky to identify, as there are many, many of each in Missouri alone. I actually watched as two very competent botanists discussed the differences between two asters and never ending up with the name of the one in front of them. And all I know is that I have three aster species in my yard in Columbia, which make the bees seemingly very happy. These lovely fall wildflowers are at their peak right now, but no pressure...fall colors are just around the corner. (Posted: Aster ericoides, Aster pilosus, Aster anomalous, Aster turbinellus, Solidago petiolaris, and for the life of me I can't remember the pretty Solidago at the bottom of the page. It's a goldenrod....)

1 comment:

Beetles In The Bush said...

Those beech woods are a special place - I've found several typically eastern species of beetles there that are not known from anywhere else in the state. I've got a pub coming out soon with details.

Luv the beech drops photo - I've never seen them.

regards -- ted