Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ant Chat Episode 40: The Second Annual New Jersey Ant Together

This is the video supplement to the Second Annual New Jersey Ant Together, a yearly event where we get together and look for ants. This year were were delighted to find Trachymyrmex septentrionalis which is the northern most fungus growing species in North America. Unfortunately summer is not their active period. The dark form of Formica pallidefulva was also present and had me confused because I live only a few miles south and they're more of a dull brass color. Aphaenogaster treatae was another new species to us, which is a lot bigger than either of us were used to seeing Aphaenogaster species. Dolichoderus plagiatus were another new species for the both of us. Another highlight was revisiting the Formica exsectoides mounds we saw last year.

Hairy Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata ssp. pulchra
Summer Sweet, Clethra alnifolia

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Witch Hazel Flowering

Well despite our region getting about ten inches of snow over the course of two days, the little Witch Hazel plant I planted decided to flower. It's only a few twigs currently so it's nothing special right now. In years to come though hopefully it will turn into a nice sized small tree/shrub. But that's what worries me.

There are two main species in the US when it comes to this genus. Hamamelis virginiana, grows to be 20' tall and flowers in winter sometime before the new year. Hamamelis vernalis, grows to be 10' tall and flowers sometime between January and April.

This particular shrub was a cultivar of which there are now dozens on the market, tweaking the flower and leaf color to all new extremes. I was told that this one was more closely related to the smaller H. vernalis but the bloom time is early, suggesting it's actually more closely related to H. virginiana. I'm grateful to have flower in winter regardless of when it blooms but I planted it right up front by the street light where a medium sized shrub would look good, not a tree. I may have to move this plant next spring.