Seminole wet prairie…

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Cypress Swamp Dome, thin as itis. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Outside the AhTahThiKi Museum on the Seminole Reservation in Florida is a mile-long boardwalk through a Cypress Swamp Dome. Prior to engineered draining of the Everglades in the 1930s this land was wet enough to canoe the wet prairie land, swamp. Seminoles canoed for hunting. This means of provision is no longer available, cattle farming is now the main product of the land. The floor is wet seven to ten months of the year, which is then the growing season for the Cypress trees. The Dome appears sparse allowing enough sunlight to sustain its lush fern ground cover.

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Fern rich floor. Copyright 2018 Pamela Bretberg

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Looking to the heavens. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Images copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Vernal Spring brings vernal pools…

Wetland's vernal pool copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Wetland’s vernal pool copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

It is officially spring today. Are you unclear about what this scientifically mean? Check out: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/100321-first-day-spring-equinox-2011-vernal-science/ .

In Chicago, spring meant snow flurries this morning. Tomorrow will be 60 degrees Fahrenheit followed by five days in 30’s and 40’s. Spring in Chicago is dynamic, confusing, and ever changing. I try my best each “spring” to wait for warmer days to arrive in May. Then when warmth occurs in April, I feel blessed.

In celebration of the Vernal Equinox. I share images taken this afternoon of “vernal pools” in our patch of Cook County Forest Preserve which is an official wetland area. This designation is best evidenced in the spring. For more information on vernal pools check out: http://water.epa.gov/type/wetlands/vernal.cfm.

Vernal pool copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Vernal pool copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Life tracks…

Beetle tracks copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

Bark beetle is a collective term for a variety of insects that tend to infiltrate trees with dead or dying bark and may inhabit stressed or weak trees insuring their demise. The biggest problem is that some beetles may attack live healthy trees nearby; so any infected dead trees should be removed as quickly as beetles are observed. University of Illinois Urban Extension names two beetles that might be responsible for the tracks in these images. They don’t mention attacks on Oak trees explicitly, but Maple, Mulberry and Serviceberry surround our forest’s Oak. The Oak trees would be the original residents of this natural savannah wetland. Some trees were planted decades ago to define the area as forest. Other trees were “volunteers” as my sister would say, establishing themselves from carried or blown seeds. So if the beetles were originally attracted to either of these neighbors then it’s reasonable to assume that they continued their existence using the stressed or dying Oak in the same space.

Dead Oak copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

It’s unclear which of the two beetles that IU’s Urban Extension site notes is responsible for the marks on these trees. Or it could be tracks from some other inhabitant.

  • There are numerous beetles that attack bark on trees and thus are categorized as bark beetles. Almost any tree is attacked by bark beetles, particularly that part that is dead or dying. Shothole borer (Scolytus rugulosus) attacks dead and stressed trees. It infests most fruit trees, serviceberry, ornamental fruit trees, mountain ash, elm, and mulberry. Corthylus spp. attack maples, dogwood, sasafras, azaleas, rhododendron and other plants.

    Oak tree remnants copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

  

Check out the following sites for more information.