Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monster plants and little friends

We have entered that part of the year where the monster plants dominate the trail. I'm talking about the ragweed. The GIANT ragweed that is 12 or more feet tall looming over us with its spikey florets (right photo near mile 10). This is a shrubby, messy looking plant, but more to the point: It is responsible for untold misery in hay-fever sufferers. It is a wind-pollinated plant, and when you are 12 feet tall, you catch every breeze, if you catch my drift.

Fortunately for those of us with limited allergic reactions, there are other, nicer, features of the mid-september W&OD. One of my favorites is Gaura. The blossoms are only open early in the morning...they are wispy and butterfly-like. The plants are also big, but not as tall as the giant ragweed. Maybe 4-5 feet tall and covered with white-pink blossoms (left photo just east of Cedar Lane).

Most exciting for this time of year are our little friends, the Monarch butterflies. The females laid their eggs on our milkweed plants in mid August and now we need to try to NOT MOW THE MILKWEED before the little ones get through this critical life phase. The Monarchs have human friends as evidenced by the signs and flagging at several points along the trail (below, near mile 11).