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Flora identification

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While in college in central VT, I double-majored in botany and geology. Aside from being truly fascinated by these topics, I think truthfully it was an effort to follow an educational discipline that would allow me to spend lots of time outside.

One of my campus student jobs (along with being the slops guy at the tray return window in the cafeteria) was as a field collection assistant for my geology professor. He was (putting it mildly) obese- we're talking 400 lbs+! Consequently, he couldn't get out in the field in challenging terrain to collect samples for his Ph.D dissertation, so I was paid to go out and collect where he directed. While doing so I also collected specimens for my own botany courses, more specifically the Xantho (Yellow) Parmelia lichens which are abundant in the mid-Atlantic and New England states.

Although my career path didn't take me into the sciences I still retain a curiosity about identifying flora wherever I happen to be. On a canoe trip I make sure to find the time to admire and photograph plants for later identification. Today, while it's cold and rainy outside, I was looking through photos of my last trip in late September 2021 to the St. Regis Canoe Area in the Adirondacks, and came across this photo I took. It's located at site#1 Slang Pond.
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I started 'old school' with my copy of The Flora of Vermont;Seymour 1969, which is a dichotomous key to identifying nearly any flora. In a dichotomous key, the reader is asked a pair of questions, the answer to which directs one to the next pair of questions, and so on progressively to a more specific key for further identification.

Ultimately I landed at the Viburnam family of shrubs. It is the plethora of photographs and websites on the internet however which helped me identify (I think correctly) this species as Viburnam lantanoides; Hobblebush, Witch Hobble, Mooseberry http://versicolor.ca/nswfsOLDsite/species/Caprifoliaceae/VibLan/species.html https://wildadirondacks.org/adirondack-shrubs-hobblebush-viburnum-lantanoides.html

Hopefully, this little diversion of mine doesn't take you too far into the weeds (pun intended), but I know there are some of you who like knowing this sort of thing. While pondering this it occurred to me that birds like these berries, and of course, bird poop is a great distributor of seeds from one place to another. Therefore, this also answered a question that I've had about a photo from an earlier trip:
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This photo of a floating log at the put-in to Nellie Pond always made me marvel at the opportunistic nature of plants. Clearly it took a very long time for plants to colonize this floating host and it just dawned on me that birds would land on such a log and deposit the seeds they carried internally. I'm sure some seeds have evolved to require the digestive enzymes within a stomach to breakdown the seed coat and make it more viable to grow in a new place!
 
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I would like to have better knowledge of local trees for one thing. In general the more you know the more interesting nature gets.
BTW is that the paddle you got from Canoe Al? It's nice.
 
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I would like to have better knowledge of local trees for one thing. In general the more you know the more interesting nature gets.
BTW is that the paddle you got from Canoe Al? It's nice.
The paddle in the second picture? No, that's a cherry paddle I carved myself.

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Al's paddle, the JBS model (carved in Sassafras) is on the left in both pictures. My cherry beavertail on the right. I have since made another cherry paddle using Al's JBS blade as a pattern, but with my grip style seen in the first picture. I love Al's paddle http://www.woodstrip.wcha.org/paddle-order-form.pdf It's light, flexy, and his version of a Northwoods grip is interesting to experiment with. It's my first paddle with something other than a more common style grip.
 
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While not super gung-ho I also enjoy finding and identifying new flora. Or recognizing flora I'm familiar with in the (used-to-be) prairies of Iowa in what initially seem like odd locations (mountains of Arizona or Canadian canoe country). Just another thing to pay attention to while out and about. It's nice to be of a passing acquaintance with such things. Makes them seem like old friends that surprisingly pop up for a visit.

Alan
 
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Nice to know, for me, that my knowledge of northern species hasn't totally atrophied. One look and I thought, witch hbbble. Of course, when I did live in the north, I was always getting my feet tangled up in it, so I had lots of opportunities to look at it. :)

Putting together the sequence of events, seeing in real life how things happen, is a special joy.

I spent a lot of time in the woods up north and do miss it, at least the summers. :)
 
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I'm sure some seeds have evolved to require the digestive enzymes within a stomach to breakdown the seed coat and make it more viable to grow in a new place!
They certainly have and a great example of this close to home is Elderberry. In order to grow them in a nursery, they need to be soaked in acid to soften the seed coat.

As for the opportunistic / resilient nature of nature... I too love pictures that demonstrate this as they can also be inspirational. This is a favorite.
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The seed (at least to our knowledge) didn't complain about landing on the rock, it merely set about the task of overcoming the challenges that were unique to its existence.
 
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Okay, WP, but for this thread and especially as a Floridian you should be identifying the type of tree and the creeping flora upon it.

Right. Dad worked for National Audubon for 31 years, so I see birds first. Looks like a cabbage palm and cypress; I can’t see the creeper well but I’m going to assume poison ivy 😬
 
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I figured out by the age of 9, that being in the woods was the one place I felt most at home.
Studying forestry and range management allowed for a career of dealing with plants for a living. I have worked in every western state and spent part of 2 years in SE Alaska on the Tongass National Forest in old growth Sitka spruce and western hemlock forests.

My Dad had a ranch in Arizona for 30 years, where forage production was the name of the game. I have worked on a lot of mine reclamation sites over the years. A close friend collects wildland seed for a living. I took him on a raft trip in the woods of NE Oregon. On a week long trip we were able to identify every plant we encountered. No unknowns. No unks. It took awhile but it was worth it.
 
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The overall "best" course I took was in my freshman year. It was a field natural history class and we were out in the western Catskills at least once a week for 4 hours studying the flora & fauna of the area. My instructor was top notch and her reputation got me 3 extra credits when I transferred into a 4 year college after my second year. I still use so much of the knowledge I acquired in that class and have passed it along over the years to my students and clients when I was guiding. Nothing like a good field course to pique your inquiry skills.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

snapper
 
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Hi Snapper.
At the University of Washington we were in the field at least two days a week even in winter. One quarter was spent in the woods near Mt Rainier at the University owned field camp. We had practical instruction in how to use dynamite, drive a D-9 cat, how to pack horses, how to construct log buildings, and how to make topographic maps and throw a surveyor's chain. It was such a great experience to there in the 1970s. Now the University which had a College of Forest Resources, no longer even has an undergraduate degree program in forestry. There ought to be a law.
 
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ppine,

My undergraduate degree was also in forestry, from the University of California, at Berkeley. In between second and third year, we were all required to attend a 10-week field course, where we were exposed to some practical/useful skills. One requirement was to make a collection of 50 plant species. I finished mine fairly quickly, which included poison oak. I bragged to my fellow pre-foresters (they were all guys in 1967) that poison oak didn’t affect me, so I volunteered to collect and press it for everyone else. This hubris turned out to be a very big mistake on my part.
 
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My sister once told me stinging nettle didn't affect her. I told her I didn't believe her. To prove me wrong she tromped through a big patch with shorts and bare feet. I was right and she was itchy. Certainly not as painful as your poison oak incident.

I'm sure your class mates were just as sympathetic to you as I was to her.

Alan
 
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Most of us came from somewhere other than Berkeley. The first two years were basically a science program, that could be taken pretty much anywhere. Then, after summer camp, one transferred to Berkeley for third and fourth year. I grew up in Sacramento, and took my first two years at UC Davis. Berkeley was a game changer/eye opener for most of us middle class kids from the suburbs. But I found it to be politically/philosophically challenging and interesting.
 
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