|Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) and Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)|
|Flowering Dogwoods (Cornus florida) presaging autumn|
|Flowering Dogwood fruit|
|Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)|
|Goldenrods (Solidago spp.), bull thistles (Cirsium vulgare) and native grasses|
|Horse-nettle (Solanum carolinense)|
|Rose hips (Rosa spp.)|
|New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)|
We came across the poor American beech tree pictured below. It was completely surrounded by a dense carpet of beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana), a parasitic, non-photosynthetic plant of the Broom-rape family (Orobanchaceae).
|Beech drops flower spike (Epifagus virginiana)|
Looking for something in the woods to show the group, I overturned a downed log, hoping to find some redback salamanders (Plethodon cinereus). Instead, I found these two, large, handsome "tiger" slugs snoozing on the cool, damp ground. There was also a colony of termites sharing the log with the slugs.
Then it was back into the meadows.
|Indian-grass stems (Sorghastrum nutans)|
|Bumblebee on bull thistle|
The ginger spines on this two-inch caterpillar must be good protection; otherwise, what bird could resist such a tempting treat? Our Caterpillars of the Eastern United States key, an excellent but expensive book, has been mis-shelved, misplaced, or stolen, so I can't even hazard a guess to the caterpillar's identity.
|Black Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)|
My new walkers loved the Beech Springs Trail and vowed to bring some of their friends back with them to enjoy the walk.
P.S. Our area experienced a tremendous windstorm five days after the September walk. My staff reported that the crown of a huge tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) blew out of the canopy and fell across the trail just inside the woods near the wooden bridge, effectively blocking the path. It will take a few days to clean up the jumbled debris.