Our group in the field, smack in the middle of Ohio's only White Cedar Swamp. Many a slap was heard today - the sounds of mosquitoes being pulverized. The drawback to exploring interesting wetlands is sometimes the biting insect factor, but it's a relatively small price to pay.
This is one of the oddities being admired by the group in the last photo. Round-leaved Sundews, Drosera rotundifolia, are carnivorous plants. Their tiny leaves are beset with sticky hairs, each tipped with what looks like a tasty dew-drop. It isn't; rather, the "dew-drop" is the botanical counterpart of Elmer's Glue. Bugs are snared fast, and eventually digested by the plant. No wonder we were looking at this thing. Good they aren't the size of redwood trees. We'd all be in trouble.We had missed the Showy Lady's-slipper spectacle by about a week or so; they had all pretty much passed out of flower. Excellent compensation was provided by these Grass-pink orchids, Calopogon tuberosus. The meadows were copiously dotted with their bright pink blooms.
Other rare plants abounded. Here are two - one showy, one not. As is often the case, the non-showy one is probably far more important in this habitat than the beauty, if such comparisons should be made. The white-flowered species on the right is False Asphodel, Triantha glutinosa, a threatened species in the lily family. It is sparingly scattered about the fen meadows, and its scientific epithet, glutinosa, bears noting. That word means "sticky", and that it is. The upper reaches of asphodel stems are quite gluey, and one can found small insects stuck dead to the plants. The beginnings of carnivory? Hmmm...
The much less showy plant on the left is Walking Spikerush, Eleocharis rostellata. It is the dominant sedge within the Cedar Bog meadows, carpeting the wetlands with lush, dense cover. Most of what is visible in the backdrop is this species. Everything from Spotted Turtles to Massasauga rattlesnakes to endangered dragonflies hides within Walking Spikerush beds. The name? Because as shoots grow and elongate, the tips eventually arc over and touch the soil. This stimulates roots to form at the point of touch down, and new shoots emerge and repeat the performance. Thus, the plant "walks" about to spread itself. So successful is this mode of reproduction that little energy has to be put into the production of flowers and fruit.Insects were fantastic, as well. Some were obvious and in our face, like these Red Milkweed Beetles, Tetraopes tetrapthalmus. They were all over the patches of Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. Quite a showy member of the longhorned beetle family, but probably not the most tasty morsels running around out there, not that you'd be inclined to pop one in your mouth. Milkweeds have toxins that no doubt permeate these beetles, and they are telling us to back off with their bright colors and bold behavior.
All in all, an outstanding field day, and I appreciate everyone coming along, and the Ohio Young Birders Club for getting me out in the field.