The warm summer days were over much sooner than I had expected. The air got colder, the days shorter and I just want to stomp my foot down and roar, “SLOW DOWN!”
My Wild Boys love dinosaurs, and autumn is the time when I make dinosaur sweatshirts and tails for them to dress up. It had barely become October when my oldest started asking for a new dinosaur sweatshirt.
In between rainstorms, the weather has been beautiful and the autumn colors are in their full glory. The Wild Boys and I decided that it was time for an adventure, so we headed out to the Sourland Mountain Hunterdon County Preserve for a hike.Dinosaurs love to climb boulders!They are off!Sometimes, little dinosaurs need a bit of reassurance. I love holding hands with my brave dinosaurs as they exploreLittlest found an American Beech, Fagus grandifolia, nut.Summiting the highest point he can find!My big dinosaur reminds me of an iguana basking in the sun!Sourland boulders.Two dinosaurs planning some mischief!I love how this tree is growing directly on this rock. Where there is a will there is a way!White Rattlesnake Root, Prenanthes alba. American Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, seed capsule.American Witch Hazel flower buds. They will be blooming any day now!If there is a boulder, this dinosaur will have to climb it!The sulfur yellow buds of Bitternut Hickory, Carya cordiformis.Littlest Dinosaur points the way to go home!“What are you putting in your pockets little dinosaur?”Bitternut, Carya cordiformis, nuts!White Wood Aster, Eurybia divaricata (Aster divaricatus), looking so lovely in the October morning light.Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora, in fruit. Indian Pipe is a parasitic plant and receives its nutrients from a host rather than photosynthesis. The plant is white because it does not contain chlorophyll and as it ages and produces fruit, it turns brown.
Indian Pipe is a really interesting parasitic plant because it does not parasitize upon another plant, like Mistletoe and Dodder. Indian Pipe is parasitic on mycorrhizal fungi.
Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with their host plant, providing them increased water and nutrient uptake. The host plant provides the fungi with carbohydrates formed during the process of photosynthesis. Many tree, shrubs and grass species form these relationships with mycorrhizal fungi, and some of these relationships are so specific that only certain species of fungi will colonize the root systems of certain plants, while others are more generalists and will colonize multiple plant species.Red Oak, Quercus rubra, acorn!Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata, nuts!The bounty from our adventure!My big dinosaur wanted to give back the food he had gathered to the woodland creatures, so he carefully sorted each of the nuts and left them out on the rock to be found.