CHAPTER 2 -- Open Area

This area is a bit like the original Post Oak Savannah.  A Savannah is an open grassland with scattered trees.

Dominating the open area are a few large Post Oaks, Quercus stellata. Even in the leafless state, the Post Oak is readily recognizable. It is a large tree with an irregular canopy and crooked branches. There is often a lot of dead wood in the canopy.

The leaves are distinctive as well, having one large lobe on each side. Often they are somewhat cross-shaped.

Oak flowers are small, inconspicuous, and wind-pollinated. The male flowers are produced in catkins early in the spring when the leaves are small.

One of the common spring herbs in this area is Chickweed, Stellaria media. A member of the Caryophyllaceae, it has five petals which are so deeply cleft that they look like ten petals.

Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica, is a delicate, beautiful member of our early spring flora. Dainty though the plants may be, however, they grow from deep-seated corms which are difficult to collect for specimens.

Crow Poison, Nothoscordum bivalve, is probably our most abundant spring wildflower, and it blooms profusely in the fall as well. It is often mistaken for the edible species of wild onions, but should be avoided as it is somewhat poisonous. It lacks the strong onion or garlic scent of true onions.

Mounds of bright yellow Buttercups (Ranunculus) can be found in damp spots.

A closer look at one of the flowers reveals the many stamens and apocarpous gynoecium.

Peppergrass, Lepidium virginicum, is a common weedy member of the mustard family. Its oval fruits which are called siliques can be used in food as peppery spice.

Winecups (Callirho‘ involucrata) are spring favorites--nothing else is quite the same color. Like all members of the Malvaceae or Cotton Family, Winecups have monadelphous stamens.

Beneath the calyx is an epicalyx, a collection of bracts. This is feature common to many members of the family.

This yellow Evening Primrose (Oenothera laciniata) is a cousin of the larger pink Evening Primroses common along roadsides.

There is a lot of dewberry (Rubus trivialis) in the park, both under the trees and in the open. The white flowers are typical of the rose family.

After the petals fall, the developing fruits can be seen.

They get larger..

... and larger.

Each is an aggregate of tiny drupes. Ripe dewberries are relished by animals and human snackers alike.

Chapter 3 - Sandy area and Ragweed (achoo!)

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