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  1. Organism of the Day

  2. Sweet Gum The hardened sap, or gum resin, excreted from the wounds of the Sweetgum can be chewed on like chewing gum and has been long used for this purpose in Southern United States as a substitute for chewing gum.The sap was also believed to be a cure for sciatica, weakness of nerves, etc. Liquidambar styraciflua

  3. Spotted Salamander • Two rows of yellow/orange spots down length of body • Ability to drop tail to distract predators and generate new one • Habitat: deciduous forest near vernal ponds, and sometimes in upland forest and in mountainous regions; usually stay underground in the burrows of small mammals, under rocks and logs, or in wet leaf litter. • eat small invertebrates such as worms, spiders, and insects. • State amphibian of South Carolina • recently been found that its embryos have algae living inside them in a mutualistic relation Ambystoma maculatum

  4. Tulip Poplar • Liriodendron tulipifera • Tallest eastern hardwood • IN same family as magnolia trees • Called “yellow poplar” in lumber industry; also known as canoewood • Leaves are alternate and lobed • Often use to make organs as a substitute for pine

  5. 5-lined Skink • Eumeces faciatus • grows up to 8 inches long • Blue tail in juveniles only (females have paler blue tail; males have orange jaw during mating season) • Lives in wooded areas under logs and rocks • Diet of insects, spiders and other invertebrates • Preyed upon by foxes, hawks, • Able to lose tail when caught; will regrow • Illegal to remove from their habitat in Canada!

  6. White Oak • Quercus alba • Common hardwood tree • Grows up to 85 feet tall; lower branches often parallel to ground • Alternate leaves; acorns = nuts • State tree of Illinois • Charter Oak of Hartford, CT – pictured on back of state quarter • Linden Oak in North Bethesda, MD – oldest white oak at 275 years, and 95 feet tall

  7. American Robin • Turdus migratorius • Largest thrush in North America • Round body, long legs and farily long tail • Gray/brown birds with warm orange undreparts and dark head • Eat different foods at different times of day – earthworms in morning, berries in afternoon • Because they forage mainly on lawns, important indicator of chemical pollution • Bird call

  8. Red Maple • Acer rubrum • 60-90 feet at maturity • Smooth, light grey bark;older trees develop long scaly plates • Alternate leaves; Samara fruit • Ideally, moderately well-drained, moist sites at low or intermediate elevations, but will tolerate broad spectrum of areas • Largest tree in Michigan – 125 feet tall • Leaves are toxic for horses • Can be used for maple syrup production (but A. nigrum and A. sacchrum are preferable)

  9. Dragonfly • Order: Odonata (11 different families alone) • Large multifaceted eyes, two pair of wings, elongated body • Damselflies are similar, but hold their wings above their body; dragonflies hold them out to the side. • valuable predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, wasps • usu. found in marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because larvae (nymphs) are aquatic • Fastest insect (25-35mph; one species about 60mph) • Largest is Tetracanthagyna plagiata (around 9 cm long, 14 cm wingspan) Global distribution

  10. American Beech • Fagus grandifolia • 66–115 ft tall • smooth, silver-gray bark; distinctive twigs in wintertime (long and slender with overlapping scales) • Fruit = nuts in pairs in husk with four lobes • Shade-tolerant tree, found in mature forests in final stages of succession alongside maples, birch and hemlock • typically on moist well drained slopes and rich bottomlands • provides food for many animals (game birds, raccoons, foxes, deer, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, black bears, porcupines, and caterpillars. • Beech nuts were one of the primary foods of the now-extinct passenger pigeon • Heavy and tough wood, and usu. left alone unless you have a chainsaw • Medicinal uses (today - guaifenesin) and food preservation (liquid smoke)

  11. Cricket Frog <3 • Acris crepitans • generally assoc. with permanent bodies of water with surface vegetation • call of “gick, gick, gick” like two pebbles being clicked together slowly at first then picking up speed • Adults:1 inch; the male usu.smaller than female; patterns of black, yellow, orange or red on a base of brown or green. • Distinguishing characteristics: small size, dorsal warts, a blunt snout, a dark triangular-shaped spot between the eyes, and a ragged, longitudinal stripe on the thigh, extensive webbing from tip of the first toe and the next to last joint of the longest toe • Have some chameleon-like ability to change color to match environment • Insectivorous

  12. Flowering Dogwood • Cornusflorida • Simple leaves with distinctly curving veins; • Flower is actually bracts surrounding simple flowers; • Fruit – drupe (fleshy fruit with a pit); fruit is edible, although some spp. Are mildly toxic to humans • Many birds readily eat fruit in winter • found at the forest edge and popular on dry ridges. • Dense, fine-grained wood is use for artisan woodworking, gold clubs, walking canes

  13. Barred Owl • Strix varia • Length 40-63 cm (16-25 inches) Wingspan 96-125 cm (38-50 inches) • medium-sized gray-brown Owl streaked with white horizontal barring on the chest and vertical barring on the belly; round-headed with a whitish/brown facial disk and dark brown trim; brown eyes are, yellow beak is almost covered by feathers; long tail. • meadow voles are its main prey, followed by shrews and deer mice; will eat other small mammals, amphibians, fish, insects • prefer deep moist forests, wooded swamps, and woodlands near waterways. Territories are 85-365 hectares (213-903 acres). Pairs mate for life, and brood are cared for 4 months, longer than most owls. • Call is very distinctive, eight-syllable "Who, cooks, for-you? Who, cooks, for-you, all?"

  14. Sassafras • Sassafras albidum • Has three distinct leaves on same plant • 30-59 ft tall, slender branches • Smooth orange-brown bark • Fruit – blue-black, egg-shaped, • Dioecious (male and female trees) • Grows well in poorer soils (abandoned fields, roadsides, understory tree) • Many birds and small mammals supplement diet with fruit, host plant for Spicebush Swallowtail • Uses: flavoring for root beer, fragrances • One of main exports of colonial Virginia (second behind tobacco)  Jamestown exported a lot in early times (used to treat gonorrhea and syphilis)

  15. Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly • Papilioglaucus • 8 to 14 cm wingspan; 4 tiger stripes on top wing; females can be dimorphic (yellow with more blue on hind wing, or more black); gynandromorphic • Prefers red or pink flowers (daisies, asters, dogbane family, pea/bean family) • Lays eggs on many host plants (tulip trees, magnolias preferred) for caterpillars to develop • Caterpillars resemble bird droppings, but have developed ability to puff up thorax when threatened to resemble snake and scare off predators • Puddling – males congregate around mud, wet gravel and puddles to get sodium ions and amino acids from these sources which aid in reproduction

  16. Redbud • Cerciscanadensis • Grows to about 30 ft tall; dark brown bark with scales; alternate, heart-shaped leaves; pink flowers; fruit = legume • Common understory tree – need part shade and well-drained soil • Birds and deer eat seeds; bees can make honey from flowers • Can eat flowers on a salad, • Native Americans used the inner bark to make dark yellow dye; or to make tea to treat whooping cough, fevers, dysentery, and congestion. • State tree of • Oklahoma

  17. Northern Cardinal • Cardinaliscardinalis Finch • Large, long-tailed songbird with thick bill and prominent crest; 9 in. long, up to 12 inches wingspan • Males are bright red; females are pale brown with reddish tinge on wings, tail, crest • Males and females only mate for one season • Bird call: “cheer, cheer, cheer” or “birdie, birdie, birdie”; sometimes a distinctive metallic chip note • Prefer dense, shrubby areas along forests, marshes, ornamental landscaping, etc. • Feed on fruits (dogwood, wild grape, buckwheat, grasses, sedges, mulberry, hackberry, blackberry, sumac, tulip-tree, and corn) and supplementing diet with insects • Females are one of few North American birds that sing, probably to convey to male where nest is so he can bring food in, etc. • Ferociously defend territory, esp. during breeding (have been witnessed attacking reflections in windows and car bumpers for hours at a time.)

  18. Poison Ivy • Toxicodendronradicans • Deciduous leaves are trifoliate, almond-shaped and alternate on the stem, sometimes have a shiny appearance • Fruit = White berries (a drupe) • Common along forest edge, fields and rocky outcrops • Urushiol = compound that causes itchy rash in most people • Many birds will eat the berries, which can still germinate after passing through the digestive tract

  19. Copperhead • Agkistrodoncontortrix • Also known as mocassins • Length: 20–37 in; pale tan that grade darker at midline with lighter crossbands that darken towards the edges and sometimes have a dot in the middle. • relatively stout body and head is broad and distinct from neck; b/c snout slopes down and back, it appears less blunt than that of cottonmouth • Favors mixed woodlands and often found on rock outcrops and occasional swamp • Eat insects, frogs and lizards, which they will actively hunt with caudal luring • Ambush predators, and generally avoid humans (will “freeze” to avoid notice); will often give warning bite with no venom. • Bite symptoms: intense pain, tingling, throbbing, swelling, and severe nausea • "Contortrostatin“= halts the growth of cancer cells and also stops the migration of the tumors to other sites – another decade or so to develop drug

  20. Loblolly Pine • Pinustaeda • Loblolly = “low, wet place” • Makes up 50% of pines in SE • 90-110ft tall; 3” needles that last for 2 years on tree, (evergreen appearance) • Grayish-brown bark with elongate, irregular plates • grow well in acidic clay soil • Wood is used for plywood and lumber, as well as wood pulp; planted in large plantations • Many birds and animals will use this tree as cover and eat the seeds; endangered species that rely on the loblolly= red cockaded woodpecker (nest in old growth trees)

  21. Black Widow Spider • Latrodectusmactans • Shiny, globular abdomen with red markings; black or brown in color, about the size of a paper clip; males are smaller than females • Solitary spiders; females may prey upon the males after mating, but more the exception than the rule • Web lacks shape and form, but silk is stronger than most other arachnids; Constructs web on the underside of ledges, rocks, plants and debris, wherever a web can be strung • Shy and non-aggressive; most bites are defensive • Bite 15x stronger than rattlesnake’s: produce muscle aches, nausea, and paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult; usu. Not fatal unless it’s a child or an infirm individual • Prey consists of flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars; preyed upon by Mud-Dauber wasps

  22. Moss • Division of PLANT Kingdom, Bryophyta (12000+ spp) • Non-vascular plants (no xylem or phloem); absorb water and nutrients thru leaves • No flowers, spend most of life as gametophyte (haploid) and has separate male and female structures , either on the same plant or different plants • Grow chiefly in damp, shaded areas with acidic soil, although the specifics are particular to each species • Traditional uses: bedding, building materials, baskets, wound dressing, food preparation and fuel • Commercial uses: decoration, fuel, production of Scotch whiskey, wound dressing in WW1, gardening, “green” roofs worldwide

  23. Eastern Box Turtle • Terrapenecarolina • about 8 inches long • Highly-domed carapace; 4 claws on hind foot; hinged plastron that can close completely; more brightly colored than other subspecies • Males have redder eyes and slightly concave plastron (underbelly)and a longer, wider tail than females • Omnivorous (worms, slugs, berries, known to eat carrion) • One of slowest-reproducing and longest-lived species (sexually mature at 7-10 years; live 35-50 years) • Susceptible to human-induced problems (lawn-mowers, killed by cars, pet trade) as their habitats are slowly fragmented and destroyed

  24. Dandelion Taraxacumofficianale Biennial herbaceous plant with simple, lobed leaves that form rosette around central taproot Composite flowers produces seeds asexually, creating offspring that are genetically identical to parent; produce achene fruit Important to bees, butterflies and some larvae of butterflies Dandelion = “lion’s tooth” (Fr.) due to lobed leaves All parts of plants are edible, and leaves are usu. Blanched to get rid of bitterness Taproot nature is good to have in gardens because it brings minerals to surface for shallower plants MEDICAL: used for bile and liver problems; diuretic (although high in potassium); treating cancer and urinary tract infections

  25. Earwig • Forficulaauricularia • 12-15 mm brown body with cerci (pincers) on abdomen and short forewings • Nocturnal habit, omnivorous scavengers • Spend day in cool, dark inaccessible places (flowers, wood crevices, etc.) • Cause massive damage to crops (cauliflower, corn, cabbage, apples, pears, plum, etc.) • Can use natural enemies to keep populations smaller (parasites and fungi or bird predators) in place of all-purpose pesticides • Earwigs are a good thing – they keep aphid populations down and other agricultural pests • Most people don’t like their foul odor and appearance as they take up residence in homes

  26. Northern Red Oak • Quercusrubra • 80-110 feet tall; can live more than 300 years • Single, lobed leaf with pointed with seven to eleven pointy-tipped lobes that alternate on branches: high in tannin, which hinders decomposition • Acorns provide food for many animals including ruffed grouse, nuthatch, blue jay, wild turkey, red, gray and fox squirrels, bears, deer, raccoons • Very important timber tree – used for furniture and flooring; however, the pores are so large in this wood that smoke can be blown from end to end on a plank, so it is susceptible to moisture infiltration and is not ideal for outdoor uses or boatbuilding.

  27. Wild Turkey Meleagrisgallopavo • Large, dark ground-dwelling bird (36-44 in); bare head and neck; fan shaped tail; male has red wattle that gets brighter when displaying • Found in hardwood or mixed-conifer forests with scattered openings • Diet: Acorns, nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, buds, fern fronds, salamanders • Populations dropped drastically in early 1900s due to hunting and habitat loss; stocking programs have reintroduced wild turkeys in every state except Alaska • Ben Franklin wanted the turkey for the national bird because he thought it was more dignified.

  28. Blue Jay • Cyanocittacristata • Brilliant blue with white spotting and black necklace; 11 inches long • Found in forests (esp. with oaks) orchards, parks and gardens • Omnivorous (likes acorns and beechnuts, and is a bully at the bird feeder, overstuffing it’s beak) • Often the alert system for the bird community • Bird call is distinct “jay jayjay” but can mimic frogs croaking and even hawk’s cries • Blue jays are known to take eggs out of other nests and eat them.

  29. Virginia Creeper • Parthenocissusquinquefolia • Five palmately compound leaflets along a woody vine that can climb to heights of 20-30 feet using tendrils with strongly adhesive pads on the ends • Berries are moderately toxic to humans, but are an important winter food for many birds • Grows anywhere – sun or shade, up trees or along the ground; used as ornamental plant but can choke out local plants • **Grows alongside POISON IVY, and often mistaken as such • Bark and twigs once used to make cough syrup; roots used to treat diarrhea

  30. Spring Peeper • Pseudacris crucifer • 1-1.5 inches long; light brown or gray with darker marking making an “X” on the back; suction disks on toes allow them to crawl up surfaces, but tend to stay on forest floor; vocal pouch on the front to allow males to make peeping sound to attract females • Nocturnal carnivores – ants, spiders, beetles, flies • Found near woodlands and need swamps, marshes or ponds to reproduce • Sometimes known as pinkletinks or tinkletoes regionally • Nighttime sound associated with spring  •

  31. Opposum • Didelphisvirginiana • Soft, gray fur with white face; prehensile tail; long snout and 50 teeth (most of any N.Am. Animal); opposable clawless thumb on hind foot; Marsupial • Very short life span – about 2 years • Rarely transmit disease to humans – rabies doesn’t survive in possum due to low body temp, nor does Lyme transmit • Omnivorous, with very few predators. • Will feign death when experiencing extreme fear

  32. Lichens (fungus + algae) • Symbiotic relationship b/w fungus and alga (mostly mutualistic) – classification of lichen based on the fungus involved • Fungus encompasses alga completely, even penetrating algal cells • Able to survive in low-water environments (even tolerate dessication - poikilohydric), getting nutrients from rain and dust • Scientists monitor lichens for environmental metal contamination, ozone depletion and effects of air pollution • used in making dyes (purples and reds) and perfumes, as well as in traditional medicines (primitive antibiotics) • Can be used as food source (reindeer lichen, Iceland moss – cooked as a bread or porridge) • Most yellow lichens are poisonous!

  33. Catfish • Large order of fish Siluriformes– Virginia has 4 species – blue catfish, white catfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish • Typically has no scales, and “whiskers” called barbels which are used to locate food in conjunction with chemoreceptors on their body; many have “stings” in their fins • Generally omnivorous and eat other fish, mollusks, insect larvae, and even small terrestrial animals that have been washed into the river • Prefer slow water with strong currents, and like to hide in underwater debris • Largest blue catfish was 130 pounds in Missouri; largest flathead catfish was 123 lbs (July 2010) • The largest catfish species is in Asia, the giant Mekong catfish, and the record catch is 693 lbs • Beware the Candiru in the Amazon…

  34. Wisteria • Wisteria frutescens • Alternate leaves, pinnate with 9-19 leaflets; american plants have smooth seed pod (poisonous?); showy blue-violet flowers • Can grow in poor soils, but prefers well-drained, fertile, moist soil • Asian cultivars can be considered invasive species in SE because of its ability to choke out other species • Can be grown from seed but may take decades to mature and bloom, so usually grown from cuttings • Seed is diuretic, can be used to make paper, but mainly used for landscaping and aromatherapy • Largest plant is in California – 1 acre large and estimated to weigh 250 tons, planted in 1894

  35. Christmas Fern

  36. American Toad • Bufoamericanus • 2-3.5 inches; 1-2 warts on spots and spotted belly • Tadpoles are black, poisonous to many fish • Parotoid glands secrete bufotoxin, which is mildly irritating to human skin and dangerous to smaller animals when ingested • Require semi-permanent pond to live and reproduce; prefer dense vegetation and hide under rocks, etc. • Very docile, and make good “pets” • Their diet includes crickets, mealworms, earthworms, ants, spiders, slugs, centipedes, moths, and other small invertebrates

  37. Sycamore • Platanusoccidentalis • 98-130 feet tall • Mottled bark as pieces slough off; alternate leaves; achene fruit • Fibrous roots usually prefer riparian zones and wetland areas. • Planted as a shade tree b/c is grows rapidly, but susceptible to fungus disease • Wood is heavy and difficult to split; used for furniture and interior of houses or butcher blocks • Some trees grow large and branches snap off easily

  38. Black Rat Snake • Elapheobsoleta • Largest snake in Virginia • Grows up to 8 feet long; black body with white belly • Found in forests, marshes, fields • Active during day in spring and fall, active at night during summer; hibernate in dens with copperheads • CONSTRICTORS; eat birds, eggs, lizards, frogs, other snakes, chipmunks, squirrels, small rabbits, mice, rats, bats voles, shrews, and other small mammals • Young rat snakes are • Known to coil and shake tails • As defense mechanism • (mimic rattlesnake)

  39. Broomsedge • Andropogonvirginicus • “whiskey grass” or “Virginia bluestem” • Perennial bunch grass that can reach 4 feet tall; dies back every fall; blue-green color with fuzzy edges • Grows well on open ground near roadsides and forest edges or salt marshes; often an early arrival of primary succession in disturbed areas; indicator plant of low P in soils • young plants can be used for grazing; wildlife can use it for cover and food if food supplies are limited • So named because it was cut and used as a broom • Often used for landscaping because it requires little water and turns a beautiful reddish-orange color in the fall • Plant is the larval host for Zabulon skipper

  40. Mourning Dove • Zenaidamacroura • 9-13 in. long with avg 17-in wingspan; Plump body, long pointed tail with short legs and a small head for the body; delicate brown with black spots on wings • Can be found anywhere but the very deep woods; prevalent in open country • Known to fly very fast, and bullet straight, with rapid ascents and descents • Diet is mainly seeds with occasional snail; when feeding, gorges itself on seeds then flies to perch to digest meal • Typically nests in dense foliage of evergreen, vines or orchard tree • Popular bird for hunting (20 million hunted annually)

  41. Red Cedar • Juniperusvirginiana • 10-40 feet tall at maturity • Tolerates many conditions, but does best in dry soils in full sunlight • Very winter hardy and makes great windbreak tree • Important for many birds during winter for food and protection • Dioecious – male and female plants • Use wood for fence posts, chests, pencils; berries flavor gin; Native Americans used to treat coughs, fevers, joint pain, skin rashes and dysentery