Tag Archive | animal

Pyrus calleryana ‘Glen’s Form’ ~ Chanticleer pear

Semen Tree

Another name for the Bradford Pear, and ornamental pear tree. Characterized by greenish-white flowers which smell like a cross between old semen, dirty vagina, and rotting fried shrimp. Common throughout the South, these trees are pleasantly located near eateries and other fine establishments.

“Oh darn, there goes my appetite, for the semen trees in front of the South Campus Dining Hall are in bloom.”

I love Urban Dictionary! It teaches me how to communicate with the yutes these days…

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Common Name: Bradford pear, Chanticleer pear, Aristocrat pear, Cleveland Select pear.
Family: Rosaceae (Rose family)
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 25′ to 35′ feet
Spread: 13′ to 16′ feet
Growth: Starts very upright and pyramidal, aging into an oval.
Bloom Time: April to May – before the leaves emerge
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium – Can tolerate drought after established.
Tolerate: Clay Soil, Air Pollution
Salt Spray:  Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: Intolerant
Flower: Showy
Leaf: The leaves are alternate, simple, 2-3 in. (5.1-7.6 cm) long, petiolate, and shiny with wavy, slightly toothed margins. Good Fall
Fruit: Small (1/4″ / .5 cm), green bunches of fruit which are hard until softened by frost. After which, birds eat and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Popular Cultivars and their differences:
Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ (Chanticleer callery pear):
Narrower habit, foliage has a red-purple fall color.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’ (Aristocrat callery pear):
Leaves have a wavy edge, less prone to branch breaking, however more susceptible to disease, fall color is inconsistent.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Autumn Blaze’ (Autumn Blaze callery pear):
Good, early fall color, more cold hardy, susceptible to fire blight, consistent good red-purple fall color.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Redspire’ (Redspire callery pear):
Fall color more yellow than red, oval form, less prone to branch breakage, however very susceptible to fire blight.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Jack’ (Jack callery pear):
Shorter and more narrower than species, yellow in fall.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’ (Bradford pear):
Upright, fast growing, sterile cultivar. Fast-growing causes many branch failures, which can contribute to failure of the tree eventually.

imageI’m actually not particularly a fan of the pear, although I do love the true fruit kind. Pyrus communis ‘Williams pear’. I have a gnarly, old one, too tall to pick from in my yard. Occasionally, a squirrel will leave one on the ground and I’ll get to eat it.

Sadly, this ornamental tree is one of my boss’s favorites. We plant it in droves. Frowny face. He likes to line the driveways, flank patios and front doors with them. Yes, they are pretty, however there are many alternatives to white blooming, spring trees (Read Below) When these pears are in full bloom, many folks notice a foul smell. Even famed Horticulturist Dr. Michael Dirr calls the smell “malodorous”. Others have described the smell as rotting fish, chlorine or semen.

In 1858, a French missionary named, Joseph-Marie Callery (1810–1862), collected this plant in China and documented it’s existence. In the early 1900’s, the U.S. was having problems with their common fruiting pear (pyrus communis) succumbing to fireblight. In 1917, Callery pear seed was brought in from China aimed at developing a fireblight resistance for the species. It wasn’t until the 1950’s, that the Callery pear was perfected and marketed in U.S. as a promising, new ornamental tree, leading to monumental landscape plantings. During the 1980’s, concerns about its structural weaknesses and its escape into our native forests began to surface.

Callery pears are remarkably resistant to disease and blight, imagealthough they are regularly killed due to their naturally excessive growth rates causing them to be weak-limbed. Strong winds, ice storms and heavy snow are the chief culprits of pear deaths. Some cultivars, such as ‘Bradford’, are particularly susceptible to storm damage.

Many states now dealing with escaped invasive pears include Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. (Invasive.org is a great source for invasive species information in your area)

The reason they have become a problem in states like mine is the vast amount planted by landscapers and although folks think these pears are sterile, they really aren’t. In general, the various cultivars are unable to produce fertile seeds when they are self-pollinated, or even cross-pollinated with another tree of the same cultivar. However, if different cultivars of Callery pears are grown within an insect’s pollination distance (300′ ft – 100 m), they can produce fertile seeds, which birds will efficiently disperse. In addition to the previous method, fertile pear varieties are commonly used as the rootstock for grafting ornamental varieties. If the grafted crown is damaged, the fertile rootstock will grow out, producing fertile fruit. These two factors, among others, have contributed to the pear spreading into natural areas and becoming an invasive problem.

Here’s a list of wonderful alternatives to planting a pear:

Red horsechestnut ‎- Aesculus x carnea

Serviceberry – Amelanchier × grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’

American hornbeam – Carpinus caroliniana

Redbud – Cercis canadensis ‘Alba’ (a white variety)

Yellowwood – Cladrastis kentukea

Dogwood – Cornus kousa, Cornus racemosa, Cornus alternifolia

Ironwood – Ostyra virginiana

Blackgum – Nyssa sylvatica

Chokecherry – Aronia melanocarpa

Blackhaw viburnum – Viburnum prunifolium

American fringetree – Chionanthus virginicus

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Chippy Chipmunk ~ Tamias striatus

These guys are my adorable little bird seed removers. No one likes weeds  under the feeders 🙂

The genus name of Tamias is Greek for treasurer, steward, or housekeeper, surely because of how this little critter cleans up all the seeds on the ground, storing them for winter dining. The common name may have been spelled chitmunk from the native Odawa (Ottawa) word jidmoonh, meaning “red squirrel”.

Their average size is 2-6″ inches long, with a 3″ inch tail and weigh less than a pound. Chipmunks will live to an average of 2 – 3 years in the wild, however can easily double that in captivity. Sadly, these cuties are on the bottom of the food chain. Chipmunks will gather food along the ground, most times staying out of wide open spaces. They prefer areas with underbrush, evergreens, and downed trees, where they can hide from predators like bird of prey, foxes, coyotes, and snakes.

        

Clearly, this is a little boy chipmunk 😉  ||  A group of chipmunks is called a scurry.

These little engineers like to dig two types of burrows: shallow burrows for fast get-aways while foraging, and deeper burrows where the entrance can be up to 20′ feet long, where they nest, store food and hibernate. Chipmunks rarely venture further than 1,000 feet from their burrows at any time.

They feed on insects, nuts, berries, seeds, fruit, they also eat other creatures such as insects, baby birds, frogs and bird eggs, which they stuff into their stretchy cheek pouches and and bring back to their burrows to store.

I used to hear these chirps and think they were birds.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 

 

A great visit to Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah

A few weeks before our trip to Savannah, Georgia, I was looking through the things to do and came across the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. Sadly, when I went to their website, I learned that hurricane Mathew had been very mean to them. Many habitats were damaged. Thankfully, these were the animals day areas, and their nighttime digs were safe, as were all the animals.

Lucky for us, they opened the day after Christmas, with only the wolf exhibit being off limits. So, off we went!

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Many of these animals cannot be returned to the wild, for one reason or another.

Many of the birds cannot fly. On the cages, they have signs that inform you that birds that cannot fly like the security of the small space.

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It was almost low tide here, the water was slowly getting lower, exposing the oysters.

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Hey look! It’s BOB!

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Bob-Cat!

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Hello, hello, hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there any one at home?

The red fox was supposed to be in here. Maybe in the little house.

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WHO!

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Thee were two bald eagles in here. There was a long tree trunk that went from the ground to this high roost.

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Bison bison.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

This is a 4 mile, drive through wilderness preserve. How cool is that?! There are alligators here, so staying in the car was just fine with me.
This area was originally used to grow rice. Settlers cleared the area of trees, and built levees to control the water.
The water here is what is called brackish, a mix of saltwater and fresh. There is a delicate balance going on. Not too much salt, not too little.

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This channel of freshwater from the Little Back River was made by the US Army Engineers. The area was getting too much saltwater up from the Port of Savannah as modern needs enlarged the port. The USACE  diverted freshwater (very salt free)  from farther up the river to balance out the ecology.

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Unknown butterfly. Folks stop to see what I’m taking photos of, and after they see is not a gator, they pass by, all pissed off. 😛
The speed limit was 20, however hubby just allowed our truck to idle at about 4.5 MPH. There are limited areas to pull over to let folks pass. We pulled over often as folks just flew past us. Why go through such a beautiful area so fast?! Gators were the main attraction. Folks wanted to get to the next gator and didn’t care about anything else.  When a gator was found, a “parking cluster f**k” would occur. No one understands what pull off the road means. And what is it about leaving doors open? You’re not a cop requiring a shield, an escaped fugitive or a standing start racecar driver. Close your dang door!
I didn’t bring two important things on this trip… binoculars or a charged real camera. I left my charger at home.. Illinois home. Gaaaa! So sorry you have to deal with camerone photos.

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Alligator Alley is a common name for roads down here!

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Yellow-bellied Sliders! My hubby has a great eye for finding things in the brush. It also seemed all the good stuff was on the driver’s side. I ended up getting in the back seat on his side for awhile to not miss anything!

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Tree tunnels. Love them! These are ‘Live Oaks’ (Quercus virginiana) covered with Spanish moss. They call them live oaks here because the new leaves push the brown ones out, thus they are never really leafless or ‘dead’. Over the pond, they have evergreen oaks…. these are different.

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Snowy Egret. Another snow bird! These guys live by me in the summer and take the long flight down here seasonally. They were everywhere!

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Here’s what everyone came for! Mr. Crocodile! 🐊 We spotted this guy about 20 feet away from the road. My guess is he’s about 15′ long. The cool temperatures (50F-70F) keep them kinda sluggish and they generally only come out to sun themselves.

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Unknown bird. This guy was right on the side of the road. Not afraid of me at all, hence I was able to get a few closer shots.

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Another tree tunnel.

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A beautiful line of oaks.

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Another beautiful, unidentified  butterfly

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Liverleaf Hepatica / Hepatica americana… I think! It looked like beautiful shamrocks.

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Not as big as the last one, however still a gator! A fellow tourist pulled up along side of us standing outside taking pix. He asked us in very broken English, “Cross?” And motioned across the road. I think gators were new to him! We nodded no and I made a sleepy type motion to him and he understood. He was safe.  Ha!  Just remember… I dont need to outrun the gator, I just need to outrun you!

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Such a beautiful area… I wonder what it looked like with when all of the trees were still here…

Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Border Collies – The Animal Kingdom’s Meteorologist

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Incoming!!!!!

I rarely have to check the weather to see if a storm is on the way, as Breck let’s me know by becoming ‘clingy’ (Clink-on dog) or hiding. I’ve written many posts about this already…

There is a prediction of 8″ of snow on the way to us. I found Breck hiding behind the boxes in the garage, after I had let him outside and then had a heart attack  when I couldn’t find him in the yard. Thanks, Buddy… not. When it comes to snowstorms it’s funny… He knows they are coming, however he doesn’t freak as much since there is no thunder. Rarely, do we get thundersnows, ie, thunder during snowstorms. Watch the video below about a meteorologist and his reaction to the rare phenomenon.

Cliff’s Version: The ingredients necessary for thundersnow are so exceptional that it’s estimated only .07 % of snowstorms are associated with thunder. In a 30 year study of snowstorms with lightning, meteorologists found there’s an 86 % chance that at least 6” inches of snow will accumulate within a 70 mile radius of the lightning.

I remember the first time we experienced a thundersnow. It had started to snow so we went out to get some energy (anxiety) out before the snow hit hard and filled the yard. All of a sudden a huge, varicose vein of a lightning covered the sky, then a very loud clap of thunder! It was super awesome to experience… well, at least for the humans. The fur kids were high-tailing it for the garage.

Animals might react to incoming weather events and natural disasters wp-1481903109197.jpgby using one or all of their five senses which are usually better than a human’s. Many weather occurrences generate sounds in the infrasonic range, too low for humans to hear, however well within the range of many animal species.

Scientists have observed animals being effected by barometric pressure and sound waves. Sea birds are frequently noted flying inland when the pressure drops before a storm.

I do believe animals can sense many types of weather or natural disasters. Read here about the animals in the area of the Asiatic tsunami of December 2004. Animals don’t think about paying bills, having the latest android, if they should dye their gray hair, quit their job… They only need to think about survival; food, water, shelter, procreation, safety. When that’s all you have to think about, you get good at learning about these things. Stupid humans… why do we clutter ourselves so??

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

The Prince Who Watches Over My Mint

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Every year I grow mint for my Mojitos. I tend to just put it in a pot so it doesn’t go crazy and take over everything in my yard. The past few times I came out to water, this little Prince has been snuggled up under the rim. He must really like it up here as the first time I saw him, I thought he was stuck and moved him just outside the pot. He can clearly jump pretty high to get up here and since he fought so hard to get back up here, here I will leave him.

Isn’t he adorable?

American Toad – Anaxyrus americanus


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl