Mother's Day hikers look at nature differently
Sue Tantsits of Edge of the Woods native plant nursery, Orefield led a group in the field and on the Liberty Trail at Leaser Lake for Mother's Day.
She said the hike was designed to have people look at their environment differently.
Tantsits told the hikers plants grow through leaves dropped in fall and grow in spring as the dead leaves create an organic layer.
"The reason for getting us out is to see how things grow without people's manipulation," Tantsits said. "You can see how things happen when people interfere.
"Naturally they will grow along logs and close to stones. Plants make decisions in lots of ways for us to learn more."
Tantsits brought a number of wildflower guides but said Newcomb's Wildflower Guide is her favorite.
She explained that guide has an easy-to-use key and states whether or not a plant is native or non-native.
Starting at the north parking lot, the group headed to nearby fields, which have been cleared and planted to grass.
There were a lot of trout lily plants but the flowers were finished for the year.
Field strawberries, the little ones found in the wild, were in flower. Hawkweek spreads and lays a solid coat of leaves that prevents other growth. They develop a yellow flower.
Violets are needed as food for the larvae of the Regal Fritillary butterfly. Plantings of the necessary violet are being done at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, said Tantsits. Presently the only place they live in Pennsylvania is at Fort Indiantown Gap.
The May apples were just beginning to bloom. Tantsits said many animals eat the fruit but it may be poisonous to humans.
She suggested looking across the road and determine the difference. On the lake side of the road there was no understory. She terms the fields recreational habitat. Though she would rather not see it, she realizes it is necessary to attract people to the park.
The trail begins a short distance from the parking lot. There are many hickory and maple trees. A Douglas fir is seen but they are native to the west where needle cast disease is taking away their nutrition. When the fir trees lose needles, they lose the ability to use food.
Water, birds and boats bring invasive plants to the area. A lot of small cherry trees indicate how birds sit on trees and drop the seeds.
A white dogwood is located deep into the woods where it is too shaded. That tree is normally found on the edge of woods. Anthracnose fungus is destroying dogwood. The disease is worse where there is a dense canopy with the shade it creates.
Red maples replaced the American chestnut as they died off. Blight has killed most of the chestnut trees but they are being crossed with a Chinese chestnut to become blight resistant. Edge of the Woods has a nursery for the crossbred trees.
When a tree or large branch falls it decays and feeds new growth of many varieties. A hump in the ground is indicative of the tree that once fell there.
Tantsits says the land along the trail is an oak-hickory-beech forest, with different plant communities.
There are few deer in the particular area as determined because there is no browse line where they eat.
Club moss grows low to the ground and is picked and made into wreaths.
Tantsits said there would be two small streams to cross, but there were more and some were wide and shallow enough that the easiest way was to just walk through them.
While the group was gathering, Tansits announced there was a prize at the end of the trail.
Some guessed the prize would be food.
However, Tantsits received a surprise, too, as the prize, a Lady Slipper, could not be found. Finally, when she walked around a corner, there it was.