Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Holidays 2014

Botrychium dissectum
The second half of 2014 was a hectic time for me (and mostly in not-fun ways) and the blog has suffered from a serious lack of attention. Here's hoping the New Year will bring better things.

Out in the somewhat wild lawn behind my house there are a few Cut-leaf Grape Ferns (Botrychium dissectum), probably the most common local representative of the fern family Ophioglossaceae. The grape ferns are eusporangiate (they have very simple spore-bearing capsules), and the early stages of their life cycles are entirely subterranean, where they can live for years drawing nutrients from host fungi. Botrychium dissectum is evergreen when it does start producing foliage, but still prone to disappearing below ground at odd times, and the leaves can either look like the one in the photo here, or have more finely dissected margins. Both forms occur side by side in my lawn, but I couldn't find the finely dissected plant this week: it's probably still there but in a dormant phase for some reason.  There are also two mosses in the photo: Leucobryum glaucum (White Cushion Moss) is the short pale one behind the frond and Polytrichum commune (Common Haircap Moss) is the taller dark green plant all around the fern.

Temperatures in Connecticut for the first phases of winter have been very warm; I stepped outside on Christmas Eve at about 9:00 PM and was shocked to find light drizzle and 62 F temps. That's like an evening in June, not December. It has cooled off to more seasonal temperatures today, but it was warm enough for the bees to be flying this past weekend. They don't find anything to collect except maybe water, this time of year, even in mild conditions, but they can relieve themselves outside (if it's cold and they are cooped up in the hive they have to hold it) and it's probably good for them to have the opportunity to freely move around on their combs and reorganize.

Honeybees flying in Mansfield Center, Ct, December 27.