Yesterday afternoon was bright, clear and crisp. A perfect fall afternoon to walk the loop trail at the Patrill Hollow Preserve in Hardwick. Caren Caljouw, Stewardship Coordinator, lead the group on the mile and a half hike. We stopped to see and learn many interesting things about these woods and plant adaptations for the coming winter.
Hurricane Sandy thrashed this white ash sufficiently to cause a split in the tree. At the high point in the southwest corner of the property an eastern hemlock was blown over, tipping up a bunch of soil in the root ball and making it easy to inspect the needles. That tree, and no doubt its neighbors, is infested with hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) which is an invasive insect pest that can kill hemlocks when there are enough of them.
The witch-hazel (Hamamelis sp.) was flowering. Seeing the yellow flowers on bare branches is a welcome site in the woods when the deciduous trees have mostly lost their branches. We also learned that the seeds will be sent flying when they are matured because the seed capsule literally rips open the following autumn.
Several boulders, or glacial erratics, are found along the trail loop. Here the walkers stop to inspect several different lichen species. Caren even shared a recipe for how to use one of the species. Pretty sure they were talking about leather leaf, but you’ll have to contact her to get the details!