Posted on August 26th, 2010 6 comments Add a comment >>
August seems to be a good time to find the parasites in the botanical world. First a definition-parasite(in the plant world) refers to any plant that feeds solely off another plant(host plant), but not always harming the host.
So what are they living off of? In the soil, growing among the many roots of nearby plants, are tiny hair-like fibers known as mycorrhizal fungi. These fibers are supporting the bigger tree & wildflower roots. But it is these mycorrhizal fibers that the pine sap, and others, are getting their nutrients from.
A slight deviation from that relationship is the parasitic life of beech drops which live entirely off of the nutrients of a host beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) root system. If you could dig down along the stem of beech drops you would find a connection directly to the beech tree root.
Amazing to think that there is a whole other world of plant relationships under the soil that we are just beginning to unravel!
A great spot to observe these parasitic plants(better in early August) is along the new trail system at Henry’s Woods in Lake Placid.
Other notes from the field are the recent swarming of winged ants that are coming out of their underground tunnels to fly around, mate, and then die…all in about 24 hours!
As I waited at a traffic light one early evening I saw hundreds of flying insects flying through shafts of sunlight and then they would disappear in the shadows. As I later parked my car at home I could see thousands of winged ants crawling all over the lawns, looking as if the ground was literally moving under my feet.
Can anyone tell us the species of these ants??
The next day I saw a large group of ring-billed gulls flying in circles and feeding on the flying ants. As a human I can relate to this….when blueberries come into season, I’m all over those fields plucking berries for a few days!
Photo Credit: Beech Drops(wikipedia)