Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pirate Bush Presentation by Dr. Ryan Huish

On the evening of October 16th the Blue Ridge, Foothills and Lakes chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists was lucky enough to have Dr. Ryan Huish, Assistant Professor at Hollins University, give an extremely interesting presentation about the Pirate Bush.

If you haven't heard of the pirate bush or don't know a lot about it, you are to be forgiven. The pirate bush is a relatively rare plant and is indiginous to a small area in south western Virginia and some other spots in the southern Appalacian Mountains.  It's most popular place happens to be on Poor Mountain right here in the Roanoke area.

Dr. Huish has been doing rather extensive research to determine why the pirate bush seems to thrive so well on Poor Mountain and not as well in other nearby places with similat topography and climate.  So far the answer has eluded him.

The pirate bush is in the sandalwood family.  It is hemiparasitic, meaning that it takes nutriants from the roots of nearby plants such as pines and oaks.  It is also dioecious (I had to look that one up to spell it), meaning that there are both male and female plants.  So far after extensive study, Ryan has been unable to determine the pollinator for this plant.  He is continuing his search.  The pirate bush does put out a small fruit containing one seed.  The seeds are a food source, most likely for small rodents.

If you want to find out more information about the pirate bush, please follow this link to Ryan's blog Botanically Speaking: http://botanicallyspeaking.wordpress.com/research-2/piratebush/.  Our thanks go out to Ryan for an enjoyable and informative evening.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If you find yourself looking for a nice hike in another part of our state

Tour Crow’s Nest Nov. 8


A field day at Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County will be held Nov. 8, starting at 9 a.m. Participants will see various plants and wildlife while on a guided hike through the preserve’s wooded landscape. The guided hikes offer views of the freshwater tidal marsh and open water surrounding the preserve.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I am an amateur mycologist, sort of

Fall is a great time to take to the woods and find a variety of mushrooms here in the forests of Virginia. Forgetting my camera but having my ipad I captured these wild mushrooms in Callaway Virginia. 

I was excited to find the Old Man of the Woods (that is the black and white mushroom top left.) Old Man of the Woods is edible, and best when fresh and not old and wrinkly like the name implies! I never eat them, even though I have learned quite a bit about edible vs non at a Virginia Master Naturalist Advanced Training.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nature Expo Coming to Booker T Washington National Monument October 18, 2014

A playful encounter by BRFAL Certified Master Naturalist, Charlotte Hubbard, during a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville. VMNH is one of several State sponsors of the Master Naturalist Program.

Friday, September 12, 2014

BRFAL Hike at Douthat State Park

Thanks to our great chapter coordinator Ryan Klopf who is with the DCR and his co-worker, Adam Christie who is DCR-DNH Shenandoah Valley Region Steward, a number of our intrepid BRFAL chapter members (and one Roanoke chapter member) got treated to a guided hike to see and learn about the first ever controlled burn that was conducted this past Spring at Douthat State Park.