Lining part of the water trail in Las Cruces, we discovered these strawberry-looking inflorescence from a Balanophoraceae, perhaps Helosis sp.—-a type of parasitic plant. The majority of the plant’s body is subterranean and parasitizes other plant roots. Tubercles on the stems grow into fruiting bodies likes those pictured here.
I introduce plants to my biology students with parasite plants to illustrate that not all plants are green things that “make their own food.” Instead, they’re a diverse group of multicellular eukaryotes characterized by a common (and complex) life cycle, a waxy cuticle, probably stomata for gas exchange, and almost certainly a unique common ancestry. Just look at the “distinguishing characteristics” of Balanophoraceae!
I’ve seen Western Coral Root (Corallorhiza maculata in Oregon), Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora in New York and Ohio), beech drop (Epifagus virginiana in Ohio), and mistletoes before—all parasitic groups. The Balanophoraceae (barnacle bodies) is the only family of plants I’ve seen that are all obligate parasites.
Christine, an undergraduate Biology student, set out to collect invertebrates in ephemeral ponds of varying longevities at Breakneck Creek, Kent. Here are some photos of her sites. The yellow/greenish dusting over the water is pollen from surrounding trees: apparently pollen was heavy in North Eastern Ohio, just as it was record breaking in Atlanta this Spring.
Éva and Eva explore a stream draining into Mill Creek at Bear’s Den. This was the first park we visited with Eva, and it was the first time I saw her substantially wag her tail. She also had no problem barrelling through the water – although it seemed to surprise her, as if she hadn’t expected ‘wetness’. Éva, on the other hand, was a seasoned park goer, and had begun to step onto rocks to avoid getting wet.
I’m still working on depth of field, especially on wide-area shots. I had come to a good understand of it with macro-shots of herps, but I haven’t had a chance to photograph many of those in Ohio and Georgia. Not only is setting the correct aperture for a shot important here, but composure can obviously make or break the photograph. I’ve taken a few shots in the past when an out-of-focus foreground rock draws the eye to the broader landscape, which was my intention here but with reduced success.