Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Rising Body Count (via planetjan)

You absolutely must read this disturbing, yet hilarious blog post by my friend Planetjan. The video is beyond hilarious. Very clever, too. Love that British humor, a brilliant combination of erudition, wit, wisdom and slap-stickism.

The Rising Body Count I’m afraid blogging has taken a back seat to crowd control.  Yes, I started the year with eight additional students. Those eight extra students might as well be 20.  Forget Octo-mom.  I’m Octo-Teacher! I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the she … Read More

via planetjan

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Egret on a Red Bridge in a Cypress Swamp

An egret perches on a red bridge in a cypress swamp in a South Carolina botanical garden.  Spanish moss hangs from the trees.

An egret perches on a red bridge in a cypress swamp in a South Carolina botanical garden. Spanish moss hangs from the trees.

The egret perched on the red bridge is the focus of this photograph, but what intrigued me in this cypress swamp was the Spanish moss. Spanish moss is a strange plant. It has no roots. Its leaves look like stems. It has tiny, inconspicuous flowers. It looks dead.

A ghostly gray color, Spanish moss hangs from trees like tattered shrouds. Although it sometimes almost engulfs the trees it lives on, Spanish moss is not a parasite. The main damage it does is block light from the tree leaves, slowing the tree’s growth. The burden of the extra Spanish moss foliage also makes the trees less wind-resistant and more prone to falling during hurricanes.

Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoidesis, is an epiphyte, which means it absorbs nutrients (especially calcium) and water from the air and rainfall. Spanish moss is also known as “air plant”.

Several kinds of creatures, including rat snakes and three species of bats, live in Spanish moss. One species of jumping spider, Pelegrina tillandsiae, has been found only on Spanish moss. Spanish moss is found in the humid, warmer climates of southeastern United States. It was also introduced to Hawaii, where it is known as a Pele’s Hair, after the Hawaiian goddess and is sometimes used in leis.

I took this photograph in a botanical garden near Charleston, South Carolina. The egret was kind enough to pose for me.

 

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Filed under Biology, Bird-watching, Birds, Natural History, Nature, Photography