Spotlight Hike

Polly Hollow Hike –  April 22, 2017

Topic: Trees, birds, wildflowers, and ferns

Co-leaders: Sara Miller & Chris Gatens

11 Hikers

Weather – Temperature, 60 F, partly cloudy, rain occurred at 11:05 am

With the mild spring and ample precipitation in 2017, this hike offered a gorgeous display of some of our diverse spring ephemeral flora. Several of the migratory warblers were also present with their breeding songs being heard in the forest canopy amongst the emergent leaves. This particular trail offered the songs of those species and as well as those that were passing through on their journey northward. Sara pointed out the songs of the black-throated green warbler, worm-eating warbler, northern parula, cerulean warbler, American redstart, and the Louisiana waterthrush.

At the beginning of the trail we observed a hardy specimen of a saprobic bracket fungi upon a rotting log and it was later determined to be the Resinous Polypore (Ischnoderma resinosum). The rapid growth of the fungus was noticeable after the previous rain event.

This hike offered a list of common ferns and fern allies that were in view with their new spring growth. The species list included Silvery Athyrium (Deparia acrostichoides), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Common Polypody Fern, (Polypodium virginianum), Intermediate Shield Fern (Dryopteris intermedia), Marginal Shield Fern (Dryopteris marginalis), Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum peltatum), New York Fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensiblis), Adder’s Tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum ), and Common Horsetail (Equisetum arvense).

This trail offered several magnificent specimens of the northern red oak (Quercus rubra) in a classic Appalachian cove setting. Under each tree and on the forest floor was a magnificent display of bear corn, or squaw root (Conopholis americana). One participant was interested in the magnolia species in the forest so we were able to show the difference in growth form and habitat, of both the Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) and the Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata).

As we walked the trail an observant hiker in the group was the first to notice three blooming Yellow Lady Slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum) upon a steep bank! I consider the occurrence of this species to be a mystery and a highlight of the trip, since it has not been seen at this location for more than ten years.