Mariton: Fall Fruits

October 4, 2017

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus.

Flowering Dogwood berries

The Tuesday Morning Nature Walks are back. This week we took a walk along the Main Trail to see a number of things.  We even spotted a Bald Eagle before the walk was through.  A number of plants are producing fruits that are both interesting and beautiful.  The Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) fruits have turned scarlet, and the leaves are transitioning to purple.

American Bladdernut

A very interesting shrub is American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia).  The fruit of this bush is a three chambered papery pod that houses the seeds.  As the seed pod matures, you can hear the seeds rattle inside this structure that reminds me of a Japanese lantern.  In college, I had learned to look for this shrub along streams and in bottomlands.  The buoyant seed pod is a dispersal adaptation for floating to new areas.  However, at Mariton the stand of bladdernut is found near the highest point of the property, and the plants seem quite content there.

Unripened Blackhaw fruit

A very common and beautiful shrub at Mariton is the Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium).  The bark is interesting through the winter (reminiscent of Dogwood bark).  The flowers are lacy and white in the spring.  The fruit, as you can see in these photos, goes through its own autumnal color transitions.  Finally the leaves in fall turns the forest’s mid-canopy magenta and pink.

Ripe Blackhaws

We have a break in the walks next Tuesday, but will resume on October 17.