November Soup & Walk

What a beautiful fall day for our last soup ’n walk of the year! The day was sunny and temperature was in the 60s. There were 24 guests out of 28 who had signed up. Only a few had not been here before, and we always enjoy telling new and old friends about our Adkins Arboretum. Our theme was looking for the nuts, berries, and seeds that feed the wildlife.
We split into two groups. Nancy B. started hers at the regular entrance to the woods and I took the other half and looked out at the wetland’s variety of seeds and cones. We took a closer look at the red cedar and noted the blue berries on the female tree by the bridge and then headed to the other woods entrance by the sassafras trees. There are lots of red sumac berries at this entrance. We went past many Oriental bittersweet vines loaded with their yellow capsules over orange berries. Two of us had been to Sylvan’s talk on invasives, so we talked about keeping these seeds from spreading by using them indoors, if you must use them, and packaging them for disposal in black plastic so they will be buried in a landfill and no longer available for the birds to spread. Weed warriors are needed for our volunteer program.
Sassafras trees have berries only on the female trees, and we went by the female tree at the edge of the woods. These edge trees such as the sassafras and sweet gum have lovely color in the leaves that are still left on the trees. The sweet gum balls left on the trees are quite showy and are even showier as winter comes and the leaves drop. There are also quite a few tall tulip trees still showing yellow color at the skyline, and one can imagine lots of seed pods at the treetops.
The dogwood trees had been stripped of any berries much earlier and in the past week had lost their leaves. We still saw berries on the female holly trees along the way. Along this trail there were quite a bit of red leaves still showing on the blueberry and deerberry bushes, but the berries, if any, had been eaten much earlier. Maybe because of the hot summer and dry weather, many of the berries have been eaten already or were not produced this year.
Acorns were quite plentiful this year from both the white oak and the red and black oak families. White oak acorns take only one year to grow to maturity and have less tannic acid. Mature red oak acorns are often stored/planted by the squirrels for later use. Going past the pine forest, we could spot lots of pine cones for squirrels and birds, and when the pines ended at the birch allee we started to see lots of hickory and oak trees. Some of the golden pawpaw leaves were still on the trees. Not only is the fruit used by the critters, but the leaves are needed by the zebra swallowtail butterfly larva.
We joined Nancy’s group just before the Visitor’s Center, and the entire group hurried back to enjoy our soup, salad, bread, and dessert, which were made with some fruits, berries, nuts, and other fall vegetables that help us live well. So we enjoyed refreshing our minds and spirits in the woods and our bodies at the luncheon. Mickey B., Pat B., Michele W., and Lynn L. had everything ready for us. Other volunteers who helped were Janet H., Norma J. E., Shirley B., Nancy B., and Zaida W. with setup, cleanup, and help with the tours. Lynn L. and I brought the amaranth date nut bread. Ann R. was taking pictures. It felt wonderful to have everyone together to share the entire experience.
Thanks to all the staff that helped, as well as all the volunteers.

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