Saturday, September 30, 2023

Pic(k) of the Week: Arabia Mountain 'daisy'

Arabia Mountain 'daisy'
"We call them yellow daisies."
— Arabia Mountain park ranger

A native 'Porter's sunflower' wildflower —one among thousands blooming in early autumn on Arabia Mountain— in DeKalb County, Georgia, USA. 25 September 2023.
Every year in September, an explosion of yellow flowers covers granite outcrops such as Arabia and Panola Mountains. These are yellow daisies (Helianthus porteri). Related to sunflowers, they are one of the fall wonders within the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. Found in only 4 states —Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina— the flowers are most common on the granite outcrops of the Georgia Piedmont region, thriving in fragile solution pits —often dry, sandy vernal pools— found on bare rock faces.
Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance.

Literally growing from the granite outcrops of Arabia Mountain, the blossoms are a riot of yellow, a marker of autumn's arrival in Georgia. But...are they true daisies?
Helianthus porteri is a species of sunflower (Helianthus) —commonly known as Porter's sunflower, Stone Mountain daisy, and Confederate daisy— native to the southeastern United States, particularly Georgia and Alabama.

Helianthus porteri grows on thin soils on and around flat rock granite and gneiss outcrops. It grows up to 40 inches tall (100 cm). One plant usually produces 5 or more small flower heads, each containing 7 or 8 yellow ray florets surrounding a central disk of 30 or more yellow florets. A summer annual that blooms in the fall, Helianthus porteri drops seeds that grow the following year.

The term 'daisy' is imprecise because the species is a sunflower rather than a daisy (Bellis and related genera). Likewise, although the plant grows on Stone Mountain, in Georgia, its range extends beyond. The connection to the Confederacy is through Stone Mountain which contains a confederate monument, although the connection is tenuous as the species was named before the Civil War, in 1849, in honor of Thomas Conrad Porter, a Pennsylvanian minister and botanist who collected the plant in Georgia.


Arabia Mountain 'daisies' (04)


Saturday, September 23, 2023

Pic(k) of the Week: Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Squirrel at edge of forest
The autumnal equinox arrived on Saturday, September 23, 2023, at 02:50 A.M. EDT in the Northern Hemisphere. The autumnal equinox is an astronomical event that marks the start of autumn (or “fall”). In the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox occurs in September; in the Southern Hemisphere, it occurs in March.

During an equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator”—an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length. After the autumnal equinox, days become shorter than nights as the Sun continues to rise later and nightfall arrives earlier. This ends with the winter solstice, after which days start to grow longer once again. The word “equinox” comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, ”night.”
The Old Farmer's Almanac

The photo was actually taken in late spring, 13 June 2023, shortly before the summer solstice, in Decatur, Georgia, USA. The star attraction was, of course, a squirrel: in this case an eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), native to eastern North America. Even then, she was foraging for nuts.



Saturday, September 16, 2023

Pic(k) of the Week: Wary weather watcher

Wary weather watcher

A storm approaches;
Warily, the dog watches.
Beach life.

St. Augustine Beach, Florida, USA. 9 September 2022.


Saturday, September 09, 2023

Pic(k) of the Week: Avondale reverie

Avondale reverie

Sitting on a bench on the shore of Avondale Lake, a gentlemen enjoyed a quiet summer's Sunday-morning reverie (quiet, other than the honking of Canada geese, off-camera).

City of Avondale Estates, Georgia, USA. 27 August 2023.



Saturday, September 02, 2023

Pic(k) of the Week: Heron in morning pond

Heron in morning pond

In early morning, a juvenile great blue heron (Ardea herodias) was fishing in in a large city-park pond. I tried not to disturb her.

Postal Pond in Decatur Legacy Park: Decatur, Georgia, USA. 1 August 2023 (8:12 am EDT).