Alewife Tick-Patch

I decided to identify all the woody shrubs, trees and vines between the nasty stream and the tick-grass.

  • eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) (salicaceae)
  • red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) (cornaceae)
  • American elm (Ulmus americana) (ulmaceae) – these got as high as 30′ or so. Some looked pretty bedraggled, but some seemed reasonably healthy.
  • silver maple (Acer saccharinum) (aceraceae)
  • blackberry (Rubus sp.) (rosaceae)
  • a hickory (Carya sp.) (juglandaceae) – I think this might have been shagbark, but it was growing in the understory – under one of the elms – and wasn’t big enough to tell by the bark. So with the buds not yet developed, I couldn’t be sure.
  • multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) (rosaceae)
  • ashleaf maple (Acer negundo) (aceraceae)
  • fire cherry (Prunus pennsylvanica) (rosaceae)
  • rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa) (rosaceae)
  • Northern catalpa (Catalpa bignoniodes) (bignoniaceae) – nice big handsome flowers
  • buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) (rubiaceae) – is the genus name supposed to suggest a head-shaped (i.e. spherical) flower?
  • common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) (rhamnaceae)
  • green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) (oleaceae) – olive family always seems weird to me, because I’ve never seen an olive plant (tree?)
  • smooth alder (Alnus serrulata) (corylaceae) – Last year I thought this was a speckled alder. It is reasonably speckled, but the cones were stiffly sticking out in all directions – not drooping. Also, the buds, such as they were, were brown, not black.
  • red maple (Acer rubrum) (aceraceae)

This is, I’m happy to say, everything from a stretch of over 100 feet. I ended on a plant I could not recognize, because when I walked back to my backpack I noticed that ticks had penetrated my safety perimeter. I didn’t freak out this time, but I did have to do a pretty thorough decontamination before I was comfortable putting my backpack back on. The first little bastard climbed up onto my helmet, which was resting on my bike. I suspect a strap may have been dangling into the grass. The second just appeared on my wildflower guide. I wonder if these are actually different kinds, or just different instars or whatever. The first is what I’d call a “deer tick” and the second’s what I’d call a “dog tick”.
other tick


Popular non-woody plants growing in here included teasel, common milkweed, tansy, phragmytes, various grasses. I saw my first yellow warbler.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I also heard a warbling vireo, I’m pretty sure. And a knowledgeable friend tells me that both the ticks are dog ticks, Dermacentor variabilis – the first is female and the second male. Deer ticks also have a bib cape thingy, but it’s black and their bodies are red.

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