Adaptations of wetland plants (PLE day 6)
The Pymatuning wetlanders began the 6th day (“sixth week”) of the wetland ecology course examining adaptations of plants to the wetland environment. Aerenchyma tissue, floating-leaf anatomy, energy-rich rhizomes, heterophylly, pneumatophores, etc..…the students carefully observed and drew anatomical details using the aid of dissecting and compound microscopes. We added a few species to our must-know plant list, including Wolffia sp. (water meal), the smallest known flowering plant! Of course, the students were most interested in the carnivorous plants. We will see a few in the field next week.
We spent the afternoon in Hartstown swamp carefully avoiding poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix). The students collected plant community data as part of the comparative ecology project they started last week. A number of unknown plant species were encountered along the transects, and I look forward to learning these plants over the next few days. One of great things about this course is that I get to learn a little bit more about wetlands every time I teach it. Just today a student introduced me to dodder (Cuscuta sp.), a parasitic plant.
Tomorrow we will visit Presque Isle to observe some of the coastal processes that create wetlands at the geologically dynamic land-lake interface. A few more pictures from today are below.