Newton Pond Stewardship Series - September
Settling into fall
Fall foliage is slowly taking over the scene at Newton Pond Park. Summer colours are being replaced by earthy tones like brown and grey. Have you noticed that the bright purple lupine flowers are fading away, and dried up seed pods are taking their place? Let’s look at the different types of seed pods and methods of seed dispersal plants use!
A contrast of colours from May to September around the pond
So many seeds!
Seed dispersal is how plants spread their seeds around. Since plants can’t walk around and spread their seeds in different places, they make use of natural elements like wind, water, and wildlife to get the job done. Plants that use wind for dispersal have seeds that are lightweight and “winged” so they get carried away as the wind blows. A good example of this is thistle (Cirsium arvense). Their seeds are attached to fluffy, feather-like structures that blow around in the air easily. However, thistle is an invasive plant species, meaning they spread easily and outcompete native plants for resources. This is bad news for the native plants in the area as they won’t get a chance to grow and provide food and habitat for local wildlife.
Thistle seeds are mainly dispersed by wind, these plants are invasive and proper management should be done to avoid unwanted spread.
At Newton Pond Park, you might come across some plants that use wildlife to spread their seeds. Plants such as Burdock (Arctium tomentosum) have spiky burs that cling on to you to travel around. However, just like thistle, burdock is bad news for a park’s ecosystem. Learn more about the invasive and noxious plants in your area.
Watch out for those burs! Burdock seeds really don’t know when to let go
Critters and camouflage
As the plants change colour, some creatures take advantage of the fall foliage as a perfect opportunity to blend in. One such master illusionist is the Orb weaver spider (Araneus diadematus). These critters are usually tan, brown, or orange in colour and have a distinctive white cross on their back. The female spiders are usually bigger than the males and can lay up to 300 eggs at a time - that’s a lot of baby spiders! Orb weavers are frequently spotted during the months of September to November where they spin webs between tree branches and low lying grasses. They sit patiently and wait for an unsuspecting insect to wander in and get tangled in their web. On your next visit to the park, look for an Orb weaver getting ready to enjoy their scrumptious meal!
Orb weavers are master spinners that create excellent webs to capture prey
Keep an eye out for next month's update to learn about animal camouflage you’ll see at the park and highlights from National Tree Day on September 25th.