June 7, 2021
Coral’s Walk in the Woods
By: Sharon Bazant
On a lovely spring evening, after a busy day of work and play, Coral walks in the peaceful woods near her home. She loves the cool of the shady trees and the rustle of the fallen leaves as she walks with her tiny basket on her arm.
Coral is a forager. She searches in nature for edible plants and fungi and knows what is good to eat and what is better left in the woods.
On this particular evening, Coral finds, to her joy, the delicate white flowers of wild strawberry plants! Wild Strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) are one of Coral’s favorite foods, and she is excited to have discovered a little stash of these plants.
Since it’s early in the season, the strawberry fruit itself won’t be ready to eat for a while yet. But Coral stops to admire the beauty of these tiny flowers with their cheerful yellow centers. She’ll be back in a few weeks to collect some delicious red strawberries–unless other forest creatures get to them first!
Coral’s most exciting adventure today happens when she comes across a tiny new friend resting on the branch of a pine tree at the edge of the woods. This little tree-climbing amphibian is known as the Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor), though it can actually be many different colors, from gray to white to mottled variations. Coral believes this particular frog is a female due to her white throat (male tree frogs often have a brown or gray throat). Coral asks her name, but the frog is shy and doesn’t say much.
Bidding farewell to the Gray Tree Frog in her pine tree perch, Coral heads back down to the forest floor and slowly begins her way out of the woods.
Not far from the frog’s pine tree, in a quiet spot where the meadow meets the trees, Coral finds a dragonfly resting on a blade of grass. She believes it’s a Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). She would like to greet him, but the dragonfly seems dazed and doesn’t move a muscle as she leans in close to say hello.
Coral wonders if he is injured or just tired from a long flight. She hopes he gets well enough to fly again and get back to eating mosquitoes. Dragonflies are amazing predators and can eat hundreds of mosquitoes (as well as other insects) in a single day! Because of this, Coral is always happy to see dragonflies busily zipping around near the woods.
One last discovery this evening makes Coral especially happy: She almost trips on the base of a bent Black Raspberry cane which arches high above her head. Though this particular cane looks like it’s been nibbled by deer and may not produce fruit in the summer, Coral knows that where there is one raspberry cane there will be others! She so loves the fruit of the wild Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) and does a quick search for more signs of the edible wild plant.
Coral is exhausted after her long walk in the woods. Close to her little house at Rennwood Farm, an American Elm tree (Ulmus americana) makes the perfect resting spot for a tired but happy mouse.
The sun is setting, a breeze is blowing, and the countryside settles in for another peaceful evening. Good-night, Coral, until the next adventure!
~ Do you enjoy walking in the woods?
~ What is the most amazing plant you have seen in the woods?
~ What is the most amazing creature you have seen in the woods?
~ Has your family ever collected wild, edible plants to eat?
~ What is your favorite type of summer-time fruit?
If you love frogs and jokes about frogs, this link might make you smile! Maybe the joke Coral told the tree frog is in this list!
Resources to explore:
~ Learn more about Wild Strawberries.
~ Learn more about the Gray Tree Frog.