Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gaps and Grapes

We will usually tell you on our Old Forest hikes that you should keep hiking because the seasons' flow changes the Forest so much. What you see this month will almost certainly look much different next month and incredibly different 6 months from now.

Sometimes the changes aren't by season or human. The huge storm that passed over Memphis on June 12, 2009, knocked down a few trees and changed the feel of their spots in the Forest. Crowns fell, understory was squashed and lots of direct sun and skylight appeared on the floor at angles and intensities not seen before at those spots.

Here are the broken edges of a couple of trees that left a hole when they broke.

2 Broken Trees and the new Canopy Gap

2 Broken Trees and the new Canopy Gap

With the crashing came their payloads, the beautiful vines that hang from and cling to the great trees of the Old Forest.

Dead Tree and Live Grape Vine

I've always loved these vines. But it's only recently that I found out that most of the hangers are grapevines*, which is very cool.


They wrap themselves around the growing trees and hitch a ride to the top of the canopy for the sunlight that their grapes need. For that reason (and because fast-moving, vertically-advantaged wild'uns eat them quick) you don't see the actual grapes much on the Forest floor.

However, when the tops off of a few great trees came down during the storm, their grape payloads came with them. On this month's "Second Saturday" nature hike I saw my first Overton Park grapes.

Grapes in the Old Forest

*the clingers are usually poison ivy, which is also very cool if you're a bird that likes their berries or a human that keeps a healthy distance.

Midsummer is prime time for grapes. Join one of our regular hikes if you want a closer look. And a taste, if you're lucky!

Our next hike is tomorrow morning: Sunday, July 26. We meet at 10:00am on the Lick Creek bridge next to the Rainbow Lake parking lot.