“There is something uncanny about plants which have no green parts; indeed, many people find it difficult to think of them as plants. It is, therefore, no wonder that many superstitions cluster about toadstools. In times of old, not only was it believed that toads sat on them, but that fairies danced upon them and used them for umbrellas……But science, in these days, brings revelations concerning these mysterious plants which are far more wonderful than the web which superstition wove about them in days of yore.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 714
As a prelude to tomorrow’s challenge, I wanted to help explain what it is exactly that we will be focusing on during the next few weeks of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. I have a feeling that some of you are not too excited about the focus on non-flowering plants but I think if you understand a little better what you are going to be looking for, your enthusiasm will grow.
Here is some information I have found in researching this topic and it was surprising to me that there are so many things to be on the alert for as far as topics that are covered in the Handbook of Nature Study. Hopefully this list will give your eyes something to search for over the next few weeks during your Outdoor Hour time. There is more to the focus of flowerless plants than just looking for mushrooms.
First of all you have the obvious subject and that is mushrooms or different fungi. Mushrooms are technically a fungi but we can call them mushrooms if that is easier. Puffballs are also in this family.
Fungi are really non-flowering plants that have no green.
Next you can look for ferns. I think everyone knows what a fern looks like but the variety of ferns available in your area will vary. You should look for ferns in shady places. Many of the ferns in our area are turning brown but you will recognize their unique shape when you see them.
Mosses and lichen are another category of flowerless plants. Once you start looking for moss…you will see it growing in many places and it is something that children love to observe and touch. Look on tree trunks or logs, cracks in the sidewalk, along a moist section of concrete, or under ledges.
Molds are also flowerless plants. How about observing the mold on a slice of bread? I found this flowerless plant over a section of ground that has a rotting tree trunk and roots. No very pretty until you get up close and then it is fascinating.
Flowerless plants may be new to your family. Take the challenges one at a time and do the reading in the Handbook of Nature Study and keep your eyes open. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much you learn and your children will become aware of a whole new fascinating world.