Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Taylor Island walk

Recently I took a few days off to visit the eastern shore of Maryland. While staying on Taylor Island, my friend, Trillium and I took the opportunity to explore the Nature Conservancy trail nearby. The narrow trail took us back into a Chesapeake Bay tidal marsh where we were surrounded by Loblolly Pines, the dominate tree species.

Toward the end we came to a pond with a yurt like structure where we explored a little and found a familiar tree called Diospyros virginiana or Persimmon tree.

We tasted one but they are not like the big plump persimmons we buy from the store, these were full of large seeds. If you eat one before it is fully ripe, as we did, it will taste bitter and cause your lips to pucker and suck all the spit right out of your mouth. They are fully ripe when they are very soft, almost to the point of not being able to pick them up. Bruni wrote me that they don't need to be fully ripe to loose the pucker power but rather they need to have gone through a frost.

On our return trip to the car we found muskrat scat containing Persimmon seeds so some things must love them. The genus Diospyros is Greek for “food of the gods” which probably refers to fact that they contain 34 percent fruit sugar, making it one of the sweetest of plants. Persimmon wood is very hard and shock resistant making it a good choice for the heads of driver golf clubs. But I doubt if the creatures of this area care about that.

Walking back to the car I was very excited to spot a little frog as it hoped off the trail. It was very cooperative and stood still while I got down on all fours to take a close up photo.

At the time we didn’t know what species it was, only that we had not seen one like it before. Later, when we were visiting a Nature Visitor Center gift shop I was able to look it up and discovered that it was a Southern Leopard Frog (Rana shenocephala). The Genus Rana is the Latin word rana meaning frog. The species name is Greek for sphenos (wdegeshaped) and kephale (head) referring to its triangular head. The little white area in the center of the eardrum (tympanum) is one characteristic that distinguished it from the Northern Leopard frog we have in my part of West Virginia. Seeing that little frog was a nice treat.
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Gaelyn said...

What an inviting boardwalk trail. Wonder what that yurt like structure is all about? Guess I'm going to have to try persimons if they're all that sweet. The frog is precious, and so are you for getting down on all fours to take its picture. Great post.

serline said...

I saw one in Dalat-Vietnam, didn't taste the fruit as it was hard. I love small persimmon, the taste was really good too.