Dog Vomit is Cool?

Mile-a-minute vine or persicaria perfoliate is an invasive plant native to Asia that has spread on Grape Island, an island of Boston Harbor Islands. The leaves have a distinctive triangular shape and can be confused with wild morning glory, but mile-a-minute has ocrea surrounding the stem. Mile-a-minute is usually introduced by birds who carry the plant’s fruit and disperse them over the island. This vine impacts the island’s vegetation because it grows rapidly and outcompetes native plants.

I got to spend a day at Grape Island working with Saugus’ biotech, Bill and other NPS folk, as well as the LHIP intern from Minute Man! We spent all day pulling out loads of mile-a-minute and it was surprisingly satisfying. While I was sitting in a thicket of mile-a-minute, I didn’t realize there was poison ivy right next to me, so I also sort of learned how to identify poison ivy. Luckily, I was wearing protective attire and gloves.

Although my internship focuses on education, I have taken some time to look at and learn about the vegetation in Saugus. During a preschool program, I noticed a smoke tee or Cotinus and was so amazed at how fluffy it looked. There is also a nature trail in Saugus and if you walk through it, there are so many different species of plants, trees, animals, insects and fungi. I learned what dog vomit slime mold or fuligo septica was when I saw yellow mold growing on the trail. Although it’s very bright, it’s not toxic! It was a rainy day and the nature trail is right next to a wetland and dog vomit usually grows in moist, shady places so its location made sense. Another fun fact about this yellow mold is that its ecological role in nature is feeding on dead materials to recycle the nutrients for other species to utilize. Who knew dog vomit was so cool?

Identifying and learning about different plants and fungi species has been as wicked exciting as it sounds.

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