Sunday, January 2, 2011

fine print: virginia creeper sap

"fine print" is a new recurring feature to quickly post new things I learn while walking around...

"I take pleasure in noting the minute things about me...One seldom takes a walk without encountering some of this fine print on nature's page." - John Burroughs

An obviously-not-recent photo of a Virginia creeper vine (taken in the fall). I found one with sapsucker wells. The sap was sticky and sweet and I saw a nuthatch eating it.

Found a white-breasted nuthatch drinking from some liquid on a vine yesterday. Upon closer inspection it was a sticky sap leaking from a small hole in a 1-inch-diameter Virginia creeper stem. The hole, drilled by a yellow-bellied sapsucker, was one of many all leaking sap. I tasted it, and it was the consistency of syrup and was actually sweet!* Who knew?

*I looked it up and it is also supposedly poisonous! But only a little bit. USDA says it has oxalic acid crystals in it (like skunk cabbage) that should make your mouth burn. I felt no burning.

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