Guest blog written by TTF Intern, Halana Dash
In December, TTF hosted Nature’s Hidden Surprises, our monthly nature walk with environmental educator Judith Gratz. The nature walks happen every second Wednesday of the month at Tacony Creek Park and December’s themes was seeds. After enjoying some hot chocolate and examining beans (a type of seed) with magnifying glasses, we were on our way!
When seeds are mature, they must disperse to a new area away from their home plant or tree to take root. On our walk, Judith taught us about four different methods that seeds use to travel. The four travel types that we learned about were:
Animals: Some seeds are tasty, and animals like birds or squirrels eat them. After digestion, the seeds leave the animal in its excrement. Hopefully, the animal has traveled to a new place during the digestion period!
Hitchhiking: Hitchhiking seeds have burrs or prickles that attach to animal fur, bird feathers, or even human socks and help them hitch a ride. Judith showed us how to collect these seeds by trailing a piece of felt behind us, which was a lot of fun.
Parachutes: Some seeds have wings or gliders that help them ride the wind to a new area and the float gently to the ground. Common parachuting seeds in Tacony Creek Park are the “helicopter” seeds from maple trees.
Exploding: Exploding seeds burst out of their pods (shells or casings) and away from their home plant. Our group unanimously voted that this was the most interesting type of seed!
By the end of the nature walk, participants were pros at identifying the different types of traveling seeds, and we had plenty of samples to examine under the magnifying glasses. Judith still had one last activity up her sleeve – figuring out the height of Tacony Creek Park’s famous silver birch using only a protractor with a straw attached and a tape measure. I volunteered to hold the protractor and look through the straw to the highest point of the tree, and then two other volunteers measured the length between me and the tree and the height between the ground and my eyes. After figuring out the angle of the protractor, we plugged the numbers into an equation and calculated the tree’s height – a whopping 93 feet!
We hope to see you at the next Nature’s Hidden Surprises Walk, which meets on the second Wednesday of every month. You can find out about more upcoming events on our events calendar as well.
See you at the park!