We passed a kousa dogwood tree (Cornus kousa) on Parley Ave yesterday afternoon. The ripening fruit look like berries. They are edible, but don’t taste so great.
Kousa dogwoods are native to east Asia and their fruits differ from our local flowering dogwood in that they are compound and much larger. It is possible that these fruits evolved this way to appear more appetizing to macaque monkeys, who would eat the fruit and disperse the seeds.
Near where Parley Avenue meets Centre Street, we came upon the Parley Vale Preserve. We had completely overlooked this small patch of woods for years. Unlike most small urban wooded areas, fallen wood has been allowed to remain and decompose.
Turning over one of these pieces of wood, we found a few creatures. The European sowbug (Oniscus asellus), also known as the European wood louse, feeds on dead organic matter.
One of the sowbugs had half of its molted exoskeleton sitting next to it. Apparently European sowbugs molt one half at a time.
We also found a leopard slug (Limax maximus). These large spotted slugs were brought over from Europe, maybe in the same soil that transported the sowbugs.
We were lucky enough to see a red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus). It scurried away so quickly that I wasn’t able to get a good shot, but it clearly has a red stripe on its back.