Taking “forest baths” and recording your observations can be wonderful therapy for modern times. Here are some tips from acclaimed natural history writer Bernd Heinrich for keeping your own nature journal.
Plants may not move as quickly as animals, but check out the “behavior” of rhododendron leaves when it’s frigid. Their drooping and curling help prevent damage from excess light when it’s too cold to photosynthesize.
Depending on the species, plants either have separate sexes, like most animals, or they are bisexual. But how can you tell a plant’s sex in winter, when there are no flowers? (Hint: look to see if it has fruits.)
American beech is actually easier to identify in winter than in summer, even at 60 mph, because it holds onto its dead leaves all winter. The reason? The ancestors of beeches evolved in the tropics where plants photosynthesize year-round. Beeches just happened to keep a tight grip on their leaves when they moved north.
You can find lycopods (aka clubmosses) growing on the ground in most northeastern forests. They are the only living descendants of ancient lineage of towering trees. And they have a special talent: their oily spores are amazingly flammable, perfect for DIY holiday fireworks!