The homemade Christmas Wreath
When I was growing up, I remember one of my favorite uncles who always weaved homemade holiday wreaths for family and friends. These Christmas wreaths w e r e made of crowsfoot with just a touch of holly and pine. It was a tradition to gather crowsfoot every year in his back yard woods for making his wreaths. This crowsfoot plant was also once widely harvested and sold as Christmas greenery.
Crowsfoot is considered endangered since it grows from spores and takes 20 years to grow new colonies. This is just one small example of why we should appreciate our environment and all of nature’s gifts. If you walk in our local woods during the winter months, keep an eye out for this fascinating and attractive group of ground cover plants but please be reminded of the delicate and fascinating life cycle and slow growth of these important plants of the forest floor. It prefers disturbed areas and coniferous forests, dry dappled sun to deep moist shade. These plants can be easily overlooked but if you see the beautiful deep green foliage and evergreen ground cover, it will leave a lasting impression.
The specific species, Diphasiastrum digitatum is known as a variety of common names such as ground cedar, running cedar, running-pine, fan clubmoss and crowsfoot.
Crowsfoot carpets the forest floor and grows to a height of about four inches. It is not a flowering plant, reproducing instead through strobili that stick up above the shoots and send out spores. This unique evergreen ground cover creeps along the forest floor in small colonies. The main stem is actually underground, sending up shoots that look like miniature pine trees or cedars and it’s own miniature forest.
Last week, a small pet Beagle was found emaciated in a goose pit in a Kent County farm field. It’s hard to know how long it had been there but when it was found, it weighed half its ordinary weight, and were it not for the farmer who found it, the dog would have assuredly died a slow and agonizing death.
This sort of thing seems to come to light every few years and it’s hard to know how many incidents go unreported. Sub-surface goose pits, like an abandoned well, are akin to an open coffin for the unwitting animal that happens to fall into one.
Sadly, the incident involving the pet Beagle is not an isolated one, nor is it isolated to domestic animals — there are stories among hunters about wild animals such as raccoons, possums, even fawns, which have fallen into an open subsurface goose pit, unable to escape, and without a food and water source, by the time they’re found the animal is usually dead.
Obviously, goose hunting has a long and colorful history in Maryland and no one is advocating for wholesale changes or further regulations.
However, out of concern for both wild and domestic animals who might accidentally fall into an open subsurface goose pit, hopefully responsible hunters and hunting clubs will understand the need to prevent animals, especially household pets, from falling into a goose pit in the first place, either by sealing the pit off when they’re not being used, or if animals do fall in, by constructing some sort of inexpensive exit ramp so that trapped animals at least have a chance of getting themselves out.
Crowsfoot carpeting the woods.
JUDY E. MELVIN EDELHEIT