Last week we discussed animals and plants that are representative of the living things that represent our state. I would like to finish the topic this week with the remainder of those organisms that were not included in that article. Once again, thanks to Warren McPherson for suggesting the topic.
In last week's column, we discussed the Eastern Bluebird, brook trout, beaver and ladybird beetle. This week I will conclude this two-part discussion with the snapping turtle, sugar maple tree and wild rose.
The snapping turtle is probably well known by most to be avoided whenever possible. A member of the old world group of animals known as the chelonians, this group of turtles is one of approximately 15 kinds found in our country. In our county, we have identified some of the more common turtles, like the painted, soft shell, wood, map and spotted, to name a few. The snapping turtle has always received its respect from children as well as adults whenever encountered. Sometimes old tales of the animal's ferocity were exaggerated to extract fear and respect from younger folk.
Symbols of the state include: the sugar maple tree.
Years ago I had one specimen, about 24 inches long from tail tip to mouth, in an aquarium in my science lab as a teacher. I can assure you it had my respect, as it would occasionally react to me. The snapping turtle can be found in most permanent fresh water bodies. They are seldom observed basking on a log or rock, as we see most other turtles doing. Quite often, they will bury themselves in mud in shallow water, with only their eyes showing. While on land, they have been observed striking out at a person or other animal as a defensive technique. They are omnivorous animals, meaning they will feed on a wide variety of food, including both animal and plant. The snapping turtle has been caught by humans as a source of food for soups and stews. There is a snapping turtle found in the southern states known as the alligator snapper, which is one of the largest in the world. Its interesting behavior involves wiggling a worm-like growth in the roof of its mouth to attract prey such as small fish.
The sugar maple tree is another nature symbol of our state. This tree is normally about 40 to 60 feet in height. The leaves are usually five-lobed with deep notches. This tree, along with the black maple, is well known for its commercial value in providing maple syrup, as well as lumber for furniture. There are about 11 species of maples in our country. Most are known for the shade they provide, as well as the food and protection they offer many animals, such as moose, cottontail rabbits, porcupines, and white-tailed deer.
The last of the nature symbols of New York to be discussed is the wild rose. Roses are, without a doubt, known by everyone. I am sure that many of you are familiar with the many variety of roses that have been created by horticulturalists over the years. However, my discussion today is about the wild species found in New York.
According to several sources, there are about 20 species of wild roses found in our country. The wild roses have five roundish petals, five sepals and numerous stamens encircling the center. It is probably one of the more difficult plants to identify - even the same plant growing in another state may have a different name. While it is known that wild roses can be edible, I have also learned that wild roses are being investigated as a possible cure for cancer. Regardless of these positive attributes, I always caution those unfamiliar with any organism to leave it alone.
I remind you again of the method of contacting me with article ideas and photographs is by U.S. mail or the Internet. When sending a picture by mail, please put your name, address and the name of the organism on the back of the photo and send it to me at 38 Elm St., Fredonia, NY 14063. Should you request the photo be returned, please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Or, if you are sending information by Internet, send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.