NATURE STORIES

Did you know that immersing oneself in nature can improve both physical and mental health? Studies prove that going for a walk in the woods can lower blood pressure and bring down cortisol levels. And, amazingly, trees release chemicals called phytoncides, which improve health by boosting our immune system.

Photo © Donald Gambino.

During our recent hike at Angle Fly Preserve, Georgie spontaneously ran over and hugged this tree. I don't know why he did it, but I followed him and somebody took a photo. This silly moment was the highlight of our walk and we laughed once again when we saw this picture, which I'll cherish forever. Photo © Gail Simpson.

When rain arrives after a dry period, so may this mysterious native plant. Curling up from the earth it unfurls its delicate fluffy scales and lifts a single nodding blossom. Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) stand out against the darker ground, intriguing observant eyes with its unique coloration. Despite the visual similarity it is not a mushroom nor a fungus, but rather a bona fide member of the (usually green) Plant Kingdom. Photograph © Lauretta Jones.

You have no doubt heard the rhyme, "Leaves of three, let it be." Poison ivy is a native plant with nutritious berries beloved by many birds. Yet for many people, brushing up against it can lead to an itchy, blistery rash. This sneaky plant can be found mixed in with grass, climbing trees and covering structures. Here's how to make sure you can recognize it in all its guises.  Photo © Lauretta Jones

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