Red Spider Lily

Red Spider Lily

    The red spider lily, red magic lily, or equinox flower, is in the amaryllis family. It is originally from China, Korea, and Nepal. It flowers in late summer or autumn, often in response to heavy rainfall. The common name hurricane lily refers to this characteristic, as do other names, such as resurrection lily.

    It is a bulbous perennial. It normally flowers before the leaves appear, on stems 12–28 inches tall. The leaves are narrow parallel-sided with a paler central stripe. The flowers are arranged in umbels. Individual flowers are irregular, with narrow segments curving backwards, and long projecting stamens.

     Plants flower in late summer or early fall and leaves follow remaining through winter and disappearing in early summer. Flowers fade after a week from brilliant fluorescent red to a deep pink. Bulbs of are very poisonous and are used in Japan to surround rice paddies and houses to keep pests and mice away.  In Japan the red spider lily signals the arrival of fall.  Buddhists use it to celebrate the arrival of fall with a ceremony at the tomb of one of their ancestors. They are planted on graves to show tribute to the dead. People believe since the red spider lily is mostly associated with death, one should never give a bouquet of these flowers.

    They were associated with Japanese Christian martyrs in medieval times. These scarlet flowers usually bloom near cemeteries around the autumnal equinox and are described in Chinese and Japanese translations of the Lotus Sutra as ominous flowers that guide the dead into the next reincarnation. Legends say that when you see someone that you may never meet again, these flowers would bloom along the path. Japanese people often used the flowers in funerals, hence the name flower of the afterlife.


    Milkweeds are perennial plants growing each spring from rootstock and seeds rather than seeds alone. Habitat destruction has reduced their range and numbers. Monarch butterfly larvae appear to feed exclusively on milkweeds.

    There are approximately 110 species of milkweed in North America known for their milky sap. Most species are toxic to vertebrate herbivores if ingested. When Monarch larvae ingest milkweed, they ingest the plants’ toxins and sequester these compounds in their wings and exoskeletons, making the larvae and adults toxic to many potential predators. There is considerable variation in the amount of toxins in different species of plants.

    Milkweeds have floral whorls of sepals (the calyx) and petals (the corolla). Their lowers are interesting since they have a third whorl of five hoods each enclosing a horn (modified filaments of the anthers). Together, hoods and horns are referred to as the corona. Horns of some species are long, while horns of others are reduced such that they cannot be seen.

     Milkweeds rely on butterflies, moths, bees, ants, and wasps for pollination. 

Seed Pod and Seeds of Milkweed

The Tussock Moth Caterpillar and the Milkweed Bug

Monarch Caterpillar and Chrysalis

Explore Popcorn

Explore Popcorn

      Many early Americans believed that popcorn popped because a tiny angry spirit who lived inside the kernel wanted to escape. Today we know that the extra-strong hull on a popcorn kernel seals in water that forms in the moist, pulpy center.

      When the kernel is heated, the water boils and turns to steam and expands. The pressure builds high enough for the kernel to explode, and the fluffy endosperm fuses and fills with air.

Explore popcorn:

      Experiment to determine how moisture content affects the kernels’ popping ability (dry kernels, freeze, and soak some.)

      Compare two brands of popcorn. Start with 100 kernels of each. Record and chart the number of kernels that popped, number that didn’t pop, volume, and flake size.

      Have students write fictional stories detailing how popcorn’s ability to pop might have originally been discovered.

      Predict and then find out whether corn seeds or popped corn weigh more.

      Grow corn in your school garden. Compare the corn that students grow. Have students make predictions about the growing process in gardening journals.



Just touching that old tree was truly moving to me because when you touch these trees, you have such a sense of the passage of time, of history. It’s like you’re touching the essence, the very substance of life. – Kim Novak

Research a favorite tree or give students clues and let them go on a scavenger hunt. Some things to include might be:

Scientific and other common names of the tree:
Habitat and Environment
Kind of seed
Flowers, fruit, or cones?
Estimated height
Circumference (measured 4 feet above the ground )
Above ground roots?
What is the soil like?
The color, texture and strength of the bark
Does the tree shed it’s bark?
Leaves or needles?
Shape, color, texture, size, strength, vein pattern of leaf or needle.
How many other trees like this are around.
Any animals in, on, or around the tree?
How much sunshine does it get?
Other interesting knowledge about this tree




Tree Art

Don’t you dare climb that tree
or even try, they said, or you will be
sent away to the hospital of the
very foolish, if not the other one.
And I suppose, considering my age,
it was fair advice.

But the tree is a sister to me,
she lives alone in a green cottage
high in the air and I know what would
happen, she’d clap her green hands,
she’d shake her green hair,
she’d welcome me. Truly

I try to be good but sometimes
a person just has to break out and
act like the wild and springy thing
one used to be. It’s impossible not
to remember wild and want it back. So

if someday you can’t find me you might
look into that tree or – of course
it’s possible – under it.
Mary Oliver

The Pink Peach Tree       Van Gogh

Peach Trees in Blossom         Van Gogh

Apple Tree in Blossom         Van Gogh


Apple Trees on Chantemesie Hill            Claude Monet


Tree of Life           Gustav Klint

Palms             John Singer Sargent

Sunlight Effect Under the Poplars         Claude Monet

Four Trees         Egon Schlele

The Olive Grove        John Singer Sargent

The Poplars          Claude Monet

Avenue with Flowering Chestnut Trees   Vincent Van Gogh

Trunks in the Grass          Vincent Van Gogh


The Pink Orchard        Vincent Van Gogh



Orchard in Bloom     Claude Monet

The Olive Grove        Vincent Van Gogh

Branches With Almond Blossom         Van Gogh

Orchard in Blossom       Vincent Van Gogh

Pine Trees Against a Red Sky With Setting Sun

The Olive Grove        William Merritt Chase

Beech Trees      Steele

Olive Trees    Van Gogh

The Tree House      Klee

Walking Next To The River Fernando      Botero

Willow Tree

Apple Tree With Red Fruit     Paul-ElieRanson

Blossoming Pear Tree Van Gogh

Apple Trees in Bloom at Giverny        Monet

In the Woods Cezanne

Mulberry Tree Van Gogh

Cypresses        Van Gogh

Red Tree     Mondrian

Birch Forest       Klimt

Beech Forest      Klimt

Apple Tree       Mondrian

Apple Tree      Gustav Klimt

Joy of Life       Matisse

A Palm Tree        Monet

Apricot Trees In Blossom    Van Gogh






























Treecher Trivia


Tree shown on the new Vermont 25¢ coin: Maple

The Dutch disease nearly wiped out this tree: Elm

The Christmas partridge was in this tree: Pear

Spanish moss hangs from this southern tree: Live Oak

Largest tree species by volume: Sequoia

Noah’s dove brought back this branch: Olive

Tree associated with Lebanon: Cedar

Berries from this tree used to make gin: Juniper

The tree with knobby knees: Baldcypress

What little acorns grow into: Oak

Texas state tree: Pecan

John Chapman’s claim to fame: Apple

It is to the south what the lilac is to the north: Crapemyrtle

President Andrew Jackson’s nickname: Hickory

Tree Robert Frost talks about in his poem: Birch

Most common U. S. Tree: Silver Maple

Tropical island tree: Palm

The village smithy worked under this tree: Chestnut

Tree most struck by lightning: Oak

Everlasting life is the symbol of this tree: Yew

The tree with bark like elephant skin. Beech

Favorite tree lovers carve their initials in: Beech

World’s tallest species of tree: Redwood

Oldest living tree (4844 years): Bristlecone Pine

Tree associated with Burmese rain forests: Teak

Mississippi’s state tree: Magnolia

Before barb wire, it was called the “living fence”: Osage Orange

In England this tree is called a sycamore: Maple

The “Lord of the Forest” in New Zealand. Tane Mahuta

The state tree of South Carolina. Palmetto

Men collect tears of sap from this tree often used as incense. Frankinsence

We use the beans from this tree to make chocolate. Cacoa

This tree has the largest seed of all. Coconut

This tree blooms in spring and has markings of the crucifixion on the flower. Dogwood

Long ago people used knots from this tree for light. Pine

This tree is a lunar tree that sheds it’s bark to white limbs. Plane tree or Sycamore

We get delicious syrup for our pancakes from this tree. Sugar Maple

The flower is sweet but the fruit is sour. Lemon

What is the smallest living tree? The dropsickle tree