ivy duff

From a couple days ago, in my 1/22 posting “Squirrely”:

Left on their own, the ivy [Hedera helix] leaves just turn brown and leathery, repelling water rather than decomposing. But urine acts as an agent for decomposition, and a big pile of ivy leaves have now decayed satisfyingly into a layer of duff (posting on duff to come separately).

So I’ve been successfully creating ivy duff, little bit by little bit, building up a sunken border on my patio.

It appears that ivy duff is very much not a thing; searches on the expression net women named Ivy Duff on dating sites, but nothing from the forest floor.

Even earlier on this blog, on 8/12/16: “Trapped in the morning duff”, about the morning names mire, tar pit, and duff. Where I noted that

NOAD2 has five senses of duff, most of unknown or unsure origin

with the relevant sense being:

duff 2 noun N. Amer. & Scottish  1 decaying vegetable matter covering the ground under trees.  [AMZ: duff is nature’s own mulch] 2 Mining coal dust; dross. adjective Brit. informal of very poor quality: duff lyrics. – incorrect or false: she played a couple of duff notes. ORIGIN late 18th cent. (denoting something worthless): of unknown origin.

(noun mulch: material (such as decaying leaves, bark, or compost) spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil.)

#3 in that posting shows volunteers removing the duff on a new trail at Bear Run (in the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy).

Closer to (my) home, here’s some fresh Ponderosa pine duff:


In desert-dry conditions, it will eventually crumble; in wetter locations, it will decay gracefully. Then there’s redwood duff, which flourishes in moist redwood forests. From the Las Pilitas Nursery site (Santa Margarita CA) page on the coast redwood forest:

(#2) Oxalis oregona, redwood sorrel, in the heavy redwood duff (plus ferns)

The importance of mulch in the Redwood forest: Debris is very important in the forest. Fallen trees provide habitat as well as a source of nutrients after decomposition. On the forest floor it is not uncommon to see ferns and other small herbaceous plants take root on top of a fallen tree. Young redwood trees can actually be seen growing out of dead logs.

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