Special Note: In case you haven’t heard today (Saturday) and tomorrow nights are nights of the “super moon,” when the moon is expected to appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than at any other time this year. As if that weren’t enough, the Eta Aquarid meteor display also happens this weekend. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post:
Every now and then I run across something that I think is really interesting so I take a picture of it. Then when I’m putting a blog post together quite often the interesting thing doesn’t really fit in, so it sits and waits for another post. This post contains all of those things that just wouldn’t fit in anywhere else. I hope you’ll think they are as interesting as I did. Opened cones of the Eastern white cedar or arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis.) I’ve seen many thousands of these but the color of these ones was simply amazing; a beautiful non-flower that looks like a flower. There was a big black slug beside these spring mushrooms, and I wondered if it had been eating them. From what I’ve read, this is most likely the slug called black arion (Arion ater,) also known as the European black slug, which is an invasive species. There is a catch all category of difficult to identify mushroom called LBMs, which stands for little brown mushrooms. Some are harmless and some, like those in the genus Galerina are deadly. They can grow in spring, summer or fall and are often found on logs. I wonder if they are toxic to slugs too. Oak marble gall. Galls can be caused by various insects laying their eggs on the twigs (usually a wasp.) The oak tries to protect itself by growing a gall around the insect eggs. Little does the oak know that this is exactly what the insect wants it to do; once the eggs hatch the larva eat their way out of the gall, leaving a tiny escape hole in the shell of an empty brown marble. If you find one with no hole like those in the photo, an insect larva is still in residence. Iron sulfate mixed with tannic acid from oak galls made ink that was the standard writing and drawing ink from the 12th century until well into the 20th century. Some still use it today.
I haven’t shown any lichens for a while, so here is a nice one. The rain we’ve had recently should plump most lichens up. Because this has a leafy look it is in the foliose lichen family. I haven’t shown any turkey tails (Trametes versicolor ) lately either. Here they are growing on a mossy tree trunk. I see them almost everywhere I go, but I’m still searching for a blue one. If I could find blue turkey tails and some blue lichens I’d be a mighty happy hiker.
These virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana) seeds shining in the sun were an attention getter. Virgin’s bower is our native wild clematis vine that blooms anytime from July through September. It is usually found draped over shrubs or climbing up trees. Clusters of small white flowers cover the plant, and the hairy looking seeds that follow give it another common name: Old Man’s Beard. I have the cultivated variety that blooms in the fall growing on a trellis in my yard. The fragrance is unmatched.
The very top of a pine tree broke off and was lying on the ground in the middle of a trail. My grandmother had a cuckoo clock that used metal pine cones as weights to keep the clock running and those cones looked exactly like this one. I remember as a boy wanting those metal pine cones very badly, but I can’t remember why. Maybe it was because they tried to be as beautifully bronze-like as the real one shown here.
This lone milkweed was the only one to escape the roadside mowing crew last year, and then it stood all through the winter. For perseverance alone, I thought it deserved having its picture taken. This is another tree root that I thought looked beautiful enough to have been carved by an artist. The smooth, sanded and polished look that comes to wood from weathering is amazing, and I always wonder how many years it took nature to create such a thing. I have a bookcase that holds several wooden art objects like this, and it’s very hard for me to leave these foundlings behind in the forest. And that is precisely why I don’t carry a saw.
This is the kind of weather we’ve seen here this week. I’m hoping for clearing so I can see the moon this weekend.
The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~Author Unknown
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these things that I occasionally stumble upon in the fields and forests. Thanks for visiting. Be safe in the woods.