This post is another collection of things that haven’t fit in other posts.
The stiff, woody seed pods of arborvitae look like tiny carved flowers. Arborvitaes are in the cedar family and are used extensively in commercial landscaping. I think this one was a Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis.) Native Americans used the foliage of this tree to treat scurvy and European explorers called it the tree of life. Its wood is very rot resistant.
The back of this single hydrangea blossom reminded me of an insect’s wing. Hydrangeas are another common landscape shrub with flowers that can be white, pink, or blue. My grandmother always called hers “snowballs,” because that’s what the round clusters of white flowers looked like. The word hydrangea comes from the Greek “hydra” meaning water and “angeoa” meaning vessel, which refers to the shape of its seed pod. The ancient Greeks thought the pods resembled the vessels that they used to carry water in, apparently.
One day I as I was going into my house a drop of water fell on my coat sleeve. As I fiddled with the key, out of the corner of my eye I could see the water beading and glistening like mercury, so I held my arm as steady as I could while I took pictures with my left hand. (I’m right handed) It wasn’t until I got the picture on the computer that I saw that the reflected blue sky and white clouds had turned a simple drop of water into what looked like crashing waves.
I wasn’t happy to find Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) growing alongside one of my favorite trails. This shrub is highly invasive because of its bright red berries that birds love. It spreads easily, will grow in the shade, and is hard to eradicate once it becomes established. The worst part of the plant is its thorns, which are as sharp as needles and easily pierce clothing.
Small, white and very fuzzy split gill mushrooms (Schizophyllum commune ) grew on a fallen tree. This fungus is special because it is the most widespread mushroom known and grows on every continent on earth except Antarctica. The only reason it doesn’t grow there is because there is no wood there for it to grow on. Though it looks like a bracket fungus it isn’t considered one because it has gills. This example was about as big as a nickel.
Books will tell you that split gill mushrooms get their common name from the way their gills are split. It sounds simple until you try to picture how they are split. As this photo shows they are split lengthwise. When this mushroom dries out the gills split and get hairy, as the picture also shows. After they get some needed moisture most of the hairiness disappears and they look a lot like the gills on any other mushroom.
If you speak Greek you know that “lyco” means wolf and “perdon” means “to break wind,” so you wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that the common name of these puffballs is “wolf fart puffballs” (Lycoperdon pyriforme.) I found these growing on a log just before our last snow storm.
Lipstick powder horn lichens (Cladonia macilenta) look a lot like British soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella,) but they have a single, small red tip instead of the larger, multiple red tips of British soldier lichens.
I think this might be Entodon cladorrhizans moss, but I’m not 100 percent sure. Entodon mosses are called “carpet moss.” These plants were hanging from the side of a stone.
Pale yellow sulfur fire dot lichen (Caloplaca flavovirescens.) likes to grow on stone that is calcium rich. I found it growing on a stone that was part of stone wall that was probably 200 years or more old. This is a crustose lichen, which means that it forms a crust that grows so tightly to the substrate that it can’t be removed without damage.
For observing nature, the best pace is a snail’s pace. ~Edwin Way Teale
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