This is another of those posts full of all those things that don’t seem to fit anywhere else.
Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) berries are forming. This is an extreme close up of them. The fuzziness is what gives the plant its common name. I watched these berries closely last fall to see how long it would take for the birds to eat them. Much to my surprise, they weren’t eaten until migrating birds like red winged blackbirds returned in the spring. Birds that stay here year round don’t seem to like them.
The blue of the berries on a blue bead lily (Clintonia borealis) plant is hard to match anywhere else in nature. It’s a kind of electric, neon blue that is very easy to see in the forest. Birds and chipmunks love these berries though, so they can be hard to find before they’re eaten.
Native blue bead lily is also called corn lily, cow tongue, yellow bead lily, yellow blue bead lily, snake berry, dog berry, and straw lily. Native Americans used this plant treat injuries and bruises.
This bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) had a bunch of red berries.
The witch hazels (Hamamelis virginiana) have nipple galls, made by the witch hazel gall aphid (Hormaphis hamamelidis). These galls won’t hurt the plant, but they do look a little strange. They are also called cone heads.
When Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) stand up straight from their usual nodding position that means the flowers have been pollinated. Soon after the plants begin to darken as they put all their energy into making seeds. The plant gets its common name from the way its nodding flowers resemble the peace pipe used by Native Americans. Other names include corpse plant, death plant, ice plant, ghost flower, bird’s nest, fairy smoke, eyebright, fit plant, and convulsion root.
After fertilization a single seed capsule containing thousands of tiny seeds forms. In spite of its toxicity, Native Americans used Indian pipe medicinally to treat a variety of illnesses. Colonial Americans also used the plant in the same way.
At a quick glance pinesap plants look much like Indian pipes, but a closer look shows that pinesap is a yellow / tan /reddish color compared to the stark white of Indian pipes. Indian pipes also have a single flower and pinesap has several, the buds of which can be seen in this photo. Despite their differences the two plants are closely related.
I had to go to the local recycling center last week and saw this pile of crushed glass sparkling like gemstones in the bright sunlight. Naturally, I had to get a picture of it.
This photo of orange spindle coral fungi (Ramariopsis laeticolor) isn’t the sharpest I’ve ever taken, but they are tiny things and it was quite dark where they grew. Soon coral mushrooms of all kinds will be seen all over the forest floor.
This blue slime mold was even smaller than the spindle coral mushrooms and grew in an even darker place. I don’t like to use a flash unless it is absolutely necessary but in this case, it was. Blue is a very rare color among slime molds in this area and I’m always happy to see it. Though I haven’t been able to positively identify it, I think it could be Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa.
Scrambled egg slime mold (Fuligo septica) looks just like scrambled eggs at this stage in its development. Tomorrow it could look entirely different or might have disappeared completely.
Wax cap mushrooms prefer areas that have not been worked by man and I find them in the two or three old undisturbed forests that I visit. There are over 250 species of wax caps and all are very colorful. I haven’t been able to identify these except to assume that they are part of the hygrocybe group.
If you give a Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) flower head (Umbel) a quick glance you might think that there was a small insect right in the middle of it. That’s not an insect though-it’s a tiny, infertile flower that’s less than half the size of a pea. Not all plants have these central florets that can be purple, pink, or sometimes blood red. From what I’ve seen in this area it seems that as many plants have it as those that do not.
This is a close up of the tiny purple floret that sometimes appears on a Queen Anne’s lace flower head. I’ve heard many theories of why this floret grows the way it does but the bottom line is that botanists don’t really know why. It seems to serve no useful purpose, but it might have at one time.
Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. ~ John Muir
Thanks for stopping in.