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Posts Tagged ‘Annulohypoxylon cohaerens Fungi’

1. Abandoned Road

The weather man said that Easter Sunday would be sunny and in the mid-50s so I planned to climb one of our local hills, but instead of sun we had clouds that were low and thick enough to keep the temperature in the low 30s. I quickly changed my plans and decided to hike up to Beaver Brook Falls. Actually it’s more of a walk than a hike because you have an old abandoned road under your feet the whole way.

2. Beaver Brook

The old road was built to access a sawmill in 1736 and follows Beaver Brook to the north of Keene. The brook was relatively placid this day but it hasn’t always been so in the past.

3. Plantain Leaved Sedge

One of the reasons I like to come here is because I can see things here that I can’t find anywhere else, like this plantain leaved sedge (Carex plantaginea.) This is the only place that I’ve ever seen it. It should be blooming before the trees leaf out sometime in mid-April, and I’ll be here to see it.

4. Road

The old road isn’t travelled by car anymore but there were many years that it was. We had relatives living north of Keene when I was a boy so I’m sure I travelled the road many times with my father. I don’t really remember a single instance though; in those days I was far more interested in what was at the end of the road than the journey along it, and I probably couldn’t wait to see my cousins. These days I care more about what I see along the roadsides and don’t think much about when or where they might end. It’s funny how your perspective can change so easily, without any real effort at all.

5. Lines

I don’t suppose the no passing lines will ever wear away now since there has been no traffic on this road since the 1970s.

6. Stairstep Moss

Stair step moss (Hylocomium splendens) gets its name from the way the new growth “steps up” off the midrib of the previous year’s branch.  Each year a new branch grows from the old and this growth habit allows stair step moss to grow up and over other mosses. You can tell the age of the moss by counting these steps. It’s a very tough moss that even grows on the Arctic tundra. It has a certain sparkle to it when it’s dry and is also called glittering wood moss because of it. According to the Islandwood outdoor classroom in Seattle, Washington, stair step moss was once used to chink the logs in log cabins. Wet moss was pressed into the cracks between logs and when it dried it stayed compressed and green for the life of the cabin.

7. Beech Fungus

Annulohypoxylon cohaerens fungi like beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) and that’s where I always find them. They start life brown and mature to the purplish black color seen in the photo, and always remind me of tiny blackberries. Each small rounded growth is about half the diameter of a pea and their lumpy appearance comes from the many nipple shaped pores from which the spores are released. It has no common name apparently, and I had a very hard time identifying it; it took three years before I finally found its scientific name.

8. Smoky Eye Boulder Lichen

Other things I come here to see are the smoky eye boulder lichens (Porpidia albocaerulescens,) not because I can’t find them anywhere else but because of the way the light reflects off their spore bearing apothecial disks here. They look beautifully sky blue in this light, much like the whitish bloom on plums and blueberries make them look blue in the right light and it’s all due to a powdery waxy coating that the lichens and fruits have. The black border on each disk makes them really stand out from the body of the lichen, which can be the golden brown seen here or grayish white. The disks are barely bigger than a written period on paper. This is a really beautiful lichen that’s relatively common on stones and ledges.

9. Washed Out Culvert

The old road is washing away along the brook in more and more places each year. I talked to an old timer up here once who told me that he had seen water up over the road a few times in the past. Chances are one day far in the future there won’t be a road here at all.

10. Guard Rail

Many of the old wooden guard posts that hold the guard wires have rotted off at ground level and hang from the wires but this one was still solid. It’s probably been close to 50 years since they last saw any maintenance. Even the triangular concrete posts used to replace the wooden posts are breaking up and washing downstream.

11. Waterfall

There are a few things that can get me to climb over the guard wires and one of them is this view across the brook of a waterfall that appears sometimes when it rains. I like the mossy rocks and wish I could get over there with dry feet, but the only way I see is by walking through the brook. This photo also illustrates the kind of steep hillsides found on both sides of the road. Together they make this place a canyon that it would be very hard to climb out of.

12. Dog Lichen

The biggest dog lichen (Peltigera membranacea) that I’ve seen grows here. It’s about 9-10 inches across and grows happily surrounded by mosses. The mosses soak up water like a sponge and that keeps the lichen moist as well. When moist it is pliable and feels much like your earlobe but when it dries out it feels more like a potato chip. The grayish / whitish areas show where it’s starting to dry out.

I’ve heard about four different theories behind the name “dog lichen.”  One says that the name refers to the large, lobed body of the lichen looking like dog ears. It sounds plausible, but so do the other three theories I’ve heard. One says the lichen’s fang like rhizines that anchor it to the substrate look like dog’s teeth, another says the entire body looks like a dog, and yet another says that the apothecia, or fruiting bodies, look like dog ears. There’s not a single part of it that reminds me of a dog.

13. Apple Moss

Apple moss (Bartramia pomiformis) gets its common name from its spherical spore capsules that some say look like tiny green apples. Reproduction begins in the late fall for this moss and immature spore capsules (sporophytes) appear by late winter. When the warmer rains of spring arrive the straight, toothpick like sporophytes swell at their tips and form tiny green globes.

14. Path to Brook

The path down to the brook near the falls is steep and getting steeper all the time because it’s slowly washing away. Each time I stand here I ask myself if I’m not getting too old for this but each time if it isn’t icy, down I go. It’s a kind of half slide/ half climb situation going down so coming back up is always easier.

15. Beaver Brook Falls

The reason I climb down to the brook is of course to see an unobstructed view of the falls, which people who stay up on the road don’t get to see. It was really too shady to be down here on this day but I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m guessing the falls are about 40 feet high but I’ve also heard all kinds of other guesses about its height. I don’t think anyone really knows, but I’m inclined to believe the old timers. It’s high enough so I know I wouldn’t want to ride down it.

16. Above the Falls

I’ve shown this place many times on this blog but I’ve never shown this view of Beaver Brook from above the falls. It’s a bit hard to see because of all the trees but it was the best I could do. When I took the previous photo of the falls I was down there at water level. You don’t really understand what that means until you see it from up here.

It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things. ~Nicholas Sparks

Thanks for coming by.

 

 

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1. Crocus Blossoms on Easter

I finally saw some crocus blossoms on Easter morning. They bloom in what was once a flower bed by a now vacant print shop and I was very happy to see them. Passers by might have wondered what I was doing kneeling there in the leaf strewn soil beside a busy street rather than on a prie dieu on Easter morning, but what better way to show your appreciation of the artist than by losing yourself in the beauty of his art.

2. Witch Hazel Blooms

The spring blooming witch hazels (Hamamelis) in a local park have finally blossomed. I’ve been watching them for about two weeks and have noticed that they’ve been really shy about opening this year.

3. Feather on Cornelian Cherry

I went to see if the Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) that lives near the witch hazels was blooming yet, but instead of flowers I got feathers. The bud scales have started opening though, so it won’t be long. This ancient plant is from Europe and is in the dogwood family and I look forward to seeing its small, bright yellow blossoms.

4. Alder Catkins

The brown and purple bud scales on the male catkins of speckled alders (Alnus incana) are opening wider to show the flowers beneath. These scales are on short stalks and surround a central axis. There are three flowers beneath each scale, each with a lobed calyx cup and three to five stamens with anthers covered in yellow pollen. If you watch them closely at this time of year you can see more of the yellow pollen appearing each day.

 5. Skunk Cabbage

The skunk cabbages (Symplocarpus foetidus) seem to be doing really well this year. The clumps are larger with more plants and there are more clumps in this spot than I’ve seen in the past. The green shoots seen in front of the mottled spathes in this photo are future leaves which, for a short time as they begin to unfurl, will resemble cabbage leaves. You wouldn’t want to taste them though, even if you could get past the skunk like odor, because the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals which can cause a severe burning sensation of the mouth and tongue. Deer and black bears seem to be about the only ones immune to it. Another good reason to not eat skunk cabbage is because the very deadly false hellebore (Veratrum viride) often grows right beside it. Personally I don’t know why anyone would want to eat skunk cabbage but if you don’t know how to tell it from false hellebore it’s best to just leave both plants alone.

7. Skunk Cabbage Flowers

Like most arums, inside the spathe is the spadix, which in the case of skunk cabbage is a one inch round, often pink or yellow stalked flower head from which the small flowers emerge. The flowers don’t have petals but do have four yellowish sepals. The male stamens grow up through the sepals and release their pollen before the female style and pistil grow out of the flower’s center to catch any pollen that visiting insects might carry from other plants. The spadix carries most of the skunk like odor at this stage of the plant’s life, and it is thought that it uses the odor to attract flies and other early spring insects. Some describe the odor as rotting meat but it always smells skunky to me.

6. Yellow Skunk Cabbage

I’ve been seeing more yellow green skunk cabbage spathes this year than I ever have. I’m not sure what determines their color but the yellow ones appear right beside the darker red / maroon ones, so it doesn’t seem like it would be anything in the soil or water.

8. Muddy Road

Here in northern New England we have a fifth season that we call mud season, and it is now upon us. I heard on the news the other day that the mud is 12-16 inches deep in parts of the state, but I haven’t seen it that bad here yet except on logging roads. Quite often the mud gets bad enough to close unpaved roads and the logging industry virtually grinds to a halt until things dry out. When the frost is 3 or 4 deep in the ground and the top two feet of a road thaws the melt water is sitting on frozen ground and has nowhere to go, and this results in a car swallowing quagmire that acts almost like quicksand. Those who live on unpaved roads have quite a time of it every year at this time.

 9. Brittle Cinder Fungus

Brittle cinder fungus (Kretzschmaria deusta) starts life as a beautiful soft gray crust fungus with white edges. As they age they blacken and look like burnt wood and become very brittle and are easily crushed. They grow on dead hardwoods and cause soft rot, which breaks down both cellulose and lignin. In short, this is one of the fungi that help turn wood into compost. Younger examples have a hard lumpy crust or skin, a piece of which can be seen in the upper left of the example in the photo.

10. Brittle Cinder fungus aka Kretzschmaria deusta

Here is a photo from last June which shows how beautiful the brittle crust fungus is when it’s young. It’s hard to believe that it’s the same fungus that’s in the previous photo.

11. Annulohypoxylon cohaerens Fungi

 Annulohypoxylon cohaerens fungi like beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) and that’s where I always find them. They start life brown and mature to a purplish black color, and always remind me of tiny blackberries. Each small rounded growth is about half the diameter of a pea and their lumpy appearance comes from the many nipple shaped pores from which the spores are released. They were one of the hardest things to identify that I’ve ever found in nature and I wondered what they could be for a few years. They have no common name that I can find.

12. Bigtooth Aspen Bud

Since I’m color blind I often confuse red and green so even though this aspen bud looked red to me by the time I got home I’d convinced myself that it had to have been green. Once I saw the photo it still looked red, so as usual I let my color finding software have the final say and it sees orange, brown and red. I never knew aspen buds were so colorful, and it seems that I just haven’t been paying attention. I think the tree was a bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata) which gets its common name from the sharply pointed teeth on its leaves.

13. April Great Blue Heron

I was surprised recently to see a great blue heron hunting last year’s cattails (Typha) in a small pond beside the road. I knew if I made a move he’d fly away, so I took this shot through my passenger window.  Most of the larger lakes and ponds are still ice covered, so I think he’s a little early. I’ve heard red winged blackbirds but no frogs yet, so he’ll probably have a fish diet for a while.

Away from the tumult of motor and mill
I want to be care-free; I want to be still!
I’m weary of doing things; weary of words
I want to be one with the blossoms and birds.

~Edgar A. Guest

Thanks for coming by.

 

 

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Note to those new to this blog: Quite often I have photos of a lot of different things which for whatever reason didn’t make it into other blog posts. I save them all up and when I have enough I use them in a “things I’ve seen” post. They are by far the toughest posts of all because of the research involved but they seem to be popular, so I keep putting them together when I have the time. I hope you’ll enjoy this one.

1. Glossy Buckthorn Leaf

I liked the color of this leaf but didn’t pay much attention to what it was attached to until I looked at the photo, which shows vertical lenticels (pores) on the branch it was on. I couldn’t think of any tree or shrub that had vertical lenticels; cherry, birch, alder and other common trees and shrubs that grow in this area have horizontal lenticels. A little Googling told me that it must be glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus,) a very invasive shrub that I’ve never noticed in this spot. If you’ve seen anything similar I’d like to hear about it.

2. Feather on a Branch

I’m always finding feathers blowing around out there and this one was blowing even as I snapped the shutter. It has a dreamy kind of look. Or maybe it’s just out of focus.

 3. Black Jelly Fungus

It looks like someone must have smeared black paint or tar on this limb but I’ve been fooled by this before. It is really a black jelly fungus (Exidia glandulosa,) which shrivels down to a flake when it dries out. As you look at the following photo try to remember how flat it is here.

4. Black Jelly Fungus 2

This is the same black jelly fungus in the previous photo after some rain fell. It swelled up to 10 times the size and became clusters of shiny black, pillow shaped fruit bodies. They aren’t shiny everywhere though; if you take a close look at most jelly fungi you’ll find areas that are shiny and areas that have a matte like finish. Most jelly fungi have these two different surfaces and some, like amber jelly fungi (Exidia recisa,) produce their spores on the shiny areas. Why they wait until winter to produce them is a mystery to me. Black jellies are quite large and can be seen from a distance, and I almost always find them on alder branches.

5. Mole Hill

The moles are telling me that the soil hasn’t frozen yet. People seem to get very upset when they see evidence of moles in their gardens but though their tunnels might be unsightly they really don’t do any damage to plants. Contrary to popular belief, moles do not eat more than an occasional bite or two of vegetation. They don’t eat grass or tree roots, bulbs, tree bark or the roots of annuals, perennials or vegetables. They aren’t rodents but are members of the order Insectivora and are primarily carnivores with a diet of beetle grubs, earthworms, beetles, and insect larvae. Among the small amount of plant material they do eat are fungi, and this can help clean up infected tree roots. One study of the stomach contents of 100 moles showed that only one had eaten vegetation, so if trails and burrows along with plant damage are seen then it is most likely caused by voles. Unlike moles, they can do a lot of damage to both trees and garden plants.

6. Black Raspberry

Though November was cold here December was mild. Mild enough apparently to fool this black raspberry into thinking it was spring. How do I know it’s a black raspberry? Because of the blue “bloom” on the stem. First year canes of black raspberry (and many other plants, fruits, and even lichens) use this waxy coating as a form of protection against harsh sunlight among other things, but raspberries and blackberries do not. There are several other ways to identify a black raspberry but this is the easiest way for those too lazy to use them.

7. Red Elderberry Buds

The chubby buds of red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) might have been fooled by the warmth too. They don’t usually show their beautiful purple color until they begin to swell in spring. The streaks of green down the middle show that the bud scales have started separating, and that isn’t good at this time of year because the bud scales protect the tiny new leaves and flowers within. Spring might reveal some deformed and / or burned leaves and flowers this year and that would be too bad, because red elderberry is one of the most beautiful plants in the forest in spring when its buds break to reveal its deep purple leaves.  Once the leaves begin to green up and photosynthesize the plant will produce white flowers that will be followed by bright red berries. The berries are a favorite of many birds and animals but they, along with all other parts of this plant, can make us quite sick.

8. Fungal Growth on Beech bark

Before I started nature blogging I sometimes said “Gee that’s interesting” and never went much further in trying to identify what I had seen, but when you start trying to explain to others what you have seen and what makes it so interesting you find that you have to be part scientist and part detective.  A good example of the detective work involved is the 3 years it has taken to identify these tiny fungi which I’m now fairly certain are called Annulohypoxylon cohaerens. Sorry but they have no common name, apparently. Every other time I’ve seen them they have been growing on American Beech logs (Fagus grandifolia,) but this time grew on a standing tree. They are hard, blackish lumps which are described as “perithecia with ostiole papillate stroma.” Come to think of it you also have to be a translator, which I’ll try to be after the next photo.

9. Fungal Growth on Beech bark

“Perithecia with ostiole papillate stroma” means (I think) that the fruiting bodies of the fungus are round or flask-shaped (Perithecia). Ostiole means the fruiting body has small pores which the spores are discharged through and papillate means that they are nipple or pustule shaped.  A stroma is a cushion like mass of fungal tissue. So all of that means that we have a round, cushion like mass of fungal tissue with tiny, nipple shaped pores, and if you look closely at the above photo you’ll see that they are exactly that. They are also often very small –less than half the diameter of an average pea. I’m very glad that I don’t have to wonder what they are anymore.

 10. Unknown Yellow Fungi in Log

But I’m not entirely through wondering, because no one who studies nature ever is.  I saw a flash of yellow in the crack in a log as I walked by and, though it was too small to see very well the camera revealed something that looks like a bunch of lemon drop fungi (Bisporella citrina) all squashed together. They usually grow as tiny yellow disks on the surfaces of logs, so I’m not real sure what is going on here. I’ve never seen anything else like it.

11. Red Tailed hawk

We have many cornfields here in Keene and recently I’ve been watching what I’m fairly certain is a red tailed hawk hunting them. I haven’t been able to get a decent phot of this bird but several times I’ve watched him fly from the tallest tree in one area to the tallest tree in another, always in sight of the corn stubbled, open fields. For this shot I had my lens maxed out as far as its zoom capabilities, which would be the equivalent of about 8oo mm on a DSLR, but he still saw me and flew even further away.

 12. Boreal Oakmoss Lichen

When I hear the word “boreal” I think of tundra and the cold north woods of Canada, but it turns out that we have at least a bit of boreal right here in New Hampshire in the form of boreal oakmoss lichen. If that is, I have identified it correctly. With the help of my new lichen book Lichens of North America, I think I have.  I find this lichen on both hardwoods and softwoods, usually on the branches of birch or white pine and it’s very easy to spot at this time of year.

13. Dark Green Lichen

This lichen has had me confused for a few years now and still does, even with the new lichen book. I’m fairly certain it is one of the beard or horse hair lichens (Bryoria,) but I can’t figure out which species. Every time I’ve seen it, it has been growing on the branches or trunks of white pines (Pinus strobus), often very near the boreal oakmoss lichens in the previous photo. If you know what it might be I’d love to hear from you.

14. Pine sap

White pines seem to bleed their resin all summer long, especially where they have been damaged. The resin is amber colored and very sticky but in the winter it hardens and turns a whitish color. Usually, that is-in this instance it turned blue. I’m not sure what caused the damage on this tree but I’m guessing that parts of it might have been caused by a porcupine. They will eat the inner bark of white pines and can kill a tree if they girdle it.

15. Pine Sap

Here’s a closer look at the bluest part of the frozen pine resin. In the past I’ve been fooled by pine sap that has dripped on stones and turned blue. They looked just like some kind of blue crustose lichen, so if you find “blue lichens” on a horizontal face of a stone that is near a white pine I’d be wary of them. If it is on a vertical face of the stone where pine resin couldn’t possibly have dripped then it could really be a blue lichen. They’re rare, but I have seen them.

All is mystery; but he is a slave who will not struggle to penetrate the dark veil. ~Benjamin Disraeli

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