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Posts Tagged ‘Black Knot Disease’

There is a little stream that I pass each day that I like to visit up close every now and then, just to see what changes have taken place and to see all the things I missed on my previous visits.

It was cold enough for there to be ice.

Here an ice bauble had formed around a stick that was sticking up out of the water.

This stream is called a meandering stream because of its sinuous, snake like curves. This shot shows how gravel has built up on the inside, slower part of the curve (left) which is called a point bar, and how this forces the water to eat away at the embankment on the faster outside part of the curve (right). In this way the stream swings from side to side over the length of its course and this is known as a meander belt. According to what I’ve read the length of the meander belt is typically from 15 to 18 times the width of the stream or river. But wait a minute I say, because this is a view of the stream when it is calm. After we’ve had a lot of rain I’ve seen it swell to 10 times this width, enough to cover all of the ground in these photos and more, so I wonder how that affects its meander.

A squirrel had a fine meal of white pine seeds if I am to judge by this large pile of scales at the base of the tree. Squirrels like to sit on something when they eat and I’ve seen these piles at the base of stumps, rocks, and even fence posts. They don’t like to eat while on the ground and I’ve always thought it was because they could spot predators better up a little higher.

I spotted a fine crop of what I believe were mock or orange oyster (Phyllotopsis nidulans) mushrooms. Since they were frozen solid and I couldn’t get above them I can’t really be sure but they were a touch of woodland beauty nevertheless. I didn’t see it at the time but you can see how the underside of the large example just above center has been gnawed on. I’ve seen squirrels eat mushrooms but I can’t say for sure what animal did it.

One of the bracket fungi that sort of mimic the common turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) is the thin-maze flat polypore (Daedaleopsis confragosa). (There are a few others) Since turkey tails have pores and these have what appear to be gills they are hard to confuse. Thin maze flat polypores start life very white but turn gray as they age. They have some zoning like turkey tails and are often covered with green algae.

The pores on this bracket fungus are elongated and can resemble gills but in any event they are very different than the “pin hole” pores found on the underside of turkey tails.

I did see some turkey tails but there were only two or three and they were so beautiful I couldn’t bear to pick one and show you its pores. Turkey tails are sabprobic fungi, meaning they decompose dead or decaying organic material. Though they do occasionally grow on live trees, if you find them on a standing tree it is most likely dead. Turkey tails cause white rot of the sapwood. They also show great promise in cancer research.

Last year at work I was lucky enough to find some chicken of the woods mushrooms (Laetiporus sulphureus) that I could watch every day, and toward the end of their time they looked exactly like the dead, white examples seen here. Too bad I didn’t see them when they were alive; they’re a big beautiful, very colorful mushroom.

One of the reasons I wanted to come here was to visit my friends the tree mosses (Climacium dendroides). This is the only spot I’ve ever found them so they aren’t common in this area, but they are spreading here along the little stream. On this day some of them looked a little brown but I hope they’ll come back. They must not mind being under water for a time because when the stream floods they get very drenched, growing as they do right on its bank.

They are cheery mosses that remind me of little palm trees, and they always glow with a beautiful inner light.

I’ve spoken about frost cracks many times on this blog but I read recently in the excellent book Woods Whys by Michael Snyder that though frost cracks are indeed caused by cold that isn’t all of the story. Frost cracks usually appear where there is previous damage to the tree, such as the scar on this young maple. I have a feeling that this was caused by a male white tail deer rubbing its antlers on the tree.

I can’t guess what other animal would peel bark in strips like this. Porcupines eat bark but to my knowledge they don’t peel it and leave it like this. And I didn’t see any teeth marks.

By the way; though the book Woods Whys would be a great addition to any nature library I was told that it was out of print. Luckily though my local bookstore was able to find a copy after two weeks of searching, so if you’d like a copy don’t give up because they are out there.

This tree stand told me that my thoughts about buck rubs might be accurate. It’s a simple thing; a hunter would climb the ladder and sit at the top, waiting for a deer. But sitting up there in November waiting all day for a deer to wander by would take something that I apparently don’t have in me.

This natural trail leads into a swamp that the stream feeds into. I believe this trail was made by beavers. When the stream floods this entire area is under water.

There were animal tracks leading into the swamp.

This shows that even animals slip on the ice. I think there are the tracks of two animals here; the one in the upper left has nails like a fox or a small dog and the others look more like a cat, possibly a bobcat. In any event there was a lot of traffic going into the swamp.

This stump and quite a few others showed plenty of fairly recent beaver activity. By the way that stump is iron wood, which isn’t called that for nothing. I’ve also seen beavers chew through elm, which is another very tough species.

By looking at the black knot damage on this old cherry it was easy to see where the stories of ogres living in the woods came from. Black knot disease is caused by the fungus Apiosporina morbosa which can also attack plums, peaches, and apricots. If not pruned off and burned as soon as possible when the tree is young it will kill the tree, and I don’t think this one has far to go.

Even in what appears to be a dry area these fertile, spore bearing fronds of sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) tell a different story. Sensitive fern is an indicator species and it indicates that you’re in a wetland, so you had better have your boots on.

Sensitive fern fertile fronds are pretty things to stop and admire in winter. In this case the typically round spore capsules had opened, and this is something few people see. It isn’t a rare sight though in my experience; I think people simply don’t look.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little meander by a meandering stream. I had a great time and as is often the case, I had to pull myself away.

The waters of the stream played the part of the orchestra, and the sunlight provided the dancers. Every now and then a crescendo of wind highlighted the symphony in the clearing by the creek.
~Edward Mooney Jr.

Thanks for coming by.

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1. Ashuelot River

We’ve had a few really cold days and a little snow but all in all our winter has seen above average temperatures and below average snowfall. I decided to take a walk along the Ashuelot River last weekend to celebrate the relative warmth.

2. Ice

I thought I might see some interesting ice formations since the temperature dropped below freezing the night before, but ice was hard to find. A few baubles had formed on this clump of reed growing in the water.

3. Ice Drop

This one looked like a teardrop. It seems odd that it could have formed in that shape since water drops fall straight down as they freeze, but there it was.

4. White Feather

A small but beautiful white feather was trapped in the ice just off shore.  I see quite a few feathers and don’t take photos of all of them but I liked what the water had done to this one.

5. Ashuelot River Falls

Ashuelot falls in Keene showed no signs of freezing. The dam that creates the falls was first built in 1775 by Elisha Briggs to power grist and sawmills. It was improved over the years and went from wood to stone, and went on to power woolen mills from 1815 to 1935. There is talk of removing it by some, but others want to use it to generate power. I’m for returning it to its natural state. Meanwhile the river rolls on, not caring one way or another.

6. Black Knot on Cherry

Black knot disease grew on a black cherry. It is caused by the fungus Apiosporina morbosa which can also attack plums, peaches, and apricots. Spores from the fungus can be spread by rain or wind and typically infect trees from April through June on new growth. Infected stems swell up and produce hard black knots like those in the above photo. This disease can eventually kill the tree so infected limbs should be pruned off 2-4 inches below the knots and buried or burned before bud break the following spring.

7. Tiny Button Lichen aka Amandinea punctata

There are many gray lichens with black fruiting bodies (Apothecia) growing on trees but I think this one might be tiny button lichen (Amandinea punctata.) An unusual fact about this lichen is how its gray body (Thallus) can sometimes be missing, leaving only the dark apothecia on the tree bark. Something else unusual about it is its tolerance of pollutants and toxins. Most lichens will refuse to grow where there is air pollution but this one doesn’t seem to mind. That’s not a very comforting thought.

8. Milk White Toothed Polypore

I just spoke about the milk white toothed polypore (Irpex lacteus) not too long ago but I keep running into them and I find them very interesting. This is a “winter” fungus that can appear quite late in the year. It is also a resupinate fungus, which means it looks like it grows upside down, and that’s what many crust fungi seem to do. Their spore bearing surface can be wrinkled, smooth, warty, toothed, or porous and though they appear on the undersides of logs the main body of the fungus is in the wood, slowly decomposing it. This is not a good one to see on a live tree.

9. Milk White Toothed Polypore Closeup

An extreme close-up of the milk white toothed polypore’s “teeth” shows that they are just ragged bits of spore bearing tissue. They start life as tubes or pores and break apart and turn brown as they age.

10. Sumac Fruit

It seems like the hairy berries of staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) would be hard for a bird to swallow but apparently not, because many birds eat them. Native Americans used these berries for thousands of years to make a lemonade substitute that I’ve always wanted to try, and in some countries the berries are ground and used as a lemon flavored spice. It makes me wonder if birds have taste buds. If so they must like lemon flavoring.

11. Unknown Grass

I thought this yellow ornamental grass was beautiful against the white of the snow in a public garden. Unfortunately it has encroached on what looks to be a dwarf spirea and I’m glad that I’m not the one who has to weed it out. I’m not sure what the name of the grass is but after some research I’m leaning toward a Japanese forest grass called Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola.’  This grass is said to be shade tolerant and makes a good companion plant for hosta, ferns, and other shade lovers. But not spirea, apparently.

12. Hemlock Cone

Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees surround my house and that’s a good thing because black capped chickadees love their tiny seeds and that means I get to hear their song all year long. My favorite season is spring when I can hear the male bird’s sad but beautiful Fee Bee mating call. In fact I’ve heard it for such a long time and now it doesn’t feel like spring unless I do.

13. Tree Canker

A wound or a branch stub is an excellent place for a tree to become infected by fungi in the winter months when it is dormant. In spring and throughout the growing season the tree tries to heal its wound and produces callus tissue around the site of the infection. When winter returns the infection appears once again and once again in the warmer months the tree tries to heal with more callus tissue. This infection / healing cycle year after year is called perennial canker and it produced the ring like growth seen in the photo above. Though it doesn’t always kill the tree it always seems to make them look sad, and In this case it’s no wonder; to add insult to injury a woodpecker has been pecking at the wound on this tree.

14. Grass

Imagine; green grass in January. It’s a rare winter sight here, especially when it has survived being snowed on.

I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful — an endless prospect of magic and wonder. ~Ansel Adams

Thanks for stopping in.

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