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Posts Tagged ‘Pinesap’

1. Trail Start

Recently our local newspaper showed a photo of a paving machine and told about a local section of rail trail that was being paved.  I thought that a paved rail trail would be a great place to ride a bike so I went to see it. The above photo shows what I found; a trail that had been graded and had some gravel added to it, but wasn’t paved. Paving by definition means a road or path has been covered by a hard surface like concrete, asphalt, stones, or bricks but this trail obviously hasn’t seen any of those, so I’m not sure what the reporter was thinking.

2. Construction Sign

This isn’t a sign that you expect to see on a rail trail. The Virginia creeper that is slowly covering it tells me that it has been here for a while.

3. Drainage Ditch

The trail had been widened and the original drainage ditches that were laid out by the railroad had been dug out and looked like they were working well.

4. Bike Riders

I saw a few bicyclists who weren’t having any trouble riding on the now well packed gravel but I spoke with some who said it was terrible at first; so soft and loose that it was difficult to even walk on.  Of course many of these rail trails are maintained by snowmobile clubs, paid for by donations, and in January it won’t matter how loose the gravel is to them. Since the rest of us benefit from their hard work and dedication it’s hard to complain about anything they do to improve the trails and keep them open.

5. Arch Street

When on a rail trail you often don’t realize how much higher or lower you are than the surrounding terrain, so it can be quite a surprise to find yourself 30 or 40 feet above a road you just drove on.

6. Arch Street Underpass

Railroads did all they could to keep the rail beds as level and straight as possible and if that meant filling in low spots with thousands of tons of soil, then so be it. In this photo the rail bed is way up above this tunnel that runs underneath it; just where I was standing in the previous photo. I think they built the tunnel for the road to run through first and then filled in around it to create the rail bed. It was a job well done; this tunnel has been here for well over a hundred years and not a stone has moved. Shortly after it was built the Old Chesterfield Road, laid out in the 1700s, was renamed Arch Street in honor of the beautiful stonework.

7. Stone Arch Culvert

You can find the same quality of workmanship out in the middle of nowhere. When a stream was in the way of a rail bed the railroad engineers just bridged it with what are sometimes beautiful stonework culverts. These men took pride in their work and did the best job they could do, not because someone was watching but because of the pride they had in their abilities and the self-respect that simply wouldn’t let them do shoddy work.

8. Pine

This white pine had been hit by something that peeled its bark about 8 feet up its trunk and left a gaping wound that will let fungi, insects, and diseases infiltrate it. If it were me I would have cut the tree down.

9. Pinesap Plants

Because I was on a bike I didn’t see much of interest in the way of plants but I did notice these pinesap plants (Monotropa hypopitys) when I took a break. Pinesap looks vaguely similar to Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) at a glance but a close look shows that they are more honey or amber colored and have multiple flowers on each stem instead of the single flower found on Indian pipes. Their common name comes from the way they like to grow under pine trees, but I find them under hardwoods too. Neither Indian pipes nor pinesap have chlorophyll and both get their nutrition in part from the mycelium of certain mushroom species.

10. Switch Box

I saw many other interesting things besides plants, like this old switchbox lying beside the trail. Fellow blogger Jim Corner from the Country Corners blog warned me last year when I did a post about this place that switch boxes like this one were often full of asbestos, so I look but don’t touch.

11. Switchbox Inside

This one looked pretty clean but those asbestos fibers are tiny and it could be full of them, ready for a good breeze to come along and blow them around. I don’t suppose that you ever really know for sure.

12. End of Rail Bed

Eventually you come to the end of what was the original rail bed. From this point on it becomes a “deep cut” through solid rock and is very wet, as if the drainage ditches have filled and failed. This is what all of our rail trails would look like without regular maintenance so I’ll say again that we who use them owe a debt of gratitude to the people who work so hard to keep them open. In my opinion a donation of a few dollars each year is money well spent.

13. Hill Bypass

The redirected trail goes up hill around the deep cut and you can see down into it from up here. The hill wasn’t much fun going up but it sure was fun flying down it on my bike. It was only afterwards that I realized that hitting a patch of soft gravel at this point probably would have sent me over the handlebars and into the woods.

14. Trail End

Rail trails go on and on and never seem to really end but the end of this improved section ends at Hurricane Road in Keene. From here if you cross the road and continue on you can see what the trail looked like before the improvements.

15. Trail Before Improvement

And here it is. The forest is closing in making it very narrow and rain has washed away parts of it here and there. In fact the entire trail has sunken below grade and is now in a U shape, and the drainage ditches have grown over and can no longer be seen. The condition of this section of trail is a good illustration of how important regular maintenance is.

16. Spike

I keep coming back to the rail trails because they are where my two favorite subjects, botany and history, come together in what are sometimes surprising ways. There’s really no telling what you might find on them; I’ve seen plants that I didn’t know existed in this area and by researching the railroads for posts like this one I’ve learned more about how they were built than I ever thought I’d need to know. If you’re looking to see parts of the landscape that you wouldn’t normally see, a good taste of local history, or just a pleasant stroll or bike ride, they can all be found on rail trails.

To wander is to be alive. ~Roman Payne

Thanks for coming by.

 

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1. American Lady Caterpillar

I don’t know if the spines on this American Lady Caterpillar (Vanessa virginiensis) were as sharp as they looked, but I’m glad that I didn’t grab it by mistake. He and a friend were on a pussytoes plant (Antennaria plantaginifolia). I’ve never thought of caterpillars as being particularly pretty but my opinion of them is changing. Thanks to the helpful folks at Bug guide.net for identifying this one.

2. American Lady Butterfly by  Derek Ramsey

This is what the American lady caterpillar will grow up to be. They are also called painted ladies and are beautiful things. This photo is by Derek Ramsey and is from Wikipedia.

 3. Male Widow Skimmer Dragonfly

Dragonflies have been teaching me both patience and stealth. It isn’t easy to sneak up on something with eyes that can see in all directions, and this male widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) flew away each time I took a step closer. He returned to the same perch time and again though as most dragonflies do, and I finally got close enough to get this photo of him. As I watched, the dark patches on his rear wings flashed different colors when he flew through sunbeams.

 4. Asian Beetle ob Cattail Leaf

As I was stalking dragonflies I happened to see this Asian beetle on a cattail leaf. I had one eating my coleus plants last summer and when I asked the folks at bugguide.net what it was they could only say “Asian beetle.” Apparently it is a relative of the Japanese beetle, but not quite as hungry.

5. Cranberries

Native cranberries are just starting to show a blush of color and before long they’ll be bright red. These tart berries were a Native American favorite and helped them survive our harsh winters.

 6. Acorns Forming

Acorns were another important food for Native Americans and it looks like a good crop this year. According to an account by a member of the Ojibwa tribe, natives climbed oaks and beat the acorns from the branches in September and October. The acorns were then dried in their shells before being cracked so the nutmeat could be removed. After the dried nutmeat was ground into fine flour it was leached in water to remove the bitter tannic acid that is present in oaks. The flour was then used in soups, biscuits, breads and porridge. It is estimated that in the Yokut tribe a typical family would eat 1000 to 2000 pounds of acorns each year. Thanks go to Native American Netroots for this information.

7. Doll's Eyes

The berries of the white baneberry plant (Actaea pachypoda) are called doll’s eyes, for obvious reasons. The remains of the flower’s black stigma against the porcelain white fruit is striking, and I can’t think of another plant with fruit quite like these except maybe when red baneberry (Actaea rubra) decides to have white fruit instead of red. It doesn’t matter though, because both plants are extremely toxic and no part of them should ever be eaten. Finding baneberry in the woods tells the story of rich, well drained loamy soil and a reliable source of moisture, because those are the things that it needs to grow. I often find it at or near the base of embankments that see a lot of runoff.

 8. Indian Pipes

We’ve had weekly rain this year and I’m not sure how that has affected other plants, but I’ve never seen so many Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) as I have this year. Large clumps of them have dotted the floor of every forest I’ve been in for months now.  Though they usually grow in deep shade the plants pictured just happened to be lit by a ray of sunshine when I saw them. Each flower nods until it is pollinated. Once pollinated they turn and point straight at the sky, and in that position release their seeds.

9. Pinesap

Pinesap plants (Monotropa hypopitys) look vaguely similar to Indian pipes at a glance but a close look shows that they are more honey or amber colored and have multiple flowers on each stem instead of the single flower found on Indian pipes. Their common name comes from the way they like to grow under pine trees, but I find them under hardwoods too. Neither Indian pipes nor pinesap have chlorophyll and both get their nutrition in part from the mycelium of certain mushroom species.

10. Bunch Gall on Canada Goldenrod

Bunch galls form on goldenrod when a gall midge (Rhopalomyla solidaginis) lays its egg in a leaf bud. When the larva hatches the plant stops growing taller but continues to produce leaves and the new leaves bunch all together at the top of the plant, forming the type of gall in the photo. I’ve also seen plants still blooming even though the galls were present. From what I’ve read this midge likes only Canada goldenrod (Solidago Canadensis.)

11. Oak Leaf Gall Caused by Midge Polystepha pilulae

Oak leaf galls look like reddish blisters on the upper surface of the leaf. They are caused by a midge called Polystepha pilulae. Galls might seem unsightly but they rarely harm the host plant and some of them can be very beautiful, so they’re always worth a closer look.

12. Smokey Eye Boulder Lichen

Occasionally we come upon things in our path that make us stop and gaze in silence at the beauty we have found, and for me smoky eye boulder lichens (Porpidia albocaerulescens) are one of those things. They have a wax coating much like the “bloom” on a plum or blueberry and, depending on the slant of the light, can appear blue, gray, or black. I think that they’re at their most beautiful when they’re blue, especially when they’re growing on a gold colored stone.

13. Russula Releasing Spores

Finding a mushroom that has just released its spores is rare but that’s what the white powder on the haircap moss in this photo is. It rained the day after I took this photo so all of the spores would have been washed away and into the soil. I think the mushroom is in the russula family.

14. Red penny Moss aka Rhizomnium punctatum

Red penny moss (Rhizomnium punctatum) is very leafy with leaves that aren’t toothed, are wider above their middle, and sometimes have a reddish margin. The stems are smooth rather than hairy and it likes to grow in very wet, swampy soil. The example in the photo meets all of those requirements but I was taken more by the way its leaves sparkled than by its identity.

15. Great Spangled Fritillary on Meadowsweet

I saw another great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele) and this time was able to get a shot of the wing underside, so I think my identification might be a good one. I’m never really sure with insects though, so if anyone knows something about this one that I don’t I hope they’ll please feel free to let me know.

Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the stars and the mountains above. Let them look at the waters and the trees and flowers on Earth. Then they will begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.  ~David Polis

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There is a little bit of everything in this post.

1. Pinwheel Mushrooms

Tiny pinwheel mushrooms (Marasmius capillaris) fruit only on oak leaves and that’s exactly what those pictured were doing. A sunbeam just happened to be lighting them up when I walked by.  Most mushrooms like places with dim light but if I had time to spend watching them I think I’d find that all of them got at least some sunshine each day.

 2. Chanterelle Waxcap Mushrooms aka Hygrocybe cantharellus

Clusters of what I think are tiny orange chanterelle wax cap mushrooms (Hygrocybe cantharallus ) grew all over a log. These little mushrooms have caps with scalloped rims and gills that are slightly paler than the cap. The flash I had to use made the gills appear just a little lighter than they really were but otherwise the colors are true.

 3. Coral Mushroom

Coral fungi grow in places where there isn’t much light and since a flash can sometimes change the color of the subject, at the suggestion of Laura over at the Touring New Hampshire blog I bought an LED light. I haven’t used it enough to say much about it, but this is the first photo I took with it. A couple of things I noticed were, it did not change the color of these mushrooms and lit the scene enough so the camera wasn’t calling for a flash. In fact, at 100 lumens it is so bright that I might need a diffuser.

4. Smallest Orange Mushrooms

These are the tiniest mushrooms I’ve ever tried to photograph. They were so small that this entire group could have been hidden behind a single pea. I never knew that fully formed mushrooms grew so small and I have no idea what they are. Natural light was plentiful (for a change) when I took this photo.

 5. Pinesap Flowers Under LED

The last time I showed pinesap plants (Monotropa hypopitys) you could see the flower buds. In this photo you can see the individual flowers and that is important to note when trying to tell it from its close relative Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora), which has a single flower. These were also under LED lighting and the colors seem true to what they should be.

 6. Meadow

I decided to get out of the woods and visit a local meadow again before things started going to seed. It’s hard to stay away from such a beautiful place for very long.

7. Bumblebee on Goldenrod

There were many bumblebees in the meadow and most were visiting the goldenrod.

8. Honey Bee

I was happy to also see plenty of honey bees in the meadow. I didn’t notice that this one had shredded wings until I saw the photo. I’ve read this is common among honey bees and comes from them simply over using their wings.

9. Great Black Wasp

Luckily this great black wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus) was too busy with goldenrod flowers to pay much attention to me. This is a digger wasp and he (or she) is big and jet black all over. Solitary females live in holes that they dig in soft ground. They prey on katydids, which are several times larger than they are, so they need plenty of flower nectar to keep that kind of power up. Their sting is said to be very painful, but I didn’t know that when I was taking these photos.

 10. Great Black Wasp

Their legs are quite long and hang down when they fly. This is a good way to identify them because most wasps keep their legs close to their bodies when they fly. I like the purple highlights on the wings, which look embossed.

11. Trillium Berry

 The shiny red berries of painted trillium (Trillium undulatum) seem to be everywhere this year, so apparently the high temperatures and heavy rainfall were to their liking. There should be plenty of seedlings in the spring.

 12. False Solomon's Seal Berries

 On their way to becoming brilliant red, the berries of false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum) are speckled for a short time. This plant is also called treacle berry because the berries are supposed to taste like treacle or molasses.

13. Fern Shadow

 More often than not when I get down on the ground to take a photo of something I look around carefully before I get back up to see if there is anything else worthy of a photo, and that’s how I ended up with a shot of a fern shadow.

There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations. ~Washington Irving.

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This is another of those posts full of all those things that don’t seem to fit anywhere else.

1. Staghorn Sumac Fruiting

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.

2. Blue Bead Lily Fruit

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.

 3. Blue Bead Lily Fruit

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.

4. Bunchberry Berries

This bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) had a bunch of red berries.

 5. Nipple Galls or Coneheads on Hazel Leaf caused by aphid Hormaphis hamamelidis

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.

 7. Indian Pipes 4

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.

6. Indian Pipe Flower

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.

 8. Pinesap

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.

9. Crushed Glass

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.

10.Orange Spindle Coral Fungi aka Ramariopsis laeticolor

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.

11. Blue Slime Mold possibly Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa

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.

12. Scrambled Egg Slime Mold

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.

13. Tiny Orange Waxcap Mushrooms

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.

16. Queen Anne's Lace Purple Flower

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.

15. Queen Anne's Lace Purple Flower

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

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This is another post full of all of those pictures that don’t seem to fit in other posts.

 Well, leave it to beavers. I found a spot where they had dammed up a small stream so close to the road that the road was in danger of flooding. The town will destroy the dam and let the water drain, and then the beavers will dam it back up. This goes on a lot around here and if the beavers persist they will eventually be trapped and relocated.

Beavers can sense when the water level is dropping, even from inside their lodge.

This flock of turkeys wasn’t much better behaved-they were scratching up a golf course.

I tried to puff one of these puff balls but instead of puffing it dribbled a pinkish brown liquid.  That’s because it was a wolf’s milk slime mold (Lycogala epidendrum) and not a puffball.

Eastern larch trees, also called tamarack larch or just tamarack, (Larix laricina) turn brilliant golden yellow in the fall and are one of the few conifers that shed their needles in winter. This tree, for some reason, decided to turn orange this year, which is something I’ve never seen. It could be a Japanese or European larch, which I’ve heard sometimes turn yellow-orange. They also have longer needles and larger cones than our native trees.

I wanted to get as close as I could to these common burdock (Arctium minus) seed heads so we could see what made them stick to everything so readily. As the photo shows, each bract is barbed at the tip like a fish hook. This plant is very dangerous to small birds like goldfinches and hummingbirds that can get caught in its burr clusters. If they can’t break free they will die of starvation. This grasshopper sat in the sun on a post and let me click away as much as I wanted. I thought he might yawn from boredom.

Thousands of virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana) seed heads can be seen on vines draped over trees and shrubs along roadsides. I like the way they resemble feathers.

Pinesap plants (Hypopitys hypopitys) have also gone to seed. You can tell that they’re pinesaps and not Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) by the multiple spent flowers along the stem.  Indian pipes have a single flower at the end of a stalk. Pinesaps are also yellowish to reddish and Indian pipes are usually white. Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) berries are ripe when the orange outer husks open to reveal the dark red berry. Oriental bittersweet is a very invasive vine that smothers shrubs and chokes out trees. One way to tell it from the much less invasive American bittersweet is by the berry cluster locations. American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) fruits at the tips of its stems and oriental bittersweet fruits all along the stem.

Even though it is also very invasive-so much so that it is now banned from being sold-it’s hard to think of anything quite as beautiful as a grove of burning bush (Euonymus alatus) in the fall woods. This shrub is also called winged euonymus. 

I wondered who had been eating all the mushrooms in the forest before I could get pictures of them, and now I know. I’m surprised that this gray squirrel was snacking while sitting on the ground though, because I usually find mushroom stems and pieces up on logs or flat stones that have been used as tables. 

This part of New Hampshire has an abundant black bear population and I’ve even had them in my yard a few times. I’ve been wondering when I would meet up with one in the woods though, and have been hoping that he or she will have read the same literature that I have and will magically run away when I clap my hands and yell “Hey Bear!!”  Of course, that plan hinges on whether I can still speak and move when we meet. Anyhow, this cave looked like a likely place for a bear to hang out, but I didn’t see one in or around it. 

Every time I see this black cormorant the sun is behind him and he is too far away for a flash to have any effect. This makes for some very challenging photography and I’m beginning to wonder if this bird isn’t smart enough to want it that way. He seems to be getting used to people though, and let me walk right out into the open on shore to get his picture. I’ve read that this spread wing posture is common among these birds but this was the first time I saw him do it. Black cormorants are quite large with wingspans of 5 or 6 feet.

The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom~ Theodore Roosevelt

Special note: I have finally gotten around to updating my favorite links, found on the far right side of this page. The blog names that I’ve added are indeed favorites and I read each one daily. If you would like to learn more about nature in other parts of the country and the world, I hope you’ll take a look at each one.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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