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Posts Tagged ‘Split Gill Mushroom’

1-the-ashuelotEvery single time I walk the banks of the Ashuelot River without fail I see something new or unexpected, and this rainy day I spent exploring its banks in Swanzey was no exception. I hope you won’t mind the dreariness of some of these photos. I had to take what nature gave me and after such a long drought a little rain was very welcome.  Ashuelot is pronounced ash-wee-lot or ash-will-lot depending on who you ask. It is thought to mean “ the place between” by Native American Pennacook or Natick tribes.

2-multiflora-rose-hips

Raindrops on multiflora rose hips (Rosa multiflora) told the story of the day. The many hips on this single plant show why it’s so invasive. It originally came from China and, as the old familiar story goes, almost immediately escaped and started to spread rapidly. It grows over the tops of shrubs and smothers them by hogging all the available sunshine and I’ve seen it grow 30 feet into a tree. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was imported more for its scent than any other reason, because to smell it is like smelling a bit of heaven on earth.

3-pumpkin

A pumpkin floated downriver. In October 2010 close to 100,000 pumpkins were washed into the Connecticut River during flooding in Bradford, Vermont. This one will probably go to the Atlantic, just like they did.

4-milkweed-seed

What I thought was a feather in the sand turned out to be a milkweed seed. Though many insects feed on milkweed and birds use the fluffy down from its seed pods for nest building, I’ve never found any reference to birds or animals eating any part of the plant.

5-juniper-haircap-moss

Juniper haircap moss plants (Polytrichum juniperinum) look like tiny green starbursts there among the river stones.

6-badge-moss

Badge moss (Plagiomnium insigne) is a pretty little moss that loves to grow in shady moist places and along stream banks. This was the first time I had ever seen it growing here though I’ve walked this river bank countless times. The long oval leaves have a border of tiny sharp teeth and become dull and shriveled looking when they’re dry. It looked like something had been eating them.

7-beech-leaves

Beech leaves have gone pale and dry, and rustle in the wind. They’re very pretty at all stages of their life, I think. One of the things I look forward to most each spring is beech buds unfurling. Just for a short time they look like silver angel wings.

8-split-gill-fungus

Split gill mushrooms (Schizophyllum commune) had their winter coats on, as usual. These are “winter” mushrooms that are usually about the size of a dime but can occasionally get bigger than that. They grow on every continent except Antarctica and because of that are said to be the most studied mushroom on earth. Their wooly coats make them very easy to identify.

9-split-gill-fungus

The “gills” on the split gill fungus are actually folds on its underside that split lengthwise when it dries out. The splits close over the fertile surfaces as the mushroom shrivels in dry weather. When rehydrated by rain the splits reopen, the spore-producing surfaces are exposed to the air, and spores are released. These beautiful little mushrooms are very tough and leathery. I don’t see them that often and I’ve never seen two growing together as they are in this photo.

10-orange-crust-fungus

Orange crust fungus (Stereum complicatum) grew on the underside of a branch, in excellent form and color because of the rain. This small fungus has a smooth whitish underside with no pores. The complicatum part of the scientific name means “folded back on itself” and the above photo shows these examples just starting that folding. It also likes to grow on the logs of deciduous trees.

11-musclewood

The muscle wood tree (Carpinus caroliniana) is also known as American hornbeam and ironwood. It’s very hard and dense and its common name comes from the way that it looks like it has muscles undulating under its bark much like our muscles appear under our skin. This tree is a smallish understory tree that is usually found on flood plains and other areas that may be wet for part of the year.  It’s hard to find one of any great size because they have a short lifespan.

12-woodpecker-hole

A woodpecker had drilled a perfectly  conical hole through this piece of wood. It looked like a funnel.

13-barberry-fruit

These small red berries are what make Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) so invasive. The shrub grows into nearly impenetrable thickets here along the river and fruits prolifically. It crowds out native plants and can prevent all but the smallest animals getting through. The berries are rich in vitamin C and are sometimes used to make jams and jellies.

14-barberry-thorn

Its sharp spines will tell you which variety of barberry you have. European barberry (Berberis vulgaris) and American barberry (Berberis canadensis) both have clusters of 3 or more spines but since American barberry doesn’t grow in New England it comes down to European or Japanese here, and only Japanese barberry has single spines. They’re numerous and very sharp. I had to walk through them to get several of these photos and my legs got a bit scratched up.

15-barberry

Barberry has yellow inner bark that glows with just the scrape of a thumbnail. A bright yellow dye can be made from chipped barberry stems and roots, and the Chinese have used barberry medicinally for about 3000 years.

16-the-ashuelot

It is common enough to love a place but have you ever loved a thing, like a river? I first dipped my toes into the waters of the Ashuelot River so long ago I can’t even remember how old I was. I’ve swam it, paddled it, explored it and lived near its banks for the greater part of my lifetime. Though readers might get tired of hearing about the Ashuelot it means home to me and is something I love, and I’m very grateful for what it has taught me over the years. In fact if it wasn’t for the river this blog probably wouldn’t exist.

17-raindrops-in-sand

I often visit the sandy area in the previous photo because there are usually animal tracks there, but on this day all I saw were the tracks of raindrops. I think this is the first time I haven’t seen animal tracks there. Raccoons come to feed on the many river mussels, deer come to drink, and beaver and muskrats live here.

18-witchs-butter

It must be a good year for jelly fungi because I’m seeing more than I ever have. Or maybe it’s just the rain that’s bringing them out. In any case they’re another winter fungi and I expect to see them at this time of year. I almost always find them on stumps and logs; often on oak. After a rain is the best time to look for them, so this day was perfect. The above example of witch’s butter (Tremella mesenterica) grew on a fallen branch and looked plump and happy.

19-beggars-tick

Purple stemmed beggar ticks (Bidens connata) grow well in the wet soil at the edges of ponds and rivers and there are plenty of plants here along the Ashuelot. It has curious little yellow orange ray-less disc flowers that never seem to fully open and dark, purple-black stems. The name beggar ticks comes from its seeds, which are heavily barbed as the example in the above photo shows. They stick to fur and clothing like ticks and I had them all over me by the time I left the river. They don’t brush off; they have to be picked off one by one.

The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are. ~ Lynn Noel

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1. Sap Buckets

If you could only take one photo to tell the rest of the world that it was spring in New England, it would have to be of sap buckets hung on a maple tree. In spite of 25 of 31 days in March being colder than  average the sap is flowing, but one syrup producer says that he has collected only about a third of the sap that he had last year at this time.

2. Red Maple Buds

The purple bud scales of red maple (Acer rubrum) have pulled back to reveal the tomato red buds within. Once the buds break and the tree starts to flower the sap becomes bitter, and maple syrup season ends. That usually happens in mid to late April. If you don’t want to look at a tree’s buds another sign is when the nights become warm enough to get the spring peepers peeping.

3. Budded Daffodils

Some of the daffodils are budded, but they have been for a while. They seem to be waiting for the weather to make up its mind before they’ll open. Either that or I’m just getting impatient.

4. Witch Hazel Petals

Hesitantly, like a child sticking a toe in the water to feel its temperature before wading in, the spring witch hazels have started to unfurl their strap like petals.  Last year they unfurled quite early and the cold turned them brown, so I think we’re seeing a “once bitten, twice shy” scenario here this year.  Though we do have a native vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis), it doesn’t grow naturally this far north, and since this one is in a park I’m betting it’s one of the cultivated witch hazels. The other American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) that is native to New England blooms in the fall and grows in the same park.

 5. Dwarf Raspberry Leaves

I did find some green leaves in the woods, but they were on the evergreen dwarf raspberry (Rubus pubescens.) This plant likes wet places and trails along the ground like a dewberry, but it has smooth stems and dewberries have prickly stems. Its fruit looks and tastes much like a raspberry, but good luck getting any of it. Birds and animals eat the berries as fast as they ripen.

6. Ledge Ice

There is still plenty of snow and ice to be seen as this photo shows. Still, this is a sign of spring because this ice is rotten and parts of it were falling as I was taking this photo. The opaque milky grayish-white color of this ice was a sure sign that it was rotten, so I didn’t get too close. When ice rots the bonds between the ice crystals weaken and water, air or dirt can get in between them and cause the ice to become honeycombed and lose its strength. It looks to be full of small bubbles and has a weak, dull sound when it is tapped on. It’s a good thing to stay away from when it gets to be taller than you are.

7. Box Elder Buds

A couple of posts ago I talked about pruinose lichens but they aren’t the only things that can be pruinose, as these box elder buds (Acer negundo) show. In case you’ve forgotten, pruinose means a surface that is covered in white, powdery, waxy granules that seem to be able to reflect light in ways that often make the surface they are on appear blue. Certain grapes, plums, and blueberries are pruinose fruits that we are all familiar with.

8. Common Split Gill Mushrooms

Split gill mushrooms (Schizophyllum commune) had their winter coats on, as usual. These are “winter” mushrooms that are usually about the size of a dime but can occasionally get bigger than that. They grow on every continent except Antarctica and because of that are said to be the most studied mushroom on earth. Their wooly coats make them very easy to identify.

9. Common Split Gill Mushroom

The “gills” on the split gill fungus are actually folds on its under surface that split lengthwise when it dries out. The splits close over the fertile surfaces as the mushroom shrivels in dry weather. When rehydrated by rain the splits reopen, the spore-producing surfaces are exposed to the air, and spores are released. These little mushrooms are very tough and leathery.

 10. Golden Foxtail Moss aka Brachythecium salebrosum

I think this golden foxtail moss (Brachythecium salebrosum) has to take the prize for the longest moss that I’ve seen; its branches must have been at least 2 inches long. It’s unusual because it likes dry places, and I found it growing on stone in a shaded spot under an overhang, where it must have seen very little direct rainfall. This moss has insect repellant qualities and was once used to stuff pillows and mattresses. Today it is a favorite in moss gardens and in India they use it to wrap fruit in.

11. Moss With Unknown Growth

White cushion moss (Leucobryum glaucum) gets its common name from the way it turns a whitish color when it dries out. When wet though, it can be dark green as this photo shows. What this photo also shows are some fuzzy white growths on the moss that I’ve never seen before.

12. Moss With Unknown Growth

I don’t know if the fuzzy white things are mold that has grown due to the moss being covered by ice, or what they are. I’ve seen two different photos online of cushion moss with the same growths, but neither site explained what they were. If you’ve ever seen them and know what they are I’d like to hear from you.

 13. Whiskered Shadow Lichen aka Phaeophyscia hispidula

This is my first photo of a whiskered shadow lichen (Phaeophyscia adiastola.) It’s one of those easily ignored lichens that you think you see all the time but in reality when you look closely, you realize that you’ve never seen anything quite like it. This lichen grows on bark, stone or soil and gets its common name from its abundant root-like rhizines, which show here as a kind of black outline. I found it growing on a piece of ledge that dripping water splashed on, so it was very wet.

14. Whiskered Shadow Lichen closeup

This isn’t a very good photo but at least you can see the “whiskers” that give the whiskered shadow lichen its common name.  These rhizines help foliose lichens anchor themselves onto whatever they’re growing on, much like the roots of a vascular plant would.

 15. Inner Tree Bark

This is nothing but an old piece of bark that I found lying on the snow, but it was quite large and the photo shows what I saw when I turned it over. This is the side that would have been next to the wood of the tree, unseen. I thought the colors and patterns were amazing. If fungi would have caused this is a question that I can’t answer.

April is a promise that May is bound to keep. ~Hal Borland

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1. Split Gill Underside

I loved the look of the underside of this split gill mushroom (Schizophyllum commune.) I’ve heard that the underside of this fungus could be reddish but until I saw this one I had only seen them in white. The gills split lengthwise as it dries out and that’s where its common name comes from. These are “winter mushrooms” and I often find them very late in the year, even when there is snow on the ground.

 2. Cobalt Crust Fungus

The cobalt crust fungus (Terana caerulea) is very beautiful and some say very rare, but I wondered if its rarity was because it grew on the underside of fallen oak limbs where they touch the soil surface. Unless the limb was disturbed it would never be seen, so since seeing this one I have peeked under several old rotting limbs to see if I could find another one. I haven’t seen one so maybe it really is rare. Another name for it is velvet blue spread. It can also come in lavender but since I’m colorblind it will always be blue to me.

3. Burning Bushes

Along the Ashuelot River in Swanzey there is quite a wide swath of invasive burning bushes (Euonymus alatus,) also called winged euonymus. They are protected by the trees overhead so they don’t begin to turn color until quite late. In this photo they are in their dark orangey-pink phase, but before too long they’ll all be pale pastel pink

4. Burning Bush Berries

This is why there are so many burning bushes along that section of river. The birds seem to love their berries. The bushes are beautiful at this time of year but they shade out native plants and create a monoculture, much like purple loosestrife and Japanese knotweed.

5. Virgin's Bower Foliage

Virgin’s bower leaves (Clematis virginiana) have taken on their fall plum purple shade.

 6. Royal Fern

In the fall royal ferns (Osmunda regalis) go from green to yellow, and then to orange brown. They grow in low swampy places along the sides of streams and ponds and are one of our most beautiful fern.

 7. Blackberry Gall

Blackberry seed gall is caused by the blackberry seed gall wasp (Diastrophus cuscutaeformis.) These very small round hollow galls look like seeds and form in clusters around blackberry stems. Each tiny gall has a stiff, hair like spine and together they form a hairy mass like that in the photo.  I showed this same mass here last spring and it was bright yellow-green and I wondered why it was described as brownish red. Now I know that it just needs time to age.

8. Grapes

The many smells of a New England autumn are as pleasing as the foliage colors. One of those smells is that of fermenting grapes, and I have a feeling that the woods will smell like grape jelly for a while this year.

9. Asparagus Berry

Asparagus plants come in male and female, meaning they are dioecious. If you see a small red berry on your asparagus then you have a female plant, but there has to be a male nearby. You also have asparagus seeds, which can be stored in a cool dry place and planted in the spring.  You’ll wait a while for an edible harvest though.

10. Juniper Berries

Some of the junipers are loaded with berries this year. Actually, though they’re called berries, botanically speaking they are fleshy seed cones. Unripe green berries are used to flavor gin and the ripe, deep purple-black berries are the only part of a conifer known to be used as a spice.

 11. Velvet Shank Mushrooms

Velvet shank mushrooms (Flammulina velutipes) are another “winter mushroom” that typically fruits in late fall. I’ve found them with snow on the ground during warm spells in winter, and they can and do survive freezing temperatures. Their stems feel like velvet and, though it can’t be seen well in this photo, are darker at the base and lighten as they get nearer the cap.

12. Fuzzy Foots

I thought these were chanterelle wax cap mushrooms (Hygrocybe cantharellus) but the dark stems didn’t quite match the descriptions. After searching my mushroom books again I realized that they are fuzzy foot mushrooms (Xeromphalina campanella,) so called because of the dense tuft of orange brown hairs at the base of each stem. I found them growing on the side of a mossy log. Each cap is about the same diameter as a nickel. They are one of the most photogenic of all the mushrooms, in my opinion.

13. Blue Crust Fungus

While I was looking for more cobalt crust fungi I found this light blue one instead. Like cobalt crust fungus it grew on a limb where it made contact with the soil. It’s a beautiful thing but I haven’t been able to identify it through books or online. If you’re reading this and happen to know what it is I’d love to hear from you.

 14. Forked Blue Curl Seed Pods

The seeds and seed pods of forked blue curls (Trichostema dichotomum) are so small that I can barely see them, but a macro lens reveals all of the hidden details, including the surprising colors and hairiness of the plant. Each pod carries two tiny seeds and since these plants are annuals those seeds will make sure that a new generation comes along next year.

15. Washed Up Leaves

The object of this post was to show that not all of the beauty is up in the trees at this time of year. We look to the sky and dream of paradise, forgetting that it is all around us, all of the time.

If you are lost inside the beauties of nature, do not try to be found. ~Mehmet Muratildan

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This is another one of those posts full of unusual things that I see in the woods that don’t seem to fit in other posts.

1. Amber Jelly Fungi

These amber jelly fungi (Exidia recisa) were frozen solid and looked like lollipops, or maybe half lollipops. This fungus is called willow brain because it is often found growing on willows. It produces spores on its upper surface, which is smooth and shiny, and the underside has more of a matte finish. Winter is a great time to find jelly fungi of many kinds, but you have to look closely. Those in the photo were no bigger than a dime-roughly 18mm.

 2. Split Gill Mushroom

Split gill fungi (Schizophyllum commune) are probably the easiest winter fungi to identify because of their wooly winter coats. These mushrooms grow year round on dead limbs but for some reason, I only notice them in winter. That could be because they are very small-no larger than a penny at best-roughly 19mm. They’re also very tough and leathery. They grow on every continent except Antarctica and because of that are said to be the most studied mushroom on earth. Scientists have recently isolated a compound from them that has been shown to inhibit the HIV-1 virus.

3. Split Gill Mushroom-2

The “gills” on the split gill fungus are actually folds on its under surface that split lengthwise when it dries out. This example was very dry. The splits close over the fertile surfaces as the mushroom shrivels in dry weather. When rehydrated by rain the splits reopen, the spore-producing surfaces are exposed to the air, and spores are released.

5. Beech Bud

Beech trees have their long, pointed buds all ready for spring. When these begin to break and unfurl they are one of the most beautiful sights in the forest, in my opinion. The fuzzy, silvery new leaf looks like an angel wing, but just for a very short time.

 6. Zig Zag Tree Wound

I can’t even guess what caused this zig-zag pattern in this tree bark. My first thought was lightning, but that would run from the top down. This scar comes out of the soil and runs about 3 feet up the trunk.

7. Cheese Polypore

White cheese polypore (Tyromyces chioneus) is, according to the website Mushroom Expert.com, just about the most boring mushroom going. But it is a “winter mushroom” and that, in my opinion, makes it at least a little interesting. It grows on hardwood logs and causes white rot, and gets its common name from its scientific one. Tyromyces means “with a cheesy consistency,” and chioneus means “snow white.” These mushrooms are big enough to be seen from a distance and when they are fresh they have a pleasing fragrance that some think is like cheesecake.

8. Frozen Mushroom Gills

This mushroom was frozen solid but had still held on to its colors, which reminded me of fall.

9. Alder Toungue Gall

Instead of being caused by an insect like many galls, alder (Alnus glutinosa) tongue gall is caused by a fungus (Taphrina alni). The fungus chemically deforms parts of the ovarian tissue of the female cone-like catkins (strobiles) and causes long, tongue shaped galls known as languets to grow from them. These galls seem to like high humidity so are usually found on alders that grow near ponds and streams.

10. Orange Jelly Fungi

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many orange jelly fungi (Dacrymyces palmatus) growing in one place before. They were on a hemlock stump no bigger than the average doughnut. Most of the orange ones that I see are growing on hemlock.

 11. Orange Jelly Fungi 2

These orange jelly fungi (Dacrymyces palmatus) grew inside a hollow log. Walking slowly and looking into hollow logs is a great way to find unexpected things but I only stick my hands in them after I’ve had a look first, because I’ve also seen sharp toothed chipmunks in them.

 12. Black Jelly Fungus

Black jelly fungi (Exidia glandulosa) often decorate alder bark in this area. These were a bit shriveled because of the cold and the lack of rain, but once we see some rain they will swell up and look like puffed up pillows. It’s amazing how much jelly fungi can swell up after a rain.

 13. Witch Hazel Bracts

Last year the witch hazels (Hamamelis virginiana) along the river were still blooming on January 21st, but not this year. All that is left are the cup shaped bracts which the strap shaped yellow petals unfurl from. I think 10 below zero in early December was too cold too soon and “switched them off” for this winter. Normally they won’t bloom much past Thanksgiving, so the last two or three years of seeing them bloom later and later have been unusual.

 14. Maleberry Seed Pods

If you glanced at a maleberry (Lyonia ligustrina) shrub in spring or early summer you might think it was a blueberry, because its flowers resemble blueberry flowers. Both shrubs are in the blueberry family and maleberry is sometimes called male blueberry. You would be waiting a long time to find anything blue on this bush though-its fruit is a hard capsule full of seeds. The 5 part capsules make this an easy shrub to identify in winter. I just look for the star on the end of the capsules. I find them on the banks of ponds, growing next to alders.

Commonly we stride through the out-of-doors too swiftly to see more than the most obvious and prominent things. For observing nature, the best pace is a snail’s pace.  ~Edward Way Teale

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As a professional gardener I was never surprised that work slowed down a bit in the winter here in New Hampshire-ground that is frozen solid doesn’t hoe well. Each year at about this time I’d start to feel a little anxious-full of energy and excitement- wanting those southerly winds to bring us some spring weather. After it finally got here and I’d had a day or two of working in the warm sun again I’d be walking with a spring in my step, whistling a happy tune.  (If you need a happy tune to whistle, just click here.)

1. Moon on March First

March 1st is the meteorological start of spring here in the North Eastern U.S., and at dawn that day I positioned my tripod on top of the crusty snow for a shot of the waning gibbous moon stuck in the trees.  The clouds parted just long enough in the morning to get a glimpse of it, and then it clouded over again. The astronomical method of dividing the year into seasons names March 20 as the first day of spring.

2. Icy Ledges

Over the weekend I followed an abandoned road that was hacked through the bedrock in the early 1700s. Ledges line parts of that road-this one is about 12 feet high with ice that looks impressive but is rotting and dangerous to climb. It’s hard to describe rotten ice but it is weakened by melt water running over and through it due to warmer temperatures. Once you’ve seen it, you know it. Since it means spring is nearby, I like to see it.

 3. Fissidens adianthoides Moss

Mosses can go through some very cold temperatures and still look like they have just come up in the spring. I thought it would be a cinch to identify this one but once again, nature threw me a curve ball. It resembles both Fissidens and Neckera mosses, so not only am I not sure of the species, I can’t even get to the genus. Whatever it is, I thought it was unusual and beautiful enough to include here.

4. Hobblebush Bud aka Viburnum alnifolium

One of my favorite native shrubs is hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides,) which will be covered with large white, showy flowers in May. Its buds have no scales so they are open to all that nature can throw at them all winter long, just like those of witch hazel. This particular bush was really stunning last spring and I found myself wishing it was in my yard. I can’t wait to see it in bloom again. The flower bud between the two tiny leaves tells me that it will. If you would like to see what it looks like when it is blooming just click here.

5. Split Gill Mushrooms

Split gill mushrooms (Schizophyllum commune) wear fuzzy white coats in winter. Actually they wear these coats at any time, but when they’ve had adequate moisture they appear less fuzzy. The common name refers to the way the folds on their underside resemble gills that have split lengthwise. I haven’t been able to find out if they stay this way all winter or if they start growing in spring, but seeing them makes it feel like spring.

 6. Sap Buckets

Nothing says spring in New Hampshire like a sap bucket hanging from a maple tree. Once spring turns on the flow it doesn’t stop until fall. It’s a good sign that the earth is thawing.

7. Red Jelly Fungus

At first I thought this was a jelly fungus but the small bit to the left shaped like a jelly bean didn’t fit with a jelly fungus. Then, because there are lichens that mimic jelly fungi, I thought it might be one of those, but again, the jelly bean didn’t fit. I finally decided that the only thing that is tomato red and looks like a jelly bean that I know of is wolf’s milk slime mold (Lycogala epidendrum,) also called toothpaste slime mold. The smeared parts are “jelly beans” (fruiting bodies) that have been crushed. If slime molds are growing it must be warming up.

 8. Willow Gall formed by Rhabdophaga midges

I found this odd specimen on a willow branch. Since it is smiling, maybe it’s just as happy that spring is coming as I am. Actually this is a stem gall which was formed when Rhabdophaga midges burrowed into the willow’s stem last year, but I can see an eye, a nose, and a smiley mouth. And even a pointy hat.

9. Skunk Cabbage

The skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is looking very red this year. Last year it was a much darker purple. There is a large swamp in Swanzey, New Hampshire where hundreds of these plants grow. Many grow on a hillside that is submerged for much of the winter but dries out a bit in spring, making it easier to get photos of them.  Seeing them is always a good sign that spring is near. Smelling them is difficult.

 10. Mount Monadnock

The cloud deck over Mount Monadnock shows what our weather has been like for the past 2 weeks. Short glimpses of sun are all we’ve seen through small breaks in clouds that stretch from horizon to horizon. Spring is coming, but it isn’t coming quickly or easily-it seems like it’s going to have to be pried from the cold fist of winter one warm, sunny day at a time. I’ll just have to be patient, like the mountain.

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.  ~Henry Van Dyke

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This post is another collection of things that haven’t fit in other posts.

1. Arbor Vitae Seed Pods

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.

 2. Hydrangea Blossom

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.

3. The Sky in a Water Drop

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.

4. Barberry Thorn

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.

 5. Common Split Gill Fungus aka Schizophyllum commune

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.

 6. Common Split Gill Fungus Underside aka Schizophyllum commune

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.

 7. Puffballs

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.

8. Lipstick Powderhorn Lichens

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.

9. Entodon Moss Possibly Entodon cladorrhizans

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.

10. Sulfur Firedot Lichen aka Caloplaca flavovirescens

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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