Mushroom trails and other stories

One can hope that the moist forest has lots of different mushroom species. A few days ago I discovered mossy maze polypore (Cerrena unicolor). I am looking for Turkey tail mushroom. The algae-covered mushroom feels hairy in sections, then smooth in others. It is strongly zoned which gives it a false appearance of turkey tail. Mossy maze polypore grows on live deciduous trees or conifers.The polypore was growing on a live apple tree. Flesh has white with grayish zone separating it from a hairy cap surface. Spore print is white. I need to find colored paper for testing spores that are white. I tried getting a spore match on a white paper plate and of course I couldn’t see the print. Turkey tail grows on dead deciduous trees or in wounds. Mossy maze polypore grows throughout N. North America. Source: Field Guide to Mushroom by National Audubon Society. Not all species live on trees.

NOTE:  A few day later my eight year old great-niece Amelia and I went mushroom hunting. We found a few more species. I still am unsure of species, but want to add photos and any notations that I have that may help with identification. Along the way, we stopped at the wild butterfly habitat for me to check it out.

Amelia and Toby

Amelia and Toby

It wasn’t long before I saw Amelia kneeling down by a white cross where Toby, the dog, was buried in the butterfly habitat in the nearby woods. I was surprised to find her there quietly visiting the deceased dog whom Amelia and the family loved. To see her innocence and love for one of the Creator’s creatures was a heartrending sight. She said she wished she could pull the rocks away so she could see Toby once again. I knew how she felt. I told her my own story of wanting to dig up my dog Tia just too see her again too. I explained that we had to let our loved ones go when they walked on. It was respectful to them. Amelia understood. It wasn’t long before we were hiking on the trail once again.

Mossy maze polypore

Mossy maze polypore (Cerrena unicolor) Leathery , stalkless, grayish. Hairy, often algae-covered caps. Smoky pores. Spore print white. On deciduous trees mostly, overlapping. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms, 2004.

NOTE: More mushroom photos follow.

Mystery mushroom

Mystery mushroom

Red mushroom growing in wet forest area

Red mushroom growing in wet forest area

I finally see where the mourning dove lives. For weeks I have been watching the mourning dove in his/her favorite roost perched on the barn roof. Yesterday I saw him fly to my father’s nearby Norway spruce tree. My sister Ronnie confirmed that this is where mourning doves live. I find it interesting that the bird likes to watch the family when they are in the pool area. It is here we have garden fresh casual suppers, sitting around a umbrella covered picnic table. The cooing bird also likes to watch human activity in the front gardens. Often I am out there smelling flowers or taking photos of pollinating insects on flowers.

Gills and spore side

Gills and spore side

Grasshopper carries pollen on its feet

Yesterday I caught a green grasshopper with hollyhock pollen on his/her legs. Now I know that even a grasshopper can be a pollinator. My sister and I love old fashioned hollyhocks. Ronnie has a scattered collection of near black, maroon and pink. We both planted a brilliant dark pink hollyhock last year and new first year leaves have been spotted both in our gardens in WI and MA. I collected seeds from the plant in an alley in WI. It is by far the prettiest color I have seen.

Let’s hear it for the pollinators! Without them there wouldn’t be a bio-diverse world nor the wonderful variety of vegetables and fruits that we often take for granted. We celebrate a thanksgiving each time we remember to thank and protect pollinators.

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The mighty oak and other tales

Today I ventured a little farther down the road that goes by my sister’s old farmstead. It is a steep hill; each day I venture a little more down the road. This way I am able to test my breathing and build endurance in hill climbing to return home. The forest was loudly making her presence known today. Acorns were dropping on the forest floor. How mighty the old oak trees are with maple tree companions.

I am always amazed to observe plants along the way. There is lots of poison ivy growing in the ditch area and I saw darling jewel weed growing near the ivy. The sweet flower is the antidote to poison ivy. You rub it on infected areas and it clears up itchy skin patches. How do remedy plants know where to grow where poisonous plants exist? Do plants communicate? I believe they do. Plants release chemicals and essential oils. Trees are known to communicate when they are about to be attacked by predator bugs. They release chemicals that warn a companion tree colony that danger is headed their way. I suspect that all plant colonies have this chemical defense mechanism. How good of the jewel weed to come and grow near the poison ivy.

A few days ago I received a call from Mike Carpenter, caretaker, Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI. We had planted a three sisters garden at the habitat. It was growing profusely when I left WI on July 11. Well, it was growing so well that deer thought we had planted it just for them. Mike mentioned that the deer were coming in a night, making beds and sleeping at the habitat. They didn’t have to go far to forage. Deer have helped themselves to all the squash and baby pumpkins. Hungry critters have also eaten all the beans except a handful.

I think Mike made the gardens extra inviting by feeding the plants with fish juice all summer. He’s a fisherman and doesn’t throw anything out. I never saw our vegetable garden looking so good. Mike said he wants to put up a night hunter’s motion camera so we can see who lives in the habitat at night.

Long view of secret gardens

Aldo Leopold bench

Aldo Leopold bench

Yesterday afternoon I took the mail out to the Aldo Leopold bench which is under a maple tree and near a trail in the woods. This is my own secret garden now. I was content to sit there and read the mail.

Joe Pye Weed

Looking up I could see Joe Pye weed, one of my favorites. I love the story that goes something like this. Long ago a group of people who came over the big water from Europe became ill. A Native American came to their rescue and gave them a tea to drink. The pilgrims got better. One of the sick asked him, what is the name of that plant? The Native American said, “Joe Pye Weed.” You see that was his name. I can just imagine Joe Pye walking away after saying this.

Moonglow

It is getting cooler in New England. Last night I choose to sleep on a couch in the living room instead of the open air  screened in porch. During the time of dreams, I awoke to the moon caressing me in light. I was thrilled to be loved by the moon. She was illuminating the front property and her healing light came right through the front windows. It reminded me of a story by Ray Bradbury. There was a girl who lived in a city, a place like Brooklyn. She was very ill. On a full moon night she somehow got her bed out to the street, where she could sleep with the healing light of the moon. I have always loved this story. When young I was always drawn to sleeping outside on full moon night when the sky was clear. Moonglow has always attracted me. When I sleep in moonlight, I always feel restored and I can sense happiness and well-being.

Day Journeys:

Jack and Ronnie placed an Aldo Leopold bench under a large maple tree out in the abandoned botanical gardens. It is near a trail through the woods. From here I can rest, meditate, and observe nature all around me. I see Joe Pye weed and other favorite native plants and trees. The gardens are going back to the wild. I can reclaim  some of these beds in time to introduce a butterfly garden, especially for the monarch butterfly. The changing flourishing beds provide landscape beauty where once botanical gardens abounded.

We took a ride to New Hampshire. Pinch me, it is only 9 miles away. At one time, my husband and I lived in Manchester, for a short stint. It is even more rural that central MA where my sister lives. There are state parks and hidden places everywhere to discover. I can hardly wait to make day trips. I love it because there are large mountains; I will be living once again near mountains and hilly areas.  I was raised in the foothills of the Adirondack mountains of Upper New York State. I can hardly wait to get to know the pristine rivers,  ponds, abundant lakes and water reservoirs once again in MA and NH. We stopped at the Cathedral of the Pines. It is a magnificent memorial that was founded by Dr. Douglas and Sibyl Sloane. Their son Sanderson Sloane and wife Margaret were to build a home there after World War II, but Sandy Sloane was killed when the B-17 bomber he was flying was shot down over Koblenz, Germany, in 1944. The memorial backdrop is a stunning view of Mount Monadnock. This mountain has  been climbed by more people than any other mountain in the world. The Cathedral was founded as an interfaith organization that is open and welcoming to all.

Later in the day, I took a stroll into the back woods, 40 acres, at my sister’s. There  are trails that lead into a pristine forest. A few years ago, central Massachusetts was struck by a blow down storm. It did extensive damage to the forest. Jack and Ronnie are slowly making a dent in cleaning up the trails. Along the weathered trodden way, I became reacquainted with a pine grove that I experienced in my youth. I used to sit within the younger white pine grove then and tune into the sounds of trees as they spoke to one another. The Pine needle soft ground was inviting; at times my friends would join me here in quiet reflection. I am not sure if they  sensed  the natural world around them. I hoped that they did. This is the world I knew, loved, and  lived in.

While out there this season, I discovered princess pine growing along the pathway and nearby woods. Another word for this special plant is running cedar.

UPDATE: My sister Ronnie told me today that running cedar or ground cedar is a different plant species that princess pine.

There is lots of hemlock trees and partridge-berry carpets the forest floor as a ground cover. The forest is shaded and high in moisture. I am looking for a boulder that is shaped like a table top. I hope to find one already placed at an elevated level; I want to use it as an alter for my rocks and special things. Sometimes I have noticed them on top of the stone fence that runs throughout the forest. They were placed there by property owners long, long ago. Then there are deposited glacier boulders throughout the forest. Some of these are so large that no human could move them. It is thrilling to discover them as I learn the forest once again.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Butterfly Corner

Published in Washburn County Register, February 8, 2012

News from Xerces Society, “In 2010, with support from the Monarch Joint Venture and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant, Xerces Society initiated a multi-state project to increase the availability of milkweed seed for large-scale restoration efforts in California, Nevada, Arizona, New México, Texas and Florida. Xerces is working with native seed producers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Material Program to increase the production of local ecotype native milkweed seed.” The reason for the collaborative milkweed seed project is because pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, are besieged with a threatened migration phenomenon.

Prior to Xerces Society milkweed initiative, Happy Tonics has been selling common milkweed seed since 1999. Milkweed is the only host plant of the monarch butterfly. The seed is offered in the Visitors Center/Store in downtown Shell Lake. The store reopens on Memorial Day Weekend. Out of season, milkweed seed is sold online through eBay. Several seed buyers from around the country are now donors of Happy Tonics nonprofit public charity. Some buyers have gone on to build butterfly gardens at schools and monarch butterfly habitats on their own property. It is good to know that monarch butterfly conservation is an ongoing environmental education act that brings positive results to help the monarch butterfly.

Cindy Dyer, VP Marketing, Happy Tonics, will have a one woman art show at the Horticulture Center, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, Virginia. The exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” will run February 28 – April 29, 2012. If you wish to take a sneak preview of Cindy’s extraordinary floral and insect photography visit http://www.gardenmuseshow.com  Her garden photography was also honored by Nikon camera in 2011. Here is a link to their Web page featuring Cindy’s garden photography tips at http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Techniques/gr35ffdt/all/How-To-Grow-Your-Garden-Photography-Skills.html

In summer 2011, Cindy photographed butterflies and native plants while visiting the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. We are working on a Field Guide – Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The publication will highlight the symbiotic relationship between native plants and pollinators including the monarch butterfly, birds and small animals.

 

 

 

 

Conservation and Asters

Ryan Conner proudly stands next to his Conservation Star Home Award sign

Ryan Conner proudly stands next to his Conservation Star Home Award sign.

This past week I had an opportunity to visit Ryan Conner in Hayward. He invited me to see the native habitat he was implementing on his land.  He owns a home and property on Grindstone Lake. Ryan received a Conservation Star Home Award for turning a sandy lawn of mowed grass into a native habitat on the lake. Frankly this is how I found his
house. Ryan had told me he had a rather large colony of asters growing. The asters led me right to his door.

While I was there I saw several species of small native bees. I also learned about species of asters which are not easy to identify. Reason why? There are over 200 species of aster in the United States.

 

Calico aster with pink centers.

Calico aster with pink centers.

Ryan pointed out that calico aster has pink disk florets. The species also has a plumed flower formation. Now I know the name of white heath aster and sky blue aster which were growing in a rather large colony.

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat has upland white aster. There are several other species of asters at the habitat and hopefully I will be better able to identify the different species more easily now. Ryan is a dedicated volunteer at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. He has assisted the nonprofit for nearly four years now during the summer season. He has added many native species to the Shell Lake habitat, which in time will provide more color and interest beyond the summer months. It is interesting to note that one of Ryan’s neighbors has also begun to turn his land into a native habitat for pollinators.

Without native habitat for pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, dragonflies, bats and moths there most likely would not be the plant and insect biodiversity that exists today. According to Douglas W. Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, “Up to 90 percent of all phytophagous insects are considered specialists because they have evolved in concert with no more
than a few plant lineages” (Bernays & Graham 1988). Native insects have not evolved with alien plants and most likely are unable to eat them. For homeowners who want bees to pollinate fruit trees and gardeners who want to have flowers and vegetables pollinated, it is important to plant native plant species that will invite pollinators to the back yard.

Rainforest plant developed ‘sonar dish’ to attract pollinating bats

Rainforest plant developed ‘sonar dish’ to attract pollinating bats. I haven’t studied bats as pollinators but I am intrigued by a plant that developed ‘sonor dish’ to vibrate sound to draw bats near. Bats can’t see like butterflies and native bees so other devices had to attract them to night blooming plants such as ‘sonar dish’. Mind blowing.

Notes from a Plant Discoverer

I know it sounds a little silly but I absolutely get intensely focused when I see new plant species living on the property that were not there before. I may have wished for a certain plant or tree such as an oak tree or solomon’s seal to suddenly surprise me in my own little woods. What a thrill it is to discover they found their way to my heart’s sanctuary.

Rainbow over Minong

Rainbow over Minong

Today I was doing morning ceremony to honor the Four Directions and entities I speak to in remembrance. While I was facing west and finished remembering my family including my deceased husband, my precious dog Tia and cats Dulce, Sombra and Baby; suddenly I saw Black Cohosh and wild Leeks in the forest patch behind their memory garden. Do the plants enjoy seeing my heart spill over in joy? I can’t help by think they do and I believe they love me too. All of creation loves us and wants us to remember that we are all related and connected to each other.

We have fast lost the ability to understand the language of the wind and winged friends. I listen to the robins when they bid goodnight to the day and wish I understood their language. I hear mankind once did understand their brothers and sisters who live in the animal kingdom. How did we become so disconnected? Even though I can’t understand the chirps I at least can say I feel an understanding that they are saying goodnight and giving their thanksgiving for a beautiful day and sunset.

Nighty night Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

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