Friday, June 23, 2017

Ramble Report June 22 2017

Today's Ramble was led by Dale Hoyt.
The photos in this post, except where noted, came from Don's Facebook album (here's the link).
Today's post was written by Dale Hoyt.
Eleven Ramblers met today, five of them new or returning after a first visit.
Today's reading: No reading today.
Today's route: Through the International Garden to the Purple Trail, then down the Purple Trail to the river befpre returning to the Visitor's Center.

This morning threatened rain, but it held off until the end of our Ramble. It was an ideal day for mushrooms and we found them popping up all over the woods. We are not mushroom experts (or even amateurs, for the most part), so take our identifications with a grain of salt. Corrections are always welcome!

There is a small flower bed just beyond the International Garden sign on the left side of the sidewalk. It is planted with a variety of typical Southern wildflowers and some are currently blooming: Wild Bergamot, Scarlet Bee Balm, Gray-Headed Coneflower and Smooth Spiderwort.
Wild Bergamot

Scarlet Bee Balm
Wild Bergamot and Scarlet Bee Balm, both in the genus Monarda, are both mints and share the mint family characteristics of square stems and opposite leaves. Both of these flowers are popular with bees and hummingbirds. The latter especially favor the Scarlet Bee Balm – red tubular flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds and many plants from a variety of families sport such flowers, specializing in attracting hummingbirds.

Smooth Spiderwort; do the hairy stamens look like a spider to you?
I have never been able to find a convincing reason for the "spiderwort" common name. If you search the internet you will find several pages that claim it is because the hairy stamens look "spider like." Another colloquial name for this plant that I like is snotweed. Online I also discovered another name: cow slobber. Both refer to the mucus-like juice that runs out of the stem when it is cut or damaged. You can understand why these names never caught on in the horticultural trade. And, speaking of trade, the genus name for spiderworts is Tradescantia. It was given by Linnaeus and honor two early botanists, a father and son, named Tradescant.

Wild Indigo seed pods (family Fabaceae)
Earlier this year this bed had yellow, white and blue flowered Wild Indigos. The flowers are all gone, replaced by inflated fruits (seed pods) that look like bloated garden pea pods, a sure sign that these plants are in the legume family. Which is which I can't tell without the flowers.

Gray-Headed Coneflower
A Gray-Headed Coneflower is in bloom and has a distinctive elevated central disk. Plants of this genus (Ratibida) sometimes carry the common name "Mexican hat" due to their resemblance to the Mexican sombrero.

Pawpaw leaf; note the pointed tip
One of the trees in this part of the garden could be a Dwarf Pawpaw or a root sucker of an ordinary Pawpaw. We'll wait to see how tall it gets before naming it.

Oak-Leaved Hydrangea
An Oak-Leaved Hydrangea is planted at the start of the flower bridge. It is currently decorated with numerous racemes of white flowers. These are all sterile and serve a insect attracters. The flowers that do the work are inconspicuous and lay partially hidden beneath the showy white ones.

Bottlebrush Buckeye
Where the sidewalk turns to the left is a large Bottlebrush Buckeye, now in the last stages of flowering. Each flower spike carries ~100 blossoms, making a spectacular display when it is in full bloom. Like all buckeyes, the leaves are palmately compound and opposite.

Royal Catchfly
The section of the Garden near the Bog Garden has sand added to the soil to enable the Garden to grow plants that require a better draining soil than our native red clay. Two red flowered plants, Royal Catchfly and Indian Pink are currently in bloom here. The Catchfly looks very similar to a Fire Pink, but differs in that the petals lack the notches in their tips, which is found in the Fire Pink.

On the Purple Trail we paused to identify a few common trees and other plants, picked up a Carpenter Ant, and then looked at the abundance of mushrooms that were springing up all over.

Hophornbeam leaves
Hophornbeam is a very common understory tree in the Garden natural areas. Older trees have a very distinctive bark that some people describe as looking like a cat scratched it. Others like to compare its appearance to a Shredded Wheat cereal biscuit. The bark is divided into narrow vertical strips with ragged ends. The leaf edges are not smooth; they have teeth of two sizes, larger teeth that have smaller teeth next to them, a condition described as doubly serrate. Younger trees have smoother bark that resembles the bark of cherry trees.
Sap wells drilled by Sapsucker in Hophornbeam
Many of the Hophornbeams in the Garden have many horizontal rows of small holes drilled into them. These are made by a type of woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. The sapsucker taps a small hole in the bark of the tree and then continues around the tree, making holes at short intervals. The holes fill with sap that the bird then consumes, using a modified tongue. The end of the tongue has brush-like projections that absorb the sap when dipped into it, like the tongue of a cat lapping up a fluid. The sap wells also attract insects and the sapsucker also eats them.
The tree has its defenses, too. It will not permit sap to exude forever. Eventually it blocks the flow to the holes and the sapsucker then has to excavate a new set. The tree we examined has holes almost as far as we could see.

American Holly leaves
American Holly has the thick, spiky leaves that you probably associate with the imported holly bushes that are planted as hedges. Those bushes have leaves that glossy green and rectangular, each corner decorated with a sharp spine. The American Holly leaves are duller and have more points where the spines project. It grows into a tree.

Pignut Hickory leaves
Pignut Hickory has compound, alternate leaves with smooth (hairless) leaf stalks. Each leaf is made of five leaflets, pinnately arranged. (Pinnate refers to the way the barbs of a feather are attached to the feather shaft.)

American Beech leaves
American Beech has smooth, gray bark and leaves that have shallow, wavy margins. Each "wave" ends with a tiny point. The mnemonic for remembering this is to think of "waves at the beach."

Sweet Gum leaves
Sweet Gum leaves are star-shaped. The only tree you might confuse them with are some kinds of maples and maples have opposite leaves. Sweet Gum leaves are alternately arranged on the twigs.
Sweet Gum is one of the trees that the caterpillars of the Luna Moth feed on. (A Luna Moth is large, beautiful apple green with long tails on its hind wings. If you haven't seen it in real life you've probably seen it on a commercial for a sleep aid.)

Musclewood trunk
Musclewood is usually found in moist areas, growing alongside streams or rivers. It is unique in that the trunk looks sinewy or muscular. The leaves resemble those of Hophornbeam, a close relative. Musclewood also has other common names: American Ironwood and Blue Beech. The ironwood refers to the density and strength of the wood; it barely floats in water and is extremely difficult to cut with an axe or saw.

Sourwood is more common on other trails in the Garden, but we saw one today. Its bark is thrown up into high ridges, with steep sides. The tree never grows straight, instead it seems to grow toward the light, twisting and turning a goes, as if searching for the sunlight through the canopy of larger trees.

Mayberry, a type of native blueberry shrub, has distinctive green new growth. It flowers much earlier in the year, but the green young stems make it easy to identify.

Carpenter Ant
Sandra noticed a large black Carpenter Ant running across the trail and we managed to catch it. Unlike other ants, Carpenter Ants don't nest in the soil; they build their nests in dead wood. To do this they have a large pair of tough mandibles that can chew tunnels in most dry, soft woods, like pine stumps or 2&4s in you house. Unlike termites, it does not actually eat the wood, it just excavates it, make a lot of sawdust in the process. They will reveal their presence in your house by the presence of sawdust piles and small holes in woodwork. You can see the size of the mandibles in the photo – it's attempting bite my fingernail.

Trumpet vine (flower in upper left corner)
At the river someone spotted several orange flowers of a Trumpet Creeper vine hanging over the river from a supporting tree. The color of the flower varies from orange to brilliant red.

At the beginning of the Purple Trail we began to see Mushrooms. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're thinking about mushrooms.

A mushroom is part of a fungus. It is the fungal equivalent of a flower, but, unlike a flowering plant, you never see the fungus that makes the mushroom. The body of the fungus is underground or inside a rotting log or other piece of wood. There it is doing what fungi do: eating so it can grow. Fungi have many ways of doing this. They can cause decay, as when they grow in tree stumps or in piles of leaves. If fact, fungi and bacteria are the major agents of decomposition (decay or rotting) of organic material. Some can attack living material and others form symbiotic relationships with the roots of plants. The decomposers are called saprobes, the ones that rot living plants are considered parasites and the symbiotic species are called mycorrhizae.

Many of the mushrooms you see are mycorrhizae; they wrap around the root tips of plants and receive carbohydrates from the plant, usually in the form of sugar. In return the fungi supply the plant with mineral nutrients, especially phosphate and nitrogen compounds. You probably learned in school that plants have tiny hairs on their roots that pick up mineral nutrients from the soil. Why do they need fungi? The fungus body in the soil is a tiny thread, thinner than the microscopic root hair of the plant. Because of this small size it can penetrate and explore spaces in the soil that root hairs cannot penetrate. This make the mycorrhizae much more efficient in gathering minerals than the plant's own roots. Working together, both partners benefit. The plant gets what it needs and the fungus gets carbohydrates without having to do the digestion itself.
When mycorrhizae are prevented from establishing a relationship with a plant the plant suffers. It is estimated that around 90% of plant species participate in mycorrhizal symbioses and in Orchids it is mandatory – the orchid seed has no stored food and will die after germination if it doesn't find a fungal partner.

Now, on to what we saw today.

Bird's Nest fungus, two kinds
Rosemary spotted several patches of tiny Birds Nest fungi growing on the mulch. Each tiny cup contains several "eggs." The "eggs" contain spores. When a rain drop falls into a cup it splashes out the "eggs" and they travel a surprising distance, sticking to whatever they hit. From there they release their spores. We didn't realize until we saw the enlarge photographs that we had two kinds of Birds Nest fungi: Striate and Common Bird's Nest fungi. The difference is clearly visible in Don's closeup photograph.

Russula sp. mushroom
A common mycorrhizal mushroom that associates with trees is in the genus Russula. These are usually short, squatty toadstools, with red or brown caps. When the stem is bent it snaps like a piece of chalk and the gills will crumble when squashed. They are difficult to identlfy to species, so we don't even attempt to go beyond the genus name.

Chanterelle; top view

Chanterlee; lower surface
The most abundant mushroom today were the orange Chanterelles which are desirable edibles. Chanterelles are usually trumpet shaped and the gills run from the cap onto the stem without any clear demarcation. In fact, the gills are not true gills – they are just wrinkles in the undersurface of the cap.

Bolete musroom showing pore surface
While many common "toadstool" type mushrooms have gills under their caps, not all do. The group of mushrooms called boletes lack gills. When you turn the cap over it looks like a sponge, with microscopic holes. It even feels like a sponge when you squeeze it. Each tiny hole is the opening of a tube. The inner surface of each tube contains cells that produce spores, the reproductive cells of the mushroom. In gilled mushrooms spores are produced from the surface of the gills.

A bitter tasting yellow bolete mushroom
We found several yellow bolete mushrooms and Richard even verified that they were inedible by taking a small bite from one. After minute of chewing he pronounce it "bitter" and spit it out.

Black footed marasmius on twig
In weather like today we often find small, delicate mushrooms growing from fallen twigs. One common type has a name longer than it is: Black footed marasmius.

Violet toothed polypore
Violet toothed polypore

Staghorn jelly mushroom
Staghorn jelly mushroom

Crowned tip Coral mushroom
Crowned tip Coral mushroom


Wild Bergamot
Monarda fistulosa
Smooth spiderwort
Tradescantia ohioensis
Wild indigo
Baptisia sp.
Asimina sp.
Gray-headed coneflower
Ratibida pinnata
Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum
Scarlet bee balm
Monarda didyma
Oak-leaved hydrangea
Hydrangea querquifolia
Nelumbo sp.
Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora
Royal catchfly
Silene regia
Indian pink
Spigelia marilandica
Smooth chanterelle
Cantharellus lateritius
Cantharellus cibarius
Podophyllum peltatum
Black cohosh
Actaea racemosa
(= Cimicifuga racemosa)
Striate birds nest fungus
Cyathus striatus
Common bird's-nest fungus
Crucibulum laeve
Russula mushroom
Russula sp.
American hophornbeam
Ostrya virginiana
American beech tree
Fagus grandifolia
American holly
Ilex opaca
Bitter bolete
Caloboletus marshii
Elliot's blueberry/Mayberry
Vaccinium elliotii
Pignut hickory
Carya glabra

No Common name

Marasmiellus candidus
Sweet gum
Liquidambar styraciflua
False turkey tail mushroom
Stereum ostrea
Carpenter ant
Camponotus sp.
Club-like tuning fork fungus
Calocera cornea
Oxydendrum arboreum
Carpinus caroliniana
Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans
Crown-tipped coral mushroom
Clavicorona pyxidata
Purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea
Humulus lupulus

1 comment:

  1. Corrections to some of the mushroom identifications; Thanks to Joan!

    black-footed marasmius is Marasmiellus candidus, no common name

    The staghorn is Calocera cornea....common name: club-like tuning fork fungus


Post a comment