Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gallery of Decay - Fallen Ash

This years assignment, follow the happenings in and about a recently fallen tree.
One of the first things that I noticed about this tree is the variety of colors, patterns, and textures the wood has taken on as a result of decay.  Especially interesting are the sheets of whitened wood found in the exposed interior of the tree.  The color indicates a decay organism that consumed lignin and left behind cellulose.  My guess is the sheeting is from the decay organism working on one layer of the tree.  I know this tree has had big fruitings of Sulfur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus)  mushrooms in the past, which attacks the heartwood of trees.
Below: this black layer corresponds to about where the phloem layer of the tree would be.  The phloem moves sugars and stuff manufactured by the leaves down.
Parts of the tree seem to be delaminating, which sort of fits with the sheets of white, decayed would I showed above.
A close up of the previous picture.  I think the layers are color coded, starting from the outside and working in: bark, phloem, sapwood (xylem), heartwood (the cambium, or growth layer is in there to, but one cell thick I think).  But really, I've never been sure where one type of tree layer starts and ends.  Except for the bark, I kinda get that one . . .
So far, I haven't found much information about tree decay, mostly generalities.  My intention is to visit this tree throughout the year and feature it in future posts, hopefully with some more information about the decomposition of wood.

By the way, "Gallery of Decay" will also be the title of this posts first death metal album (probably mor e appropriately in the Blackened Death metal sub-genera).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oak Bullet Galls

We found these at Theodore Wirth Park last weekish growing on some of the oaks.  They are galls caused by a tiny Cynipid Wasp.

I'm not sure if I've ever met a Cynipid in person before, but the galls of many species can be quite noticeable.  They have a interesting life cycle which I attempted to sketch out above

Friday, December 7, 2012

White Spots on Trees #3: Common vs. Glossy Buckthorn

Glossy Buckthorn, Rhamnus frangula on the left, and Common Buckthorn, R. cathartica on the right.  Both are non-native, invasive shrubs.  And both feature white spotting to one degree or another on their bark.  The smaller dots on the Glossy Buckthorn are lenticels, openings in the bark that allow for the exchange of gases.  It's a good way to distinguish these similar looking shrubs.

I'm guessing the bigger splotches are some kind of fungus or lichen.  I've spent some time in the past trying to identify white splotches on trees and shrubs, but with only limited success.  The damp conditions that day really brought them out visually, as well as all the other fungi, algae, and lichens presented below for your enjoyment.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pancake Ice

Pancake ice along the leeward side of a lake.
I think it formed in the following way.  Last week we had a cold front blow in along with some snow.  The lake water cooled down to freezing, but didn't form ice at first because of the windy conditions.  The snow creates slush in the water which floats on the surface, and eventually congeals into these plates or pancakes.
Like I said, I think this is how it formed.  I used information presented on the Lake Ice website.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Buck Moth

Buck Moth, Hemileuca maia/ nevadensis, a not so giant member of the Giant Silkworm family, Saturniidae.  Besides the distinction of its striking appearance, the caterpillars of Buck Moths are covered with stinging hairs.  H. maia and H. nevadensis are two very similar species whose ranges overlap in eastern MN.
I wonder why it assumed this position?  I saw it photographed this way somewhere else, but found no explanation in my brief researches.  In an article from the Journal of the Lepidopterists Society it was mentioned as a defensive position, but I'm not clear how it would be defensive; maybe exposing the bright orange strips of the abdomen startles would be predators (and to be exact, the article was about the Bog Buck Moth, which may or may not be a separate species).
Suppossedly it is called a Buck Moth because its emergence coincides with the rut of bucks.  I don't think that's the case here in Minnesota, but perhaps further south, where it is more common.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Recent Mushrooms - Mid to Late August 2012

White Dunce Cap - Conocybe albipes

Bear's Head Tooth - Hericium coralloides

Shaggy Mane - Coprinus comatus

Black Leg - Polyporus badius

Gymnopilus sp.

Unknown Mushroom

Resembles a Mycena.

Really Unknown

Growing from a cut stump (Elm if remember right).  I assume they are a fungus of some kind.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Recent Mushrooms - Early to Mid August 2012

Prince - Agaricus augustus

A robust, brown and scaly Agaricus.  They were growing in some wood chips under two big Norway Pines down the block.  I was up very early one morning, so I snuck into their yard to pick a few (I had been coveting my neighbor's mushrooms).
A slow, yellowish to reddish bruising in the flesh.  A definite almond-like smell.
Thick, cottony veil over the gills.
Gills started out very light and pinkish, that slowly turned dark brown.
The stalk scaly for most of its length, becoming smooth at the very top.  Typically, these mushrooms would form a skirt-like ring around the stalk, but in this case the veil stuck to the caps edges instead of forming a ring.  Hmm . . .

Ash Tree Bolete - Gyrodon meruliodes

A distinctive bolete with a off center stalk.
I think it should be called the Flying Saucer Bolete.

Platterful Mushroom - Megacollybia rodmani

I'm fairly certain on the id of this mushroom, but it is a fairly nondescript mushroom; brownish cap, white gills, whitish stem, and white spore print.  One feature that doesn't match is that this mushroom grows from rotten wood.  The mushroom pictured appears to be growing from the ground, or from the bass of a (live) oak tree.  But the rotten wood could be buried, and in this case it could be a rotted root of this tree (perhaps caused by a species of Armillaria, or honey mushroom, common where I found this mushroom).
I think the common name, Platterful Mushroom, is derived from the its scientific name, Tricholomopsis platyphylla.  It is edible, but like I said, pretty nondescript, making id a little iffy.

Fuzzy Foot - Xeromphalina sp.

Small Funnel-veil Amanita - Amanita multisquamosa

A smallish, slender Amanita that grows under hardwoods.
White cap with a yellowish or brownish center, white warts, and faint lines along the margin.
White stem with a skirt-like ring (or small funnel-like), smooth above, a bit scaly below.  The "cup" is bulb shaped with a collar.

Unknown Mushroom

My semi-obligatory "Recent Mushroom" post LBM.