Friday, April 25, 2014

Moss and Lichen Watching at Interstate State Park

From a recent family trip to Interstate State Park (both the Minnesota and Wisconsin side).

Rock Jasmine - Androsace occidentalis

I'm starting my "Moss and Lichen Watching . . ." post with something that is neither, it's a flowering plant.  But it's so tiny and I found it while poking around the rocks and such looking for moss and lichen photo opportunities.  They have a Hen-and-Chicks look to them, at this stage, before their tiny white flowers open.  It was somewhat of a challenge to identify, mainly because many wildflower guides don't mention it; I think the comment on the Minnesota Wildflower page best sums up this plant  ". . . and is only of interest to those who celebrate the diversity of nature".

Assorted Mosses

The ferns in this picture were often growing along with the mosses and lichens on and around the rocks at Interstate.
An eye pleasing arrangement of different moss species
I think the brown streaks in the above picture are little moss plants starting to grow over the lichen.

Rock-shield Lichen - Xanthoparmelia sp.

Rock-posy Lichen - Rhizoplaca sp

Leather Lichen - Dermatocarpon sp

The dark brown lichens.

Crustose Lichens

The one in the picture above is my favorite.  Maybe a species of Tile Lichen (Lecidea)
Maybe a species of Dust Lichen (Lepraria).  Crustose lichens to offer a lot of id features to the casual observer!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stinging Nettle Sprouts

The Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) doesn't seem to care that it's cold out, it's still going to sprout.  And in case you're wondering, it can still deliver a very irritating sting even at this early stage.  I know I was wondering . . .

Thursday, April 10, 2014

An Illustrated Life List: European Starlings

Don't take this as a defense of starlings; I do understand their negative impact on other cavity nesting birds (but really, who's to blame for this), but I enjoy watching starlings.  I especially enjoy listening to them for other bird sounds that they are imitating.  I frequently see them in my neighborhood on the mess of utility lines that run through the alleys and along the streets.  I envisioned these lines as the lines on a sonogram graph, with the starling's call taking the shape of the bird they are imitating; the blips on the sonogram.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Last Year's Last Mushroom With This Year's First Mushroom

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a large clump of well-aged Sulfur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) mushrooms on a large, fallen tree.  On the same tree further down the trunk now log were a few orange freshly sprouted mushrooms that appeared to be Galerina marginata.  It struck me that a number of  cycles were intertwined and represented on this log.  There was the end of the tree's life cycle, very possibly caused by parasitism of the Sulfur Shelf mushroom.  Then there was the cycling of the tree's nutrients back into the soil, aided by the saprobic G. marginata.  And also the seasonal cycle of mushroom fruiting, with the Sulfur Shelf most likely being one of the last fungi to fruit last fall, and G. marginata being one of the first of this year's spring.