Friday, May 30, 2014

Moth At The Compost Bin

I've found this little moth perched on our backyard compost bin twice in the past week.  It is an American Idia, Idia americalis.  The compost bin is an appropriate location; it's caterpillars feed on leaf litter.  The caterpillar over-winters in the leaf litter, so I suppose there were American Idia caterpillars in our compost bin over the winter, which metamorphosed into the moth I photographed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mushroom Log - May 2014

Black Morel - Morchella sp.

Dryad's Saddle - Polyporus squamosus

Newly sprouted.  They can get a lot bigger than this.

Inky Caps with a Dryad's Saddle - Coprinoid species with P. squamosus

Amber Jelly Roll - Exidia recisa


Unknown Mushroom

Unknown mushrooms looking sorry.  I saw a similar mushroom last month and identified it as a Velvet-foot Mushroom (Flammulina velutipes), but that was based on overall impressions and not on careful study; orange mushrooms growing on stumps in cool weather often end up being Velvet-foot Mushrooms.  But the details don't match.  These had a white spore print,

Devil's Urn - Urnula craterium

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spring Ephemrals at Nerstrand State Park

Below is a collection spring ephemerals from Nerstrand State Park.  Spring Ephemerals are woodland wildflowers that flower and typically complete most of their life cycle before the trees leaf out and block the sunlight.

With the cold weather we've been having, the spring ephemeral season has lasted much later than usual.  So there's still time to catch the show; head out to your local Maple-Basswood forest and enjoy!

Dwarf Trout Lily - Erythronium propullans

Minnesota's only endemic flower (meaning it is found only in MN), and an endangered one. Nerstrand is one of the few places where they can be found.  A ranger at the park was kind enough to point this one out. 

White Trout Lily - Erythronium albidum

These carpet the forest floor at Nerstrand.  Notice its purple-mottled leaf in the background

Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis

Named for the red sap of the roots.

Wild Ginger - Asarum canadense

A close-up of Wild Ginger's beetle-pollinated, ground level flower.

 Dutchman's Breeches - Dicentra cucullaria

False Rue Anenome - Enemion biternatum

Formally known as Isopyrum biternatum

Wood Anenome - Anemone quinquefolia

Superficially resembles False Rue Anenome, but the flowers grow singly.

Marsh Marigold - Caltha palustris

A marsh flower, not strictly woodland.  And I'm not sure if it would be considered a spring ephemeral because I think the leaves last into the summer.  But it blooms along with the spring ephemerals, so here it is.

Hepatica - Hepatica sp.

The flowers open before the leaves unfurl.

Early Meadow Rue - Thalictrum diocum

This plant and the previous four plants are all in the Buttercup family, Ranunclaceae.  The buttercups are one of the more primitive groups of flowering plants.  I wonder why this family is disproportionately represented amongst the spring ephemerals?  

Spring Beauty - Claytonia virginica

It has small, edible bulbs (corms), but I think you should just enjoy it visually and not gastronomically.

Trillium - Trillium sp.

The various species of Trilliums are usually a little bit later than some of the other spring ephemerals and weren't in bloom yet.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mushroom Log - Late April 2014

Luminescent Panellus - Panellus stipticus

Fairly common on hardwood logs, but not the easiest to identify.  Some key features:

  • a white spore print
  • when wet, the cap has a brownish ground color, topped with a whitish bloom
  • semi-circular, or kidney shaped cap
  • brownish gills
  • a small stem growing off to the side.  I thought they were stemless at first, because with a casual examination, you might not notice the small stem; I didn't - and it was a pretty casual mushroom hunting walk . . .
  • clustered growth habit, growing in shelves, or rows along the stem
  • it's tough and can revive with moisture after drying out

The gills of this mushroom can glow in that dark, a feature I have never witnessed (hence the name, Luminescent Panellus).

Scarlet Cup - Sacroscypha sp

Two species of Scarlet Cup can be found in the eastern United States (I wonder if they are both in MN?): S. austriaca and S. dudleyi.  They are identical to the naked eye.

Orange Mock Oyster - Phyllotopsis nidulans

Black Jelly Roll- Exidia glandulosa

Bird's Nest Fungus - uncertain species

I think the species is Cyathus striatus, but that fungus is usually pictured with a shaggier exterior. Though I think these are probably left over from last fall (they fruit in the summer), so maybe the shagginess wore off over the winter.

Witches' Margarin - Ductifera pululahuana

This jelly fungus is common in the summer after heavy rain.  I don't think of it as a spring, cool weather fungus (though we've had plenty of rain).

Velvet-foot Mushroom - Flammulina velutipes

A rather sad looking specimen.  Usually they come in clumps.  They can be found in pretty cold weather (including thaws in the middle of winter), but they have been largely absent this spring; usually they are all over the place in the early spring.  Elm stumps are a common place to find them.