Thursday, September 17, 2009
More Bog Stuff (and More)
I was so delighted by all that I saw in the bog yesterday, I took way too many photos to include in one post. But I just had to add this one of a "layered" Black Spruce because it's so characteristic of how this tree grows in a bog.
Since the bog mat is not solid ground, but consists of layers of soft, spongy sphagnum moss, the tree gradually sinks into the moss by its own weight as it grows. Then its buried branches take root and send up clones, baby trees that encircle the original trunk, as this photo shows. According to John Eastman, author of the wonderful Book of Swamp and Bog, "The tall standing tree you see in a bog may well be only the top third or so of the entire trunk. . . . Sets of progressively younger adventitious roots that emerge from the buried trunk stabilize it. Finally the sinking tree drowns, leaving its cloned surviving offspring to repeat the process."
Eastman also advises his readers to look in late summer beneath the Black Spruce for red mushrooms with depressed centers and toothed undersides. I'll bet this might be the one he meant. If so, its name is Depressed Hedgehog Mushroom (Hydnum umbilicatum). Update: No, it's not. See comments for discussion.
I just had to post another photo of this deep red sphagnum. (Undoubtedly, it has a scientific name, but I don't know it.) I have never seen a moss so richly colored.
Near the trail to the bog, Evelyn showed me these tiny purple-striped flowers, which I had never seen (and wouldn't have then, if she had not pointed them out). This flower is called Eyebright (Euphrasia americana), a northerly member of the Figwort Family long used by herbalists for various ailments. A tea can be used to soothe sore or itchy eyes, or ease the mucous membranes of cough and cold sufferers. For me, it soothed my itch to add new flowers to my life list. It's also really pretty, if you can see it up close. (I'm grateful my camera can.)
Here's another tiny flower that Evelyn showed me and I would have missed because I couldn't see it until I got down on all fours and held it up close to my eyes.
This is Sand Jointweed (Polyganella articulata), a jointed-stemmed wiry plant that Evelyn told me is common in sandy spots like the North Creek public beach where we found it. Well, I'd never seen it before, and once again, couldn't really see it anyway, until I enlarged it on my computer screen. And look at that, it's really very pretty!