Friday, July 8, 2011

Woods Hollow Habitat: Good for Goodyera

We had a few sunny hours today, so I hurried over to Woods Hollow Nature Preserve in Ballston Spa to see if I could find that Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera tesselata) I didn't manage to photograph on Wednesday, due to pouring rain. Woods Hollow has just the kind of habitat this rather uncommon species of Goodyera loves: an open pine woods with sandy soil thickly cushioned with pine needles. Pink Lady's Slippers love this pine woods, too, blooming by the hundreds here every spring.

I quickly located the area where I find the Goodyera each year, and was able to find several dozen of the rosettes of basal leaves, marked with the pale green "tesselation" that gives this plant its scientific name. These markings are much paler on this species than are those on the related Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens) I found at Bog Meadow yesterday.

Goodyera with flowering stalks, however, were much harder to find. I don't know if more will come later, or if the plants are sitting out the year. The individual flowers are not very showy, but a full spike of them is quite noticeable.

A closer look at the tiny blooms reveals their orchid likeness, for these are, indeed, one of our native orchid species.

My orchid assignment completed, I continued my visit to Woods Hollow by walking around the pond, a former reservoir that lies at the heart of the preserve. The water lay mirror-still on this windless day.

In thickets around the water's edge, Beaked Hazelnuts were filling out their odd furry pods.

In one of the little coves of the pond, Dalibarda spread across the bank like a carpet, its snowy white blossoms presenting quite a contrast to its very-dark-green, heart-shaped leaves.

I was struck by the lovely pale pink of this pair of Indian Pipes.

Another Indian Pipe was lifting its head, allowing a view of this flower's "private parts." When fully mature, the heads will all face straight up.

Glossy-green Wintergreen was dangling its waxy white bells on ruby-red stems.

This pretty insect was adding its note of color to the foliage. In just a matter of seconds (less than a minute from when I submitted its photo), had informed me that this was Calopteron reticulatum, a Banded Net-winged Beetle. A BEETLE!? Don't beetles have those hard bulbous forewings called elytra? Yes, but not Calopterons. Their elytra are soft and flattened, appearing rather like the wings of a moth.

There were lots of mushrooms growing in the damp woods, but most had been half-eaten by some woodland creatures and so were not very photogenic. This Amanita muscaria was an exception, glowing as if it were lit from within. I wonder if insects and turtles and other creatures leave it alone because it would make them as sick as it would any human who consumed it.

Oops! I misidentified this mushroom, according to Cornell mushroom expert Kathie Hodge, who tells me this is more likely Amanita flavoconia. Click on the comments to see what she had to say about it. Thanks, Kathie.


Louise said...

Hmmm, I think you're sending me off on another search. I wonder if I could find any around here? I do know a trail that goes through a pine woods. Thanks for the millionth time for sending me on an interesting search.

Virginia said...

I haven't checked your blog in quite a while and now, having gone back through a number of entries, I can see I have missed a lot! How beautiful. You have the perfect eye for appreciating the little things close to home. I love the interspersal of placid waters, true to your blog title. I need to visit more often! And Woods Hollow--seems like a place I should take my parents.

Kathie Hodge said...

Your yellow mushroom is Amanita flavoconia, I think. It's littler and less muscular than A. muscaria, and its rooftop patches are yellow. Also, it's not hallucinogenic!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Happy hunting, Louise. Since Checkered Goodyera is a rather uncommon plant, your chances of finding it are slim, but who cares? You're likely to find all kinds of other interesting things -- both plants and animals -- in the hunt. And you never know!

Virginia, I do appreciate your kind comments. Thank you. And yes, I think your mom and dad would enjoy Woods Hollow very much. Lots of variety of habitat there: sand plains, piney woods, and woodland pools. Plus, easy walking.

Thank you for the mushroom ID, Kathie. I'm really grateful to have an expert like you check into my blog with your comments. With all the rain we've had this summer, the fungi are coming fast and furious now, so I hope you will keep checking my accuracy.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

P.S.: To read lots of posts about fascinating fungi, click on Kathie Hodge's name to go directly to the Cornell Mushroom Blog she edits.