Well, the American Ladies weren't there this year, nor was there a single stalk of Clammy Everlasting in that field, which this year was filled with White Snakeroot instead. Huh! Strange, how the flora and fauna could change so completely in just one year. I was, however, happy to see that the Purple Milkworts were blooming better than ever, especially since when I came here a week or so ago, they were withered and brown from excessive heat and lack of rain.
At this point, the thunder was booming nearly overhead, and raindrops started pattering down on the sandy path. Time to hurry back to my car, but wait a minute, what's this bug? It's not a grasshopper, nor is it a cricket, despite those cricket-like long antennae. And look at those wee little under-developed wings. I'll bet that this is a nymph of some bug, maybe a katydid. Anybody know?
While peering closely at that bug, I also noticed the flower it was perched on was not what I first thought it was. Since Spotted Knapweed was rife along this road, I had assumed that all these purple tufty things were that species. But this flower was bigger and fuller than the others, its involucre fat and brown instead of greenish and pinched, and the bracts looked very different, too. I'm guessing that this must be Brown Knapweed, also an introduced species, but one that's not as aggressive an invader as its Spotted cousin. Here's a closer look at the two species for comparison. Brown's on the left, Spotted on the right.
We've had no shortage of rain the last few days, which has spurred lots of fungi to fruiting. This splendid apricot-colored gilled mushroom had sprouted right in the middle of the path, and I chanced to kick it over as I hurried through the rain that was now beginning to fall in earnest. That gave me a chance to see its bulbous end and pale yellow, velvety stalk. Could this be an amanita of some kind? I see traces of a veil remaining on the cap, but I don't see the stalk ring so typical of amanitas.
Oh my, what an odd-looking puffball we have here! Looks like a chocolate cupcake with dabs of white frosting.
When I turned it over to see how it was rooted, those dabs of "frosting" fell right off the top, although the underside remained encrusted.
When I got home I searched my mushroom books, and found the closest match. Would you believe that the name of this one is WHITE Puffball (Lycoperdon candidum)?! Chocolate Marshmallow is a name that would suit it better.
Searching the web for "purple mushrooms," I found many photos of mushrooms that looked like this next one, and most of them were being called Violet Cort. But when I looked at Violet Corts in three different mushroom guides, all of them had velvety-textured, rather than shiny-smooth, caps. Oh well. Whatever its name, it certainly looked beautiful snuggled in among sphagnum moss.