Monday, September 12, 2011
A Quick Trip Through the Denton Sanctuary
A beautiful sunny warm day today, but I got a late start, so where could I visit close to home that I hadn't been to before? Friends had told me about Denton Wildlife Sanctuary, just across the Hudson from Schuylerville, so that's where I went today. It's a very nice preserve with miles of trails, mostly oak woods with streams and some swampy spots, plus some open areas with what looks like shale outcroppings underfoot. This could make for an interesting mix of wildflowers, so I will have to return next spring.
Very few flowers are blooming now in the woods, but the mushrooms sure were sprouting up like, well, like mushrooms. What really caught my eye today were these crowded clumps of golden mushrooms, lots and lots of them all over the place.
Hmm . . . . These sure look familiar, with those scaly brownish stems below thick rings. There were older clumps where the caps had spread out and deposited white spores on other caps clustered beneath them, another clue that these might be the very tasty Honey Mushrooms (Armillaria mellea). I was tempted to pick a mess to bring home for further examination (and consumption), but I remembered reading a sign at the entrance to this preserve forbidding any collection. So I restrained myself, although I did uproot this little clump to take a closer look at the undersides. I couldn't be sure of my identification, since the Honey Mushroom I've known in the past was bigger and browner (because it was older), so I wouldn't have eaten these even if I'd been free to collect them. One must always be absolutely sure. I was almost sure, but not absolutely.
Here's another mushroom that caught my eye, not because it was so beautiful, but because of the way it had pushed up the moss as it sprouted and spread its cap. That moss was actually rooted in the mushroom's flesh.
This toothed fungus was spread out like a crust on a dead brach. It's possibly an Ochre Spreading Tooth (Steccherinum ochraceum), the closest match I could find in my mushroom books.
These beautiful asters were growing beside the highway where I'd parked my car, and I marveled at the large showy flowers, almost as vividly colored as New England Aster, but more toward the blue than purple.
Here's a closer look at that aster's leaves, very smooth and shiny and clasping the stem. Asters are notoriously hard to differentiate, but if I had to put money on it, I'd say that this was Smooth Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve). I'd also say that it was a beauty.