Our primary destination for our hike up into the Palmertown Mountains was to find a pool that's nearly chock-full of Wild Calla, and we were successful in finding it, although the Calla flowers were well past their prime. Almost all flowers are blooming earlier than expected this spring.
Here's a closer look at one of those Calla flowers well on its way to becoming fruit.
Although the Wild Calla almost completely filled the pond, there were a few other plants that shared the site, including a nice variety of grasses and sedges and large clumps of Blue Flag.
The hike to this pool is not a particularly long one, but it took us a couple of hours to reach it, with so many intriguing distractions for a bryologist along the way. I usually associate Sphagnum Moss with low-lying acidic bogs, but Nancy informed me that some Sphagnums (such as the one she's examining here) prefer upland sites that are less acidic.
There appeared to be a variety of soil chemistries along our trail. In one location below some rocky outcroppings, the plants, such as these Maidenhair Ferns and Rattlesnake Ferns, were those that usually indicate a rich, limey soil.
This Ebony Spleenwort is also a fern that prefers a limey substrate.
But then we also found rocks that Nancy identified as definitely acidic, such as this one adorned with at least three different kinds of moss, all of which prefer an acidic environment. (Nancy told me the names of all the mosses we found, as well as the name of this rock, but I had left my notebook in my car, not wanting to get it wet, and I promptly forgot what she told me. I'll try to come back and identify these later.)
I didn't recognize this Rock Tripe immediately, because I usually see it when it is dry and brown. But Nancy told me that it will turn green after being drenched with rain. As we all have been these last few weeks.
Hiding in among that Rock Tripe was another foliose lichen, smaller and curlier, its upturned edges rimmed with powdery white. Again, Nancy told me its name, but I didn't write it down.
This velvety green moss always grows on tree trunks, Nancy told me. She also told me its name but, well, same song, second verse.
At least I DID know the name of these odd little whitish fungi. They're called Dead Man's Fingers, and they will turn black as they mature. The tallest of these was perhaps an inch long.
From small and pale to huge and vivid! It was quite a surprise to see this beautiful Chicken of the Woods, a fungus I usually don't look for until fall. These many days of rain seem to be bringing out the fungi earlier than ususal.
Certainly, the rain brings out the little Red Efts, which were everywhere in the woods on Wednesday. We constantly had to watch our step, lest we squash them on the trail.
Neither one of us could figure out what happened to this old Beech tree to create those odd rings in the trunk.
Another tree that got our attention was this old Black Tupelo, with deeply furrowed bark on one side, smoother bark on the other. That was our first clue as to the species of this tree, plus we found some of last year's oval leaves on the ground beneath. We could not see the top of the tree at all, nor any of its branches, hidden as they were above the leafy tree limbs of encroaching oaks and maples. Certainly, the swampy habitat up here near the Wild Calla pool was appropriate for tupelos.