Monday, July 1, 2013

A Walk in the Dark Damp Woods

It wasn't even raining last week when my friends in the Thursday Naturalists and I went walking in the Pack Demonstration Forest north of Warrensburg.  But from weeks and weeks of almost unrelenting downpours, the woods was very damp and dark and green -- exactly the kind of circumstances a little frog would love.  Every spring I search and search to no avail to find the tiny creature trilling that deafening mating song, and Lo!  Here he was!  One silent little Spring Peeper climbing around on the trunk of a moss-covered tree.

All across the forest floor, the webs of doily weavers were sparkling with droplets of water .

It promises to be one heck of a wonderful year for damp-loving fungi.   I've blown up this photo as much as I can to better show the fringes surrounding these tiny red discs (the biggest might have been a quarter-inch across).  These are called Eyelash Fungi (Scutellinia scutellata), for obvious reasons.
And oh look! See those even tinier little brown lollypops!  My guess is that these are slime-mold fruiting bodies, but I really can't tell what species.  Cute!

More cuties: A species of Marasmius mushroom, possible M. rotula.  Very small, on wiry stalks, often found after periods of prolonged rain.  Yeah.

The bright-white blooms of Dalibarda (Rubus dalibarda) almost seemed to glow against the dark green of the heart-shaped leaves.

We were more than delighted to find the exquisite little Twinflower (Linnaea borealis ssp. americana) still in flower, even after it first started blooming at least two weeks ago.

Not blooming yet, but with the promise of flowers-to-come tucked into its tight little buds, Dwarf Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera repens) was scattered across the leaf litter in plain sight -- IF you looked very carefully, that is.   That little rosette of ornately patterned leaves was maybe an inch and a half across.  Look even more carefully, and see if you can find even tinier plants nestled down among the mosses.

Another tiny plant that took some really sharp eyes to find:  this is Daisyleaf Moonwort (Botrychium matricariifolium),  and I certainly never would have seen it if botanical experts who found it first had not tied a red ribbon to the shrub that grew over it. 

The Moonworts belong to one of the oldest taxa in the long evolutionary history of ferns,  the Succulent Ferns, which include the Rattlesnake, Grape, and Adder's-tongue ferns.  Although they are considered true ferns, they are not closely related to other fern families now extant.   This is something I would never know, if not for my friends in the Thursday Naturalists. 


The Furry Gnome said...

Great pictures of neat things, especially the peeper and the twinflower. And the moonwort! I've never seen that species, just the common, and that only once. Wonderful find.

Ellen Rathbone said...

You had some really great finds!

Judith said...

I am awed by your detailed up-close-and-personal photos. I learned a lot from this visit and look forward to many more.

Do you have archives for this blog? I was dreaming of spending an early morning combing through entries from your past. Blogger enables them, but perhaps they didn't work out for your blog?

A Recent Devotee of Your Blog,

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thank you, Furry and Ellen, for your kind comments. I'm so glad you come along with me.

Judith, I am so glad we shared a walk in the woods today, and I look forward to further adventures. You can find my blog archive by scrolling down the right-hand column, past some photos, then my blog friends, then my followers, more photos, and then my archives, all posts going back to January 1, 2009. Have fun!

Adk Keith said...

Love the Peeper Picture!