Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Venturing Outdoors Again

Oof!  What a week of awful weather!  It if wasn't pouring rain and blasting lightning, it was so steamy hot and muggy my glasses would float off my nose with the sweat running down my face. So mostly, I just stayed indoors.  But today it seemed a bit fresher, so I did venture out.

My first stop today was the in-town Spring Run Trail, which starts just a few blocks from my house in Saratoga Springs.

Although this is a pleasant paved path through woods and wetlands, I don't walk here very often, native-wildflower snob that I am, because most of the wayside plants that proliferate here are invasive species, such as Japanese Knotweed and Purple Loosestrife.  It does my heart good, though, to see that some of our native wildflowers still hold their own against the aggressive invaders.  Here, the creamy-white frothy flowers of Boneset and the Rose-pink ones of Spotted Joe-Pye Weed refuse to be overwhelmed by the masses of Purple Loosestrife that surround them.

I remembered a particularly beautiful stand of Great Lobelia, where many plants of these stunning royal-blue flowers massed along a creek bank, their very numbers amplifying their beauty. Well, it turned out that those fierce thunderstorms with driving rain and blasting winds that kept me indoors this week caused some significant damage to this patch of Great Lobelia. Branches had fallen across the patch, toppling the tall flower stalks and pinning their blooms beneath the detritus of the storm.

But here and there a plant or two had escaped utter destruction, their flower stalks reaching up toward the sun and their radiant flowers still beckoning pollinators.

Content to have found those gorgeous Great Lobelias and starting to wilt from the noonday sun now beating down on the Spring Run Trail, I decided to head for shadier trails and next made my way to the wooded stream banks at Orra Phelps Nature Preserve in nearby Wilton.  Just the look of all that deep-green forest and the sound of that splashing water had a cooling effect, even if the thermometer read the same at either location.

I did not expect to find many flowers blooming now under all this dark shade, but I did hope to find many colorful mushrooms sprouting up from the forest floor, following several days of drenching rain.  And I was not disappointed.  The first ones I spied were these little lemon-yellow Waxcaps (Hygrocybe flavescens), with their fragile pixie-hat caps atop hollow flattened stalks.

Close by were a number of these very smooth and creamy-tan Boletes, the species of which I have not been able to determine.

Their pores were the softest lemon-sherbet color, which stained a deep blue when I pressed them.  That should have been a distinguishing clue, but the only Boletes of this color I find in my guides are described as non-staining.  Maybe somebody can tell us what these are?

I do know what these flat leathery ones are, but only because I have found them in other years when their dark color suggested their common name of Black Tooth Fungus (Phellodon niger).  They always have a ring of creamy-white around the edges, but this time the white has covered most of the surface.  The toothed undersides still looked the same as I remembered. I wonder if a second, white-colored fungus has colonized the ordinarily dark surface of this fungus.  Or maybe it's an entirely different one.  Mushrooms are hard to ID!

This mushroom isn't hard to ID, however.  No other fungus but American Caesar Amanita (Amanita jacksonii) has this brilliant red cap on a bright-orange stalk rising out of a pure-white cup.  And today I found TWO of them!

This is an easy one, too.  That brilliant orange crust coating a depressed-cap mushroom couldn't be anything else but a Lobster Mushroom (Hypomyces lactiflorum).  This is a bit of a misnomer, however, because H. lactiflorum actually refers to the orange fungal coating that has completely covered another mushroom, most likely one of the Lactaria, this fungus's usual host.

I found abundant numbers of Smooth Chanterelles (Cantherellus lutescens) just where I expected to find them, in an area of very wet soil, their preferred habitat.

There were dozens and dozens of these frilly Chanterelles in varying sizes, some almost as small as a pin.

I'm not going to try to name the coral fungi I found.  There are many different ones and I have difficulty telling them apart.  But I believe it is safe to say that this is an Orange Coral Fungus.

And this is a White Coral Fungus.

And this is not a fungus at all, but rather the slime mold Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa var. fruticulosa.  That's not a name I can reel off on demand, but one I have to look up every time I find it.  And since this is one of our commonest slime molds, I do look it up quite often.  If we have periods of rain.

I did not remove this lovely purple mushroom from its niche at the base of a pine tree to examine it closely.  But I think it may be the Viscid Violet Cort (Cortinarius iodes).  It's almost always necessary to destroy a mushroom in order to accurately identify it -- pulling the cap off to note how the gills are attached, breaking the stem to note its color or if it is hollow, etc., etc.) -- and I thought it looked so pretty right where it was, complimented by the green Canada Mayflower leaves.  I left it for others to admire.

Oh wait a minute!  I DID find a flower at Orra Phelps! How could I miss this bright purple cluster blooming at the edge of the stream?  It certainly catches the eye!

Looks like a Phlox, but not quite like the Phloxes that grow in my neighbor's garden.  I thought it might be Wild Sweet William (Phlox maculata), but I didn't see a spotted stem and the leaves seem too broad to be that species.  I have some queries out to folks who might know, but whatever species it is, it certainly was a pleasant surprise to see this lovely flower blooming so brilliantly, all alone in the woods.


threecollie said...

The weather kept me indoors mostly too, when I really should have been out looking for southbound warblers. Love the various fungi, especially the purple one.

The Furry Gnome said...

Great collection of mushrooms! Those yellow Waxcaps, and the violet one you left to grow are particularly pretty, and new to me.

Woody Meristem said...

Beautiful fungi. It's been so hot and dry here for the last month that few fungi are to be found -- I'll do my rain dance.