Although these top two flowers appeared to be starting to fade, they still glowed like stained glass against the dark shade of the background woods.
This cluster was still in the flush of bud-break, their deep-blue color intensified by the sunlight's illumination.
This profile view shows off the eyelash fringes that inspired this flower's common name.
I love how the sunlight lit up the fringes on this pair, emphasizing the swirls of the fringes on these opening blooms.
Not only were there abundant numbers of plants this year (this flower is a biannual, so the same plants don't bloom every year), but the number of flower stems per plant were more than I have ever seen before. I counted 18 blooms on this one plant alone!
A few years ago, I was concerned that encroaching pines and poplars were shading out the wet meadow here, the preferred habitat of this rather uncommon wildflower. But the land-conservation organization called Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land And Nature) that manages this preserve has organized work parties to cut back the trees and restore the open area. It surely appears that their work has yielded results!
I was so enchanted by the beauty and abundance of the Fringed Gentians that I almost failed to notice the glorious blooms on some New England Asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) that also shared this sunny spot. We have many species of aster in our area, but no others display the deeply colored purple that New England Aster does.
After glorying in the gorgeous flowers of the open meadow here, I next sought the cool shade of the densely wooded part of this preserve. Few flowers are blooming now in the woods, but the fungi are certainly fruiting, especially since we have had some recent rains. These small whitish funnels had sprouted up all in a row, and the cottony fluff surrounding their feet suggested to me that this might be the mushroom called Forest Funnelcap (Clitocybe gibba). That fluffy stuff is one of the distinguishing features of this fungus species, which can have caps that are more tan than white.
I haven't yet discovered a name for these mushrooms, but I loved their delicious caramel color, so beautifully set off by the lovely green Delicate Fern Moss (Thuidium delicatulum) beneath.
These shiny Orange Waxy Caps (Hygrocybe sp.) were also beautifully set off by the green leaves of Hog Peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata).
What's this? A GREEN mushroom?! A very unusual color, indeed, and one I had never seen before on a fungus. With its snowy-white gills and stalk, I assumed it might be a Russula species, and a Google search yielded a possible name for it: The Grass-green Russula (Russula aeruginea).
Odd that this brown-and-cream mushroom would have the common name of Black Tooth Fungus (Phellodon niger), but dark brown is one of the colors it can assume. This mushroom lies so close to the ground, it appears at first to have no stalk, but there is a stalk that holds the cap sufficiently erect that I could slip my hand underneath and dislodge one, in order to examine its underside.
The underside revealed that the fertile surface was composed not of gills nor pores, but rather of thousands of these tiny teeth.
Here were some mushrooms so very tiny I probably wouldn't have seen them if a stray sunbeam hadn't lit up their vivid orange color.
I'm not certain, but it's possible those tiny fungi would eventually develop into these beautiful Flame Chanterelles (Craterellis ignicolor) that were burgeoning nearby, sharing their damp muck with the wiry curling stems of Dwarf Horsetail (Equisetum scirpoides).
At least, I think these are Flame Chanterelles. There are so many mushroom look-alikes, but after searching through three different mushroom guides, plus dozens of photos on Google Images, that name remains my best guess. The thin flesh, the rather ruffly edges of the cap, and a central perforation of the cap were also clues. But even if I am mistaken as to species, I nevertheless enjoyed the beauty of these mushrooms, as lovely within their own category as the Fringed Gentians are in their own.
A couple more photos of the Flame Chanterelles: