Monday, July 30, 2012

Mushrooms Galore!


July 21st, 2012. We set out to look for more routes with gravel roads - preferably not mowed - that would be good places to look for wildflowers. We found ourselves in Greene County, Georgia – not far east of the Scull Shoals Experimental Forest. In fact, if we continued on the forest road we use to get to the Scull Shoals EF, we would reach this area. We just don’t go this way often – that may have to change.

It’s probably also important to note that, after months without any rain and temperatures in the 90s F, we’d had about five very welcome inches of rain. I hadn’t thought much about it, but these are ideal conditions for mushrooms to appear.

After leaving the Amanita jacksonii, we continued on gravel roads and turned on a road that traveled through a heavily shaded area beside a small creek that was flowing fast after the recent rains. We found quite a variety of mushrooms – seven in all - more than we’re used to seeing in a short section of road. They were growing on an embankment separated from the road by a slippery ditch so I couldn’t get close to them to determine if they had gills or were polypores.


Possibly a polypore.


 Another polypore


Cantharellus cinnabarinus The caps were about 1 inch in diameter I did straddle the ditch briefly to get closer to these.

This mushroom looks very like one that grows at Fort Yargo State Park. They frequently hang just below the lip of the bank above the lake with only the cap showing.


 Another Boletus sp., Boletus campestris?

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 An Amanita sp. It’s interesting how the partial veil was disintegrating


Yet another mushroom that only showed its cap

The road emerged from this shaded area into planted pine forests where we found…


A young bolete.

The remainder need some perspective…

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The cap on this mushroom was 6-7 inches in diameter

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Another Boletus sp.? The perspective shot for this mushroom seemed somewhat humorous. There are two more mushrooms above and to the right behind some pine needles. It’s as if they’ve sent this mushroom out and are waiting to see what happens before they come out.

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This was a captivating sight. This mushroom looked a little alonely among the young pine tress. It was 6-7 inches tall and looks like an Amanita sp.

I wish I knew more about American mushrooms. It’d be fun to be able to identify them all.
Click on the image to view a larger image

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

American Caesar’s Mushroom (Amanita jacksonii) Revisited


July 21st, 2012. We set out to look for more routes with gravel roads - preferably not mowed - that would be good places to look for wildflowers. We found ourselves in Greene County, Georgia – not far east of the Scull Shoals Experimental Forest. In fact, if we continued on the forest road we use to get to the Scull Shoals EF, we would reach this area. We just don’t go this way often – that may have to change.

It’s probably also important to note that, after months without any rain and temperatures in the 90s F, we’d had about five very welcome inches of rain. I hadn’t thought much about it, but these are ideal conditions for mushrooms to appear.


I posted this photo, taken in Wilkes County, Georgia, in July last year. This was a particularly attractive group of these mushrooms.

W stopped to consult the gazateer and I saw a couple of American caesars in the woods but they were pale orange; not as pretty as the deeper red-capped ones. So I kept my eyes open and finally spotted some nice specimens.


 The group we spotted on July 21st were scattered over a larger area and…


partially obscured by pine needles.


I cleared away pine needles from one that was out in the open and, finally, found what I’d been looking for – the cup or volva that is diagnostic for Amanita (and Volvariella) species. I was taught that this was a method for recognizing amanitas but, search as I have, I have never seen a volva still attached to one. This day was my lucky day…One, and only one of the amanitas in this group had a volva!

A closer view of the volva on this mushroom. It was partially filled with water from recent rains.

All mushrooms have the a partial veil that ‘connects’ the cap to the stem at the annulus or ring; sometimes remnants of this veil are still attached to the stem after the mushroom has opened. Amanitas have another veil, the universal veil, that encloses the entire mushroom as it emerges from the ground. As the mushroom develops, the veil breaks and remains attached – the volva - to the base of the mushroom.

Daniel Spurgeon at ‘Nature at Close Range’ has a wonderful photograph of this mushroom at an earlier stage where the volva is much more evident. 


Amanita jacksonii is cutest at this stage but it wouldn’t do justice to the species not to photograph a fully opened mushroom that we found further along this same road.

Postscript. I ride to work in a vanpool. A few days after spotting these mushrooms, I spotted more in the front lawn of a house along our route. There were two groups in the early stages of opening. The spores had obviously washed down the slope and the mushrooms were arranged in two rows down the slope. I’m going to have to remember to take my camera around this time next year and try to get photographs of these.
Click on the image to view a larger image

Identification resources: 
- Rodham E. Tulloss, Eticomm.net: Amanita jacksonii

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

And So It Goes….

July 14th, 2012. Some of the Maroon Carolina Milkvine (Matelea carolinensis) seed pods are ripening. And right on schedule, Large Milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) have turned up out of nowhere to mate and lay eggs on the pods. The resulting young will feed on the seeds of milkweeds and milkvines.


A ripening Maroon Carolina Milkvine seed pod ripening; this species belongs to the spinypod milkvines.


A mating pair of Large Milkweed bugs.


Before long, the nymphs will emerge and will feed on the seeds


 A closer view of an individual nymph


The milkvine seeds. The ‘meat’ is the raised segment in the center of the seed.


The nymphs will eat the meat and leave a halo. One of the reasons the world isn’t over-run with milkweeds and milkvines.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources: 
- North American Insects and Spiders: Large Milkweed Bug - Oncopeltus fasciatus 

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dusk On A Hoarymountainmint Bush


July 7th, 2012. We were returning along Hunt Camp Road to Grant Mill Road when I spotted a Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades) butterfly feeding at the top of a Hoarymountainmint (Pycnanthemum incanum) bush. I’d photographed one the previous day at the Scull Shoals Experimental Forest (Green County, Georgia) but W hadn’t seen it.  We backed down the road and stopped. What I saw then was a Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus). There’s no way that I’d confuse the two but it was mind-bending until we walked over to the bush to find one of each species feeding. We spent some time photographing them with varying success in the fading light. And, then, there was a surprise.

Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades)


 This photo shows the underside of the wings that gives the Hoary Edge its name


Another photo that shows the gold pattern that’s visible on the upper side of the wing. The late afternoon light illuminated these spots nicely.


Surprisingly, the Hoary Edge flew down and landed on W’s arm in search of salts.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Ergyreus clarus)


 The underside of the wings of the Silver-spotted Skipper


Again, the gold pattern that’s visible on the upper side of the wing was illuminated in the late afternoon light.

Bee Assassin (Apiomerus crassipes)

While we were concentrating on photographing the butterflies on the upper side of the leaves, a dark predator was lurking under one of the leaves. An assassin bug, the Bee Assassin (Apiomerus crassipes).


The bug was hanging out on the underside of one of the leaves waiting for an unsuspecting insect to stray within range. I disturbed it and it…


retreated along the stem. I wanted to get a shot of…


its proboscis, which it injects a toxin into its prey to suck the juices.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades)
Bug Guide: [Top] [Side]

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
- Butterflies and Moths of North America: Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) 
- Bug Guide:  [Top] [Side]

Assassin bug, Bee Assassin (Apiomerus crassipes)
- Niches: Bee Assassin 
- Bug Guide: Bee Assassin (Apiomerus crassipes) [Top] [Side]


Related post: 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rosepink (Sabatia angularis) Revisited


July 7th – July 14th, 2012. Rosepinks (Sabatia angularis) are one of my favorite wildflowers. With the drought, I’d almost given up hope of seeing them in bloom this year. But then we saw them in the Wilson Shoals WMA (Banks County, Georgia) and, last weekend, in Hancock County, Georgia, where we saw them last year.

I wanted to learn more about this plant since it was obvious that the style was not fully extended when the flower first opened but became erect over a number of days to expose the stigma for fertilization. Marvin at Nature in the Ozarks demystified the process.

Sabatia angularis is unusual in being protandrous, meaning that the anthers release their pollen before the stigma of the same flower is receptive to fertilization. This minimizes self-fertiliation and promotes cross-fertilization to maximize genetic diversity in the species. There is a good description of this process here.


The plants we found were blooming profusely


When the flowers open the style, which is bifurcated but twisted closed to prevent access of pollen to the stigma, lies back against the petals with the branches of the stigma folded until the flowers supply of pollen is depleted.


 The style then stiffens, lifting it off the petals.

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The bifurcated section begins to unwind, until the...


style with stigma stand erect above the petals. The stigma is then accessible to pollen from other flowers.

Sabatia angularis is known by the common names Rosepink Rose-pink, Bitter-bloom, Common Marsh-pink, and Square-stem Rose Gentian. Plants are biennials. They are native to the United States where they occur in the Eastern United States (excepting the New England states) to Florida and west to Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. In Georgia, they occur mainly in counties in the Piedmont. We saw these first in Gilmer and Pickens counties in North Georgia in July, 2010; last year, we saw them in Taliaferro, Hancock, and Jasper counties.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources: 
- Southeastern Flora: Rosepink (Sabatia angularis)
- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Sabatia angularis (Rose-pink, Bitter-bloom, Common Marsh-pink)
- Missouri Plants: Sabatia angularis
- Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses: Sabatia angularis

Distribution:
- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Sabatia angularis (Rosepink)
- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Sabatia angularis

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Wilson Shoals WMA: Painted(?) Buckeye Fruiting


July 7th, 2012. We wandered north and found ourselves at the Wilson Shoals Wildlife Management Area in Banks County.  We entered the WMA from the Yonah-Homer Road (GA-51) and drove north on Grant Mill Road.

My find of the day, plant-wise, was a couple of buckeye bushes fruiting. I’ve seen a lot of bushes in bloom but none fruiting. Based on the fruit, I believe these are Aesculus sylvatica (Painted Buckeye). Time will tell – if we can return during their blooming season next year.

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Photos of the fruit from different angles.

Next: More photos of Sabatia angularis 
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
Duke University, Will Cook: Asculus sylvatica (Painted Buckeye) 

Related post:


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wilson Shoals Wildlife Management Area: July, 2012


July 7th, 2012. We wandered north and found ourselves at the Wilson Shoals Wildlife Management Area in Banks County. We’d visited this WMA previously in … As we did last time, we entered the WMA from the Yonah-Homer Road (GA-51) and drove north on Grant Mill Road.


Our first finds were...

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A single ironweed plant growing in the shade. I think this one is the Broadleaf Ironweed (Vernonia glauca), and…


A single Rosepink (Sabatia angularis). We saw several more plants along Grant Mill Road up to the ridge.

We continued along Grant Mill Road and turned along Hunt Camp Road and found a number of plants blooming or fruiting. In a short section of road, not far from the turn off, we found…


Several Ludwigia alternifolia (Bushy Seedbox, Alternate-leaf Seedbox) bushes in bloom. 

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More Rosepink plants in bloom, probably a dozen or so.


We started to see Pycnanthemum incanum (Hoarymountainmint) plants. These are much more ‘heavily frosted’ at these higher elevations in the mountains compared with the lightly ‘frosted’ leaves on plants lower in the Piedmont.

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The flower had is a cyme with many small individual flowers that are easy to overlook.


And my find of the day, plant-wise – a couple of buckeye bushes fruiting. I’ve seen a lot of bushes in bloom but none fruiting. Based on the fruit, I believe these are Aesculus sylvatica (Painted Buckeye).

The road dropped down into an unnamed creek valley where we found a


wild ginger, and


a viola, probably Viola walteri (Prostrate Blue Violet). We’ll have to check these out in the Spring.

The road climbed out onto a ridge where we found…


Cirsium vulgare (Bull Thistle). This plant serves as the reminder of a missed opportunity. We stopped beside the plant and I started to get out before I realized that a Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) was feeding on the flower. By the time I saw it, I had startled it and it flew off into the woods. It’s good to know, however, that this is an area to look for this butterfly whose range doesn’t extend much south of here in Georgia.

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Immediately across the road was a plant that looks like Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick) just starting to bloom. Wish I’d looked at the stems more closely to be sure.

We drove a along the road until the road dropped precipitously and we couldn’t see how steep it would be to go further. The road was covered with loose gravel and, even with four-wheel drive we decided it would be prudent to turn around. When we started back to Grant Mill Road, we spotted…


a nice group of bracket fungi. These belong to the genus Ganoderma.

Next: More photos of fruiting buckeye bushes.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
Duke University, Jeffrey Pippen: Vernonia glauca (Broadleaf Ironweed)
Southeastern Flora 
Duke University, Will Cook: Asculus sylvatica (Painted Buckeye) 

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