March 12th. When I visited Fort Yargo State Park in mid-February, there were few signs of Spring. The only plants that were the leaves of Cranefly Orchids (Tipularia discolor) that I found in many places. I made this visit to walk the beach but, when that didn’t work out, I decided to walk the trail again to see if there were any signs of Spring.
I love this view looking northwest just after crossing the bridge from the parking lot.
Branches of pine trees had fallen after being coated with about an eighth to a quarter inch of ice a few days previously. At first I thought the park staff had been trimming trees - in some cases they had – and it took a while before I realized that most of the branches had fallen under the weight of the ice.
I found some treasures on some of the fallen branches.
This branch had some small brown jelly ears (Auricularia sp.).
Another branch was colonized by two different shield lichens. One had fruiting cups with green inner faces, and…
a second lichen whose cups had brown inner faces. Both are probably Parmotrema sp. It’s not unusual to find lichens on fallen branches; it is unusual to see fruiting bodies on lichens on these branches.
Most of the Cranefly Orchid leaves were still healthy and green. A few were showing signs of age, and some had turned purple. The leaves will die back before the orchids bloom in July.
The best find on this walk was a fallen branch – about six feet long and up to 3 inches in diameter - with five to six different lichens.
A lichen with ‘wrinkled’ cups…
The small group of cups in the upper right are similar to the cups in the previous photo. The lighter cups may be a different lichen.
An Old Man’s Beard (Usnea sp.). This specimen seems more compact that most I’ve seen.
I think this is another lichen.
This lichen may be the same as the first lichen with green fruiting cups.
The black spots in this photo are fruiting cups of yet another lichen.
I’ve never seen so many different lichens on a single branch. I put the branch away from the trail where I can check on it periodically.
To be continued...