Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer On A Fort Yargo State Park Trail: Section B To The Dam, June 24th (Part 1)

June 24th. When I visited Fort Yargo State Park in mid-February, there were few signs of Spring. The only wildflower plants that were obvious were the leaves of Cranefly Orchids (Tipularia discolor) that I found in many places.

The route… I’ve described it here, here, here, and here This walk doesn’t have the variety of wildflowers as my other walk from the Group A Shelter to the Old Fort but it does have some gems. One of the Smallflower Pawpaws (Asimina parviflora) had developed fruit that, unfortunately, it had lost; the Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) Orchids had bloomed, and some Green Adder’s-mouth (Malaxis unifolia) Orchids had bloomed and two were setting seeds. The occurrence of slime mold fruiting bodies added a new focus of interest for this walk.

An auspicious start to the walk? I was standing on the bridge from the parking lot when a Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) landed on my boot. Unfortunately I was standing in the shade of one of the railing. The butterfly didn’t approve when I tried to move into the sunlight and flew off.

The Hoary Mountainmint (Pycnanthemum incanum) was still blooming. The leaves didn’t look as ‘hoary’ as they had earlier.

When I entered the main woods, I was pleasantly surprised to find a ruellia blooming in the shade. Even more that it was a Stalked Wild Petunia (Ruellia pedunculata). The Carolina Wild Petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) is much more common in this area.

The Starry Rosinweed (Silphium astericus) was still blooming.

Again, I had to stop and check ‘my slime mold’ log.

My first sighting wasn’t a slime mold but a little insect – it looked like a stick-type insect – that was barely 0.5 inches long. 

I wasn’t disappointed in the slime mold department on this walk.

These young (pink) Wolf’s Milk (Lycogala epidendrum) fruiting bodies were nestled in a bed of moss. 

My next find was a real surprise. I saw a few gray ‘patches’ on the log. They just looked like smudges but I took a closer look and was rewarded with…

several clusters of a tiny gray-white, stalked slime mold fruiting bodies.

These belong to the genus Arcyria – possibly A. cinerea. The fruiting structures (stalk and sporangium) were only about 1 to 2 mm tall. They looked like little lumps of chalk. It takes a magnifying glass or a macro lens to see these little guys. These were relatively recent; they are just starting to release spore, the tiny clumps on the surface of the sporangia.

The sporangia in this cluster of fruiting bodies look powdery because they have released a lot of spores.

Back on the trail to ‘The Hill,’ Bicolor Lespedeza (Lespedeza bicolor) bushes were still blooming. 

At the top of the hill, where I follow the unmarked trail over to the Outer Trail, there is a large fallen log. I’ve photographed pine seedlings growing in cavities on this log, but thought it was too dry to be particularly interesting. But on this day I couldn’t miss the large clump of…

Red Raspberry (Tubifera ferruginosa) slime mold. I couldn’t help but notice the millipede at the edge of the fruiting body, but was the millipede eating the slime mold.

Yes, it was! I wonder how many slime molds we don’t see because ‘someone’ has eaten them. But then, we might be overwhelmed by slime molds if something didn’t eat them. 

Having found one slime mold on this log, I went back to the other end of the log and worked my way along it. I found more Chocolate Tube (Stemonitis sp.) fruiting bodies on the side of the log. Some clusters had…

formed very recently. The sporangia were still ‘attached’ to each other from when they formed. (See how stemonitis sporangia form here).

Other clusters were older and were looking a little frayed as they had already been releasing spores. 

I found…

young (pink), and… 

older (brown) Wolf’s Milk fruiting bodies, as well as…

Coral (Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa var. fruticulosa) nearby. Interestingly, the Wolf’s Milk fruiting body in the lower left of this photo was starting to release its spores.
I tore myself away from this log and went over to check the…

Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) fruit which was still doing well.
Then on down to the dam. 
(To be continued…)

Related posts:  

- Margined Leatherwing (Chauliognathus marginatus)

- Spring Is In The Air: Fort Yargo State Park, Section B To The Dam, May 1st (Part 2)

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