Friday, October 30, 2015

Summer On A Fort Yargo State Park Trail: Section B To The Dam, August 21st (Part 2)

August 21st. (Continued from…). 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 Pawpaw (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. For the moment, some wildflowers we still blooming but there was a lull between seasons. I had thought that the slime mold fruiting was done for the year, but I was in for a surprise. There were new fungi to be found too.

A recently fallen branch, no more than one inch in diameter, held the most intriguing fungi. Small brackets with caps at their attachment points. They are called the Little Nest Polypore (Poronidulus conchifer).

A little further along, and off the trail, I found spotted a couple of Golden Reishi (Ganoderma curtisii).

One was large and attached directly to the trunk of an oak tree. It was approximately seven to eight inches wide; the…

second was growing on its own stalk a few inches from the tree trunk, but probably associated with one of the oaks roots. I was looking forward to following these fascinating fungi. 

I walked on towards the Green Adder’s-mouth Orchid when I spotted a sapling that had been stripped of all its foliage. It reminded me of another small sapling I had seen several weeks before that hosted a hatching of small caterpillars on a Post Oak (Quercus stellata) that had also been stripped of all its leaves. I saw a couple of Post Oaks nearby and decided to check them for caterpillars. Sure enough,…

I found three Yellowstriped Oakworm Moth (Anisota peigleria) caterpillars.

The leaf on the Green Adder’s-mouth Orchid plant and its developing seed capsules still looked healthy. I wondered how long it would take for these small seed capsules to mature.

A very small spider (that I couldn’t get a good look at) had taken advantage of the flower spike and had spun a web from the flower spike to nearby plants.

The Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens) seed capsules were swelling ever so slightly. Hopefully, these would mature too.

At the top of ‘The Hill,’ I found some more immature Wolf’s Milk (Lycogala epidendrum) fruiting bodies. The small gray ‘blobs’ around the Wolf’s Milk fruiting bodies are developing fruiting bodies of either another slime mold or of a fungus that we haven’t been able to identify at this stage of their development.

On another log nearby, I found a relatively rare sight (for me). These Wolf Milk fruiting bodies had matured and their ‘skins’ dried to break open and release spores onto the wood below. Incidentally, the small brown spots along the crack above these fruiting bodies are the fruiting bodies of yet another slime mold. (Unfortunately I didn’t get good photographs of these latter fruiting bodies to allow identification).

A little further along the trail, A section of the recently fallen pine tree was showing areas of white growth indicative either of a slime mold or fungus.

Closer inspection revealed a healthy colony of ‘Honeycomb’ Coral Slime (Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa var. porioides) fruiting bodies.

Out on the open section of trail, a Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) was feeding on Brazilian Vervein (Verbena brasiliensis). I just managed to get a shot before it flew off.

The large Trumpetweed/Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium fistulosum) had all but finished blooming but was still an imposing presence near the end of the trail. 

Below it, against the trail was a tangle of green plants three to four feet tall. I thought, at first, that it was just one plant species. When I looked closely, however, the plants had somewhat similar leaves – in size and shape – but they had distinctly different flowers…

The first was Spotted Spurge/Eyebane (Chamaesyce nutans), not only with flowers but also with…

seed capsules extending ‘above’ the flower on tiny stems.

The second was Tooth-leaved Croton (Croton glandulosus var. septentrionalis), whose stems were hairy compared with those of the Spotted Spurge. 

The final spotting on the trail was the Perennial Wildbean (Strophostyles umbellata) that were starting to develop seedpods.

Related posts: 
- Summer On A Fort Yargo State Park Trail: Section B To The Dam, July 29th (Part 1)
- Spring Is In The Air: Fort Yargo State Park, Section B To The Dam, May 1st (Part 2)

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