Friday, November 27, 2015

Summer On A Fort Yargo State Park Trail: Section B To The Dam, August 27th (Part 1)

August 27th. 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 (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. 

Several wildflowers were blooming in the open area under the power lines near the beginning of the trail. This is a good place to find wildflowers of several species. 

I’d been encountering Bicolor Lespedeza (Lespedeza bicolor) plants blooming in the main woods for many months. On this walk, I found one blooming in this open area.

Some more plants of the Sensitive Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista nictitans) were also blooming, as were plants of the…

Tooth-leafed Croton (Croton grandulosus).

The trail in the open area was lined with plants of Sericea Lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) in bloom. The flowers of this species are unusual, compared with other Lespedeza sp., in being white with purple ‘flashes’ on the standard petal. This species, a non-native species, is common along roadsides in many areas.

In the main woods, St. Andrews Cross (Hypericum hypericioides) plants were still blooming, as were…

Kudzu (Pueraria montana) vines. The ‘flash’ on the standard petal on these flowers was white, in contrast to the yellow flash I’d seen on other flowers.

The Bicolor Lespedeza (Lespedeza bicolor) was still blooming a little further along the trail in the main woods. These plants have been blooming for many months. 

On the log at the top of ‘The Hill,’ I found several small clusters of a slime mold fruiting bodies that I haven't been able to identify yet.

Nearby, I found a small puffball with spines. There are several Lycoperdon sp. of puffballs that have spines. This is either L. echinatum or L. pulcherrimum; probably L. echinatum based on its short stalk. It would be necessary, however, to examine the skin for scars when the spines fall off.

The fruit on the Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) tree was still covered with mold but this didn’t appear to be affecting the fruit itself.

The Hairy Elephantfoot (Elephantopus tomentosus) plants in the dense patch just across the trail from the Tulip Poplar were still blooming.

From here, I made my way down to the end of the dam, where the Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) plants were still blooming.
(To be continued…)

Identification reference. 
- Kuo, M. Mushroom Lycoperdon pulcherrimum 

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)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

August 25th. The Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is the last of the Oenothera sp. to bloom each year. They usually appear as individual or clusters of tall, slender stems covered with blooms along roads. This plant, however, caught my attention because it was a bush with many branches.

Several flowers at the top of the bush.

The bush. It was about 6 feet tall. Its stem was approximately 1.5 inches at the base and it had many branches.

The flowers are approximately 1 inch across with 4 petals that are notched at their tips and 8 stamens. 

Its 4 sepals are reflexed (bent back) against the stem. 

Its leaves (photographed on a different plant) are lanceolate and arranged alternately along the stem. 

This bush was growing next to a barbed wire fence where it escaped the autumn roadside mowing. I’m looking forward to enjoying it for many years to come - although it may be removed when the bridge on GA-11 over the Apalachee River is replaced in a couple of years.

Identification resources:  
- Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia. Oenothera biennis (Common Evening Primrose)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

American Caesar’s Mushroom (Amanita jacksonii)

August 25th. I was driving home when I spotted a cluster of mushrooms at the edge of the woods by the road. I knew immediately that they were Caesar’s Amanita (Amanita jacksonii) mushrooms. What surprised me was the size of the largest one. Its cap was 7 to 8 inches in diameter, the largest I had ever seen.

The cluster, from different angles.

The caps of the buds are oval. As they open, the caps become convex, then flat, and finally depressed as are the larger mushrooms in this cluster.

The caps of these mushrooms are solid red, without any scales. Mature caps on these mushrooms have marked striations from the margin towards the center.

Their gills are yellow and crowded, and free from their stems.

Their stems taper slightly from the base to the top and are yellow (or orange) with orange-red fibers, often in zones. Stems have a yellow-to-orange ‘skirtlike’ ring. In addition, one of the most striking things about this mushroom is that the remains of the volva – the membrane that encases the growing mushroom – are often visible at the base of the stem, even when the mushroom is mature. 

These mushrooms may be found east of the Great Plains in the United States where they have a mycorrhizal relationship with the roots oaks and pines. They fruit in summer and fall.

Identification resources: 
- Michael Kuo, Amanita jacksonii 
- Roger’s Mushrooms: Amanita jacksonii 

Related posts:  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Summer At Fort Yargo State Park: Shelter A To The Old Fort, August 25th, 2015 (Part 3)

August 25th. (Continued from…). I started to walk again at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. One of my favorite walks is from the Group Shelter A to the Old Fort and back.This is a rewarding walk for viewing wildflowers and I’ve This is a rewarding walk for viewing wildflowers and I’ve been walking it every week and documenting the wildflowers that I see.

The route, which I described here, here, and here.

The early spring wildflowers have finished blooming; it’s time to watch the developing fruit. Summer wildflowers were still blooming but it was time to turn attention to the fungi in the woods.

In the ‘Rock Garden,’ the Resurrection Fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides) was still green.

The seed capsules on the Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) were just beginning to ripen; a couple were starting to turn.

The fruit on the Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) was ripe but still firmly attached to the plant.

A Broadleaf Ironweed (Vernonia glauca) plant in bloom. The plant was only a couple of feet tall. In previous years, several plants have bloomed along this section of the lake. The trees have grown and are gradually shading these plants out. This was the only one I found this year.

A single St. Andrew’s Cross (Hypericum hypericoides) was still blooming nearby.

The Rock Garden is a pleasant, shaded area in the heat of summer.

There was still Snow Fungus (Tremella fuciformis) on one of the logs between the end of the Rock Garden trail and the open area below the Old Fort.

I was eagerly looking forward to seeing the Golden Reishi (Ganoderma curtisii) that I’d spotted the previous week. It had lost the bright colors and now had an overall brown/gray powdered appearance.

I walked down to the Swamp Rosemallow (Hibiscus moscheutos). The seeds appeared to be loose in the seed capsules.

The rosemallow also had a visitor. A Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis) was perched rather precariously on the top of one of the seed capsules.

The Leatherleaf Clematis (Clematis terniflora) was still blooming beside the rosemallow.

A Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) plant was blooming at the water’s edge.

On the trail back down to the Fishing Area, I found several fungi…

A ‘spiny’ puffball. This could have been one of several species: Vascellum curtisii, Lycoperdon echinatum or, possibly, L. pulcherrimum. Without being able to examine the same puffball as it aged, it’s impossible to determine which this was.

A bolete, with pores on the underside. Boletes can be difficult to identify; perhaps I’ll try to identify this one next year.

A Coker’s Amanita (Amanita cokeri); these would be common in this section of the woods for a few weeks.

On my way back down the trail, I found Hairy Elephantfoot (Elephantopus tomentosus), and some more…

Pigeonwings (Clitoria mariana) blooming.

- Mushroom Observer (Observation by Walt Sturgeon): Ganoderma curtisii 
- Mushroom Expert. Kuo, M. Amanita cokeri 

Related posts: