Monday, August 29, 2929
Monday, August 15, 2929
Friday, July 29, 2016
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
There were heavy rains last week and over the week-end this mushroom emerged in volume. They were coming from the ground and contained the detritus that was above their developing cap. They are funnel
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Making Spore Prints
by Michael Kuo
While a single mushroom spore can't be seen by the naked eye, a pile of many spores can--and the color of a mushroom's spores, seen en masse, is a crucial identification feature. Obtaining a mushroom's "spore print" is therefore an essential step in the identification process.
Before going through the nuts and bolts of making a spore print at home, it is worth noting that mushrooms frequently make their own spore prints, in nature. If you have ever noticed colored dust covering a leaf or the ground beneath a mushroom's gills or pores, you have probably witnessed this phenomenon. Tightly clustered mushrooms, in fact, frequently leave spore prints on one other, since caps overlap.
In order to make a spore print at home, you will need to have a relatively mature mushroom. Buttons, young mushrooms, and mushrooms with some kind of a covering over their gills or pores (a partial veil) are not likely to drop spores in order to make a print.
Remove the stem from smaller mushrooms and place the cap, gills or pores downward, on a piece of paper or glass. For larger mushrooms, slice off a section of the cap and use only the section. Place a cup or glass upside-down on top of your mushroom, to keep air currents away.
While some spore prints can appear within a few hours, it's often best to wait overnight, just to be sure. When you remove the cup and lift the mushroom cap, you should find a "print" like the ones illustrated to the right. If you have been careful not to move the mushroom while the print was developing, you may find that the spore print reflects the pattern of the mushroom's gills or pores, since the spores fell directly downward.
Some field guides advocate using black paper for spore prints, since white prints show up more easily. Then again, brown and black prints don't show up on black paper as well as they do on white paper. I have solved this problem for myself by using glass, which can be held against light and dark backgrounds, rather than paper. In fact I usually use a microscope slide, since I will also be examining spores under the microscope--but if you are not going to be using a microscope, any (safe) piece of glass will suffice.
The color of the spore print is what you will compare with descriptions from field guides and keys. Interpreting color can be very subjective--and mycologists have tried several times to "standardize" the interpretations, without much success. But while subtle differences (like, between "white" and "creamy") may be perplexing, distinguishing a white spore print from a brown one or a pink one is easy enough, and it will help you enormously in identifying a mushroom. More information on assessing colors, of spore prints and the mushrooms themselves, can be found on the page for the genus Russula.
For mushrooms belonging to the Ascomycetes, like the morels and false morels, a spore print is obtained using a similar method. However, since these mushrooms have tiny spore jets that forcibly eject the spores, you will place a piece of the cap on the paper or glass and expect the spore print around the mushroom section (as well as underneath it, if you have placed the spore-producing side downwards).
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Monday, July 25, 2016
Friday, July 22, 2016
Thursday, July 21, 2016
I let her garden go.
let it go, let it go
How can I watch the hummingbird
Hover to sip
With its beak's tip
The purple bee balm—whirring as we heard
It years ago?
The weeds rise rank and thick
let it go, let it go
Where annuals grew and burdock grows.
Where standing she
At once could see
The peony, the lily, and the rose
Rise over brick
She'd laid in patterns. Moss
let it go, let it go
Turns the bricks green, softening them
By the gray rocks
That lofted while she lived, stem by tall stem,
Dwindle in loss.
The Selected Poems of Donald Hall
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
We have two types of black-eyed susan. Rudbeckia hirta is the most common form and has been in the front garden for thirty years. It is also called brown-eyed susan, brown betty, glorious daisy, English bulls-eye, and yellow daisy. Its eye is fairly flat.
Wild American Beauty: The Black-Eyed Susan
Who was Susan anyhow? And exactly what was her relationship with Sweet William?
Ever wonder about one of America's favorite wildflowers? Who was Black-Eyed Susan? Her story is one of the grand romantic tales of the wildflowers. And beyond legend, her name graces several of our most important and popular wildflower species. (By the way, the flower's eye, or center, is not really black; it's dark brown, but that's not important.)
Who was she? Well, no one's sure, but the legend says it all comes from an Old English poem of the post-Elizabethan era entitled simply, "Black-Eyed Susan," written by a very famous poet of the day named John Gay, 1685-1732. (Painting above by Winslow Homer.):
All in the downs, the fleet was moored,
Banners waving in the wind.
When Black-Eyed Susan came aboard,
and eyed the burly men.
"Tell me ye sailors, tell me true
Does my Sweet William sail with you?"
There are several stanzas, explaining that her William was on board, "high upon the yardarm", and quickly scrambled down for a fond farewell with his lady love. It seems he was off to the high seas, but promised ardently to be safe and true:
Though battle call me from thy arms
Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms
William shall to his Dear return.
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye.
This charming poem tells one of the great "Legends of Love" in our wildflowers, and every summer even today, it plays out just as the poem describes. Here's how it works:
Even though it's not a native, if you seed wild Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) with common Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), they'll bloom beautifully for you at exactly the same time. Because both are basically biennials, and her gold plus his bright reds and purples blooming together is a sight to gladden any gardener's heart.
Since Susan is a North American native, this tale tells us English colonists must have given the golden beauty her name when they arrived in the New World. However, since most all the Black-Eyed Susan species are native to the Great Plains, plant experts have wondered for years how our colonists on the east coast could have given this wildflower the name it's had for centuries. But some recent research in Maryland (where "Susan" serves as the State Flower) shows that the plant was growing there during the colonial period. So like today, Black-Eyed Susans were probably across the continent from the beginning. Today, they are common in all 50 states and across Canada.