Thursday, July 17, 2014

One hour, 15 mushrooms

Yesterday when we were walking I challenged myself to take pictures of as many species of mushroom as I could. I didn't gather enough information to carefully ID most of them; I just enjoy the diversity of the world of fungi. So many colors, so many shapes and textures. How many different kinds can you find in an hour? It's fun to look even if you don't know what they're called.

mushrooms july 16
Some kind of russula. I love the colors in this group: green, red, sometimes even purple.

mushrooms july 16
Chanterelles! We found a new patch.

mushrooms july 16
This one had a lot of white stuff coming off of it. I think it might be Leucocoprinus cepaestipes.

mushrooms july 16
Pink cap and skirt...could be a blusher -- Amanita rubescens?

mushrooms july 16
There's a group of mushrooms called waxcaps (genus Hygrocybe) that get sticky-slimy on top when they're wet. This is one of those.

mushrooms july 16
This rubbery mushroom releases a cloud of spores from its top surface a few seconds after you push on it. Galiella rufa - hairy/rufous rubber cup.

mushrooms july 16
Violet toothed polypore (Trichaptum biforme)- I couldn't get a good shot from below, but the underside is purple like the edges seen here.

mushrooms july 16
Some kind of bolete, which is the group of stalked mushrooms that have pores on the bottom of their caps instead of gills. Probably one of the scaberstalks, named for that rough surface on the stalk.


Another bolete, this one with red cap and red underside. I don't see a good match in any of my books.

mushrooms july 16
This mushroom exudes white latex when you break it -- some kind of Lactarius.

mushrooms july 16
This tiny mushroom had a cap that was nearly transluscent.

mushrooms july 16
These were even tinier.

mushrooms july 16
And this was one of the biggest.

mushrooms july 16
LBM (little brown mushroom)

mushrooms july 16
More LBMs...

Want to really find a lot of mushrooms in an hour, and have someone tell you what they all are? Go out on a foray with the Mycological Association of Washington. There are mushrooms almost all year round, but late summer is a great time for colorful boletes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Things to Look for in July

Better late than never, our monthly roundup of things to look for this month:

A Clean Getaway
Photo credit: InspiredinDesMoines
I originally wrote about bald eagles for the 4th of July, but they're around all summer -- and some stay over the winter. Still, it's a great time of year to get out on the water and look for them. Matt once had the pleasure of watching an eagle fight an osprey for the fish it had just caught -- evidence of the theiving behavior that made Ben Franklin prefer the wild turkey for national bird.

Photo credit: The Natural Capital
While you're hanging out in wet places, keep an eye out for moisture-loving jewelweed. It's a pretty flower, a sparkly wonder, a trailside snack, and a soothing skin treatment. What's not to love?

hummingbird and cardinal flower
Photo credit: The Natural Capital
Another moisture-lover is cardinal flower. I used to love cardinal flower just because it's a gorgeous flower. It took a few years before I realized that if you sit quietly for long enough by a large patch, a hummingbird will come by. And that takes it to another level.

rose mallow (hibiscus)
Photo credit: The Natural Capital
I always thought of hibiscus as a tropical flower. It's the kind of thing you expect to see printed on Hawaiian shirts, or tucked behind a hula dancer's ear. But we've got native hibiscus right here in DC. It blooms in July, also in wet areas. (I guess I spend a lot of time on the water in July!)

Photo credit: brocktopia
Also out in July: Chantarelles. They are a choice culinary mushroom prized by chefs around the world. And they grow in Washington, DC. Matt has found several patches already this year.

Photo credit: Teague O'Mara
Five-lined skinks might be scurrying about as you go looking for these other things -- look for their blue tails!

In July we also find several other wild edibles, including milkweed, black locust beans, and sassafras.
Finally, check out our other posts on great things to do in the summer:
Natural places to go swimming
Public campgrounds
Places to rent a canoe or kayak


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Things to look for in June

Hasn't it been gorgeous out? I hope you got to enjoy the outdoors this weekend. There's more great stuff to come...

Mulberries by akeg
Mulberries: These berries are bane of some homeowners' existence as they drop and ferment on sidewalks and driveways throughout the metro area...not to mention the purple bird poop. We choose to see mulberries as a glorious abundance of free fruit, rather than an annoyance.

Mosquito by James Jordan
Mosquitoes: Especially after lots of rain, it can really pay off to look for where water might be collecting. See our tips on looking for spots where the mosquitoes might be breeding.

Tiger swallowtail
Tiger swallowtail in our backyard
Tiger swallowtails: In the fall, tiger swallowtail caterpillars form a chrysalis in which they'll spend the whole winter, waiting for the right time to emerge. And then, on some warm, sunny day in April or May, you'll see one fluttering by. And you'll know: winter's over. In June, you'll start to see more. To me, tiger swallowtails are one of the things that make summer summer in Washington, DC. If you spend enough time outside on a sunny day, you're bound to see one.

Firefly by James Jordan
Fireflies: They're out. J.M. Barrie wrote: "when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies." We sit and watch them almost every night in our backyard. What better way to celebrate the summer?

ramp flowers (allium tricoccum)
Ramp flowers by milesizz
Ramp flowers: Ramps are sought out earlier in the spring for their edible leaves and roots. But later in June, they send up flower stalks topped with a puffball of white flowers. If you can find a big patch, it's a very impressive sight. We've seen a lot at Scott's Run and Carderock...keep an eye out and let us know if you see some.

Cicada lyrica by DaynaT
Cicadas: In most of DC and MD, we're missing out on the 17-year cicadas that emerged in Virginia this year. But toward the end of the month, keep an eye and an ear out for the dog-day cicadas. It doesn't take much work to hear them: they're some of the loudest insects on the planet.

Photo credit: the Natural Capital
Pickerel weed: This water-loving plant has gorgeous flowers that attract butterflies.

Photo credit: The Natural Capital
Milkweed is a beautiful, once-common roadside plant that is struggling in modern times. If you love monarch butterflies, you should show milkweed some love. Their lives depend on it: monarch larvae can only survive by eating milkweed leaves.

Lone Star Tick from CDC
And while you're out looking for all these things, don't forget to keep checking for ticks. Lyme disease is rampant in our area, and a big deal if you get it. And there are other crazy problems they can transmit, like an allergy to red meat. So just suck it up and look for the little bloodsuckers.

What else have you been seeing on the trails lately? Leave a comment and let us know!