Ιούνιος 20, 2020

Socially Distanced Mugwort Pull

Participated in the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association's "Socially Distanced Mugwort Pull" today. Nice to see a few of my fellow Pennsylvania Master Naturalists there! Also joining us was a family of four, an urban land steward, and we even picked up a volunteer who was walking by and decided to join in after finding out what we were doing.

The event was from 10am to noon, and when we arrived there, the fog had just burned off. The ground was still wet from yesterday's rain, which made pulling the mugwort out at the roots much easier. Man there was a lot of it! Attached are before and after photos of the section I attacked. After pulling what we could, we also planted echinacea, lobelia, and...something else. All in all it was a good event, and it was certainly nice to get out and do something beneficial.

Will be looking forward to more of these events!

Αναρτήθηκε στις Ιούνιος 20, 2020 0917 ΜΜ από sttpgh sttpgh | 3 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Οκτώβριος 07, 2018

Hunting for Armillaria

This morning I went on a hunt for Armillaria (Honey Mushroom) with Kate St. John. I had contacted her about such a hunt after reading her blog post “What Made This Tree Fall?” I was curious if we could maybe map locations of Armillaria and make some sort of connection with the oak trees that are coming down in the parks (there do seem to be a lot of oaks coming down these days). Spoiler alert: it was a good day for fungi, but little Armillaria was found.

Now, I did find Armillaria before I even got to the park. This was Armillaria tabescens, the Ringless Honey Mushroom, and was growing in a lawn on the corner of Beacon and Wightman. We’d had a solid rain (torrential, actually) the day before, and they had popped up perhaps that day or earlier — I had seen them on the dog walk that evening. I snapped another picture of these on my way to the park, thinking it was a sign this was going to be a good day for Honey Mushrooms.

These were not the species we were hunting today, though. The Armillaria we were hunting this morning was Armillaria mellea, the Honey Mushroom, a wood rotting parasite of deciduous trees, oak trees in particular. After pausing to observe some mantids in the park, and chat with a woman and her daughter releasing monarchs in the park, Kate took me to the tree in her blog post which showed the Armillaria damage and mycelium. No honey mushrooms were to be found around that tree, however! Per the above link on the Ringless Honey Mushroom, we may have to wait a couple weeks to see them sprout out of the ground.

It was fungi galore from there, though. Everwhere we turned was something different, and the folks carrying their kids and chairs through the park to some event must have thought we were nuts, pointing our phones at the base of trees and dead wood on the ground. What were all of these mushrooms? We didn’t know. I had an idea of some of them from previous field trips, but mostly I didn’t know. I was, however, able to identify, thanks to Adam Haritan’s video, the best fungus of the day, Hen of the Woods! Not harvested — even if I had been interested in eating it, you’re not allowed to harvest from the city parks, I was told. It was nice to find and identify at least one well known mushroom.

I’ve posted our findings here on iNat, and if anyone can help identify things specifically, it’s much appreciated. For more info on identifying Armillaria and Hen of the Woods, I recommend Adam Haritan’s videos:

Enjoy.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Οκτώβριος 07, 2018 1156 ΜΜ από sttpgh sttpgh | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Ιούλιος 09, 2018

Raccoon Creek State Park Tree Identification Hike

I went on the Raccoon Creek State Park tree identification hike last Saturday, on a beautiful day for doing anything outside. Shane Miller gave the talk, and as usual, did a great job. We began with pines, distinguishing the pines from the spruces ("spruces are spikey") and the hemlocks. Of the pines, Shane indicated we have the following species we could possibly see: the White Pine, the Norway Pine, the Virginia Pine (found more towards the state of Virginia, and the needle is twisted), Red Pine, and Pitch Pine. I found a Pitch Pine at the end of the hike, in fact (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/14163681), identified specifically by its three-needle bundle. Well, that and it looked much like a pitch pine -- kind of gnarly with cones in pairs all over the place.

We went on to the Sassafras tree, which might be confused with Mulberry, until you do the smell test. Scratch a stem and smell -- sassafras will have a fragrant smell like lemon, while Mulberry will have no fragrance.

From there we learned about cherry trees, the two native species that we might encounter being the Black Cherry and the Choke Cherry. Here again we did the smell test -- scratch a Black Cherry stem and you'll get an almond smell. This smell is unique among the cherry species. Of course, there are some more obvious differences between the Choke Cherry and the Black Cherry, like size, for instance. The Black Cherry can be very large (say 70' tall), while the Choke Cherry might get to be 20' tall at most. The Choke Cherry's bark is smooth with rings, and while the Black Cherry also has that type of bark when it is young, it gets that "burnt cornflake" look as it ages, at about 20 years old and beyond (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/14164268). As for the leaves, the Black Cherry has a "canoe" shaped leaf, while the Choke Cherry has a smaller, more rounded/oval shape to the leaf. I remember seeing a tree at Boyce Mayview this spring (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/11701784) that I think might be a choke cherry. I might have to go back there and try the smell test on it!

It was on to the Redbud then, where I learned the useful fact that they like limestone, and so you will find more of them if there is a limestone base in the land. I'm thinking there is a lot of limestone below that forest of redbuds at the intersection of I-79 and I-376! The Redbud leaf might be confused with a Basswood leaf, but Shane pointed out the asymmetry of the Basswood leaf -- fold it in half and you'll see it doesn't match. The size of the trees can be quite different also, the Redbud being a very slow growing tree and never attaining the towering heights of the Basswood trees.

We paused to talk briefly about compound versus simple leaves then, where I learned another nugget, that there is a bud at the bottom of a leaf. With this, you can tell whether that bundle is a compound leaf with leaflets, or a number of individual simple leaves. Very useful!

We hit the maples, then, with a Boxelder Maple specimen in the park showing us lots and lots of helicopters hanging from its branches. Shane said it didn't look too healthy, and may be dying, and that they (trees) sometimes produce bunches and bunches of seeds when they are expiring. Species of maples we might encounter include the Boxelder, Silver Maple, Red Maple, Sugar Maple, Striped Maple, Mountain Maple, Black Maple, and Norway Maple. The Black Maple can be identified by the fact that its leaf ends hang down, a bit like an umbrella. The Norway Maple can be identified by the white sap that will ooze out of it after about 5 seconds when you break it -- if the sap is clear, it is probably a Sugar Maple.

On to the oaks! Several tall pin oaks were at the edge of the parking lot, and they are easily identified -- "pin oaks have hairy armpits"! The fuzz at the intersection of the veins on the underside of the leaves is indicative of a pin oak (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/14163682), along with its small leaf and characteristic red oak shape to the leaf. The trees in the red oak family all have bristles, including the Shingle Oak, which does not have a typical red oak leaf shape (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/14164129). Shingle oaks are so named for the fact that they are great for making shingles.

At this point my notes get a bit scattered, but it looks like the White Oaks, and the Bur Oak were discussed next. Another smell test -- this one to distinguish the sweet birch from the beech tree, where the sweet birch will smell like wintergreen, while the beech does not have a smell. We went on to the sad story of the ash trees, being decimated by the Emerald Ash Borer, and the similar looking hickories. We finished up with a beautiful American Elm (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/14163778) by the education building, seemingly not affected much by the Dutch Elm disease. For an elm that shows definite signs of the disease, see this specimen: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/14164340.

As a bonus, we all received a copy of "Common Trees of Pennslyvania" -- score! I then spent far too much time exploring the park and trying to get decent pictures of pollinators at the pollinator garden with my smartphone. A real treat was the Hummingbird Clearwing (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/14164774), something I would not consider in the moth family at all. A few of the other observerations I made that day are associated with this post.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Ιούλιος 09, 2018 1230 ΠΜ από sttpgh sttpgh | 6 παρατηρήσεις | 2σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

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