Tuesday, September 26, 2017


 It is officially Fall, the autumn equinox was last Friday, Sept. 22.  Here in New England Asters are the native wild flower of fall. They are mostly white flowers with yellow centers, though there are some pink, violet, lavender or purple ones also. They bloom in the woods in the shade, and also in the open fields in the sun.

The photos today are of various Asters I have photographed in recent weeks. Identifying an aster isn't always easy, there are 100's of varieties world wide and about 40 here in New England.

I am not sure if the flowers above are Flat Topped White Aster or Toothed White Topped Aster, I didn't photograph the leaves which would tell me, though I know I photographed the flowers at Nasketucket Bay State Reservation in Mattapoisett, MA. on Sept. 1, 2017

Also photographed at Nasketucket Bay was this Whorled Wood Aster. I lucked out with a splash of sunlight to illuminate this plant as it was growing beside the path in the woods.

I think the above photo is of Calico or Starved Aster flowers, I photographed this in the power line cut at Ames Nowell State Park, Sept. 21, 2017. In this instance the flowers were a pale lilac, quite pretty.

I believe the flowers above are from a Small White Aster, though there is at least one other species that is possible. I suppose I should be taking one of my field guides with me on my walks, but I hate carrying the extra weight. Photographed at Great Blue Hill, in the Blue Hills Reservation Sept. 23, 2017.

These next two photos are both of New England Asters, our largest and showiest of the Native Asters that bloom in the fall. They can have a fairly wide color range from pink to a dark purple. These were photographed at Forge Pond, Hanover, MA. Sept. 24, 2017.

The yellow in the above photo is one of our many varieties of goldenrod. 

I found this web site if you are interested in reading more about Asters, also the New England Wild Flower web site lists all of these species, links to their site are attached to their names above. Please note  my Wild Flower guides are old, recent genetic information has caused the Asters to be reclassified (Latin names) and NE Wild Flower Society uses some different common names. If you garden some of these asters have been developed as garden plants, usually easy to grow, it is nice to have some flowers that wait until fall to bloom.

I thought I would end this post with a Dragonfly photo, this is one of the Autumn Meadow Hawk dragonflies, which one I am not sure, I am told that to make a correct ID the dragonfly needs to be examined under a microscope. Since I never capture what I photograph I have to be satisfied with just a general ID. Still I think it is a pretty picture. I can tell you that this is a male, males are red, females yellow, and it is one of the white faced species.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Introduction to some Mushrooms

Mushrooms, we have all seen them, either on our lawns, or in the woods and even in the supermarkets. But there is more to the group than the standard white mushroom with gills that we purchase in boxes at the Market. Depending on the source mushrooms have been broken down into at least 12 groups, only one of which is mushrooms with gills.

I have always been fascinated by mushrooms and when I acquired a digital camera and started wandering the local woods and parks I also started photographing anything that I found unusual or interesting.  Today's photographs are a selection of some of those photos, some made this year (2017) but others made in previous years. I am not going to try a identify these photos with specific Latin names, only the general group to which they belong, nor am I going to address edibility, if you are interested in that I suggest you purchase one of several guides that can be found either on-line or in a bookstore.  It takes more than a photograph to correctly identify a mushroom, smell, spore prints, etc. are details given in books that I am not even going to try to touch here. Note: I rarely pick the mushrooms I see, so correct identification usually isn't possible.

Before I start identifying the photographs I want to say that all mushrooms have a couple of things in common no matter the shape of the fruiting bodies, and what I have photographed are "fruiting" bodies, they are fed and created by fungi networks (mycelium) that live in soil, wood or other organic substances. The second trait they share is they reproduce by spores.  

OK, on to the photographs, the mushroom in the top photograph (by the way the color is accurate, I did not Photoshop this photo other than to resize it for the web) is a member of the Polypore or Shelf Mushroom group. I believe that this is actually a Sulphur Shelf, but since I am not sure the species of the tree it is growing on I wouldn't eat it. I found this growing in my local Brockton, MA park just this past week. I actually pulled the car over as I was driving by so I could walk back and make the photo.

The mushrooms above are a member of the Coral Fungi family. They sort of look like coral don't they. I believe this is a Ramaria Sp. but could be totally wrong.  I found these in Borderland State Park, Easton, MA. in 2011. 

These spiky white balls are a member of the Puffball family. They have no gills, and while some members of this family may have stalks they still release their spores through slits in the outer covering that occur as the mushroom matures. Photographed this summer in my local Brockton Park. I believe this is Lycoperdon echinatum, but can't swear to it. 

One family in the Mushroom category looks like a "standard" mushroom until you look under the cap to find there are no gills. The spores are released through tubes, so the underside looks spongy. This family is the Boletes. This a semi large family and I am not sure what the above is, perhaps chestnut Bolete (Gyroporus castaneus). Photographed in Ames Nowell State Park, Abington, MA. this summer.

These next three photographs are of mushrooms that belong to the Agarics or gilled mushroom family, which includes most of the mushrooms found in the supermarket. This group is very hard to identify by looks alone as their appearance can mislead the identifier at different stages of growth leading someone to think they have an editable mushroom when in reality it is deadly poisonous.

The white dots on the above mushroom are the remains of the volva (the membrane that covered the mushroom as it developed, and ruptured as it emerged above ground). There are so many types of gilled mushrooms that I haven't even attempted to name these three. The one above was photographed in my local Brockton Park this summer.

Gilled Mushrooms often grow in in clumps, above are a trio that I found growing in the woods in Nasketucket Bay State Reservation in Mattapoisett, MA. this summer. 

This larger clump also photographed this summer was found in Ames Nowell State Park. Can I say that I love to photograph clumps, well I also find individual mushrooms interesting but the clumps really spark my interest.

There are other families of Mushrooms that I haven't photographed (to my knowledge), they include Morels, Stinkhorns, Jelly Fungi, Cup Fungi, False Morels, and Hydnums (Tooth Fungi). I took my family names from a Petterson Mushroom guide I borrowed from the Library. Other information comes from a couple of web sites I have found that are devoted to North American Mushrooms. 

David Fischer's American Mushrooms,   Mushroom Expert,
and Merriam Webster Visual Dictionary 

The first two sites are packed with photographs and detailed information about mushrooms and how to identify them. They also both have information about guide books for those who wish to pursue an interest in Mushrooms.  But be warned both sites are complex and finding exactly what you want may take some time and a bit of browsing. The Webster site identifies the structures of a mushroom.

One last photo, and this one has nothing to do with mushrooms. It is a Doe that I photographed in the Power Line cut at Ames Nowell State Park. I rarely see or even hear deer on my walks even though I know most of the locations where I walk have them in residence. On the day I was in the park there were very few other visitors and none of them must have been in the cut prior to my arriving. This deer was eating until she heard me. She stood like that for about a minute (time for me to make a couple of photographs) and then took off. She looks healthy and well fed so hopefully she will survive the coming winter. She was fairly large so I am assuming a mature Doe, White Tailed Deer, sort of wish it had been a Stag but one takes what one can get.

That is it for today. Took me far too long to pull this post together, hope you enjoy it, comments are welcome, esp if you can identify any of my mushrooms.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Wildflowers I have found

I have been trying to come up with the number of years I have spent hunting wild flowers, both before my digital camera (making photographs) and after its advent. Not quite sure but a ball park number of 15 years (give or take a year or two) sounds about right. Considering my age that is not a huge number of years, but since I am not and have never been a professional botanist I think it is a good number. I will of course check out wild flowers anywhere I travel and they can be seen, but the majority of my hunting grounds are fairly close to home in a pretty limited region, Southeast MA, with some excursions a bit further north. Habitat is mostly fields, woods, pond (lake) edges and some boggy areas that I can easily access. I don't have waders so I don't venture deep into bogs. What I am trying to say is that while I haven't by any stretch of the imagination "seen it all" I have seen and identified a lot of flowers/plants I see on my outings.

The flowers in today's post all share one common feature, these are the first photos I have made of the flower. Some flowers I knew about and the photos are just the icing on the cake so to speak. I was/am happy to finally have them, but I didn't have to do much research to pin a name on them. Others I had to look up, and in a couple of instances ask for help identifying. Oh, another common feature they are native to north America if not originally to MA and they have all been photographed in the past week or so. 

The above little yellow flower (and I do mean little) is Northern Yelloweyed Grass. I found this in a boggy area between two lakes at Massasoit State Park, East Taunton, MA, August 30, 2017.  This is one of those plants that I had seen drawings of but had never seen the actual flower until this past week. In one of my Wild Flower Guides the drawing of this flower is on the same page as Stargrass, a yellow flower that I think I have seen every year I have been looking for wild flowers.

Also found at Massasoit State Park, East Taunton, MA, August 30, 2017, Nodding Ladies Tresses. This is one of our native orchids. Not very showy flower like Lady Slippers are, but still pretty, and I was very happy to find it growing so profusely at Massasoit. It was in the same boggy area as the yellow-eyed grass above.

These next two flowers are both types of clover, actually they are both Bush Clovers, and I found these in my local city park, D W Field Park, Brockton, MA., August 31, 2017. The pink flowers above are Slender Bush Clover. 

The above is Round Headed Bush Clover. I have photographed this plant for years, but this year is the first time I have actually managed to find it in bloom. The flowers aren't very obvious and they don't last long. Found along the same path as the Slender Bush Cover above.

Not the best photo but for some reason I had a hard time photographing these flowers. Still is shows a flower and some of the plant leaves so it is representative. This is Partridge Sensitive Pea, and I found it at Nasketucket Bay Reservation in Mattapoisett, MA. Photographed Sept. 1, 2017. 

This last plant had me totally stumped, it is semi parasitic like Indian Pipes as it links to a fungus network in the soil for its nutrients. In this case the associated trees are Oaks. Many thanks to the members of Native Plants of New England Facebook group for helping me to identify it. This is Hairy Pine-Sap, and is my missing 4th Parasitic plant. See my post on Parasitic Plants back in September, 2017. Photographed September 2, 2017, Ames Nowell State Park, Abington, MA.

That is it for new to me plants that I have seen in the past week or so. Actually there were a couple of others but these are the most interesting and the post was getting too long so I will stop here. Please note that there are links to GoBotany for each flower if you are interested in Latin names or other facts, or if you wish to view other images.

As a final image today, above is a young Great Blue Heron that I photographed waiting for dinner to swim by in my local park.

One last comment, on my trip to Mattapoisett I photographed 2 (new to me) butterflies, a Red Banded Hairstreak and a Zabulon Skipper that I have added to the Butterfly page. That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome. Hope you enjoyed this post.