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Archive for the ‘Native Plants’ Category

sweating shelf fungus

Come into the backwoods and I’ll show you something absolutely magical.  Fungi abound in this neck of the woods, but this bracket fungus is doing something I’ve not seen others do.  It’s crying.

sweat on fungus
These tears may look like raindrops, but they cover only the fungus, not the surrounding area, except for where they’ve dripped below and discolored the moss.  Present on one of the oldest, tallest spruce trees in the yard,  one can only wonder what could have caused tears to appear on this Red-belted polypore.

Old spruce tree and Red-belted polypore

Old spruce tree and Red-belted polypore

Red-belted polypores  are thought to hold anti-bacterial, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties by native and oriental cultures.  If this is so, can you imagine what pharmacological mysteries their exudate droplets hold?  Since this old spruce tree reigns in a stand of smaller firs and magical  Rowan and Elderberry trees, some whimsical wonder must surely be at the bottom of this.

fairy tree entrance

Could this bracket fungus serve as an awning to a fairy door entrance into another realm?  An awning, perhaps, which sheds tears of joy when visitors arrive on the doorstep and tears of sadness when they depart.  One can only wonder.

fungal awning above fairy tree door

For more information on bracket fungi and their exudate droplets, see Red-Belted Bracket Fungi

This post is written in response to Karma’s ‘In Want of Whimsy’ Challenge.  Deadline for submissions is June 22nd.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2014

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Misumena vatia on fading peony

It’s peak season for summer tourists in the garden.  Though the regulars are back, what’s lurking between the leaves and petals may surprise you.  The ghost crab spider found on this fading peony is a splendidly camouflaged ambush hunter. Visual feedback from its many eyes cause its color to change according to its surroundings.

Ghost crab spider lying in wait

Meanwhile, back on the hosta plant, this fly doesn’t seem to be buying the spider’s line… at least not this time.  Perhaps it’s already had its fill of summer romance.

"Come into my parlor" said the spider to the fly.

“Come into my parlor” said the spider to the fly.

A hoverfly is more forward in its approach to the last of the purple spiderworts to bloom.  Although this adult hoverfly is looking for a taste of nectar, in its larval stage it likely ate its share of aphids.

hoverfly and spiderwort

Fresh hydrangea blooms look inviting to a fruit fly in search of sustenance.

fly on hydrangea

Or could this visitor just be looking for a nice quiet place to rest its wings for a moment?

Rhagoletis fly on hydrangea

This fly is focused on the nectar of a yellow St John’s wort.

fly on st johns wort

A recently opened lily already has a visitor walking along a petal towards its inner sanctum.

fly on lily petal

Surely flowers must find the never ending flow of visitors tiring.  But even though they might be tempted to utter ‘Come again when you can’t stay quite so long,’ flowers benefit from insect activity for much of their pollination.  And that’s reason enough to tolerate visitors, even those who prey on other guests.

Ghost crab spider waving goodbye

Ghost crab spider waving goodbye

For more on the crab spider in Canada, see The Nature of the Hill’s Goldenrod Crab Spider post.  Cindy in the Swan Hills of Alberta has also included a cool video from Green Nature. 

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

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Cone Talk

The cones have tales to tell this fine spring day.  Do you have a minute to hear what they have to say?

old black spruce cones

Let the old gray cones speak first.  They’ve likely seen better days but are still holding on tight to the even older black spruce that bore them years ago.  Neither the young nor the old should underestimate the value of tenacity.  Hang in there baby!

spruce cone leftovers in woodpile

These spruce cone leftovers on the woodpile reveal a spot where at least one red squirrel likes to dine regularly.  Hopefully the neighborhood cats aren’t paying attention.

closed spruce cone in bog

A closed cone in a boggy area doesn’t want to expose its seeds to the wetness if there’s still a chance it can disperse them farther in drier weather.  It’s only natural for all of us, even small pine cones, to aspire to reach out to the world beyond our little neck of the woods.

open cone indicating dry forest

A spruce cone on the forest floor is already open, even though it rained heavily here a couple of days ago.  A sign of a dry summer ahead, it’s also showing an increased risk for wildfire.

speckled alder cones and seeds

Speckled alder cones have only a few seeds left in them, but are proud to say they helped feed a good many hungry chickadees this past winter.   When you hear the chickadees sing, you can thank the alders.

red spruce cones

Red spruce cones announce to the world that they’re open for business.  Pollination business that is.  Their bright red bract scales are ready to receive the male gametophytes that will produce a new crop of seeds.  They’re so spectacularly beautiful, a close-up is warranted…

red bract scales on red spruce

Green cones appear for the first time atop a tall balsam fir I transplanted as a seedling years ago while holding a baby on my hip.  It’s always a thrill when your babies start having babies of their own, whether these babies are humans or trees 😉

green balsam fir cones

Get outside and hear what nature has to say to you today.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

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The trees of the Acadian forest have something to say.   Ever since the Europeans arrived here, they’ve been patient, but they’ve put up with our foolishness long enough.  It’s time for us to listen up.  This past week, forester and law student Jamie Simpson took it upon himself to help them get the word out.

I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.
~ Dr Seuss, The Lorax

Last Friday Jamie put up a billboard between the two bridges in Halifax along much travelled Barrington Street to increase awareness of our government’s clearcutting policy.  As you can see, in this larger version of the billboard photo,  a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Whole tree harvest cut near Upper Musquodoboit Nova Scotia ~ Photo Jamie Simpson

Despite its promises, Nova Scotia’s NDP government has done nothing to stop whole harvesting of our Acadian forests.  It’s not just wrong.  In Jamie’s words:  ‘It’s shameful.’  By allowing a loose definition of a clearcut in the fine print, despite its new policy, the NDP government continues to allow harvesters to transform more of our mixed growth forests (with the potential for partial harvesting) into mud pits.

Northern Pulp biomass harvest ~ Photo Jamie Simpson

Northern Pulp, the company that ravaged the tract of land shown above, was sold to Paper Excellence Canada, which in turn is owned by a conglomerate of Asian and European owners.  Like the Lorax in Dr Seuss’ book of the same name, perhaps we need to get angry while also retaining a seed of hope. We need to tell our government representatives that they have to be more creative in finding a solution that works both for the forests and the forest workers.  Now, before our landscape is ravaged any further.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.
~ Dr Seuss, The Lorax

For more information concerning the decline of Nova Scotia’s forests since the arrival of Europeans, see my earlier post on  The Fall of the Tall Trees.

To help Jamie get the word out, visit his website for a list of government contacts at Clearcut Nova Scotia:  What to do.  MLA Becky Kent is the representative for Cole Harbour/Eastern Passage.  Her contact information is listed here.

Text copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012.
All photos shown courtesy of Jamie Simpson.

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How does such a delicate flower as the Queen Anne’s Lace manage to continue looking so fresh so late in the season?  Though it’s a favorite of many, few have looked deeply enough into the heart of the flower to see its deep red center.  Could the secret of its youthful bloom be found here at its heart?

What makes one flower stay fresh well past summer while others close their hearts to the cold winds and rains that are so much a part of the autumn of life?  Why do some choose to retreat into themselves while others practice a hospitality of the heart that judges not visitors and welcomes all?

These are just a few of the questions worth asking on a quiet and sunny Sunday in October.  Canadian Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner.  May you all find lots of things to be thankful for and questions worth asking.

The questions worth asking, in other words, come not from other people but from nature, and are for the most part delicate things easily drowned out by the noise of everyday life.
~ Robert B. Laughlin

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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When you walk in the woods, do you see the forest or the trees?  Do your eyes come to rest on the bark of the closest  trunk or is your vision focused on the woods behind it?

Similarly, when you’re walking on the beach, are your eyes scanning the shore for a special shell,  a heart shaped stone or a bottle with a message in it, or are you gazing at the horizon line?

It’s easier to focus on the trees nearby if the path ahead is tangled with vegetation.  The possibility of ticks in the grass or mosquitoes lurking in the deeper woods may prompt you to take a closer look at the soft new growth on the branches  within your grasp.

If the path ahead appears clear and bright, you may be more inclined to venture into the forest.

At home or at work, I often find myself caught up in the details in my surroundings.  My eyes dart quickly back and forth looking to re-arrange or make right whatever seems out of place.  However, when daily life sometimes becomes cluttered, as the beach is with seaweed after a storm…

I lift up my eyes to focus on what’s ahead.  (One of these days I’m sure I’m going to see a mermaid sitting on top of that big stone).

Our ability to shift our focus is a gift that allows us to be happy in any circumstance.  All that’s required from us is a willingness to refocus our attention, perhaps for just a moment, before getting back to the task at hand.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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