Last Wednesday, I started my first ECOS class on late summer wildflowers and other interesting things that grow in the woods and fields in these parts.
We started off indoors, looking at some plants that our instructor, Ruth Schottman, had brought in. The picture above shows an "earth star", a type of puffball soil fungus. When dry, it is all closed up tight like a button. Shown here after a soaking, it opened up to develop springy, leather-like "legs"
that can actually help propel the fungus to a new location. Pretty cool.
This evening, I received this note from instructor Ruth Schottman, in response to my request for corrections on this blog post if any were needed:
You get an A plus, plus- great photos; I only offer one correction – the earth star actually travels when it is tightly rolled up, ball-like and wind propels it; when it is moist it stands up on its “legs” waiting for rain drops or some other agent to touch its exposed organ which then discharges spores through the hole on top.
Thank you, Ruth!
Last Wednesday turned out to be a scorcher, but we left the community center for a while to explore the un-mowed edges of the park.
Ruth showed us a patriotic trio of red, white and blue fruits on shrubs and vines near by:
We also saw the black fruits of Buckthorn, an invasive species.
We observed an autumn dandelion to look at basal leaves and one type of composite flower: plants with strap florets only.
Cows that graze on snakeroot pass a toxin into their milk, Ruth told us. This causes "milk sickness". Years ago, people didn't know what the source was. Abe Lincoln's mother died of milk sickness.
This week we will be off to visit the Woodlawn Preserve in Schenectady. I have my field guide, I have my loupe, I have paper, pen, and camera: I am rarin' to go!