Thursday, July 23, 2015

Off Season Woods

Summer is the off season in the woods. This is because the field and home require attention while the weather is right, but also because mosquitos own the woods at this time of year. There is, however, one draw and that is mushrooms. 


There had been an explosion of Jelly fungus on cut logs downslope near the north wetland. It has, by now, yellowed with age, but still a fascinating fungal mass. Mosquitos be darned, in the woods with the camera I took a stroll to see what else was going on.


 A mysterious white fungus or mycelium between two logs.


An incredibly striking red slime mold on upright cut log faces. Anything this red within the green understory grabs your attention.



The channel connecting the north wetland to the southern, great wetland runs with rain water. We cleared this area of most garlic mustard two months back and the Jewelweed is beginning to take off. Now, let me get out there and clear those branches.


Recent storms haven't been terribly windy. Still this large limb, about two feet in diameter at the base of the break came down. It's Basswood, Tilia americana, not the strongest of trees, and prone to hollowing of the stem at height. One nearly came down on me as I walked the woods in March. Just pop and drop! Lucky for me I was distracted by the sound of running water which altered my path. A minute later I watched the large, single stem tree break about 12 feet up and fall over onto the path I was about to walk.


In the back woods I find another Basswood down (that's three this year alone). Those that have fallen are the oldest of the Basswood in our woods and two have been large, multi-trunked trees. Basswood can be easily identified by its multi-stem growth habit -its the sure fire way to ID the tree in winter, when young, or with similarly barked trees. We're not big fans of Basswood trees, largely because of their weak wood and propensity to fall without notice (a local woman died under this tree species recently). Incidentally, the tree reminds me of my former position in an architecture lab where basswood was the model building wood of choice. I'll take oaks, ash and maples over bass any day.



The back swale hasn't had time to drain down with all the recent heavy rains. It appears this area will be wet year in and year out and I should rethink my attitude towards it. Several years of heavy rains have kept the soil water logged and the trees standing in water that aren't already dead are only hanging on by a thread. When cold weather comes we may have to tackle some of the larger standing trees, leaving woodpecker stumps that won't fall immediately, but when they do they shouldn't take anyone out.


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