“Still Life with Fungus & Poison Ivy”

 

I know, these pictures look like a nature walk with the Addams Family.  I’m enjoying the fresh new foliage and spring flowers as much as anyone, really, but on a recent hike, it was the tree fungi that caught my eye.

Doesn’t the 2nd shot looks like Pan di Spagna (Italian sponge cake)?

I also wondered about the minimalist spider web in the 3rd shot.  I once saw photos of spiderwebs, after the spiders had been given various drugs (OK, I guess it’s occurred to all of us to do that).  The caffeine web was jazzy, random, frenetic-looking.  The LSD web, as I remember, was unnaturally perfect.

Apparently nibbling on this fungus leads to a lack of ambition and inability to complete tasks?

Or just a desire to simplify and try something new, even if you don’t catch any juicy bugs that way.

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Nature, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

A Fetching Flock of Fungus for Friday. Pictures of Upstate New York. May.

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St Paddy’s Day has come & gone, and still not much is wearing green in Upstate.

But this clump of moss was like a vibrant little island in the woods.

I took a picture of it with my cellphone, to look at daily, because it’s the greenest thing I’ve seen for months.

You may spot a few white pellets — the snow was pelting down in angular, misshapen granules.

I was once in a kind of sketchy pub, and the bartender told us, “No ice, it’s gone off.”

We stuck with bottled beer that night, and didn’t use the glasses.

I’d never heard of ice going bad before.  But then, moving into a new apartment, we found the ice cubes in the freezer were shrunken in their little tray compartments, no longer cubes in fact, and seemed to have picked up a metallic odor.  I guess there was that incident with the Titanic, too, now I think about it, under the heading “Bad Ice.

Even the weather is tired of ice and snow by now.  The precipitation has become unimaginative.  Old Man Winter is  spring cleaning, shoveling out whatever icy trash is left in the clouds,  just grayish-white grit, can’t be bothered with delicate snowflakes, too tired to dream up new crystalline shapes.

And so a homely clump of moss receives its due, and becomes our hero for the day, a real luminary in the woods.

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, Nature, NY, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. April. Moss, the Only Green for Miles.

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Finger Lakes, FLX, Frostbite, Ithaca, Nature, NY, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York ~ March ~ It’s Spring! Breaking Out the Lawn Furniture

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Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Nature, NY, photography, snow, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York ~ March ~ A small waterfall on Enfield Creek

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Finger Lakes, FLX, Nature, NY, Upstate New York

Indian Pipe, Ghost Plant

Last summer, after a wet spell, I posted some pictures of colorful specimens of toadstools and other fungi, sprouting all over the local woods.

I also included this shot, of a strange non-fungus, “monotropa uniflora,”  called by various names like “Ghost Plant,” “Indian Pipe,” or “Ghost Pipe.”

 

I would not care to hear whatever dark and sinister tune might whisper out of these pale ghost pipes.

From a distance, it has a pale, porcelain prettiness, and the stems are a rather nice pink, but on closer inspection, the overall effect is of an unhealthy, repellent fleshiness.  But perhaps I’m just projecting, because of its vampirish lifestyle.

A lot of fascinating info on Tom Volk’s Fungus Web Page.

[http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi]

My first surprise, was to find out that it’s a herbaceous perennial plant, and somehow related to much more cheerful plants:

cranberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, and blueberries!

Seems like it would be a strained relationship.

That pale, creepy Uncle Fester we never discuss when the young blueberries are around.

Not only did we find it growing amidst the various fungi, but like them, it lacks chlorophyll.

A parasitic existence, living on fungi.

It’s host fungi, in turn, have a symbiotic relationship to trees, often beeches.

Professor Volk mentions a “one-way flow of carbohydrates,” which immediately brought an image of me in a pasta restaurant.

Given its somewhat creepy appearance, and parasitic nature, its not surprising to find another, creepy, nickname,

“Corpse Plant.”

 

I’ve only seen it a couple of times in my life, and was surprised to find it again, embedded in greenish glass, in the Corning Glass Museum!

This is an amazing glass creation by Paul Stankard, “Cloistered Tri-Level Botanical with Indian Pipe Flower and Spirits”

I’m sorry it’s not a better picture, I photographed it inside a glass case, which could have used a wash.  We know which visitors are making things smeary, we can identify their fingerprints.

 

But if you look closely, you can make out the spirits on the underside of this strange plant.

 

 

Here’s a link to a better image, on the museum website

[www.cmog.org/artwork/cloistered-tri-level-botanical-indian-pipe-flower-and-spirits]

Apparently Native Americans discovered a number of medicinal uses, including a root tea, used as a sedative and soporific.

I don’t experiment with such things, and in this case, doesn’t it look like, as a sleeping aid, it might just work a bit too well?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finger Lakes, FLX, Frostbite, Nature, NY, photography, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York. January. A frozen stream in Sugar Hill Forest

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It will be a long time before we see anything green or blooming in the Northeast.

Winter is a good time to look for interesting stalks and seed pods in the snow.

Well, this plant is not native to New York, and I think, it’s more interesting than beautiful.

I’ve seen it, in gardens, roadsides and woods, all my life.

Wikipedia indicates that Lunaria annua is naturalized, but native to the Balkans and SW Asia.

In both Europe and Asia, the common names refer to money:  silver dollar plant, the Pope’s money, coins of Judas, etc.

We’ve always called it “honesty.”

In winter, the stalks resemble an abandoned optician’s shop, vandalized by the winter, with old wire-rimmed spectacles, gone cloudy, or missing lenses.

It’s a tough, almost shrubby plant, that needs no care, and produces nice purple flowers, and self-seeds reliably.

The seed pods are brownish, flat, and oval – -you can see one hanging on in the pictures, darkened by exposure.

But when the outer layers drop off, it’s the inner part of the seed pod that a lot of people like to gather – – almost pearly, like discs of translucent parchment or paper.

In the last shot above, the membrane is shredded by the winter weather.  (Tattered honesty, this is New York, after all)

I think the last shot looks a bit sinister, like a display for “Sweeney Todd, Eye Doctor”

If you gather it in the fall, when it’s good and dry, you can slip off the outer covers, scatter the seeds, and bring in the money.

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, Frostbite, Nature, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York. January. Honesty, a bit tattered.

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