Here’s a bit of a contrast to the beautiful spring blossoms.

A pair of sinister mug-shots.

I don’t remember running across these before, but apparently they’re quite common.

“Devil’s Urn” or Urnula craterium.  (Based on extensive research for almost ninety seconds on the internet.)

One article indicates that if you blow into the cup, it may spray out a cloud of spores with an audible hiss.

Any volunteers?

In the original Star Trek, there’s an episode called “This Side of Paradise,” where some alien flowers spray spores onto the colonists from Earth, and establish a symbiotic relationship, giving them all perfect health.  The spores also cause Spock to fall in love & be happy, for the first time in his life.

So, everyone is healthy & happy & in love, and no one sees much point in flitting around space in a giant tin can, bothering the natives.  Luckily, Captain Kirk is there to save everyone from this horrible fate, and evacuates the planet, so everyone can get back to being normal humans, staring at computer screens all day and paying taxes.

If you remember, it was after this episode, that Sulu and Chekov started referring to a “Captain Buzzkill,” and Scotty suddenly couldn’t ever get the transporter to work right, and kept leaving Captain Jerk, sorry, Kirk, stranded on hostile planets.

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, Nature

Devil’s Urn

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

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. 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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Some towns to our west, in Cayuga County, have had flooding recently. Eight inches of rain over two weeks, and the woods are filled with fungus. I know little of wild mushrooms, so no one should rush out to eat this on my say-so, but I think this is what the old folks call “sheepshead”. You can get an idea of size from the oak leaf in the top right corner, of the first photo.  Kind of sloppy ground for walking, but also kind of neat.  So many fungus, almost glowing in the dim woods, it struck me that a coral reef was taking root.  While I was away last summer, there was a drought, and everyone reported on all the little streams that pretty much dried up, but they’re now going full tilt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Upstate New York

Walks Around The Finger Lakes. July. Eight inches of rain

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