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Upcoming Events

For Lands Sake! and Winterset Library One Earth Book Club:

Tuesday, Nov. 28: “Listen to the Land” — Larry Stone

Tuesday, Jan. 23: “Sylven T. Runkel: Citizen of the Natural World” — Stone and Stravers

Meet at 7:00 PM at Winterset Library

 

Next SIOSA board meeting

Thursday, December 14, 1:00 PM at Decatur County Conservation Board office west of Leon, 20401 River Road.

Field Journal October 16-31

Friday, November 3, 2017 @ 05:11 PM
posted by veronica

By Sibylla Brown, Timberhill Oak Savanna

Although the Checkered White, Pontia protodice, butterfly is a breeding resident I’ve never seen one at Timberhill until this year.  Most common in western and east-central Iowa, the first specimen I’ve seen at Timberhill was nectaring on marigolds blooming in the terrace border west of the house on October 17.  Because of the summer drought, butterfly bush and marigolds in the terrace border and roses east of the house which I kept watered are the only plants still blooming.  Everything else has dried up. Interesting that this checkered white managed to find the last blossoms of summer.

Checkered White Butterfly

The drought ended after almost six inches of rain this month. But it didn’t rain soon enough to stimulate abundant mushroom fruiting.   The only terrestrial fungi we found were two waxcap species, Hygrocybe conica and Hygrophorus sordidus.  Sometimes called “the witch’s hat” Hygrocybe conica is one of the small red waxy caps.  It is easily identified because virtually all parts of this species bruise and discolor black.  Usually associated with oaks, we found several clusters of H. conica fruiting under clumps of little blue stem grass on the East Savanna ridgetop. 

Hygrocybe conica

 

Hygrophorus sordidus

 

The slimy feel and thick waxy gills that run down the stalk make Hygrophorus sordidus easy to identify.  Medium sized white with a yellowish center it was the only Hygrophorus species we collected this year. This species was named sordidus because of the dirt that usually adheres to it.  At Timberhill we have identified ten species of Hygrophorus.  I usually expect to collect several species each fall. It is unusual to collect only one.  If it doesn’t get too cold there may be more fruting.  I have collected Hygrophorus specimens as late in the season as November 25. 

We also discovered a fairy ring of Giant puffballs, Calvatia gigantea, fruiting in the woodland east of the house.  Known for its large size the round fruiting bodies of this species are about the size of a soccer ball. Immature specimens which are still completely white inside are edible.  Unfortunately ours were too mature – the center had already begun to turn yellow.  (It will turn brown when completely mature.)

Another edible mushroom, Flammulina velutipes (Velvet stem), is fruiting abundantly on downed Hackberry along Brush Creek.  This species is considered a winter mushroom and may be found when nothing else is available.  It is the same species as enoki sold in grocery produce sections but the orangish brown cap and velvety stem are completely different in appearance from that cultivated species. 

(Caveat:  do not consume any wild mushroom unless it has been positively identified by a local expert, amateur or professional.)

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