Friday, October 21, 2011

Can You Name These 10 Autumn Leaves?

I picked up these leaves around the neighborhood this week. How many can you name?
Answers are at the bottom of this post.

How did you do? Hard to do from a photo? Get out there and enjoy the leaves this weekend, in person!

1. Mulberry 2.Beech 3. Dogwood 4. White oak 5. Redbud 6. Tuliptree 7. Pin oak 8. Spicebush 9. Sugar maple 10. Sycamore

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trip Report: Mushrooms

Last Saturday Matt led a mushrooming 101 class. While the fungi are slowing down compared to the incredible abundance of a month ago, there's still plenty to look at.

On the way to the park, we found two prized medicinal mushrooms: reishi and hen-of-the-woods. Growing right along the side of the road on the base of an oak tree in the neighborhood.

With the park we found good examples of most of the broad classifications of mushrooms you'll see: gilled cap-and-stalk mushrooms, boletes (cap-and-stalk mushrooms with pores instead of gills), shelf or polypore mushrooms, and even some coral mushrooms. We saw some fantastic examples of how mushrooms spread their mycelium through the vertical tube structure of wood. And we looked at the colored spores they drop to reproduce.

At one point someone said to me, "You can walk through the woods and it's just beautiful, but there are so many things to see if you stop and look!" Indeed.

Reishi (Ganoderma) and hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa)

Looking for the beetles we always see in oyster mushrooms.

Unidentified cap-and-stalk mushroom with gills

Miscellaneous polypores

Puffballs (Lycoperdon sp.?)

Very young oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Coral mushroom

Maze-gilled polypore (Daedaleopsis confragosa)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Calendar: Oct.15-16

The leaves are starting to turn and the weather has stopped running hot and cold and hit just about right. What a fantastic time of year to get outdoors.

yellow reflection
Foliage at Kenilworth by NCinDC
We've got canoeing plans for this weekend with some friends, and you could too if there's still space with the Sierra Club outing on Sunday (Oct. 16) to paddle the Anacostia River Water Trail for "a very different view of our nation’s capital." If you think industrial waste and concrete when you think Anacostia, don't knock it til you've tried it: we've seen beaver and herons in this stretch of the river and the Kenilworth/ Arboretum area is downright beautiful. Contact leaders for more details, including information about boat rentals. Michael Darzi, or 301/580-9387, and Glenn Gillis, or 703/430-0568.

On Saturday there's a Wildlife Festival at the Patuxtent Wildlife Refuge. They promise live animals; behind-the-scenes tours of the refuge's research with whooping cranes and ducks; children's activities; and music. 10:00-3:00. Free.

You know how great it is to enjoy Beach Drive through Rock Creek Park on the weekends when it's closed to traffic. Saturday from 9 to 3, the roads through Fort Dupont will be closed for Feet in the Street.

There's lots more on our calendar. Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tree Update: Ten Things Our Insurance Won't Cover

Our insurance company has actually been very generous in paying to repair the damage our big old oak tree did to our house when it came down in Hurricane Irene. We're still living with tarps on our roof, but we have faith everything will be fixed up before winter sets in.

Even when all the work is done, there will still be a big hole in the sky where that tree was. I offer this list not seeking pity, but to remind all of us to appreciate the wonderful trees in our lives. There are a lot of things that just can't be replaced anytime soon:

  1. Elevated squirrel highway (and racetrack) across the full width of our yard.
  2. Squirrel & Red Oak
  3. Leaves to feed up to 517 species of insect larvae.
  4. Caterpillar on Oak
  5. Visits from migratory warblers attracted by abundant insect life.
  6. About 75 pounds of acorns per year (extrapolating from this estimate) to feed squirrels, birds, raccoons, and opossums.
  7. Acorns
  8. Shade for some beloved woodland perennials, and for us humans too.
  9. Shelter for one raccoon, visible from our bedroom window.
  10. An anchor for a hammock, and the green view overhead to make it my favorite place in the yard.
  11. Support for a swing with a 15+ foot radius, long enough to swing out over the pond.
  12. The view out my bedroom window every morning.
  13. A feeling of connection to something larger and older than ourselves, and to the generations of people who lived in this house before us.
Consider planting a few acorns this fall, or collecting them for Growing Native. A hundred or two hundred years from now, someone will thank you for those trees.