Dog tooth lichen 'barks' under tree
Tamaracks are aglow. Sometime between Friday, Oct. 13 and Tuesday, Oct. 18, the "tammies" took on their brilliant gold color along Highway 71 north. Just east of Itasca the color is particularly bright. I didn't know what to expect this year, giv...
Tamaracks are aglow.
Sometime between Friday, Oct. 13 and Tuesday, Oct. 18, the "tammies" took on their brilliant gold color along Highway 71 north. Just east of Itasca the color is particularly bright.
I didn't know what to expect this year, given our drought, but perhaps dry conditions don't affect the deciduous conifers' coloration in the fall the same way dryness can affect coloring in other deciduous trees.
In general, I saw more color in the trees this fall than I expected. And now we're in the "old quilt" time of year. That's how I think of late October and November.
These two months make you appreciate gray, brown and dusky gold.
I'm seeing more and more flocks of birds moving together, whether they have gathered for migratory purposes or are cooperating to find food now that the territoriality of breeding season is over.
The morning of Wednesday, Oct. 19 I saw a large flock of Canada geese landing and on the ground in a field in far western Hubbard County, and all last weekend I kept seeing a group of six to eight blue jays hanging around a bird feeder and in the jack pine and spruce beside the feeder.
Stan from Becida saw a flock of robins around 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11. That same day, he said a friend of his spotted a palm warbler.
On my wanderings in October, I found a number of mosses growing in the woods and meadow. I've been trying to identify them ever since, but it's a challenge, even with my new books and helpful Web sites.
One of the most startling things I've learned about mosses is that some of them actually thrive in dry, sandy soils. An example is fire moss, which grows in sandy, "disturbed" soil.
When I saw mosses before in the open in the meadow, I guessed that they used to grow under a tree and were somehow leftovers. I thought this even when I didn't see any evidence of a tree stump.
This week's moss was found growing in heavy shade, beneath spruce. I think it is plume moss, or Ptilium crista-castrensis, which is a common moss of the boreal forest and is listed on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) moss species map for Hubbard and Clearwater counties, though not for Becker County.
Since I live about three or four miles from the Hubbard County line, I'm going to venture a guess that the species might be found in my neck of the woods, too.
Please bear with me as I learn more about this miniature world.
This week's featured lichen is a dog tooth lichen, or Peltigera canina. At least I think I found a dog tooth lichen. It turns out that to identify these tiny plants, you have to look at the underside of lichens, just as you do with mushrooms. The dog tooth lichen has little roots growing from its underside, and I didn't check for these.
What I can tell you is that I found the lichen I photographed in the kind of habitat preferred by dog tooth lichens: in dense shade, growing among mosses and very close to the plume moss. While I can't say this spot was particularly damp this summer, it was one of the most sheltered spots in the woods, safe from the drying sun.
The dog tooth is a foliose lichen, or a papery or leafy lichen. Other types of lichens include crustose (flaky or crusty lichens) fruticose (stalked or branching).
One final nature note: We had many moths flying at our windows Sunday evening, Oct. 15.
Thank you to all who wrote with news. When sending your reports, be sure to give your name and a little information on where you made your sighting. Send to maureeng @unitelc.com no later than 8 a.m. Thursdays. If it's easier, feel free to drop a letter by the office, or in the mail.
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