Thunderstorms, Mini Nature & a Leak

Unlike my sister Hope's photos, my aphid herding ant picture turned out fuzzy.  So you just get the aphids on a wild drape vine. :)

Unlike my sister Hope’s photos, my aphid herding ant picture turned out fuzzy. So I cropped out the fuzzy ant. 🙂

This is the first campground we’ve ever stayed at where we’ve gotten bored.  I think it’s because it’s such a tiny place, and there are no trails.  So once you walk past 24 campsites, you are back where you started.

Our forecast

Our forecast

The thunderstorms aren’t helping.  This morning Ron told me there was water dripping on his pillow last night.  I pulled all the clothes out of the overhead cupboard, and, as I suspected, the leak was coming from the cable connection.

Baby grape leaves

Baby grape leaves

As it was starting to sprinkle again, and I had no tools to do a proper job, I just ran silicone around the connection cover faceplate, and will replace it when I can get the parts.  I sopped up the soggy carpet, opened all the cupboard doors and ran the air conditioner all day.  It feels dry in there now.  Sure hope it doesn’t leak again tonight.

Sheba was sick yesterday, complete with diarrhea.  I cleaned her up when we got back from our walk yesterday afternoon, and so far she seems to be okay.

Young wild grapes

Young wild grapes

Since we’ll have thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow, we thought of leaving a day early.  We still may.  It depends how we feel in the morning.

I took Sunny with me to try to find photo-worthy shots today.  I couldn’t find a single thing to photograph.  After a while, trees and water shots start to look the same and uninspired.  Then I decided to concentrate on closeups of cool things I might find.  Ah!  At last I had something to intrigue me and make the day worthwhile!

Poisonous buckeye

Poisonous buckeye

Poisonous horse nettle flower.  Note the sharp spines

Poisonous horse nettle flower. Note the sharp spines

Natural planter

Natural planter

Poison ivy and tree knot hole

Poison ivy and tree knot hole

Poison ivy berries

Poison ivy berries

Photo showing all three leaf shapes of a young sassafras tree --three lobed, mitten shaped, and oval.

Photo showing all three leaf shapes of a young sassafras tree –three lobed, mitten shaped, and oval.

Skink

Skink

Curly tendril

Curly tendril

Unknown

Unknown

A natural valentine.  :)

A natural valentine. 🙂

Wildwood flower -- too much country music lately!

Wildwood flower — too much country music lately!

Three Casita Tours & Lots of Discoveries

We saw a herd of 6 tame deer several times today, but I only got 4 in my photo.

Today was one of those glorious days where everything turned out right.

I gave three Casita tours today.  I just love showing off my little trailer and I also really do appreciate the compliments on my decor.  🙂

Tentatively identified as a Red Buckeye

I discovered a new plant today.  It was a small, straggly tree with nut husks that contained two shiny dark brown nuts.  I had never seen an Ohio Buckeye, and originally thought that was what it must be.  But I looked it up and learned that Ohio Buckeye has spiny husks, and this one had fairly smooth husks.  I think I’ve identified it as a Red Buckeye.  In any case, its nuts are poisonous like the Ohio Buckeye’s.

Red buckeye nuts (I think)

Ringless honey mushrooms

In spite of the extreme drought, I found two different kinds of mushrooms today.  They grow on buried wood, which retains water much longer than the soil does.  So I wasn’t skunked in my quest this trip after all!

The ringless honey mushrooms are edible.  However, depending on where they grow they can make you sick.  I’ve eaten some and enjoyed them.  But I got sick on them once, too, so I don’t eat them anymore.  Just enjoy finding and identifying them.

Chrome footed bolete. The pinkish color of the cap did not show up in my photo.

I also found my first chrome footed bolete today, too.  They are a safe edible, but this one was past its prime, so I contented myself with finding and recognizing a new mushroom!

We usually take the dogs for 3 good walks a day, but that’s not always enough to burn up Sheba’s excess energy.  This afternoon, we went on a LONG walk.  On the way back, Roxanne, a camping neighbor who fell madly in love with Sheba, asked if she could walk her.  We said yes and off she went with Sheba dragging her along.

The chrome footed bolete’s speckled stalk and yellow foot.

When they got back Sheba was pooped.  Roxanne said that Sheba had plopped down and lay in the street twice before they got back.

Tonight Sheba is sprawled out on the camper floor, sound asleep.  I think for the first time we finally burned off ALL the excess Australian Shepherd puppy energy!  😀

On our walk we passed a bush with dozens of yellow and orange butterflies.  I stopped and watched them for several minutes.  I’ve never seen so many butterflies in one place at the same time.

Dozens of butterflies were taking advantage of these flowers.

This campground is amazing. It is crammed full of weekend campers, and all we can hear outside are the night sounds of the woods.  We are surrounded by tent campers who apparently are here to enjoy nature.  No radios.  No blaring music.  No loud talking.  Flickers of campfires are the only indication that people are here.  All of the sites are screened by vegetation, so it’s more private and peaceful than we could have dreamed.  We will definitely come back here.  But next time we’ll reserve a waterfront site.

Can’t ever have too many butterfly pictures! 🙂

I also found a couple of different wild pea family flowers, and one precious little blue asiatic dayflower.  And lots of the common little raggedy yellow flowers that make me think of sunshine and smiles, although I don’t know their name!

Oh…. one more thing.  I saw the biggest tent I have ever seen in a campground here today.  It’s as big as a small cabin.  See photo below!

Unknown member of the wild pea family

These have pealike flowers, too. Don’t know their name!

Sunshine flowers!

Asiatic dayflower

Huge tent!

Lunch with the Girls, Bracken Fiddleheads & Luna Moth

Lunch with the girls. Left to right are Evelyn, Teressa and Julie.

Yesterday I met with friends at the Square in Carrollton.  We had such a wonderful time together.   We did decide that we are going to have to do it a lot more often.

After I got home, Ron and I went out to dinner, then shopping.  I found three beautiful blouses at Goody’s.  Very unusual as I have an almost impossible to fit shape that is a mixture of petite and normal.

Then we went to Walmart for Easter Basket supplies.

Bracken fiddlehead beginning to unfurl

I’m planning to make baskets for a neighbor who is single and doesn’t have family to celebrate with, and for Ron… just because everyone needs an Easter Basket on Easter!

I still have to decorate eggs this afternoon — something I haven’t done in many years!

In between trips, I wandered around the property to spot new wild edibles.  The bracken fiddleheads are up now.  Ron and I used to love them.  They turn a beautiful burgundy color when cooked and taste just like asparagus.

However, I’ve read a lot of material on how carcinogenic they are–enough that it has scared me away from enjoying them anymore.  But Samuel Thayer, who is the modern day wild edible plant expert, who has studied and thoroughly debunked many wild food myths, states that the carcinogens are no worse than those in grilled meat, potato chips or coffee.  The plant does become poisonous after the green fronds begin unfurling, though, so if you experiment, make sure the fiddleheads are still all gray colored.

Bracken fiddlehead

Nevertheless, I think I would only eat them if I were truly hungry.  But I still get excited when I see them emerging from last years dead bracken fern. (For more information, see the quote at the end of this post.)

The little wild strawberries are plentiful, but the ones along the edge of our property grow among young poison ivy plants.  Very fortunately neither Ron nor I are affected by poison ivy.  But I have read that can change, so I still am very cautious around them.

Wild strawberries and poison ivy growing together

Last night we got home pretty late.  I was in the kitchen and heard something hitting the kitchen window.  It was a huge luna moth trying to get closer to the light.  So I went outside and turned the deck light on to attract him to the wall so I could get a photo of him.   It worked!  Here is a photo of it next to a smaller, “normal” sized moth.

Luna moth

And finally, I just want to post a picture of a beautiful hosta that has lived in this same pot for 9 or 10 years.   It has survived drought and all the difficulties of container growing and still emerges beautiful and unscathed every year.

It also has beautiful blooms when I remember to pamper it with liquid organic bloom booster fertilizer.

Note:  Further information that puts the carcinogenic properties of bracken fern in perspective:

“Bracken fern contains a chemical, ptaquiloside, that is known to be carcinogenic to mammals in high doses. The International Agency for Research on Cancer places it in the same risk category as coffee and sassafras. This doesn’t mean that if you eat bracken you’ll die of cancer; many things that we commonly eat contain carcinogenic chemicals, such as char-broiled meat, potato chips, and all smoked foods. I still occasionally eat bracken fiddleheads.” — Samuel Thayer

Hosta - a long term container resident

Sweet Wildflower Tonic

Stars of Bethlehem

I was feeling down today so took a walk to lift my spirits.  As usual, the stunning natural beauty that surrounds our property was the tonic that my spirit needed.

I first learned to identify Star of Bethlehem when I seriously studied wild edible plants.  I knew them then as poisonous plants to be avoided.  But now, I see them as little white gems of exquisite beauty.

I learned to identify Venus Looking Glass one year as I puzzled over the  weeds

Venus looking glass. On edit — these are misidentified. A blog reader gave me the correct ID. They are common vetch. Still gorgeous, though. 🙂

with purple flowers that ran rampant in my square foot gardens in early spring.  Now I treasure them as a gift before vegetable garden planting season begins. (On edit, I misidentified these flowers.  See photo caption.)

Little bluets delight me.  They are so small that they are easily missed unless your eyes are open to the tiny wonders under your feet.

I am not sure what the little purple flowers on tall stalks are.  They have always grown everywhere I’ve lived since I was a child, but it occurs to me that I have neglected to learn their name.   I will do a search and try to discover their secret.

Sweet little bluets, almost hidden underfoot

And dandelions.  When I lived in condos and apartments and houses in town, they were an eyesore and a blot on unbroken green, manicured lawns.  Then, in my edible plant studies, I discovered what a marvel they truly are.  Since then I have been fascinated by their intricate, enduring beauty.

I think age has also softened my perspective on what a wonder these precious little weeds are.

I need to learn this little treasure’s name. [on edit, a commenter has identified these as toadflax, possibly blue toadflax. Thanks, Kara!]

The greatly underappreciated, marvelous little dandelion

The endlessly fascinating little puffball that promises the next generation of dandelions. 🙂

A New Bolete

Bolete with heavily reticulated white stalk

Bolete with heavily indented white stalk (not true reticulation)

The first picture is a little fuzzy due to condensation on the lens.  Coming from an air conditioned house into 90+ degree muggy temperatures will do that.  🙂

The lemon yellow pore surface and the creamy white heavily indented stalk stumped me.  I went through all my books and spent a couple of days on the net looking at mushroom photos, and I couldn’t find a match.

The velvety cap is 2-1/2″ wide.

Reddish, velvety cap

Reddish, velvety cap which turned true brown after I brought it inside.

The pore surface is bright lemon yellow.  It has a white reticulated stalk (although I am not certain that those indentations qualify as reticulation.)  I found it under pine trees.  The spore print is olive brown.  The white cap flesh darkened over several hours to tan.  There was no hint of bluing anywhere.  The reddish color disappeared from the cap after a while indoors, becoming a true brown.

And, finally, a drop of ammonia on the cap flashed a vivid blue green.

What I’ve been able to deduce so far is that it is definitely not poisonous because it is a bolete, it does not have red or orange pores, and there is no trace of blue bruising.  The cap flesh has a mild taste, so it is not bitter as some boletes are.  So it is safe to eat.

[NOTE:  Some orange capped Leccinum are poisonous.  (A Leccinum is also a bolete.)  If you cannot confidently identify a Leccinum, then you should also avoid all orange capped boletes.]

bright yellow pore surface

Bright yellow pore surface

It is in the mid nineties this week with little chance of rain, so I may not see any more mushrooms for a while.

We have been having the most beautiful summer sunsets lately.  It’s a real treat for us because we are so surrounded by trees that we seldom see the actual sunset.  But sometimes, as in this case, we get the gorgeous colors reflected in the clouds over us.

 

no blue staining

Not a hint of blue bruising anywhere

buttons

Young button caps

spore print

Olive brown spore print

sunset clouds

Pink sunset clouds

The Boletes are Coming

two small boletes with parasitic mold

Two small boletes already showing signs of parasitic mold

These are the first boletes that appear in my yard each summer.  The bad news is that they are always immediately parasitized by a mold that I have tentatively identified as Hypomyces chrysospermus.

The mold starts on the bottom on the pore surface around the stalk, then spreads until the mushroom is completely disfigured.  And it is poisonous.

The good news is that the delectable boletes are on the way.  And the parasitic mold doesn’t affect the other ones.

a larger parasitized bolete

A larger parasitized bolete

I also have seen small puffballs in the yard the past week or so.  David Fischer, in his book Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America, says that many of the small puffballs are edible.  But the ones with tough rinds (that you can’t cut easily with your fingernail) are poisonous.  These little puffballs have a leathery, tough rind, so even though they are perfectly white in the middle, I leave them alone.

[Edited:  I have since identified these puffballs as Lycoperdon Marginatum.]

If you have the slightest interest in learning about wild edible mushrooms, I would strongly recommend that you get Fischer’s book.  I have a small library of mushroom books, but Dave Fischer’s is the only one that gives a set of identification keys that completely rule out poisonous lookalikes — IF you conscientiously follow them.

closeup of mold

Closeup of mold

I am really excited that the bolete season is finally underway.  I hope to have a lot of mushroom photos to share with you before too long!

discolored bolete flesh from Hypomyces chrysospermus

Cross section of parasitized bolete

tough rinded little puffballs

Small, leathery skinned puffballs.

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