Archive for October 2016
A dozen community members assisted in native plant restoration at Halle Ravine at our most recent Volunteer Work Session on October 1. A lively group of students, neighbors, town officials, and PRLC board members spent the morning working on and off trails in the north end of the Preserve and along the steep bank of the eastern side of the ravine. They cleared invasive weeds, planted a variety of native plants that will better support wildlife, and fenced valuable trees and shrubs from deer browse. Our aim is to encourage more shade cover in the Preserve to protect soils from erosion and drought and to provide for the needs of animals. Come out for a tour with us next summer and see the results!
We also completed the installation of a new staircase along the steepest section of trail in the Preserve. Help is still needed to carry out construction materials and begin bridge repairs, so please join us on Saturday November 5, 10am-noon to lend a hand.
These projects were supported by funding from the Land Trust Alliance Conservation Partnership Program and by private donors.
We had a great turnout for the mushroom hike at Armstrong Preserve on October 23, 2016 and turned up some interesting finds. The most distinctive was a single specimen of the Dog stinkhorn, Mutinus ravenii, so-named for its shape and strong odor. We also found a few edibles, noted in the captions below. Please use caution when foraging for wild mushrooms and refrain from eating any that are not verified by an expert. Please also note that collection of mushrooms, along with plants and animals, is not permitted on Pound Ridge Land Conservancy preserves except during our guided hikes. If you would like to join our email list to be notified of future mushroom forays, email PRLC’s land steward or call our office at 914-205-3533.
Thank you to our event participants for the photographs, and happy hunting!
Mycophile or mycophobe? Most people fall into one of these two categories, being either mushroom-loving or mushroom-fearing. European and Asian cultures are generally mycophilic, passing on knowledge of favorite edibles and medicinals, along with hunting grounds for finding them, from generation to generation. Americans tend to mushroom-phobic, being more concerned with the potential for toxicity, or perhaps simply lacking in knowledge due to the shorter history of our culture.
In this installment of the Living Lighter on the Land blog, I will provide a brief overview of fungal life forms in hopes of inspiring you to take another look, for this is the time of year to find them. I also encourage you to join our Guided Walk and Talk in search of mushrooms, scheduled for September 21st. Please email me to register for this free and family-friendly event.
Mushrooms, or fungi, are an exceedingly diverse group of organisms whose taxonomy and biology are bound by certain genetic contraints, which is why they can be described as comprising a kingdom of life. They are known as the decomposers and are vital to ecological processes such as nutrient cycling. By transforming matter on the molecular level, making it available for trees and plants for example, mushrooms support all life on this planet.
Fungi come in forms both familiar and not, from the molds on our food to the classic polka-dotted parasol to vast networks of underground hyphae or mycelium. They generally reside in the substrate upon which they eventually “flower,” or more accurately, fruit. What we see are highly modified extensions of the hyphae which are formed in order to disperse spores, or reproductive cells, into the environment. In this way, harvesting mushrooms is akin to picking berries from a bush.
Mushrooms can be divided into categories based upon their growth forms, and knowing these groupings is a first step for any budding mycologist:
Slime molds Sac Fungi Puffballs Jelly fungi Corals Bracket Fungi Boletes Gilled
Like plants and animals, fungal species have specific habitats and substrates that they are best adapted to and which provide clues to the kinds of fungi we can expect to find. Most mushroom identification guides include keys to identifying species, and these will include details on growth form and environment, in addition to physical characteristics of the mushroom itself.
When I find a mushroom that I would like to identify, I take immediate note of the following: the substrate upon which it grows, surrounding trees, fruiting habit (single, scattered, or clumped), and color, odor, and moisture level of the mushroom itself. At home, the first thing I do is make a spore print: break the cap off (if there is one) and lay it gill- or pore-side down on a sheet of paper. It works best to use a half black/half white sheet of paper, laying the mushroom down in the center, so that white or black spores show up against the contrasting color of the paper. It might take a day or more for the spores to drop out.
While I wait, I make note of the following characteristics of the mushroom’s form (a good field guide can help to familiarize you with descriptive terms used for each factor):
cap diameter, shape, edge, surface texture and color
gill attachment, spacing, color, thickness, depth, and margin
stalk size, shape, texture, color, hollowness, ring structure, cup structure
There is quite a lot of information that goes in to identifying a mushroom to species, and sometimes the differences between them are so subtle that genetic analysis is necessary. Don’t be discouraged! The joy of mushrooming is in experiencing the wonder of their ephemeral form and their place in nature. With practice and the help of other mushroomers, you might one day enter the world of foraging fungi for food and medecine. I recommend joining on-line groups such as Facebook’s Mushroom Identification Forum, as well as groups that meet in-person for forays, such as the Connecticut Westchester Mycological Assocation (COMA).
All photographs courtesy of the author.
The Pound Ridge Land Conservancy is committed to allowing dogs on our preserves, but we need you to keep your dog on a leash.
We have had some incidents that could have been prevented if the dogs had been leashed. In addition, dogs going off trails because they are not leashed can cause significant unintentional damage to the plant growth we are trying to protect. During hunting season (October 1 – December 31), roaming dogs can interfere with deer control efforts as well.
Your cooperation will enable us to keep our preserves dog-friendly.
The meadows at our Clark Preserve will soon get a haircut thanks to a generous family of green neighbors, who wish to remain anonymous. These green neighbors live near the Clark Preserve and have a passion for preserving nature. When the PRLC’s Elyse Arnow and Tate Bushell made their acquaintance back in June 2012, it wasn’t long before they offered to help. Since then, they have taken it upon themselves to act as stewards of this community asset, which will remain a beautiful place for wild plants and animals to live. Also, by mowing the meadows, they help us carry out our organizational mission. Thank you very much, green neighbors.
Why mow the Clark Preserve meadows?
Meadows are not common in Pound Ridge; our private land that isn’t forested is usually kept as well-manicured lawn. The wild meadows that do exist provide habitat for a great variety of flowers, insects and birds, which are not usually supported by manicured lawn. Meadows rely on infrequent mowing to stop woody shrubs like Japanese barberry and multiflora rose from taking over. Larger meadows can be seen at the Ward-Pound Ridge Reservation, which are mowed by the County.
To see the beautiful Clark Meadows:
Visit the preserve on Autumn Ridge Road. From the parking lot, pass the information kiosk and take the yellow trail roughly 12 minutes to the meadow. A meadow trail brings you through a field of milkweed, goldenrod and the acrobatic bluebird.