Monday, September 19, 2011

Botany Highlights from MBS

The mega-event Midwest Birding Symposium was an immense success, and it has left my head in a whirl. So much to tell, so many people to thank, stories to share and new friends from far flung places!

Not unlike a comfort food, plants are my mainstay. When all else fails to make sense, they are a beginning for me. And so from the gazillion photos I eventually hope to share, here are some botanical highlights:

Giant Puffballs, Calvatia gigantea, each as large or larger than my binoculars.
Several were found near the paved path at Meadowbrook Marsh, and more were tucked back into the open grass beneath a canopy of trees. We also found numerous of these cream colored orbs on Kelleys Island near the Long Point banding station.

They appeared to be a volleyball at first glance, but closer inspection reveals the familiar mushroom smell and smooth skin. This species is said to be edible in the early stages, but I am not one to suggest any mushroom is edible, as some types can be quite poisonous. As one friend says, "You can eat any of them...once." Better leave the cooking to experts, I just liked to admire these giants and wondered if they are more numerous this year due to the higher than average rainfall we have had this summer.

Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica
Generally found growing in ditches and damp habitats, the Great Blue Lobelia is a show stopper of a flower and one of my favorites to cultivate here at home. There were waves of the blue beauties growing throughout Meadowbrook Marsh, lining the trail in several locations.

The species name is a reference to its supposed ability to cure syphilis. That is another piece of folklore I can't corroborate. Let's just admire this plant for its lovely blossoms and the butterflies it might attract.

Both of these plants are interesting natives at the Meadowbrook Marsh in Marblehead, Ohio.


  1. Somebody really needs to educate us about fungi...the good the bad and the ugly. We do not understand the imprtance of fungi in the ecosystem and in particular ecosystems. There , I've thrown a challenge out to you!

  2. Cheryl, our friends found a number of giant puffballs in the Battelle Darby Creek metro park a week ago. Darby’s mushrooms were the size of a soccer ball. And yes, they are edible! We boiled them and fried, and they are much more tastier than champignons from a grocery store.

  3. Hi Natalia and Red!
    Yes, I have been told these are edible, but there is also another giant puffball which is gray inside. DON'T EAT IT!

    Since I don't know a great deal about mushrooms, I leave these things for the experts, and have decided to learn my mushrooms in my 70's.

    The lichens and mosses I am saving for my 80's! You don't need to move very fast to hang out with that crowd!