Saturday, March 9, 2013

Nice work if you can get it...

Warmer weather, combined with sunny skies, offered the perfect combination for some hiking today.  We had several properties to survey for our local land trust, The North Central Ohio Land Conservancy.

 We started with an interesting property in Ontario, Ohio.  It was successional land that had once been open farm land, with much of it planted into white pine stands about 50 years ago.  It offered a pleasant walk, along a natural spring and its resulting stream.

 Unexpectedly, we came upon "knees."  Yes,  I said knees- as in Cypress knees.  These are root adaptations for breathing in very hydric (wet) soils.  Bald Cyprus, Taxodium distichum  is not a native Ohio tree, so we can safely assume the owner planted this grove as well.

These towering conifers are deciduous, unlike our native pines.  Bald Cypress shed all of their needles in the fall and will regrow new ones in the spring. High up in tree tops I could see some of the "cones" which resemble flat-sided balls.  All in all, it was a pleasant surprise to find these, but not a good indicator for a high quality native area.

Who left these tracks in the snow?
Snow offered other clues to those living in this woodland.  Deer tracks were prevalent, and while I suspected we would find Wild Turkey tracks, we did not.  However, we did find fresh evidence of the smallish clawed feet of the local raccoon.

Some species of mushrooms are easy enough to find, even in the winter. This species looked quite similar to the Turkey Tail mushroom but they had a greenish cast.  It looks to be a polypore, quite possibly the Many-zoned Polypore, Trametes versicolor.  Any experts care to weigh in on this one?

A tree stump decays beneath a carpet of moss.
Unfortunately, the was plenty of evidence of lumbering in both lots we check out today.  Give it a good fifty or one hundred years and this area just might recover.  One of the unhealthy side effects I noted was an invasion of multi-flora rose and other non-native species in the areas that had been logged.  The additional sunlight provides an opportunity for these undesirables to flourish.  Again, given enough time and benign neglect this forest may recover.  It was not the high quality property we had hoped it might be.

So maybe we didn't save the world today, but we didn't do it any harm.   Not bad for a days work.


  1. It does look like turkey tail ..there are a few mushroom ID groups on Facebook..might try uploading your photo there. If you want the link message me on Facebook