#185 Dog Vomit Slime Mold (Fuligo septic

31 August

A species of plasmodial slime mold, and a member of the Myxomycetes class. It is also commonly known as the scrambled egg slime, or flowers of tan because of its peculiar yellowish, bile-colored appearance. Also known as the dog vomit slime mold, it is common with a worldwide distribution, and it is often found on bark mulch in urban areas after heavy rain or excessive watering. Their spores are produced on or in aerial sporangia and are spread by wind.

#184 Common Hemp Nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit)

30 August

A non-native herbaceous annual plant growing to 1 m tall; it is a pioneer species and thrives on disturbed sites or roadsides. The plant looks like mint but is taller. The stems have reflexed hairs and swollen nodes. In cross section, the stem is square. The leaves are rhombic to elliptic, with coarsely to bluntly serrate edges. The flowers are multicoloured, with purple, pink, or white areas; diminutive, bilateral and snapdragon-like, and are mostly visited by bumblebees.

Typical habitat is rough ground, arable land, logging clearances and waste places. It spreads readily as its sharp calyces adhere to clothing and animal pelts

#183 Flat Cep/Oysterling (Crepidotus aplanatus)

29 August

Uncommon but quite widely distributed in woodlands throughout Britain and Ireland, this mushroom occurs across mainland Europe and is also recorded in many other parts of the world including North America.

Members of this genus are small, convex to fan-shaped, and sessile. Species have cheilocystidia[8] Spore prints are yellow-brown to brown. All species of Crepidotus are known to be secondary decomposers of plant matter; most are saprobic on wood. Little is known about the edibility of various species; the usually small and insubstantial specimens discourage mycophagy.

#182 Jack in the Pulpit (Arysaema triphyllum)

28 August

A herbaceous perennial plant growing from a corm. It is a highly variable species typically growing 30–65 centimetres (12–26 in) in height with three-parted leaves and flowers contained in a spadix that is covered by a hood. It is native to eastern North America, occurring in moist woodlands and thickets

The inflorescences are shaped irregularly and grow to a length of up to 8 cm. They are greenish-yellow or sometimes fully green with purple or brownish stripes.[3] The spathe, known in this plant as “the pulpit” wraps around and covers over and contain a spadix (“Jack”), covered with tiny flowers of both sexes. The flowers are unisexual and sequential hermaphrodites, in small plants most if not all the flowers are male, as plants age and grow larger the spadix produces more female flowers. This species flowers from April to June. It is pollinated by fungus gnats, which it attracts by smell and are trapped by the flower. They manage to escape from the male inflorescences, but cannot do so when they fall inside a female inflorescence.

In addition the plant is not self-pollinating since the male flowers on a specific plant have already matured and died before the female flowers of that same plant are mature. So the female flowers need to be pollinated by the male flowers of a different plant. This inhibits inbreeding and contributes to the health of the species.

The fruits are smooth, shiny green, 1 cm wide berries clustered on the thickened spadix. The fruits ripen in late summer and fall, turning a bright red color before the plants go dormant. Each berry produces 1 to 5 seeds typically, the seeds are white to light tan in color, rounded, often with flattened edges and a short sharp point at the top and a rounded bottom surface. If the seeds are freed from the berry they will germinate the next spring, producing a plant with a single rounded leaf. Seedlings need three or more years of growth before they become large enough to flower.

#181 Bleeding Fairy Helmet (Mycena haematopus)

27 August

Widespread and common in Europe and North America, and has also been collected in Japan and Venezuela. It is saprotrophic—meaning that it obtains nutrients by consuming decomposing organic matter—and the fruit bodies appear in small groups or clusters on the decaying logs, trunks, and stumps of deciduous trees, particularly beech. The fungus, first described scientifically in 1799, is classified in the section Lactipedes of the genus Mycena, along with other species that produce a milky or colored latex.

The fruit bodies of M. haematopus have caps that are up to 4 cm (1.6 in) wide, whitish gills, and a thin, fragile reddish-brown stem with thick coarse hairs at the base. They are characterized by their reddish color, the scalloped cap edges, and the dark red latex they “bleed” when cut or broken. Both the fruit bodies and the mycelia are weakly bioluminescent. M. haematopus produces various alkaloid pigments unique to this species. The edibility of the fruit bodies is not known definitively.

#180 American Carrion Beetle (Necrophila americana)

26 August

Do read this description – these are really cool insects.

It lays its eggs in, and its larvae consume, raw flesh (particularly that of dead animals) and fungi. The larvae and adults also consume fly larvae and the larvae of other carrion beetles that compete for the same food sources as its larvae.

From spring through fall, during daylight, a few hours after flies begin arriving at a carcass, the adult beetles will arrive as well. They immediately begin eating the already hatching fly larvae, mating, and laying their own eggs. As long as the carcass lasts, the adults will remain eating competitors to give their own larvae a chance to eat and grow. Upon hatching from the eggs, the larvae will eat both the carcass and other larvae that are within it. Eventually the larvae will fall to the ground, dig into the dirt, and pupate. Overwintering is done by adults.

Now the fascinating bit – The beetle is known to engage in mutualistic phoresis with mites of the genus Poecilochirus. Upon arrival at a carcass, these mites drop from the beetle and begin eating the eggs and larvae of the flies that preceded the beetles (and continue to lay more eggs even as the beetles are active). They will eventually return to the adults and be transported to the next carcass. Some of their young will hitch a ride with the beetles’ young upon their emergence from the pupal stage.

#179 Isabella Tiger Moth

179 Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctica isabella)

25 August

This is the moth that those “Woolly Bear” caterpillers transform into.

The thirteen-segment larvae are usually covered with brown hair in their mid-regions and black hair in their anterior and posterior areas. In direct sunlight, the brown hair looks bright reddish brown. Adults are generally dull yellowish through orangish and have robust, scaly thorices; small heads; and bright reddish-orange forelegs. Wings have sparse black spotting.

The isabella tiger moth can be found in many cold regions, including the Arctic. The banded woolly bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws.

Larval setae do not inject venom and are not urticant; they do not typically cause irritation, injury, inflammation, or swelling. Handling larvae is discouraged, however, because their sharp, spiny hairs may cause dermatitis in some people. When disturbed, larvae defend themselves by playing possum (rolling up into balls and remaining motionless) and quickly crawling away.

#178 Clouded Sulphur

178 Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

24 August

The pale yellow eggs are laid singly on the host plants. The eggs turn red after a few days, then turn gray just before they hatch. The young larvae will eat one another. The larva is green with a white stripe running along each side of the body. The white stripes may contain bars or lines of pink or orange. The green chrysalis hangs up right by a silken girdle. Just before eclosion, the chrysalis turns yellow with a pink “zipper”.

#177 Blood Red Russula

Blood Red Russula (Russula rosacea)

19 August

Russula rosacea is a north temperate, some consider it edible other inedible, commonly found mushroom of the large “brittlegill” genus Russula.

The cap is convex when young, later flat, mostly bright cinnabar to carmine red; often with yellow spots and up to 10 cm in diameter. The gills are pale straw-yellow, brittle, and occasionally with a red edge at the rim of the cap. The spores are pale-cream. The stem is usually flushed carmine, but can be pure white. The flesh is hard and bitter tasting. This mushroom is commonly found in coniferous forests or near beech trees.

#176 Ghost Pipes

176 Ghost Pipes (Monotropa uniflora)

22 August

Also known as Indian pipe or corpse plant, is an herbaceous perennial plant native to temperate regions of Asia, North America and northern South America, but with large gaps between areas. The plant is sometimes completely waxy white, but often has black flecks or pale pink coloration. Rare variants may have a deep red color.

It was formerly classified in the family Monotropaceae, but is now included within the Ericaceae. It is of ephemeral occurrence, depending on the right conditions (moisture after a dry period) to appear full grown within a couple of days.

Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, and more specifically a mycoheterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest. It is often associated with beech trees. The complex relationship that allows this plant to grow also makes propagation difficult.

Like most mycoheterotrophic plants, M. uniflora associates with a small range of fungal hosts, all of them members of Russulaceae