June 16, 2012

Ironville Ramble

Indian Pipe plant
I’m having a great year so far for seeing natural wonders I’ve only read about previously.  Today I saw the elusive Indian Pipe, aka Corpse Plant, aka Ghost Plant, Monotropa unifloraIt’s not a fungus, as it may appear at first sight, but a heterotrophic, or non-photosynthetic flowering plant in the same family as blueberries.  It’s parasitic on particular fungi, and these fungi are mycorrhizal with photosynthetic trees.  A fascinating life cycle, and a very handsomely marked plant.  There were several clumps of them:
Corpse plant, Monotropa uniflora
We had a great ramble around the countryside today, without having to drive anywhere first.  We are fortunate that the area around our hamlet, Ironville, has lots of back roads and small parks to explore.  June is busting out all over, and there were lots of common and uncommon wonders to behold.  The milkweed is starting to bloom, and attract bees:
Milkweed blossom
The last of the  wild white mulberries were eagerly eaten and savored:
White mulberries
The wild wineberry crop looks promising.  They have a distinctive sticky calyx, which will soon open and disclose the berries.  These are one my favorites, and I’ll need to check back soon:

Wild wineberries
The wild blackberries are also coming along, but none were ripe enough quite yet:
Wild blackberries
But we hit the jackpot with the wild black raspberries.  There were plenty-- I almost had my fill, if such a thing is possible--and there are more coming.
Wild black raspberries
One of the neighbors has a small menagerie on their property, and they allow visitors to say hello to the animals.  There’s a nice variety of poultry, a few sheep, and a goat with a bit of an attitude:
The also have a beautiful little miniature horse, who thought that surely I must have a carrot on me.  (Note to self--next time, carry carrots.)
Further along along the road is Danny’s abode.  I’ve written about Danny before.  He was abandoned some years ago, then rescued and provided with a shed and a bit of land to roam about.  His shed sports this sign, which is good advice for all of us fortunate enough to have food, water, and shelter:
Today, someone passing had provided apple and carrot treats for Danny, which he was happily and greedily devouring, with a wary eye on me lest I should try and share it.  Danny has a pretty good gig.
Danny the sheep
Along the verge we spotted wild yarrow:
Wild yarrow
And lots of chicory plants in bloom; this one attracted a small bee:
Chicory flower
Here’s a mayapple.  It’s a spring ephemeral, so the foliage is fading, and the “apple” is ripening. 
Mayapple leaf and fruit
I used a cyanotype print of a mayapple leaf in my Deer and Mayapple art quilt:
"Deer and Mayapple"
We saw lots of tall blue lettuce, about 5 feet high at this point and setting flower buds:
Tall Blue Lettuce leaves and flower buds
This is another plant that has found its way into my artwork, in my Tall Blue Lettuce quilt.  I have a weak spot for anything with big leaves:
"Tall Blue Lettuce"
I got a great shot of what appeared to be an unusual bee (all photos enlarge when clicked).  It’s actually a syrphid fly, aka hover fly, aka bee mimic.  The distinguishing features are the single pair of wings (bees have two), the truncated antenna, and the lack of pollen pouches.  It’s a fine example of Batesian mimicry:
Syrphid fly
The ubiquitous tawny daylilies were in full bloom:
Tawny daylily
As was the mullein, Verbascum thapsus, with its tall yellow flower spikes borne on second-year plants:
Mullein flowers
So many wonders on a six mile walk near home!  You know it’s been a good morning when your hands are stained with wild berry juice:

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