Falling Ears

We have many old trees on our property. One of my chores is to pick up the fallen sticks. This isn’t as boring as it sounds. Sticks have many tenants on board as they die and fall back to earth.

Gravity alone does not purge trees of their dead branches. Other forces are also at work.

Dead wood is dead weight, but not usually heavy enough on its own to break off of the tree.

Fungal spores are airborne specks that land on everything. If there is enough moisture and nutrients, these spores sprout and grow to become mushrooms and bracket fungi.

The most abundant passengers I find on the downed sticks during the winter months are jelly ears/ Auricularia auricula-judae.

Jelly Ear / Auricularia auricula-judae

These brown, ear-shaped forms are cold and rubbery on the outside and slimy on the inside. The top side acts like a cup to hold rain until it can be absorbed.

The ears grow in clusters and get large and heavy by winter from the fall rains.

I try to remember to wear gloves as I pick up sticks, so as not to get the jelly from an ear on my hands.

Bigger ears and more ears mean more weight. That is what brings the dead branches down.

Do not blame the ears. The jelly ears and gravity are just doing their jobs to bring down the wood to be recycled back into the soil.

These are edible, but eating an ear does not appeal to me. How about you?


Rain down ‘Shrooms up

We have had many bouts of rain these past two weeks. My gardens have been watered.

I enjoy having the extra bit of time to mushroom hunt.

All these mushrooms are in my yard today.

I wish I knew all their names.

I love the various shapes and colors.

Notice that some have been nibbled on.

Enjoy the mosaic. Click on any you want to enlarge.

Tree of Life Two

I have found another Tree of Life located not far from the first.

Both are ancient sugar maples near a walking path that I frequent.

There is a variety of fungi tucked in its nooks and crannies.

The bark surface is covered with moss and lichens.

The mushrooms came and went each day.

My next post will be about Tree of Life One.

It is further along in the cycle of death and life.

FLOW and Ebb

Life on a Limb

Zeta threw down a lot of limbs last week.

It is always interesting to look at what has taken up residence on the dead wood of a tree.

These life forms get heavy with rain, then the wind stresses the limb to the point that gravity wins.

Here is a limb full of life.

It is covered with fungi and lichen.

The fungi here is called a jelly.

The lichens are grouped by their form.

They can be crustose, foliose of fruticose depending on whether they appear crusty, leafy of fruity.

If you would like to learn more, use the link below.



A Message from the Fairies

I have been ignoring the fairies.

My mind has been on the pandemic, politics and bereavement.

To tell the truth, I was thinking all good magic had left the Earth.

As one of my friends puts it, “The Force has been disturbed.”

So I was pleased to find this purple mushroom

strategically placed by our trail in the mountains

where we would be sure to see it as we passed.

I have never seen the purple mushroom, ‘Viscid Violet Cort’,

so I knew immediately that it was from the fairies.

They have houses here in the mountains also, made of moss and stone.

They were letting me know all is not lost.

I was not sure if I was supposed to eat this message after seeing it,

so I left it to spread its spores.

Maybe next fall I will find a family of purple Cortinarius indes among the detritus of this terrible 2020.

My heart goes out to the fairies.

Take heart folks. There is still some good magic amongst us.



Cute Button

This darling little button looks good enough to eat.

Not a good idea though.

It’s an Amanita muscaria, Fly Agaric  mushroom button.

In the past, it was mixed with milk to drug houseflies.

Don’t count on our North American species to produce visions.

Eating this will produce sweating and dilirium.

Eye candy only.  It’s poisonous.



Two Brackets

During my wanderings, two brackets were discovered.

One up a tree 

and one on an old stump.

Both on wood, one wood living

the other dead.

The white on was high up in a tree. 

The brown one was low to the ground hidden by weeds.

The white one looked new, clean and pristine.

The brown  bracket looked old, dirty, and weather worn.

One seemed heavenly,

the other earthly.


Magical Mushrooms

We have had quite a bit of rain in my part of North Carolina.

We delayed our mountain trip by a day due to more rain.

All that moisture creates the perfect conditions for fungi.


I did not take along my usual camera, so these are from my phone. My shoe is in photos for scale.

At first my daughter got irritated with our stopping for mushrooms.


By the end of the day she was pointing them out to me.

There were hundreds of different types and thousands of them.

Some tiny and others giant. This white one was a foot tall.


It was absolutely magical.

We crested a hill to see thousands of these little orange mushrooms


scattered on both sides of the road.

It was a glorious day.

Rain is a good thing!


Another Slimy Spring

A visitor sneaked into the bunny yard last night.

I spotted it this morning,  all fluffy and puffy.

It’s the ‘Same Old Slime Mold.’

This is the third spring it has visited this spot.

It must reside under the soil here and emerge when the conditions are right.

I think it is beautiful.

It will not last long. It will be brown and stringy by nightfall.

But for now, I will enjoy this lovely fungal flower.