Since Joining the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Society last year, I have had the privilege of attending educational meetings and foreys in the many forested parks around the city which have opened up a new world of the diversity and abundance of mushrooms. A word of caution, you should always have your mushrooms examined by an experienced identifier or Mycologist. Some mushrooms, as we all know, can make you very sick and in some cases can be deadly. It takes time, study and dedication to learn to identify and differentiate the choice edibles from the poisonous and deadly species.
Aptly named, this mushroom tasted like chicken, really! I have tried it on its own tossed in a hot pan with butter, in a vegetable stir fry or a creamy soup. All delicious!
This beauty was at least eight inches in diameter. Harvested for educational purposes only, it was an impressive specimen. Deadly.
I found this specimen in my own back yard! Red Reishi Turns out to be quite rare and prized for its many medicinal properties. It has been used for millennia to fight decease and boost the immune system.
These are just a few of the many specimens found and collected on our forays. I have enjoyed many Chanterelle dishes in the past weeks so excited to find them, I forgot to get a photo! The benefits of mushrooms are many but going out into the woods have the added reward or being in the outdoors exploring another aspect of nature. If this interest you, follow the link to the Mushroom Club above and join us at the next meeting or foray.
“Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health.” Paul Stamets
Hillary Sardiñas will reveal to you amazing facts of the hidden world and habits of our native pollinator bees. She has a PhD from UC Berkely in Pollination Ecology and specialties in Restoration Ecology, Agrobiodiversity, Habitat Restoration and Bee Conservation. With an easy pleasant manner and in great detail, she describes the habits and challenges that our native bees face in today’s agricultural world and what we can do to protect them. I came across this insightful podcast in Delicious Revolution, a podcast about food, where it comes from, and the many specialists involved in getting it to us. It is reassuring to me to know that so many brilliant young people are actively advocating for our environment and food safety.
“We think we can make honey without sharing in the fate of bees, but we are in truth nothing but poor bees, destined to accomplish our task and then die.”
― Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Stepping out into the vast forests of Southern Ontario invokes a sense of the magnificence and resilience of the Northern forest trees. Here, on this island in Algonquin Park, where a fire cleared out all vegetation in the mid 1930’s, towering shapes of White Pine or Pinus strobus, form the most striking feature in the landscape. These trees can grow up to 80′ in height towering over the forest canopy and can live over 300 years.
Kayaking along the shore of these glacial lakes, one of the most prevalent tree is the Eastern White Cedar or Thuja occidentalis. They favor impossible sites at the water’s edge, practically growing out of huge boulders in all sorts of contorted areal configurations.
This example is by no means unusual on lakes all over Ontario. some trunks extend twenty to thirty feet out to hold their canopies over the water and providing a very unique habitat for fish and other aquatic life who seek out the shade and refuge the massive fronds provide.
I spotted this Hemlock or Tsuga canadensis, about fifty feet in height, growing out of this boulder in one of my hikes. That entire root system covered and area approximately twenty feet around. The oldest living Hemlock in Algonquin Park has been documented to be 454 years old!
When traveling to these Northern woods I am awed by the power of the natural world. To see these giant trees surviving against all odds though harsh winters, scalding summers, fending off the onslaught of insect armies and then, providing wildlife with food and shelter! They are rooted in place like giant sentinels towering over the forest. Then one day, inevitably, they will relinquish their story and riches to start anew upon the forest floor.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir
Posted in Biodiversity, Nature, Uncategorized
Tagged Algonquin Park, Biodiversity, Eastern White Cedar, Hemlock, Hiking, Pinus strobus, Southern Ontario Forest, Thuja occidentalis, Tsuga canadensis, White Pine
Many of us ask ourselves this question at different points in our lives. But when, I ask myself, did I become passionate about plants? And at what point did that passion morph into a love affair with Nature and the environment?
I am passionate about plants. It started as a hobby, planting a few things here and there, keeping more and more house plants and then soon realizing that my happiest moments were outside, gardening. All this as I held a demanding full time job in retail management. And all of it in a span of thirty some years. So when I retired, eight years ago, I enrolled in a Master Gardeners program. I felt I wanted more, so I continued and earned a Certification in Horticulture and Landscape Design. I started my blog in April of 2009. I have posted close to ninety six blogs on all different subjects.
As to the Why I am here: The more I garden and write, the more I have come to realize that, as a gardener, I have also a duty, a responsibility to be mindful of the environment and of all the creatures that make this patch of land their home. I come across them all the time, toads and frogs, garter snakes, salamanders under rocks and a myriad of insects and birds that call my garden home. I have come to realize that my actions in the landscape affect their survival and the future of their progeny. It has become my mission to create a integrated pest control system in my landscape that nurtures not just the plants, but also all the creatures that are part of that habitat. It is also my duty to share all I have learned with those who are seeking the knowledge.
“We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”