Looks like it might be Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica). Your profile doesn't say where you are located, but that would be a helpful piece of info. It's leaves will turn a brilliant red in the fall and the wood has many uses, but i don't know about trying mushrooms in it.
First is a squash i planted on top of one of the hugle berms. It was kinda stunted with the missing June rains, but now that it got a little water, it is taking off.
Next is blue flax (Linum lewisii). This is recommended as a fire suppressing plant because its leaves stay green and lush all through the dry fire season. Like commercially available flax, it has edible seeds (but one source warns that they should be cooked prior to eating). The fibers in the plant are also useful for cordage and string.
Last photo i'm pretty sure is hairy evening-primrose (Oenothera villosa). It looks a little hairier than common evening primrose. The seeds are a good source of GLA. The leaves and root are also edible. It is a biennial, so the roots are probably best harvested the fall of the first year.
I've been noticing a little bit of wet on my legs in the last few mornings. I don't know if we dropped below the dew point or not. This squash has droplets on the leaf margin. They may be dew or guttation droplets. (i did pour some dishwater around the squash the day before) Guess i could taste it and see if i notice any flavor or sweetness.
The second photo is the much vilified spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa). It still has a pretty flower and is great for bees, whether or not the rumors of its allelopathy are true.
Third is harebell (Campanula rotundifolia). Seems like this one just blooms forever. It is able to grow in the worst soils with a strong taproot. Some sources say hummingbirds like it, while others say it's for the bees.
Yes, Burra, you can come berry picking with us! The season should run until the first hard frost, so, we'll not run out.
First photo is skyrocket (Ipomopsis aggregata). It is a great hummingbird plant. I'll have to collect some seed for our future humming bird garden. It also attracts long-tongued moths with a scent that gives it its other name: skunk flower.
Second is Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata). The leaves can be made into a tea. They are also used to flavor root beer and candy. It has some anti-microbial properties and is used to treat urinary tract infections.
The third photo is of a Bird's nest fungus. It is a great decomposer of wood and builder of soil. You can see that some of the eggs have just made it out of the nest. If a raindrop hits it just right, the eggs (which contain the spores) can be flung up to one meter.
Dog vomit slime mold (Fuligo septica). This slime mold looks like a fungus, but it can move around as it looks for bacteria to eat. It has resistance to extremely toxic levels of heavy metals and can chelate them and convert them to inactive forms. I have seen this most often on wood chip mulch.
Red-Belted Conk (Fomitopsis pinicola). This is a brown cubical rot fungus which leaves behind a stable structure in the wood that can act like a northern version of bio-char. It eats the cellulose and leaves behind the lignin. It can attack a weakened tree, but is often found on dead wood. It makes the heartwood soft, which is bad for timber value but results in hollow trees which are home to many animals.
Someone has been eating a lot of pine cones. This stump was about to be buried by a squirrel's discarded pine cone scales.
It's official, I'm a permaculturist! Thanks to Paul Wheaton for hosting the PDC and for making it free for gappers. Thanks to Howard Story for instructing us (along with Jeremy Watts, Jacquline Freeman, Dave Hunter, Zach Weiss, Morgan Bowen, and Josho Somine). Thanks to all my wonderful classmates. Thanks to Jocelyn Campbell, Stuart Hung, and Estar Holmes for all their support work. Thanks to Daniel Bender for the photos.
The ID's on these bugs stumped me, except for the massive beetle.
A crab spider on birchleaf spirea. It is waiting patiently for a pollinator to visit the flowers.
A giant robber fly that caught a wasp by the lemon tree site.
Biking home last night, i heard this beetle on the side of the road. It is a Ten Lined June Beetle (Polyphylla decemlineata). It is probably a female because the males have large antennae used to track the females using pheromones.
Evan was the only one to correctly guess that we don't have emu's here and that it was probably a turkey that left the tracks.
I've a couple pretty certain ID's for some mystery flowers i previously posted.
On the post from 6/16/15 regarding IMG_6423.JPG, i think it is Birchleaf Spirea (Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida). This plant has an extensive root system and spreads via deep rhizomes. Still not sure about the beetle. Penny, i don't think it's the longhorn beetle you mention because it's antennae are all that long. The color pattern is a bit different too. There are so many beetles that usually a small difference in appearance means a different species.
On the post from 6/23/15 regarding IMG_6552.JPG, i think it is Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium). The dogbanes are related to milkweed are similarly poisonous and fiber plants. The fibers from dogbane are supposed to be finer and stronger than the best cotton. It was used for sewing, making twine, nets, fabric and bowstrings. The fiber can be harvested in the fall, but is probably best when the seed pods are forming. It is pollinated by butterflies. When small flies and others with short mouthparts come to steal the pollen, they are trapped by the barbed interior of the flower, and can sometime be found dead on the flower.
Common Saint John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). It has been used to treat depression. There are little black dots along the edges of the petals and leaves which are the source of the medicinal component and responsible for causing photo-sensitivity in animals. One way to ID this plant is that there are many small translucent oil glands in the leaves which give them a perforated appearance, hence the latin name. It has a taproot up to 5 ft deep!
Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria). It has a thin taproot and can grow in the poorest soils. It will reseed itself and dies after a year or two.
Sticky purple geranium (Geranium viscosissimum). The dried and powdered root of this plant has been used to stop bleeding. There is a suspicion that this plant is sticky because it is carnivorous, but studies haven't been conclusive if the plant benefits from the prey it catches.
These little iridescent beetles are all over the St Johns wort but i found this one on some salsify. They were introduced in the 1940's to combat the spread of St John's wort. It worked so well that they erected a monument for it somewhere in California. Hypericin is a chemical in St Johns wort that causes photo-sensitivity in animals. The larvae of this beetle accumulate hypericin. This makes them sensitive to the light and they only feed at night. The wing covers (elytra) of the adult beetles block light from affecting them. If they fly during the day they will become poisoned from the hypericin when their wing covers move out of the way, so they only fly if they are at risk of starvation.
This colorful little guy was on a grand collomia.
The paper wasps (genus Polistes) were found under a low rock. They are beneficial predators.
The salsify (Tragopogon dubius) is putting out its parachutes and searching for spots where the soil needs a little help. I've been collecting the seeds to plant next spring. Plant the seeds as early as the ground can be worked. Harvest the taproot in the fall after the first frost. Young leaves and shoots can be eaten in the spring either raw or cooked.
I took out a few jars from the sauerkraut crock to put in the fridge. It has a nice flavor, but i left a bit going to see how it will taste as it continues to ferment.
The Nodding onion (Allium cernuum) has started blooming. The leaves kind of blend in and you don't really know they are around until they send up their flower head. It has a strong onion flavor and a pretty small bulb. It probably is best used as a flavoring in soups. When planted in the garden it is said to repel insects and moles. It will divide its bulbs and grows easily from seed. I'll be collecting some seed when it ripens so i can spread it around the Lab.
All of today's pictures are of Common Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium). This is a low growing weed with some pretty awesome seeds. As the seeds dry out they twist to form a spiral on their tail. The seed can be moved by wind or animals. When on the ground changes in humidity (dew) can cause the spiral to unwind and drive the seed into the ground. This plant was growing in the middle of a little used road at basecamp. It grows with a taproot. The leaves are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked and the root can be chewed like gum. The leaves when dried and ground have been mixed with watermelon seeds during storage and planting in order to prevent watermelon diseases.
Jacqueline Freeman and Dave Hunter came as guest instructors for the PDC today! After the classes today i saw three different native bees. They were all foraging on sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta). The ones here all seem to have palmate leaves with 7 leaflets, but some varieties have 5 leaflets. Some sources say it has a long tap root, while others say it has a short branching taproot. According to this source "The fruit of sulphur cinquefoil is edible, raw or cooked. The unripe fruit is reportedly almost as pleasant as the fully ripe fruit." It should be ready to eat soon.
First is a photo of what looks like Narrowleaf collomia (Collomia linearis).
Second, these pink flowers are showing up all over the Lab. Not sure what they are.
Last, I found an eyed click beetle (Alaus melanops) near wofati 0.7. The larvae of these beetles feed on the larvae of wood boring beetles. If they end up on their back or you handle them, they snap their body to flip over or escape, making a clicking noise.
I think the Wi-fi is a bit overwhelmed with all the people here for the PDC. It took me a few days to get this post up.
Looking at the side of an old stump, i first thought i found some weird scat in an unusual place. When i looked further, i found it was a fungus or slime mold. Some had cracked open and dark brown spores were pouring out.
Near wofati 0.8 i thought i found a mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii), but it was blooming later than the ones at basecamp. It had bigger flowers with more pointy petals. Maybe it is just a different variety? It sure smells like mock orange.
Every day there are new flowers blooming. Now the sunflowers have started. I think this is just plain old Helianthus annuus, but there are six native sunflowers to Montana and they hybridize readily.
Today's post is all about Wormleaf Stonecrop aka Narrow-leaved Sedum (Sedum stenopetalum). I found this little sedum growing on some pretty rocky road cuts. First i saw the flowers. Then i noticed it had succulent leaves and found a little rosette. Last, i noticed some had gone to seed. I collected a few seed pods. Each pod was a little smaller than a coriander seed and when i opened them they had three brown seeds a little smaller than a sesame seed. After collecting some seed from, i noticed i found a little unidentified beetle had come along for the ride. There are SO many beetles it is always hard to figure out which ones i've found.
The leaves, stem, and flowers of this plant are edible. Apparently the leaves and stem are quite acidic and should only be eaten in small quantities. The flowers are supposed to be a good addition to pickles. I'll have to try it and see what happens.
Cam, I'm taking some photos and all videos on my iphone 5. The really close up shots are on my canon 30d with a 100mm macro lens on it. My normal lens (24-105) is off for repairs, but i hope to soon be taking photos with that again. (i guess bouncing around in the woods is hard on this equipment.) The iphone camera has really limited settings and i can't seems to get it to focus on close things i want without changing the exposure. Someday i'll add a wide angle lens to my collection, but right now i don't have an extra $1500 lying around.
Julia, are you talking about the medicinal properties of comfrey, or an earlier post with other leaves?
The first photo is of Common Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris). It is an unusual mint that is not aromatic, but has the typical opposite leaves and square stem of mints. It is said to have many medicinal properties.
The mullein is starting to bloom. When i looked close i noticed some Mullein Seed-Eating Weevil (Gymnetron tetrum). The larvae of these weevils can eat all of the seeds in a particular pod but usually only eat about half of the seeds the plant produces. That's ok, because mullein can produce as many as 175,000 seeds on one plant, and they are viable for up to 100 years.
The last photo is another mystery. Anyone recognize it? It has pretty distinct leaves and the backs of the petals are a little fuzzy.
Wow! Thanks to the daily-ish bump i got 1000 views in a day!
Evan thought i should post an oil change picture as a good juxtaposition to all the nature photos. This was while my hand was still clean. The filter wouldn't budge. That wrench didn't work. The new gapper Josh gave me his belt to try. It broke. Then i impaled it with a screwdriver. The sidewall was too thin and it just tore a channel. Finally after banging on it with a cold chisel (don't worry, i didn't ruin your wood chisel Paul) for too long, it started to move. At least this time, the DIY oil change was not worth it.
Next is maybe a Black tailed bee fly (Bombylius major) on what looks like Nettleleaf horsemint (agastache urticifolia). The bee fly is an excellent pollinator. The only problem is they tend to fling their eggs into the burrows of solitary bees (and some beetles). When their young hatch, they eat the bee larva, then they eat whatever food was left for them. These guys were all over this mint and they seem to love the daikon blooms as well.
Next is a mystery beetle on a mystery blossom. Any ideas?
Thanks everyone for your ID help (and compliments)! What an amazing resource this community of knowledgeable people is! Just to be sure if that old photo was comfrey or borage, i've taken three more pictures of the exact same plant. It is planted in one of the hugle berms at basecamp. It was identified to me as comfrey and it looks like the plant we had in MN that my friend called comfrey. Hope this makes it clear one way or the other.
A Lorquin's Admiral (Limenitis lorquini) butterfly found it's way into wofati 0.7 and stayed on the kitchen window a while until i moved it outside. Wikipedia claims these butterflies are territorial and attack trespassers (including large birds), but i can't see how a butterfly attacks anything.
Assassin bugs are normally beneficial insects, but this one caught a native bee that came to this oxeye daisy.
I found a bunch of blooming blanket flowers (Gaillardia aristata) today. It is a perennial and it was growing in a pretty dry area. Some Plateau Indian tribes used it to treat fevers and wounds.
I started this thread to post the photos from the two game cams set up on the labs. Other people can also post their finds here. Sorry the date/timestamp was wrong when i first retrieved the memory. I've since corrected it. I also adjusted the camera placement, so maybe the shots will be a little clearer.
There is a coyote slinking away, a deer browsing and a crow just hanging out.
Next is a cicada exoskeleton. I saw several holes in the ground and several exoskeletons attached to grass and shrubs.
Ernie and Erica Wisner are visiting Wheaton Labs (along with Francesco from Italy). Today Ernie worked on a 4" J-tube with a cast core that he hopes to perfect for heat and hot water systems for boats and tiny houses. It overloaded the IR thermometer that Francesco had (maxed out at 1300 Celsius), so we don't know how hot it got.
It spreads very easily from seed. At the tips of those stems a little cone will form. When you break it off, you will see it is full of tiny black seeds. Scatter them around and next year you will have tons more purslane.
In our garden in Minnesota it seemed to act as a good ground cover, and didn't seem to compete much with the other plants.
I haven't seen any growing here at Wheaton Labs, so if someone has tons of extra seed, please send us some and I'll be sure to sow it.
The first picture looks kind of like kingdevil hawkweed, but i'm leaning towards two-flowered dwarf-dandelion (Krigia biflora). I didn't take a picture of the leaves, so i can't be sure.
I was seeding some of the hillside above basecamp and i found a large mound from thatching ants. I didn't get close enough to see if it was the Western thatching ant (Formica obscuripes) or the less common Formica montana which only occasionally thatches (a close approach often results in painful regret, as they will fiercely defend their nest). The raised mound allows the ants to collect solar energy and warm the mound during colder months. The large amount of organic matter helps them maintain temperature and humidity. These ants (especially their larvae) are a favorite food of bears and pileated wood peckers. Besides a bite these ants also spray formic acid at attackers. This painful combination is enough to drive away a bear after a short while. These ants will scavenge dead insects but are also know for farming aphids for honeydew. Around mid-June the new queens and drones will emerge from the nest (both with wings) by the thousands. They will fly away to mate (after which the males die) and form new colonies.
Last is the Large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora). This plant is in the phlox family. It has blue pollen, which explains the blue bees i saw returning to the hive at the teepee.
I found what looks like California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Wikipedia says they don't overwinter in cold climates. But this one has such lush growth, i think it must have had some roots in the ground to get an early start. Don't know if an earlier gapper planted these, because we are outside of it usual range, but i've seen several around the Lab.
Lastly, some foothill death camas (Toxicoscordion paniculatum). Reportedly, livestock generally avoid this plant as it is unpalatable. Sounds like they might use it occasionally to self medicate, like Sepp Holzer suggests. So this can be one of many poisonous plants in the paddocks here. Native peoples used it externally to treat bruises, sprains, and boils. I guess most bees (except some specialists) avoid it because of the toxicity of the pollen.
One final (maybe) picture of some ichneumon wasps. It is an action shot of the Megarhyssa nortoni. At first i thought they might be mating, but when i looked closer, i could see that they were both drilling their ovipositors into the dead tree at different angles. There must have been a good batch of larvae in there and they both wanted that spot.
The second photo is some short lived mushrooms that are probably Parasola plicatilis. They work hard breaking down dead plant matter in the soil. When it rains they show up the next day and don't stay long. They melt and their inky spores are spread.
The last photo is of a bunchberry (Cornus canadensis). The leaves and flowers might remind you of dogwood, and that's because they're related and are in the same genus. They like to grow in a moist area near a rotten log or stump. Maybe with all the hugles going in, we'll be seeing a lot more of these. I'll try and get another photo when the edible berries show up, and i just might stick some of their seeds into a hugle and see how they do. Bunchberries have one of the fastest known plant actions. When a pollinator shows up and moves the petals about, a springy filament is released. This throws the pollen incredibly fast and the pollen grain experiences two or three thousand times the force of gravity.
Yes, Rebecca, i believe you are right! That looks like Hyoscyamus niger to me. I had wondered if it was a nightshade. Seed pods have started forming since i took that photo and they look like the ones in that article. I don't think i'll be adding that to any potions. Thanks!
Today i have a spider i spotted as i stooped to plant a seed next to some sunchokes. That spider was hanging out on last years stalk. During lunch i found two more ichneumon wasps. It must be the season to lay your eggs in a tree boring parasite. When i took the last photo she was cleaning herself. It looked almost like yoga at times as she passed her legs over all of her body and wings. I didn't have luck finding out any of the species today. Maybe i need a bug book too? Either way, it's nice to see all the diversity here at the Labs.