I’m a fun guy!

The habit of looking at things microscopically as the lichens on the trees & rocks really prevents my seeing aught else in a walk.—Henry David Thoreau

I should have loved an opportunity to go for a walk in the woods with Thoreau—especially during the winter when my preoccupation with insects no longer restrains my fascination with all things natural. While many entomologists see winter as a break from field work—a time to indulge/suffer (depending on mood) the more mundane curatorial tasks associated with their studies, my time in the field continues uninterrupted with long walks in the woods. Hiking stick replaces insect net. Energy foods replace vials. I still pry bark and flip rocks—I cannot completely ignore the potential to find insects. But I also peer through miniature forests of moss, poke about the mushrooms on a fallen log, and squint at the lichens encrusting a rock. Yes, insect specimens collected during the previous summer still need to be pinned, but there is time for that. There will always be time for that—if not now then in my later years when my ability to scramble through the bush begins to wane. For now, the woods sing their siren song, and I must listen.

Trichaptum biforme (purple tooth) on fallen river birch (Betula nigra) | Reynolds Co., Missouri

Trichaptum biforme on fallen trunk of Betula nigra | Reynolds Co., Missouri

Purple tooth (Trichaptum biforme) on dead red maple (Acer rubrum) | Reynolds Co., Missouri

Trichaptum biforme on fallen branch of Acer rubrum | Reynolds Co., Missouri

Multicolored gilled polypore (Lenzites betulina) on river birch (Betula nigra) stump | Reynolds Co., Missouri

Lensites betulina on dead stump of Betula nigra | Reynolds Co., Missouri

"Gills" distinguish this shelf fungus from turkey tails and other similar types.

“Gills” distinguish this shelf fungus from turkey tails and other similar types.

Cladonia chlorophaea or C. pyxidata on chert-trail | Reynolds Co., Missouri

Cladonia sp. (poss. C. chlorophaea or C. pyxidata) on chert-trail | Reynolds Co., Missouri

(Cladonia pyxidata)

A forest in miniature!

Irpex lacteus? on fallen branch of Acer rubrum | Iron Co., Missouri

Irpex lacteus (?) on fallen branch of Acer rubrum | Iron Co., Missouri

Spores are released from the toothy cap underside

Spores are released from the toothy cap underside

Leucobryum glaucum on forest floor | Reynolds Co., Missouri

Leucobryum glaucum on forest floor | Reynolds Co., Missouri

Postscipt: all photos shown taken on 30 November 2013 while hiking a 7-mile stretch of the Ozark Trail (Karkaghne Section in Reynolds Co. and Middle Fork Section in Iron Co.).

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2014

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
This entry was posted in Fungi, Lichens, _Bryophytes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to I’m a fun guy!

  1. This is great, Ted! Just the kind of thing I want to get into more frequently as well. Now if it were only not -30 deg. C outside at the moment…

  2. Ben Coulter says:

    Great stuff, Ted. Do you have a recommendation for a lichen guide?

  3. Great post, Ted. I like hiking the same trails or visiting the same places in different seasons. There’s something new to see all the time. And without the distractions of insects, or flowers, or leaves, things like fungi and lichens and rocks and bark become so much more visible. Even the changes in shapes of snow and ice in winter. Someday, when I have no other mundane responsibilities, I’d like to spend a year walking the same route every day. 365 different little worlds.

  4. Jeff Weber says:

    it remains 80 deg F down here in south Florida. That means tiger beetles are still evading me on the coast in January and Phanaeus vindex is still getting caught in the pool filter. All that warmth means wood decay continues unabated all year long, so we are always blessed with an abundance of fungi. A morning’s exercise walk yields such gems as jelly ear, lattice stinkhorn, bird’s nest fungus, slime mold, and much more. Most people don’t look, but I spend half the walk snapping cell phone photos so I can debate fungus IDs with my son-in-law, who works for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens. Always an enjoyable pastime. Great photographs, Ted.

    • I don’t know what I would do with 80 °F temps year-round! I already suffer from too many groups of interest—seeing all those cool fungi as well just might cause my brain to finally short circuit… 🙂

      Know any good fungus ID resources? I’ve been using MushroomExpert.com, but you have to kind of already know what you’ve got when using that site.

      • Jeff Weber says:

        I typically use books rather than the Internet when searching for fungus IDs, as they allow easier browsing. “The Book of Fungi,” by Roberts and Evans (University of Chicago Press) covers 600 species with excellent color photography. While not an academic volume, it nearly always gets me to family or genus, and I can use that to refine identifications on-line. The “Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Mushrooms” is also OK, and it’s field-totable.

  5. Well written. Love the Thoreau quote as well. Pretty much explains me. Love the ‘gills’ pic also.

  6. randomtruth says:

    Ah, winter wildflowers. Not mush up in CA yet, since we haven’t had any rain. I think most Mycos call David Arora’s books “Mushrooms Demystified,” and “All the Rain Promises” the gold standards. I find them to be quite good (even though many of the species out west are being reclassified and separated from the eastern species). As you say, Mushroomexpert.com is a good online resource, and we also have the excellent Fungi of CA at MykoWeb.com.

  7. garden98110 says:

    We are fans of lichen, too. Your photographs are artful. But we are especially pleased to find your site preoccupied with a healthy attitude for bugs. Looking forward to further reading. – The Healing Garden gardener


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