Woods, Mushrooms, a Flower & Wild Edibles

Our woods

Our woods

Today Ron took Sunny and Sheba to the groomer, so I had several hours to myself.  I decided to check out the woods to see what discoveries awaited me.

Some of these photos were taken in the woods.  Some were in the transition area between the woods and our yard.  And some of them are from our yard…. which has plenty of weeds growing in the lawn!  I like it that way!  🙂

Just beautiful!  I think it's a moss of some kind.

Just beautiful! I think it’s a moss of some kind.

Little brown mushrooms.

Little brown mushrooms.

More lbms (little brown mushrooms)

More lbms (little brown mushrooms)

Little white mushrooms.  Not edible.

Little white mushrooms. Not edible.

Berries the birds missed

Berries the birds missed

Greenbrier thorns.  Not fun to walk through!

Greenbrier thorns. Not fun to walk through!

Small greenbrier

Small greenbrier

Lichen

Lichen

Moss on fallen log

Moss on fallen log

A russula, I think

A russula, I think

A periwinkle -- perennial vinca.  One lone bloom was all I found.

A periwinkle — perennial vinca. One lone bloom was all I found.

Bracken.  Last years dead leaves show where edible fiddleheads will come up in spring

Bracken. Last years dead leaves show where edible fiddleheads will come up in spring

Tender, tasty chickweed

Tender, tasty chickweed

Two more edibles --field garlic and henbit

Two more edibles –field garlic and henbit

Wild strawberry leaves make a nutritious tea

Wild strawberry leaves make a nutritious tea

Edible suillus.  Before cooking, peel off the slimy cuticle to avoid digestive upset.  The white flesh is a decent edible.

Edible suillus. Before cooking, peel off the slimy cuticle to avoid digestive upset. The white flesh is a decent edible.

The pore surface of the suillus

The pore surface of the suillus

Just a pretty picture

Just a pretty picture

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Sweet Wildflower Tonic

Stars of Bethlehem

I was feeling down today so took a walk to lift my spirits.  As usual, the stunning natural beauty that surrounds our property was the tonic that my spirit needed.

I first learned to identify Star of Bethlehem when I seriously studied wild edible plants.  I knew them then as poisonous plants to be avoided.  But now, I see them as little white gems of exquisite beauty.

I learned to identify Venus Looking Glass one year as I puzzled over the  weeds

Venus looking glass. On edit — these are misidentified. A blog reader gave me the correct ID. They are common vetch. Still gorgeous, though. 🙂

with purple flowers that ran rampant in my square foot gardens in early spring.  Now I treasure them as a gift before vegetable garden planting season begins. (On edit, I misidentified these flowers.  See photo caption.)

Little bluets delight me.  They are so small that they are easily missed unless your eyes are open to the tiny wonders under your feet.

I am not sure what the little purple flowers on tall stalks are.  They have always grown everywhere I’ve lived since I was a child, but it occurs to me that I have neglected to learn their name.   I will do a search and try to discover their secret.

Sweet little bluets, almost hidden underfoot

And dandelions.  When I lived in condos and apartments and houses in town, they were an eyesore and a blot on unbroken green, manicured lawns.  Then, in my edible plant studies, I discovered what a marvel they truly are.  Since then I have been fascinated by their intricate, enduring beauty.

I think age has also softened my perspective on what a wonder these precious little weeds are.

I need to learn this little treasure’s name. [on edit, a commenter has identified these as toadflax, possibly blue toadflax. Thanks, Kara!]

The greatly underappreciated, marvelous little dandelion

The endlessly fascinating little puffball that promises the next generation of dandelions. 🙂

Country Road & Beaver Dam

Down my rural lane

My country road

Late yesterday afternoon Ron and I took a walk to check out the beaver pond about 3/4 mile from our house.

Wild carrots grow all along the road.  They fascinate me.  Such intricate clustered white flowers — each one with one tiny purple flower in the very center.  I used to enjoy dipping the flowers in batter and frying them for an unusual treat.  But since I’m trying to eat wiser, I just admired the flowers this time.

wild carrot flower

Wild carrot flower

But even more interesting than the flowers is the birds-nest form the flowers take on as they go to seed.  At first, it looks just like a cupped birds nest, but they progress into a completely closed cage-like formation.

Funny…. when I was younger I thought studying plants was the most boring thing on earth.  Now I find it endlessly fascinating.

The wild daylilies blooming season is past.  I found one single flower remaining.  The rest of them look like straggly bunches of grass now.  I used to thoroughly enjoy fully exploiting the edible parts… corms, shoots and flowers.  But it has been so hot this year, I haven’t had much desire to go digging in the dusty clay or bushwhacking through tall weeds to get to them.

wild carrot flower birds nest

Wild carrot birdsnest fully closed

I think, too, once you have learned a plant and its uses, that simply taking photographs can be as rewarding as eating them.

When we got to the beaver pond, we were disappointed and saddened.  The water is WAY down.  And it looks like someone sabotaged the dam.  There were large rocks on top of it that someone must have put there.  And the dam had fallen into disrepair.  I am afraid that something happened to the beavers.

beaver dam

Due to the low water level, grasses and weeds are growing, and the dam appears to be abandoned and in disrepair.

We did get a good bit of rain last night, so the water level might be up a little.  I’ll check the dam again soon and see if it has been repaired.

On our way down to the pond, one of the neighbors’ aggressive dogs ran out and accosted us.   I am not usually afraid of dogs, but this time I was really frightened.  One of the owners’ kids came out, gathered up the dogs, and assured me, “They won’t bite you.”  Yeah, right.

They are supposed to be fenced or chained, but no one enforces the laws out here.  On our way back, again the dogs came out at us, but the kids rounded them up again.

daylily flower

The one remaining daylily bloom

I used to enjoy taking long walks, but I am feeling less and less safe.  The only place I really enjoy walking anymore are the trails when we go camping.  It’s so sad, because I do live in a beautiful area with so much to take in on long, leisurely walks.

Whew!  This post is getting long!  I’ll quit talking now and just share some of the photos I took.

[Note 8/8/2010:  The beaver dam is in complete disrepair.  Apparently someone killed the beavers.]

erosion and tree roots

This eroded tree root by the side of the road looks like something out of "The Hobbit"

groundnuts

Groundnuts plant

wild quinine

Wild quinine

wild carrots by beaver pond

Wild carrots by the beaver pond

red clover

Red clover looking a little heat stressed

buttonbush

Not a great picture, but I included it because it is the first time I have seen buttonbush flowers growing here.