urbpan: (dandelion)
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I haven't dumped the pics from one of my since January. Here are some winter shots. First, Exidia recisa, one of the few mushrooms of winter, here shown slightly frozen.

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Some moss, carefully manicured in the cracks between some sidewalk slabs.

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One of the urban field markings of European beech is that it usually bears some graffiti. Usually it's initials carved in the smooth bark, so this is a nice variant.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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What is that group of people doing, way down the concrete slope, sitting at the edge of the water?

Read more... )
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The Longwood Medical Area.
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Hey my laptop stopped working quite suddenly a week ago!

Not to worry, I just got it back, and all it cost was the equivalent of two of the competitor's laptops. Not that I'm bitter.

Anyway, if you have missed the world of urban nature, I highly recommend you check out Your Wild City a new webcomic by Rosemary Mosco of Bird and Moon comics and Maris Wicks of Human Body Theater.

Hooray for science and nature comics!
urbpan: (dandelion)
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Until I'm scolded to the contrary, I'm going to call these Reishi mushrooms, which used to have the scientific name Ganoderma lucidum. The species is being split into many, due to dna and geography. These are growing from a hardwood stump in the pavement behind Stone's Public House, a haunted inn, in Ashland Mass. The pub is a lovely old place, built in 1834 to take advantage of the new rail line through the little town. I'd love to return for a night visit to see if anything spooky happens.
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"Warm" meaning "above 32F."

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A non-native invasive species, but a source of color at the black chain-link gate. The fruit of the tomato relative bittersweet nightshade Solanum dulcamara.

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Just a few feet away, the fruit of the fungus Exidia recisa, having weakened the wood of an overhead branch, has fallen with its food to the ground. There is no accepted common name for this mushroom, but I like "winter jelly" or maybe "willow jelly" since it's one of the only mushrooms common in winter, and it mostly feeds on willow branches.
urbpan: (dandelion)
My friend Lila sent me (and others, obviously) this email:

Dear Bloggers, Tweeters, and Urban Naturalists,

On behalf of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, I’d like to thank you for your hard work transforming our barren urban landscapes into biodiverse ecological sites and getting other people turned on to them. I’ve been watching and admiring your work through your blogs and tweets and you have inspired the Museum towards completion of our 3½ acre Nature Gardens, Nature Lab and Citizen Science initiatives.

We’ve entered our latest Citizen Science initative, dubbed the NHM Urban Safari, into a competition called LA 2050.

Take a moment to imagine what L.A. could be like in 2050 if everyone in our city helped to study the AMAZING and AWESOME wildlife that lives here! School children would be studying wildlife in their own school yards, which would also be a safe places to play. Families all over the city would have planted habitat and documented the return of all 500 native bees. Hikers would have trekked all over Griffith Park and discovered and documented rare species which we thought were lost. Kayakers would be floating down our beautiful river and snapping pictures of the birds, dragonflies, and frogs they see. Finally, visitors to our fine city won’t just be coming for a Hollywood starlet sighting, they’ll also be coming to experience nature in this biodiversity hotspot. Wow!

Please take a few moments to click the link below, register with the GOOD Maker website, follow the instructions and vote for the NHM Urban Safari. If we win we will receive a $100,000 grant from the Goldhirsch Foundation

Watch our video to learn more about the project and then I hope you are inspired to cast your vote. http://myla2050.maker.good.is/projects/urbansafari

- - - - -
She's clearly dedicated to helping transform Los Angeles into the kind of city I wish they all could be: vibrant cultural hubs that contain strong biodiverse open spaces. Please click that link and vote for her project!

In related news, my friend Alex drew my attention to a study confirming that the presence of shrubbery in an area of a given city is correlated with a lower crime rate. The most compelling (least provable) theory as to why this is so: "the presence of vegetation reduces mental fatigue and irritability, which can be the precursors to violent crime."

http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/04/urban-planners-may-cry-bring-us-a-shrubbery-to-deter-crime/
urbpan: (dandelion)
You know, I said a little while ago that I should make a special website or other media project that collects all the mushrooms commonly found in human-impacted and human created ecosystems. Something like http://urbanmushrooms.com/ which, as it turns out, already exists. It's not perfect (found some obsolete synonyms in use there) but it is exactly what I was thinking of doing. Not that I can't do the same thing in my own style, but I thought you should know it's there.


So, speaking of which, here is a mushroom found only indoors--at least in temperate zones. This is a tropical species, Leucocoprinus birnbaumii which has found its way into the highly fragmented yet consistent ecosystem of greenhouses and house plants. This fruiting appeared in one of the planters in the Tropical Forest exhibit at Franklin Park Zoo (in a place not visible to the public nor accessible by the animals, in the giant anteater exhibit). A zookeeper friend (perhaps one seen here earlier, pointing her lips at a beetle grub) brought it to my attention, as I am becoming known as "the mushroom guy" around work.

As luck would have it, I had seen photos of the mushroom online the week before--a gardener found it in his potted pepper plant and was posting it concerned that it would harm his peppers or transfers poisons to them. (By the way, the answer is no to both. Mushrooms coming from the soil near a plant are almost always beneficial or neutral to the plant--parasites usually grow directly from the visible plant tissue. Poisonous mushrooms don't imbue their neighbors with poisonous essence--if anything, they are more likely to remove poisons from the nearby soil.)

This fascinating adaptation to the great indoors is paralleled by many small tropical animal species as well as tropical microbes. There are studies being done as we speak comparing the indoor wildlife of households in different parts of the world. I look forward to seeing the results of these studies--what do we all share, what's unique to one place or another. This mushroom is one of only two mushrooms I am aware of that is primarily found indoors, at least through much of its range.


A freshly emerged Leucocoprinus button. Common names for this mushroom boil down to some combination of "yellow," "potted plant," and "parasol."

This mushroom is dainty and beautiful, and resembles mushrooms in the Coprinus group, most of which are edible. This species is not edible to humans, causing some gastric distress. Its edibility to anteaters is not known to be, but fortunately they were growing out of his reach.
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Garden of Art, a small open space on Parker Street on Mission Hill. It's directly across the street from the tiny Franciscan monastery. There's very little information about the Garden online, but it appears to be maintained by cooperating groups including local colleges, elementary schools, and Shawmut Springs Church.





It looks like it would be a wonderfully lively place in the non-winter months; I'll have to pay a return visit.
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Urban Harvest Moon.


Earlier that evening in Boston.
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Alexis amid the sunflowers and phragmites. I took a very similar picture almost exactly one year ago.


This polypore was growing on the dirt nearby. Hidden in the soil is the wood of a long-dead tree. If the tree was a broadleaf, this mushroom is Ganoderma lucidum; if it was a conifer, the mushroom is G. tsugae.
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This is one of the Amanitas growing in mulch , from this photograph. I was confused, since Amanitas are all mycorrhizal, growing in symbiosis with tree roots. Most of the time you see mushrooms in mulch, they are produced by a fungus that is consuming the mulch. I consulted the experts, one of whom wanted to know if the mushroom had a volva (the remains of the veil that encapsulated the mushroom when it was young) on the base. I dug it out and took this picture. It has a volva, and also has rhizomorphs: threads of rootlike mycelium coming from the base. Amanita rubescens, or a close relative, was the consensus.

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