Friday, October 9, 2009

October: "At This Time"

In the Sooke Hills the Licorice Fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza is revived with the moist fall air. The fronds sprout from a horizontal root-like rhizome running under the moss. Take a segment of this rhizome on your tongue and you can taste the intense licorice flavour.

 A Yellow-Jacket Wasp nest hangs abandoned. Only the queen wasp overwinters and builds a new nest every spring. In the fall the colony dies off and the paper-like nest is abandoned.

Mushrooms are colouring the forest floor like the flowers of fall. Pushing up through the needles in the Douglas-fir and Shore Pine forest is the Coral Fungi (Ramaria Formosa). This one of the few corals that is not edible. (* I welcome well-documented corrections to my identification)

A striking blue polypore Hydnellum caeruleum appears among the green moss. Polypores have tooth-like gills on the underside of their caps. This genus of fungi produces pigments used to dye wool.

From above the brown wooly cap of the Boletus Mirabilis is well camouflaged against the forest floor.  Unlike the mushrooms you see in the supermarket, the spore-producing structures of boletes are pores (below) instead of gills.


The Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius) is one of Vancouver Islands choice edibles. As long as you recognize its unique "blunt-ridged" gills (below) it is difficult to mistake it for anything else.


Off the side of the Mary Vine Creek trail I find the Fluted Black Helvella (Helvella lacunosa). Although edible, it is not recommended because it can easily be mistaken for other poisonous species.


Showing brilliantly white on the dark damp sides of a fallen tree trunk are Angel's Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens).

Passing Peden Lake, I am delighted to find beautiful blue buttons along the trail. I am often reluctant to disturb the mushrooms I see and spoil the treat for someone else passing by. Unfortunately many mushrooms cannot be readily identified without picking them and examining their structures. It may be one of the Cortinarius species, but I was unwilling to disturb its beauty.

These mushrooms stand like sculptures under a fir in Beacon Hill Park

Hiding below the green of leaves is a Red-legged Frog.

Our fall leaves sometimes display in more muted tones against the rushes in Matheson Lake.

Around the lake highlighting the forest with yellow and gold are the fall leaves of the BigLeaf Maple.