Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Toadstool’

 While I mused on the story of the derelict Chatham Cannery village in Sitkoh Bay,

the walkers, including David, were ferried over to the opposite shore.

P1130997

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130997

Some walkers chose to stretch their legs on a longer forest walk;

David chose a meander along the shore line.

P1110151

A natural rock garden of Plantago maritima © DY of jtdytravels; P1110151.

The shore here was much rockier than the other beach areas and it was rather more difficult to walk on than either pebbles or sand. But here David found a natural ‘rock garden’ which featured Sea Plantain, Plantago maritima.

P1110161

Plantago maritima © DY of jtdytravels; P1110161

Sea Plantain is also known as Goose-tongue.  This tap-rooted perennial grows in rocky areas that are immersed at high tide. It flowers throughout the summer season. The succulent, salty flavoured leaves are sometimes eaten as a green vegetable with fish.

P1110143

Glaux maritima © DY of jtdytravels; P1110143

Another plant commonly found growing by the sea shore, tidal flats and salt marshes is the lovely fleshy perennial, Glaux maritima. It’s  local name is Sea Milkwort because nursing mothers were given an infusion made from the plant to help increase their milk supply.

P1110146

Barnacles © DY of jtdytravels; P1110146

Barnacles are a common feature on the rocks in these inter-tidal areas.

Barnacles are crustaceans, related to crabs, prawns and lobsters. In fact they begin life as a tiny shrimp-like larvae swimming freely in water. But to become an adult, a barnacle must attach itself by a form of ‘cement’ to a hard surface such as rocks. That ‘cement’, released from the head end of this small animal, is a very strong adhesive which begins as a clear liquid. As it solidifies, it becomes opaque and rubbery. Once in position, the barnacle begins to secrete calcium-hard plates which totally encase it forming its cone shaped home. And that’s where it stays, head first on the rock, for the rest of its life.

This cone ‘house’ has a door which the barnacle closes when the tide goes out in order to save moisture.  When the tide comes in, as water covers the cone, the door is opened and the barnacle’s six pairs of feathery ‘legs’, feeding appendages, come out and wave in the water collecting plankton for the barnacle to eat.

P1130932

Rocks covered in Barnacles © JT of jtdytravels; P1130932

The rocks at the intertidal zone here are covered in barnacles. And that’s just as well, as they need other barnacles to be very close by when it comes to reproduction… not an easy process when stuck to a rock. Most barnacles are hermaphrodites; they have both male and female sex organs. But their eggs must be fertilised by another barnacle. So how is this possible? Each barnacle has a special retractable tube containing sperm With that, it can reach out beyond its cone for several centimetres in order to fertilise a nearby barnacle. Tricky problem; amazingly simple and effective answer.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110147

Fucus sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1110147

Extensive beds of Fucus sp., or Rockweed, are common in the mid intertidal zones. such an abundance of this seaweed indicates good water quality; as nutrient pollution increases, so the amount of seaweed declines.

P1130930

Rock banks covered in Fucus sp. © JT of jtdytravels; P1130930

Here along the shores of the islands of Alaska’s Inside Passage, where there are no houses. farms or fertilisers, Fucus can be seen on just about every shore. These rockweeds provide food, shelter, and spawning habitat for many sea and shore creatures such as crustaceans, juvenile mussels, snails and fish. These, in turn, attract feeding seabirds. There’s so much inter-dependence in nature, isn’t there!

P1110151

Ulva sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1110151

Sea Lettuce, Ulva sp., is a green algae that has a fine, silky texture with waved or ruffled margins.  The delicate blades of Ulva are usually only 40 microns thick. This algae is usually found in the mid to low intertidal zones and grows from a ‘holdfast’ that keeps it moored to the rocks when the tide rises. It’s common name not only refers to its lettuce like look but also to the fact that it is sometimes eaten in soups or salads.

P1110155

Salicornia depressa © DY of jtdytravels; P1110155

Salicornia depressa,  commonly called Sea Asparagus is edible, and tastes like salty pickles. The stems are jointed, soft and are about as thick as pencils. They are enveloped in waxy leaves that wrap around the stem so tightly that it’s often hard to tell the leaf and stem apart. In June, when we were in this area, this plant was in it’s green phase. As the weather cools down, they will turn yellow, then orange, then red! How lovely this shore would look then.

P1110163 2

Rubus  parviflorus © DY of jtdytravels; P1110163 2

 Rubus  parviflorus is an upright shrub of the forest edges. It has multiple, thornless stems, or canes which can reach up to 2.1 m (7ft). The large five pointed leaves are somewhat like an oak leaf but are hairy and soft to the touch. The bark peels off in tiny fragments.

P1110164

Rubus parvifloris © DY of jtdytravels; P1110164

Rubus  parviflorus is called by some, the “Queen of the Berries”. The flowers form between May and early July and are pollinated by insects. The berries are first pink then scarlet and ripen very quickly if given a sunny day.  They are easy to harvest as the stems are thornless and the berries just fall off at the slightest touch. When fully ripe they soft and delicious… what a shame they were not in fruit in June!

P1110167

Veronica beccabunga ssp. americana  © DY of jtdytravels; P1110167

Veronica beccabunga ssp. americana, American Brooklime, one of the Speedwell family, is quite rare in the wild. It’s a rather weak plant that grows in gaps in the vegetation on or near the edges of streams, as the name Brooklime suggests. The lilac blue flower has 4 lobes and it has only 2 stamens. If the sun is shining, the flower spreads its petals out flat to attract bees and flower flies. However if the weather is damp, as it is often in this area, the flower only half opens and apparently self-pollinates. It can also propagate itself asexually when side shoots break off and float away during the growing season.

Brooklime is used by dragonflies to perch and view the world and also to lay their eggs; the larvae then use the stems to climb out of the water.

P1110168

Aruncus dioicus © DY of jtdytravels; P1110168

Aruncus dioicus, or Goatsbeard, is a clump forming perennial plant that likes to have damp roots but can survive in almost any soil, in sun or in light shade. It’s been used by the native peoples as a poultice for bee stings. A ‘tea’ made from its roots has been used to bathe swollen feet and rheumatic joints. We still have so much to learn about the uses of native plants.

P1110171

Toadstool  © DY of jtdytravels; P1110171

Toadstools are found down among the leaf litter.

And where there are toadstools, there are often slugs.

P1110170

Banana slug © DY of jtdytravels; P1110170

Slugs may not be everyone’s favourite creature but they are really the unsung champions of the forest, eating dead organic material and turning it into soil. This Banana slug,  Ariolimax columbianus, seemed to be enjoying a feed of toadstool.

Banana slugs have two sets of retractable feelers on the head; clearly seen in this photo.  The top ones detect light and the lower ones provide a sense of smell.  Remarkably, if these feelers are destroyed, they will simply grow back!

P1110179

Dark Coloured Banana Slug © DY of jtdytravels; P1110179

Banana slugs come in various colours, often depending on their diet. They have soft bodies and no obvious shell.  A single foot, that looks a little like a skirt, carries the slug via a system of rhythmic waves. To make sure that this foot doesn’t get damaged, the slug secretes a layer of slimy mucus and glides over the ground on that mucus.

P1110180

Light coloured slug © DY of jtdytravels; P1110180

On this very pale Banana slug, the breathing hole, the pneumostone, is open allowing the slug to collect moisture out of the air from which it extracts oxygen. However the lungs are tiny and the slug also has to use the mucus on its foot to help it to breathe. The slime keeps the skin wet so oxygen can be breathed through it.

And there’s yet two more important uses for that slimy mucus. One is in reproduction. The Banana Slug is a hermaphrodite which means that they contain female and male organs. When a slug is ready to mate, it leaves a special chemical in its slime which attracts other slugs. When mating, the two slugs form a heart shape and exchange sperm. Each of them will then lay about 70 eggs. The eggs are not cared for… the young are on their own!

The other use for that slimy mucus is to repel prey. Slugs don’t move fast and offer the promise of an easy meal to other forest creatures. Just one nasty taste can teach a lesson and the mucus leaves a numbing sensation in the mouth as well.  However, thankfully this is not a great deterrent to birds and lizards; otherwise the forest would be covered in slugs!

P1110187

Ranunculus repens © DY of jtdytravels; P1110187

Here again is that introduced Creeping Buttercup, Ranunculus repens.

It seems to have found its way onto many of the shores in this area.

It is lovely, but….

P1110193

Angelica lucida  © DY of jtdytravels; P1110193

Wild Celery or Sea-watch, Angelica lucida, in bud, with a boat-backed beetle.

P1110196

Angelica lucida with bee © DY of jtdytravels; P1110196

Sea-watch, Angelica lucida, in full flower,with a native bee. This plant is just one of 60 species of the Angelica family which are spread across the northern hemisphere. The name comes from a legend that an archangel revealed to a man named Mattheus Sylvaticus, that this plant was a remedy for the plague and cholera. Both were deadly diseases that took many thousands of lives across Europe. It came to be believed by many that the plant has healing powers. This species, ‘lucida‘, with its pure white flowers is native to much of the west coast of Canada and USA, including Alaska.

P1130998

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130998

Too soon, it was time to call an end to this wandering.

And once more, Nicky brought the walkers safely back to the ship.

Her work was not yet done; she still had to hoist the DIBs back onto the ship

and clean and check them ready for more adventures.

But for the rest of us…

photos were shared, stories were told over another delicious dinner

and plans were made for the next day.

More of that anon.

.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

P1100362

Twilight Cruise © DY of jtdytravels; P1100362

After a memorable day shared with whales and icebergs, Captain Shawn Nettles took the “Sea Lion” for a quiet after dinner twilight cruise into a narrow fiord. This was a wonderful way to unwind in the peace of the wilderness, shared only by a small fishing boat.

P1100365

Twilight © DY of jtdytravels; P1100365

The time; 9.15 pm. Summer twilight.

The ship’s lights came on and it was time to think about bed.

What adventures would the morrow bring?

P1130763

Frederick Sound © JT of jtdytravels; P1130763

We anchored overnight in a quiet cove and everyone, including all of the crew, had a really good night’s sleep.  So, we were all up bright and early, ready for whatever the day held. While we enjoyed our breakfast and a chat with new friends, “Sea Lion” cruised back up Frederick Sound, to a very special place named Ideal Cove for the first activity of the day, a walk in the forest.

P1130631

Unloading the DIBs © JT of jtdytravels; P1130631

There was only one way to get to the shore, and the forest, and that was by DIB. These inflatables were stored on the ship’s roof, right above our room. They had to be winched down each time we had a shore excursion. Our lady bosun, Nicky, was in charge of these boats and of the kayaks which would be used later in the expedition.

P1130757

Lee in DIB © JT of jtdytravels; P1130757

Lee Moll, was the first leader ready in a DIB to take walkers over to the shore.  Lee, was our expedition plant specialist and has been leading walks here for many years. She was especially helpful with her extensive knowledge of the area.

P1130766

Loading a DIB © JT of jtdytravels; P1130766

Loading a DIB was quite simple really, especially in these calm waters. The DIB was nosed into a loading ramp at the back of the ship, and one of the crew handed each passenger down into the craft. Before leaving the ship, we each had to ‘log off’ our name on a board (and, of course, remember to ‘log on’ when we came back to the ship!) David is already on board this DIB, in the shadow on the left. Jason, one of the expedition leaders, is his driver.

P1130758

Off to the forest of Ideal Cove! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130758

Ideal Cove it was named and ideal it was…

a blue sky, a warm day and a new activity; a forest to explore

and, for David, plants to find.

P1100373

Preparing for the walk © DY of jtdytraveks; P1100373

Once on shore, after a wet landing in boots, life jackets were left in a pile, cameras and binoculars were made ready and the walk began into the depths of the conifer forest.  So let’s go with David and experience the forest and its plants through his photos.

(Plants are named and notes added to the best of our knowledge.)

P1100377

Isothecium myosuroides  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100377

The very first thing you’ll notice as you enter the forest is that a great many of the conifers are festooned in a shaggy, cream coloured moss. Known commonly as Cat-tail Moss, it is indeed common. It’s botanical name is perhaps less well known: Isothecium myosuroides. 

P1100381

Toadstool © DY of jtdytravels; P1100381

In the dimness of the forest floor, fungi can often be found…

these elegant fungi are non edible toadstools.

Single file boardwalk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100383

Single file boardwalk © DY of jtdytravels; P1100383

A single file boardwalk protects this fragile environment.

P1100391

Cornus canadensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100391

Beside the path are low growing plants like this Cornus canadensis, known as Dwarf Dogwood or Bunchberry. The short stalked leaves are particularly lovely; 4 to 7 of them in a whorl.

Four petal-like white bracts protect the central umbel of flowers. Each flower has an explosive pollination mechanism. When the petals of mature but still unopened flowers suddenly reflex, they ‘catapult’ their pollen loads into the air.

The fruit of the Bunchberry are bright red berries, fleshy and quite sweet. Bears love them! And this was bear territory so the group needed to keep a good look out for bears on this walk.

P1100412

Toadstool cap © DY of jtdytravels; P1100412

Another delicate toadstool cap. You have to get down low to really see these…

and taking photos down to low is something that David does really well.

We can enjoy the results.

P1100398

Shelf Fungus © DY of jtdytravels; P1100398

This ‘shelf’ fungi, attached to a tree, was much more at eye level height.

Shelf or bracket fungi are resilient and may live for a very long time. They gain nourishment from the host tree and may in fact contribute to the death of that tree, feeding off the dead wood for years to come.

P1100418

Sphagnum squarrosum © DY of jtdytravels; P1100418

Many types of sphagnum moss can be found in these forests; this one, known as Shaggy Sphagnum, is Sphagnum squarrosum. The leaves, which are formed in dense, shaggy, rough rosettes, can absorb a great amount of water. Plants such as these are very common in the forests and were used by native Alaskan peoples as baby diapers (nappies) and bedding, by women for personal hygiene and also for the dressing of wounds.

P1100421

Vaccinium sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1100421

This berry is probably well known to most as a popular fruit for the table. However, the ones we eat are much sweeter and larger than these native blueberries, a Vaccinium sp. In David’s words, “ours have been horticulturally tinkered with to satisfy our sweet tooth palettes”. But the locals enjoy these native blueberries… and so do the bears.

Webbing on board walk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels;  P1100422

P1100422  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

The boardwalk is covered with the netting used by purse seine fishermen to catch fish; an ingenious use of a ‘ready to hand’ product in this area. It’s use makes the usually wet boards safer for walkers. And speaking of walkers, where are they?

It looks as though David’s been so busy checking out the plants, that the rest of the group has gone ahead! Time to catch up. And time to finish this post and resume from here next time.

Jennie and David

All photographs ©  Jennie Thomas and David Young of jtdytravels

More of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com 

and more travels photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

Read Full Post »