Nature Notes

Great and Small

By Greg Lecker

The light struggling to break over Green Heron Pond promises to be bright. At first, the mist is a glow.  Sun’s rays graze the grasses, drawing my attention to the bluebird house.

Brightly Frosty and FoggyBrightly Frosty and Foggy

Leaves cover the forest floor.  I spot the distinctive pattern of a fungus.

False Turkey-tail - Fallen LeavesFalse Turkey-Tail- Fallen Leaves

False turkey-tail is a wood decay fungus.  The fruiting body inspires its name as it resembles another fungus, which must have been named first, I guess.  Both resemble a turkey tail in display form – fanned out with concentric circles of yellow, pink, red, and brown bands.  The word “oyster” is also used to describe the form – the outer shape.  The shell form is about one-third to two-and-two thirds high or wide.  Thin and tough, false turkey-tail grows on tree bark. The fungus is native to North America; and it can be found year-round.  With a range roughly paralleling the lower portions of the Mississippi and St. Croix watersheds in Minnesota, the fungus grows in the Big Woods from north of the metropolitan area to southeastern Minnesota, plus several other scattered counties.  Unlike the many fungus fruiting bodies we call mushrooms, this one grows throughout the year. Sometimes its color is fresh – the color of light and dark cedar shavings.  The false turkey-tail specimens I usually find are gray, and sometimes gray-green. The green is a sign of the presence of algae, which sometimes grows on the fungus.  Unlike mushrooms, there is no distinctive odor. Also, unlike mushrooms, false turkey-tail grows shelf-like – without a stem.  It grows on the bark of logs and stumps of dead hardwood trees, commonly oak.

Among my favorite vistas at Green Heron Pond is the view from the south trail looking across duckweed and backwater grasses to the open water beyond.  This morning, the view especially delights me!

Misty MorningMisty Morning

Sun and shadow lay down alternating stripes of lime and dark mint.  As the sun slowly rises, shadows crawl down the short stockade wall of grasses to retreat back across the pond surface.

On the north side of the pond, the sun breaks through and burns off the remaining mist.  The bright glare of dawn dispels gloom and darkness.  It will be a sunny morning, though crisp.

Sun Makes AppearanceSun Makes an Appearance

Don’t let shortening days and temperatures discourage you.  Get outside and explore!

Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

%d bloggers like this: