Marvellous stretch of weather, eh? After such a long lush wet growing season, we’re finally having a true Southern Ontario summer that’s straddling the astronomical boundary between Summer and Fall. Highlights of my natural history this summer include the amazing diversity and beauty of fungi produced on one old poplar stump right in by backyard! On a twenty-year-old stump that’s only ever had Dryad’s Saddle, Polyporus squamosus, suddenly beginning in the middle of July and continuing to the present, I’ve had a succession of amazing finds, only one of which I’ve ever seen before! The surprises began with the brilliant yellow Creeping Dog-vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica — which is the one find I’ve actually had before in my yard. (It’s actually a slime mold, not even related to fungi, but I hope you’ll excuse my sloppy phylogeny …) Then came a large brownish brown-spored gilled fungus that I’ve not… Read more »
Despite the early April snow, our native plants are showing courage and beginning to grow. Yesterday, I visited the colony of Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, Aracacae, that grows south-west of Orangeville right alongside a well-travelled road. (You can see the road gravel thrown off the roadside by the snow ploughs in one of the photos.) Skunk Cabbage is a fascinating plant with several quite unusual adaptations to getting an early start in Spring. Its upper parts are capable of generating a significant amount of heat: 15+ Celsius degrees above ambient air temperature! This added heat seems to accomplish several functions simultaneously. It means that Skink Cabbage can literally melt its way through snow. It means that the warmth inside the flower helps keep the early pollinators basking in the extra heat, hanging around and maximizing the chance that they will transfer pollen to the benefit of the plant. It also means that… Read more »
March 2017 was colder in this area than February 2017, by a minor fraction of a degree. More significantly, March was almost 5 Celsius degrees colder than the climatological normal for Southern Ontario. But it looks like it’s finally here! One of the harbingers of Spring for me is the opening of the Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) flowers. In my backyard on the edge of Orangeville, the female flowers opened yesterday on 2017 April 01, and then safely enough to remove any doubts about an April Fool’s joke, the male flowers on the adjacent tree began opening today! Only just opening and beginning to shed pollen, but I’ll still count this as Spring! I’ve also had a Fox Sparrow at my bird feeder. I count that as another harbinger of Spring.