The January 16 post features a beautiful group of fungi that were identified as being bracket fungi. The photo was taken by our Webmaster, Kim Walton. In the post, I asked if anyone could identify the organisms.
In response to the request, one of our fellow bloggers, Joan Knapp, wrote back that and said that, from what she could tell from the picture; the fungi did not appear to be bracket fungi. Instead, she suggested that perhaps they were a species of mushroom. She went on the say that if it was a stand of mushrooms, they were probably a Pleurotus species. However, in order to know for sure if the fungi were actually mushrooms, she needed to see if they had gills on the underside of each fruiting body.
Joan’s need to see the underside of the fungi prompted Kim to return to the site where she found them, and photograph the underside of at least one of the organisms. When she arrived at the location, she was astonished to find the tree and the mushrooms had disappeared. The tree had been cut down and hauled away. All that was left were a tree stump and a couple of scattered pieces of mushrooms (see photo).
When I sent the photo to Joan, she said that, although the mushroom had rotted, she could detect gills–this meant they were mushrooms. It seems bracket fungi do not have gills but mushrooms do. However, the piece of the mushroom depicted in the photo was so far gone; she would not hazard a guess as to what it species it was.
In spite of a paucity of evidence, someone familiar with mushrooms used her knowledge to ensure that the organisms depicted in the blog were correctly identified.
One lesson that I have taken away from this whole experience is that the identification of the hundreds of species of fungi that grow in Georgia is best left to the experts.
Thank you, Joan.
It is safe to say most Georgians have never seen a groundhog. The reason for this is groundhogs are principally residents of the northern quarter of the state. For the rest of us, our best chance of seeing this mammal is to spot one feeding in the grassy shoulder of a North Georgia highway. However, those folks fortunate enough to live in this picturesque swath of the state are well aware of the fact that groundhogs will take up residence in or near backyards.
If you live within the range of the groundhog, you are probably surprised to learn groundhogs are capable of climbing trees since they have stubby legs, weigh up to fourteen pounds, and rarely venture far from their burrows.
Homeowners are not always pleased to find a groundhog living in their backyard. This is because groundhogs eat up to 1.5 pounds of food a day, consuming a variety of plants such ornamental flowers such as roses, and food plants like a beans, strawberries, and carrots. In addition, their burrows sometimes undermine walkways, driveways, as well as building foundations.
However, in some backyards groundhogs are not a problem and provide homeowners with interesting wildlife viewing opportunities. If you watch groundhogs long enough, you may have the rare opportunity to spot a groundhog perched in a tree high above the ground. Groundhogs will climb mostly to either escape a predator or reach food. Both coyotes and dogs prey on adult groundhogs.
With an abundance of food growing close to the ground, it is hard to imagine why a groundhog would climb a tree to feed, but they do. The famous Pulitzer Prize-winning nature writer, Edwin Way Teale, wrote that he once spied a groundhog high above the ground dining grapes hanging from a grapevine that had snaked its way into the tree’s crown.
Climbing up a tree would be hard enough for a groundhog; it seems to me that it would be even hard to climb down again.
Groundhogs in trees? I find it hard to believe a groundhog is capable of such an athletic accomplishment.
I have never considered the eastern bluebird to be a species that travels in flocks. When I think of birds that flock birds such as red-winged blackbirds, waterfowl and mourning doves come to mind. However, ornithologists tell us that bluebirds will form flocks of upwards of 30 to over 100 individuals
I would love to see a large flock of these dazzling songbirds. If you would like to see such a flock too, now is a great time embark on a search for one. This is because the birds gather in flocks most often in fall and winter.
Remarkably, our backyards are home to untold wild inhabitants. I don’t think there is anybody that can identify all of them. However, the fact is we do not know the correct name of them to appreciate their beauty and the role they play in wild communities. One group of organisms most of us are largely unfamiliar with is known as the tree bracket (also called shelf) fungi.
As their name suggests, tree bracket fungi grow on trees (both dead and alive). The shelf-like structures were see growing on the sides of trees are the fungi’s fruiting bodies. Each species of bracket fungi has its own distinctive appearance.