The morel hunting has been pretty disappointing this season. (Last year was great! See my May 16, 2010, Frugal Family Fun: Morel Hunting blog!) It has been a cool, dry spring. Mushrooms like warm and wet, some things that we have been short of this year. We mushroom hunt as a family and so we have had lots of time hiking in the woods every couple of days in hopes that a few degrees of extra warmth or a brief shower of rain might create a flush of fungal activity—which never happened. (The only other mushroom we saw even a little of was the Crimson Cups, which are quite hard to miss!) My husband finally found three small morels and my daughter one more and that was it. We took them home, fried them up, and each got three bites!
The woods were filled with garlic mustard, but for once, the wildflowers outgrew it because of the cool and relatively dry conditions. Garlic mustard is an invasive that is very hard to battle. It drops thousands upon thousands of seeds if allowed to flower, and chemicals don’t kill it well. It has to be pulled as soon as it appears, or it takes over. I keep a sharp eye out for it and pull it, bag it, and throw it away when I do find it on My Little Farm in Town!
One thing we did find a lot of (other than garlic mustard) was beautiful wild flowers. The place we hunted mushrooms is the only place that I have ever seen this particular rare northern orchid. It blooms in mid-May and is called the Showy Orchid. The first one I saw here last year had “disappeared” by the time I got back to photograph it. I was more fortunate this year. I’d like to go back one more time to get a picture of it with the flower buds open. With buds open or closed, it is a beauty.
There were also a number of varieties of Jack in the Pulpit in bloom. I took pictures of one variety that I think is the most striking because of the black striping on its hood.
We also saw some early meadow rue in bud and later blooming and plenty of buttercups and smooth yellow violets.
With the greenery slow to wake up, the trees (alive and dead) really stood out! That is what I like about hiking in the woods in winter and early spring—you can see the structure of the land and trees. Here are some pictures I took of the really outstanding trees in this particular woodland. All the time I was taking these pictures I could see and hear all the woodpeckers working on the dead snags, drumming out territory and hammering after grubs and bugs in the dead wood.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed your walk in the woods. We might have come up short on fungus but we never come up short on fun. Begonia