Sunday, October 21, 2012

Not Your Ordinary Fall Colors

 A brief side trip from showing my visitors around my favorite Quincy area trails was to run an errand at FRC.  One of the beautiful surprises there, as far as Fall Colors are concerned, is a patch of Orange Peel Fungus under a stairway near the administration building.  This fungus is very convincing; I've had several friends think I was trying to pass of an actual orange peel as a fungus.  Of course, eventually, most orange peels end up getting consumed by fungi, but not such pretty ones.
 I took my friends to Butterfly Valley Botanical Area.  Upon approaching the Darlingtonia Bog, one sees mostly dried up, brown vegetation with some of last year's Pitcher Plants poking up, but they too looked spent from our dry summer.  However, as we patiently crawled around and looked closer to the ground, there were many colorful surprises, including quite a number of blooming Asters (above).
 A new patch of Darlingtonia looked so cute I had to place a quarter on top for show scale.  And the Sundew were still looking good in the wet areas.  It was a cool morning, so we didn't see any flying insects. 
 One of the man lilies found in this area is the Tofieldia (both common and scientific name) which was still standing with its seed pods looking almost like blooms from a distance.
 After spending an hour or so wandering around the bog, we adjourned to the Keddie Cascades Trail.  Most of the color was the green of evergreens and the yellow-brown of oaks, maples, and many different shrubs.  But a few patches of Umbrella Plant were showing off their reds, oranges, and yellows.  Overall, the Umbrella Plant didn't produce the solid rows of brilliant red along the creek side that happens in some years.  But I enjoy looking for the individual spectacular leaf anyway.

 The dusty, gray trail was decorated with occasional Wooly Bear caterpillars.  They can winter in the leaf mulch, even under several feet of snow, and they turn into a Tiger Moth in the spring.
So, we saw more than satisfying amounts of Fall Colors, even though we never saw the seasonal standards: large groves of Aspen, Black Cottonwood, Black Oak, Big Leaf Maple, and Dogwood.

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