Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Dark Side

Muahahahaha! welcome to the dark side of the cedar glades,
let's take a look at the more macabre players in the game.
Jelly molds and slime fungi feed on the dead wood of
an oblivious great giant shumard oak, which towers above the canopy.

I hope these funguys will forgive me ,
I am at a loss for the correct identifications
for these mushrooms, largely unseen
except for the fruiting bodies, fungi are the
secret underground kings of all the forests
and deserts, grasslands and jungles of
the world, their network of mycelium
lurking in the darkness of the soil, quietly
devouring the dead in order to
provide life to the roots of all plants.

Amanitas and Lepiotas

These were mostly growing in the karst hickory
/oak woods that line all Nashville cedar glades,
and the nuts were falling, one of these 4 inch hard
as rock nuts falling from 140 feet could do some
damage to the top of your head
or knock you out outright!
Near actual size, shellbark hickory nuts.
Angry squirrels were dive bombing away
Seems I was to close too their favorite nut tree.
I still got 3 bushels this year ,I'll have the last laugh!

seriously, if any of you have a hickory tree, don't let the nuts go to waste,
hickory nuts taste just like warm maple syrup with a heavy maple fragrance,
best ever in cookies and brownies(shagbark hickory nut blondies are freakin amazing)

Don't forget the witches butter muahahaha!!!!

Nostoc commune, or cyanobacteria, "witches butter"
this is a colony of cyanobacteria that live together in clumps
forming mats that spread out over the bare limestone ,
crackly and black when dry, green and jelly like when wet.
As it advances over the dry stone,it decomposes,leaving
thin layer of absorbent organic matter that paves
the way for mosses
,lichens and small grasses and plants
to take root, these resemble the very first life

on land on this planet,and the earth was made
green by this very process,making the witches butter
organism about the only thing older than well, dirt!
from this

to this
to this!

And then heavy rains bring a flushing torrent,
which with time washes the hard limestone clear again,
depending on where the current has shifted,
as the patches of life dance around the glades in
ultra slow motion,taking decades to move a few feet.

Lichens also play a large role in breaking down twigs and moss into soil.

deerfoot lichens, common in art supply stores, model train kits.

lichens and fungi hard at work on dead twigs

Like the trees, when an animal falls in the glade, and comes to
rest there,or more likely is drug into the open by coyotes and
devoured like this deer, their bones are bleached in the sun,and the moss
buries them slowly ,bleached bones are a common site in daisy trail
and many other cedar glades.

So there are spirits here in the Cedar glades, light and dark,
their cosmic dance fueling life in this place of
teetering balance
and rich starkness.


Lola said...

I've seen these fungi many times while a child growing up in Tn.
Al tho I know of the Black Walnut I failed to notice the Shag bark Hickory & the Burr Oak. I didn't know that you could eat the hickory. I sure would like to see the nut with the outer shell & also without the green outer shell.I like very much to have things around me that are from my native state.

Mary Delle said...

What a nice walk in the cedar glade. Your commentary was most informative. The fungi and lichens play such an important part in our ecosystem. I have to admit that lichen are one of my favorite.

J.J. said...

Lola, if you click the shagbark hickory nut link in purple there is much information, the nuts resemble small pecans,but are packed with aromatics and flavor.

tina said...

There sure have been lots of molds and fungi around lately with all this rain.

MedaM said...

This is wonderful and informative post full of beautiful and interesting photos.
Thanks for visiting my blog and for your nice comment. If I understood you well you were interested in how I preserved apples which photos you saw on my blog. Well it is autumn apple of really wonderful taste. It is sour and sweet at the same time. So it is great both for fresh eating and for the apple pie or some other apple cakes. Therefore we separate healthy apples from worm-eaten ones which we use for cakes (without worms, of course :-))). It doesn’t remain much of healthy apples because we use to share them with our family and friends especially if the crop is good. By the way this apple tree isn’t mine but of my neighbors. But the tree grows just next to the fence that divides our gardens. My neighbors are good people and they say everything that over on my side of the garden is mine. I tried to be as short as I could.:-)

J.J. said...

I am still jealous! Really you should see the ratty, suckered,pathetic things people in my neighborhood call apple trees, being in cedar glade territory we have alot of cedar rust issues with apples, and the limey shallow mostly rock soil does them no good either.
I am even struggling with a peach in the back
now, well at least theres the cedar glades!

J.J. said...

and the persimmons!!

Lola said...

Persimmons, did you say persimmons. lol I have a persimmon tree that I have all I want & I've given them away. Only 1 can fit in my hand. You can eat them like an apple or you can cook with them. They are so good. This is the 3rd yr they have produced. There weren't as many this yr as last. I think it's because of so much rain.

Lola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.J. said...

You may have the oriental persimmon,
or another old world variety growing,
the ones i am collecting grow near the glades and are species Diospyros virginiana, much smaller about the size of a muscadine grape,
and the sweetest most luscious persimmon of them all, after they're ripe! a common trick is to give someone a persimmon off the tree after they look orange,or worse yet a green one, watch them pucker like poison and wonder how the heck you can eat that stuff!
I've always heard they are best after a freeze, is this true with the variety you have as well?

Lola said...

J.J. I know about the ones you are talking about. There use to be a tree across the field in back of the house where we lived as a child in Tn. They will pucker your mouth if not ripe.
The one I have is an oriental type. There are no seeds. They get ripe in Sept. I only have less than a dozen on there now. I really should pick them---maybe tomorrow. No they don't need to have a freeze as that won't occur till in Jan. some time here. Seems they are a tad earlier this yr. I really should write this down so I can refer to my notes.

Sun Drenched Islands in the Dark Cedars

You may have encountered a cedar glade before if you enjoy walking through the woods in the Nashville Tennessee area, you would have been walking along through the cedars and would have come to a clearing, upon passing through you may have noticed how hot and dry it was,if in summer,or how wet and spongy the limestone gravel was ,if in winter.You may have had many of my own first thoughts , wondering "is this an old lot? perhaps and old road of some sort long degraded" before you started to notice plants you hadn't ever seen in your life,even though you've lived your entire life in the Nashville area, and if you had been lucky enough to happen across one during spring bloom time you'd notice the rainbow of colors blooming on those never before encountered plants, what an exiting place these glades can be!
In truth that place you thought may have been an old lot is a natural limestone clearing, Sometimes tens of thousands of years old , old enough for the plants there to adapt to their unique micro climate.
It's feasible to think that these places have been visited by animals and humans alike, for thousands upon thousands of years, being a natural clearing where one could camp or simply gaze up at the sky,and the way it seems so much bigger in the glades somehow, you can see the whole milky way sparkling there on a clear summer night, these places truly are a gift of natural beauty and diversity and a testament to the strength of life and its ability to adapt.

Sadly most of this rare ecosystem has been lost forever ,and some endemic plants are either extinct or severely endangered, in the past they have been built on ,dumped in,and covered over with rubble, they are inundated by man made lakes and torn apart by people with atv's and four wheelers who do not realize what they are doing.
There may be less than 10% of what cedar glade
there was before the Nashville basin was settled, and that continues to shrink even today, So lets educate our friends in the world of horticulture about our cedar glades.

Here are some resources for Cedar Glade Research:

Cedar Glade Endemic Plants

Center for Cedar Glade Studies

Cedar Glade Wikipedia