Puffball Mushroom

A photo essay of an 8-inch puffball mushroom in our backyard.

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I do wonder what caused its shape.

Puttyroot Orchid

Three days of dreary inclement weather called for a loop drive through the country. I parked on the road to the trail head at Stoneface, a popular spot on the Shawnee National Forest.

A light rain fell as the temperature gradually dropped.

I decided to walk a short distance, just to be out.

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These puttyroot orchid seed capsules actually stood out among the colors of fall.

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They were in the process of drying.

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Puttyroot orchids (Aplectrum Hymale) send up a single leaf in the fall. This one has c0nsiderable growth yet to go. (Today is October 11).

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A smaller leaf, on the opposite side of the seedstalk, was of another plant.

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This is how the leaves look through the winter. There is a single leaf for each plant.

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Dried seed stalks are easy to find in the winter,

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and the flowers bloom later in May.

Our Pink Yard

Fall is definitely arriving — shorter days, cooler days, colder nights, birds migrating, leaves changing colors, flowers wilting, fewer bugs … and we now have a pink yard.

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A small smartweed (Polygonum sp.) blankets large areas of our yard.

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The small plants average only two  to nine inches tall.

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Actually, they’re taller than they look; their spindly stalk doesn’t support their lengthy weight.

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The weather forecast still calls for several more cloudy days with rain and/or storms possible.

I plan to continue enjoying the pink yard. It brings a grin or giggle whenever I look out over it.

Cloudless Sulphur

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Cloudless sulphur butterflies (Phoebis sennae eubule) usually arrive in southern Illinois later in the summer.

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Red flowers, like this red salvia, attract their attention. They prefer tubed flowers, and lay their eggs on members of  pea family.

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Their wingspan ranges from 2 1/4 to 3 1/8 inches.

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 They migrate back south in the fall.

After the Fog Rises

A recent heavy fog didn’t start lifting until 8:30 or so.

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For some reason I decided to make a loop around the yard.

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Dew-covered webs were scattered around the yard. They varied in size more than the picture shows.

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A sheet web hung/laid in a honeysuckle tangle.

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The spider stayed in the leafy tangle above, waiting to pounce when something got caught in the web.

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The maker of bowl-shaped web didn’t show itself.

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The weaver of this one didn’t either.

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I wondered if the spider in the mouth of this funnel-shaped web knew it was in plain sight?

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Another funnel web at ground level.

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So many of these small webs were scattered all over in the yard. I photographed many of them, thinking the tiny red things were prey. They were so tiny. Finally I got a good enough look at one to realize it was a spider.

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This web is similar to the one above. The picture was taken from a different angle.

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This web won the prize for the prettiest with the pink smartweed flowers below.

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The black in the hole is the spider.

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The resident of this large orb web didn’t show itself.

Surprise Mushrooms

I was meandering around the back-back of our backyard, and

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almost stepped on these mushrooms.

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   They blended in with the grass much more than it looks in the pictures.

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  Ash tree boletes (Moletinellus meruleoides)

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grow in the summer and fall near ash trees.

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Their stem grows off center of the mushroom, and the pores are angular.

Know For Sure

What I know for sure ….

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it’s a small dragonfly

with a red abdomen,

powder blue head and underside thorax, and clear wings.

It patiently posed for a seven pictures.

(It’s small size made it almost impossible for the camera to focus.)

And, as of now, I haven’t been able to identify it online or in books.

Name or not, I still enjoyed the encounter.

The picture was taken on September 9.

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Turned out two blogs I follow both blogged this dragonfly — a blue-face meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum). The dragonfly wasn’t in one dragonfly book I have. The positioning of a pair of them in my other dragonfly book didn’t look enough like it for me to make the connection.

So, now I feel much better — I have a name for it!

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