Friday Fungi – A Mound of Magnificent Mushrooms

A Mound of Magnificent Mushrooms – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This giant family of mushrooms photographed in Rochester NY, have prospered by setting themselves up in this ideal location. Nestled at the foot of this tree, on the shady side of town, where they don’t have to deal with any hot sun. Even so, each mushroom still fights for it’s fair share of light by either climbing higher or further out than its relatives. They get their nutrients from whatever leaf litter that falls from the tree and degrades into the rich soil below. They will each make millions of microscopic spores in the gills hidden underneath their caps, and eventually release them into the wind to find a new home next year.

For other mushrooms please click here.

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Friday Fungi

Golden Fungi – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This picture perfect fungi was spotted while hiking in Quebec. I am always on the lookout for a beautiful mushroom to photograph, which usually results in me lying on the ground with my camera, this one however was on the side of a tree. I have yet to see a cartoon-style red toadstool with white spots which are common in the UK,  but hopefully one day. Fungi are a fascinating group of living organisms which behave differently to plants. They begin from a tiny microscopic spore which needs nutrient rich soil to grow, as it cannot make energy from chlorophyll like plants. Unlike plants and animals which use mostly cell division to grow, a slow and energy consuming process, mushrooms grow quite fast. Their ability to grow fast is because their cells balloon in size by drawing in large amounts of liquid, and is also why mushrooms need to grow in wet and humid areas. They are essentially a water balloon of about 90% water, and can be easily dehydrated and rehydrated for storing and cooking. Needless to say not all mushrooms are safe to eat, so never touch or eat wild mushrooms unless you know for sure that it is a safe kind of mushroom to eat.

For other mushrooms, click here.

Friday Flower – Balsamroot with a backdrop of Tetons

Wildflowers with the Tetons – Photograph By Laura Lecce

These beautiful, bright and sunny wildflowers are known commonly as balsamroot, or scientifically called Balsamorhiza. They are a member of the sunflower family and make a stunning foreground for a photo of the Teton mountain range. They are a golden flag for the Spring season and provide food for many grass and plant eating animals such as deer, elk, pronghorn and bighorn sheep. There were many grassy valleys and hillsides inundated with large tufts of golden flowers, and they appear in so many of my wildlife photos. They wildflowers really brightened up my trip and I hope they brighten up your weekend, have a great one everyone!

Friday Flower – A close look at a zinnia

Zinnia close up – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Sometimes it’s more interesting to look at something familiar from a different perspective to gain renewed appreciation. Have you ever looked at a zinnia this close before? I discovered a tiny forest of golden furry trees arranged in a perfect circle surrounded by a bed of brilliant red petals. Each yellow tree has a trunk filled with nectar that attracts bees, butterflies and moths. Each visitor gets a secret powdering of yellow pollen to transport to subsequent flowers, unknowingly becoming a pollen postal service. I go the garden to relax, unwind and refresh my mind, and while everything around me may seem tranquil, it is in fact the opposite – each and every flower, every insect and every plant is very hard at work.

Red zinnia – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Friday Flower – Pink with an Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern Black Swallowtail – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Ok, so this photo is not so much about a flower as it about the stunning black butterfly perched delicately on these tiny pink flowers. Those large dark wings with golden circles and a powdering of shimmery blue. The signature elongated wing tips of a swallowtale and delicate lines of white dots along the abdomen. This butterfly truly turns heads as it flutters past and really tested my patience as I waited for it to sit still long enough for a photo that was in focus. I will dearly miss the warmer months this year as the weather is already getting too cold for my liking, and we still have so much further to go into the cold abyss of winter. Have a warm weekend everyone!

For more butterflies please click here.

Friday Flower – Yellow zinnia with a yellowjacket

Yellow zinnia with a yellowjacket – Photography by Laura Lecce

This cute little bug might seem adorable sitting on a matching, bright yellow flower, but do not be deceived as it is a fearsome, predatory wasp. A yellowjacket wasp that lives in a colony underground and can pack a pretty nasty sting as many times as it wants. If you disturb or injure one of these wasps near their home, they send out a distress signal to all of their friends and relatives as a sign that they must attack and defend. At that point you have no choice but to make a run for it! Cute photo though.