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.

Acadia in color

Acadia in color – Photograph by Laura Lecce 

I certainly didn’t grow up with Autumn colors like this in Sydney, which is why I am in such awe when I get the chance to see them now. Acadia National Park was the perfect destination for a weekend getaway to see peak foliage colors painted across the most stunning scenery. This glorious day was the ideal combination of warm golden sun and chilly air – the best hiking weather. Climbing the steep Beehive Trail to the top of this small mountain provided an incredible vantage point with which to admire Mother Nature’s artwork. As a person who lives for color, even I could not have imagined that this many brilliant and intense colors could exist in a single landscape. Just incredible!

Flower Friday – Not just another water lily!

San Fran Water Lily - Photograph by Laura Lecce
San Fran Water Lily – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This photo of a water lily has long been one of my absolute favorites. It was photographed in a stunning glass house called the Conservatory of Flowers at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. What particularly draws my interest is the soft geometry of nature, resting against a rigid backdrop of man-made geometrical rectangles in the reflection of the glasshouse windows. A lovely start to spring for all my fellow Aussies, have a great weekend everyone! (and completely in denial that summer is ending here in the USA).

For my other water lily posts click here.

Flower Friday – Aussie Star

Aussie Star - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Aussie Star – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This flower is an unknown that I photographed in Tasmania. A little, orange, star-shaped flower on a small shrub in the Tassie grasslands. Even though I spent a very long time trawling through Google images under many search terms, the flower and the name remained elusive. I am surely not the only person to have photographed this little gem, so if anyone can shed some light on this flower, that would be very much appreciated. It is fitting that I introduce a star in a month where the talk of planets has been quite abundant. The five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have been visible this month in the night sky, together, shortly after sunset. I hope some of you have been out sky, star and planet gazing this month. Happy Friday everyone!

Flower Friday – Pink Perfection

Pink Water Lily Perfection - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Pink Water Lily Perfection – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Considering there are about 70 known species of water lily in five different genera, it’s easy to see how there is such a range of colors, shapes and sizes. This image was taken at the Nan Tien Temple, a Buddhist temple in Wollongong (80km south of Sydney). It is a very beautiful and tranquil place to visit, with lovely gardens and many water lilies silently floating in their ponds. Although both pink, this water lily is quite subtle and is very different to seemingly intense one that I have posted previously (click here to see). Have a pretty pink weekend everyone!

Flower Friday – Tasmanian Waratah

Tasmanian Waratah - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Tasmanian Waratah – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I don’t think many of us from mainland Australia would know that Tassie has its very own type of Waratah. The waratah is a very special flower to those of us from the state of New South Wales, as it is our state emblem. The Tasmanian variety is called Telopea truncata (seen in the photo above), which has different flowers to Telopea speciosissima that we are used to seeing. Through pure chance, this photo also includes a damselfly which might be one of three different types (apparently commonly mistaken) called Austrolestes annulosus (the blue ringtail), Coenagrion lyelli, or Caliagrion billinghursti. After looking through many photos of them on Google, I am most definitely not taking the chance at picking which one! Sometimes we are better off not knowing and just enjoying, have a great weekend everyone!

For other posts about Tasmania, click here.

Tasmanian Pond

Tasmanian Pond - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Tasmanian Pond – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Since Tasmania has gotten such a great reception on my website, I thought I would continue this week with some more photos from the same area. This small pond that I came across on a walk, was clearly the perfect meeting place for numerous wildlife and insects. Looking into the water you could see millions of tadpoles at various stages of metamorphosis, even some having both legs and a tail, almost ready to fully transition into a frog. The grassy bushes were filled with damselflies chasing each other, interlocking, and forming their heart-shaped mating pose. Snaking through the shrubs are the favorite trails of the wombats who live here, the plants trodden down by the weight of these stocky creatures. A few times I was lucky enough to see them out for their late afternoon dinner, and they were quite happy to pose for some photos (see wombats here).

For other posts on Tasmania, please click here.

Flower Friday – Aussie Gumnuts

Aussie Gumnuts - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Aussie Gumnuts – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Dried gumnuts are commonly used as ornamental decorations in Australia, as they come in a huge variety of different shapes and sizes. They were made famous when Australian writer and illustrator May Gibbs (who was born in England) wrote about two adorable gumnut babies, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie as the main characters of her books. The eucalyptus trees which produce these gumnuts inhabit forests which are incredibly flammable. They constantly drop dry leaves and peeled bark onto the floor around them, and together with the eucalyptus oil within, can quickly turn a small fire into a fast moving and raging inferno. Every summer Australia battles bushfires to some degree, but however devastating these fires are for the animals and people living in those areas, the trees are actually adapted to be the most successful survivors. The release of seeds from the gumnuts are triggered by fire, and they fall onto the nutrient-rich ash covered ground, free from competing plants and damaging insects. They will quickly repopulate the forests, and continue to be the dominating species of the Aussie bush. Happy weekend everyone!

Click here to see my other post on Eucalyptus Flowers.

Flower Friday – Eucalyptus

Aussie Natives - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Aussie Natives – Photograph by Laura Lecce

For those of you wondering why my blog has been quiet lately, I have been on vacation to my home country of Australia. So on my return, I thought it fitting to share with you some photos I took along the way. Todays flower is from the eucalyptus tree. There are many varieties of these beautiful trees and shrubs and most are native to Australia. They play a vital role in  Australia’s natural environment and are found abundantly throughout the country, the only major environment they do not inhabit is Australia’s rainforests. Interestingly they release biochemicals which can influence the growth, reproduction and survival of other organisms, and thus inhibit other plant species growing nearby (this is called allelopathy). Planting these trees and shrubs in your yard are a great way to encourage Australian wildlife to visit your garden, as they attract and support a multitude of Australian wildlife. The most well known eucalyptus eater is the koala, but they also attract cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets and other parrots, gliders and possums. The flowers alone are beautiful to photograph, and even once they fall off, the remaining gum nuts still make for interesting subjects (seen in the photo below). Happy weekend everyone, its a long one in the USA… enjoy!

Eucalyptus - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Eucalyptus Gum Nuts – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Flower Friday – Dahlia

Dahlia - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Dahlia – Photograph by Laura Lecce

When I took this photo, I never imagined this was actually a dahlia, although now that I look at the buds and leaves more closely it makes sense. The dahlias my granddad used to grow always looked like giant pompoms (which is correctly spelt pompon in French, but was misheard as pompom by the English). Anyways, back on topic… dahlias have such a large array of variations because unlike most other plants which have two sets of chromosomes, they actually have eight! This allows for a multitude of genetic combinations and contributes to the wide diversity seen amongst these lovely flowers. Have a bright and cheery weekend everyone!