On Fallen Logs: Lovely Decomposers

As I was walking in Eliza Howell Park the other day, I met one of the regular park walkers. He greeted me – “What are you watching today?” – and I gave a one- word response – “Mushrooms.” He laughed and we continued on our separate routes.

As I reflected later on that day’s walk, I thought that a more complete answer would have been that I was “checking fallen logs to see some of the mushrooms involved in the decomposition of wood, the first stage in the recycling of the nutrients.” But that is not exactly a casual response to a greeting.

20181011_094402

In an earlier post (October 4, 2018), I noted some of the ground mushrooms that grow in Eliza Howell Park. This essay is about some of the wood mushrooms. While wood-growing mushrooms are sometimes called fungi, any fleshy fungus can be called a mushroom, as I do here.

In the first couple years after trees/limbs fall, while the logs still have bark, the mushrooms appear, often in large numbers.

20181011_102020

Sometimes the rows of mushrooms remind me of rows of garden flowers or vegetables. One fallen tree, 70 feet long, was covered.

20181011_094246

These mushrooms are agents of decay, contributing to the process of breaking down the wood. This decay is needed to get the nutrients that the trees used back into the ground for other plants to use.

I am more an admirer of nature than someone who focuses on how things work. I want to know what is going on, but even more I am simply fascinated by what I see. These log gardens have some interesting “flowers.”

To me they are lovely decomposers.

20181011_102504

Most live in groups, but some are singletons.

20181011_202640

Three years ago, a large white oak tree at the edge of the woods split in two, right down the trunk. The standing half has continued to thrive, this year again producing many large acorns.

20181011_101940

The fallen limbs have now been colonized by mushrooms.

20181011_102226

Half of the tree lives on. Half is in the process of being recycled, aided by the lovely decomposers. Both are good fates.

 

 

2 thoughts on “On Fallen Logs: Lovely Decomposers

  1. Thank you Mr. Weber for the wonderful tour and nature lesson you provided our Food Warriors on November 10th. The children are looking forward to coming back in the spring to observe the seasonal change and hopefully this time we’ll get an opportunity to see some of the wonderful birds Sanaa taught us about!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s