After a (way to) warm October, the days have finally become cold, damp and grey.
Decidous trees shed their leaves - not due to drought stress, but because it is their normal natural rhythm.
Insects are rarely seen, and only some stubborn flowers are still blooming
Finally, some time to relax!
Time to work on the backlog pile of observations to be uploaded.
Time to focus on office work, without extended lunch breaks used for iNatting the surrounding streets and parks.
Time to just looking fowards to weekends - without thinking ahead on where to go for some rewarding observations.
No FOMO anymore for observing certain species with a narrow phenological time window - those are put on the bucket list for next year
But what’s that?
A fungus that only can be found on fallen Gingko leaves?
A Gingko! Really? That very uninteresting tree which, although planted everywhere, almost never successfully produces offspring to be documened as ‘wild’?
That very ecologically unimportant entity, which is ignored by insects and pathogenic fungi alike?
It hosts a specific fungus which is regarded a living fossil? On a living fossil? A fungus, being the only species of the only genus in the only family of the only order of its class? Growing on a species (Gingko biloba) which is the only member of its genus of the only… …?!
Ok - where is the next Gingko tree? ‘Checks’ city tree list… Yep, right in walking distance for an (extended) lunch break… Found the tree … ‘Checks’ first leaf … ok - that was easy!
And didn’t I once find a handsome little mushroom on a cone?
So, please tell me, awesome iNat-community - what other host-specific fungi are there to be found in autumn on the grounds of city parks and streets, on fruits and leaves of deciduous trees?
Just to prevent that I might get bored eventually…
Hemlock needle rust could use a couple more observations to get it included in the CV training set. I’m not sure how common it is on cultivated hemlock trees but I imagine it would be possible to find it.
We have plenty of ginkgos planted around campus. I guess I’m going to have to take a walk today, too.
To add a grain of salt, there are of course unspecific saprotrophic fungi as well - so even if you find a speckled leaf or fruit, usually microscopy/a fungus expert is needed to confirm the species.
And as you can see from the Fraxinus-links provided, even different specialized fungi can be found on the same host plant.
But maybe some mycologist will join the conversation to provide further input
The Salix fungus looks great, I wasn’t aware of other members of Rhytisma apart from the maple pathogen. Unfortunately, almost no Salix trees in the inner city, need to check when I am near a stream.
The Cornus fungus should be doable, as long as there are still leaves on the tree.
I collected some Pinus needles, and will also look for conifer cones
Almost too many to count honestly, sadly a lot of them need a microscope. At least if you live in Europe I can strongly recommend the book Microfungi on Land Plants: An Identification Handbook (sadly it went out of print recently), there is enough material in there to never get boring and a lot of great drawings of microscopical characters.
Also it’s not a tree but one of my favourite substrates for showing things is dead stems of stinging nettles (Urtica), preferably ones which have been lying in somewhat moist places. There is a great diversity of things, more or less specialised, including two species of Trichopeziza with beautiful yellow hairs, tiny wineglasses (or sometimes more like nails) of Crocicreas cyathoideum, nice orange Calloria urticae, the little black tongues of Acrospermum compressum, shiny black and pointy Leptosphaeria acuta and numerous other things.
I love this type of discussion. Each year that I’ve been on iNat, I’ve been motivated to go finer or deeper. That is, I pushed myself to notice the tiniest of insects on flowers or the bumps on leaves or the variety of lichen on a tree or what lives under a rock or rotted log. I have fallen in love with galls and look for potential ones all the time.
This year, I wanted to find something I had never noticed before and I think this thread might help with that. I partially hesitate because I might notice spots on a leaf (and I am aware of leaf galls to some extent, it’s not a new concept for me) but I’m not sure what causes it and the few times I’ve uploaded something out of pure curiosity it hasn’t gotten much attention - which I actually kind of expected since I know the limitations of identifying odd ball things. But it doesn’t push me to do more since I’d have dozens of obs sitting at Unknown (vexing the crap out of someone, no doubt).
Anyway keep suggesting and please, those that might have suggestions for similar types of things to look for that maybe most of us aren’t even aware of, know that at least one person is keenly interested!
carry on… :-)
(I have pine cones… maybe I’ll try cultivating something from them!)
You might consider adding your gall observations to the Galls of North America project. I’ve learned a lot about galls from the feedback I’ve gotten from adding my own observations. It helps the identifiers if you know what plant the gall is on. Doesn’t have to be species; getting it to genus will help.
oh, I am in three gall projects and I use and learn a lot from gallformers.org, as well. It’s been really fun to learn more about them. I’m just now looking at the next deeper dive - stuff that I’m not aware of. It’s like a treasure hunt. :-)