Kentucky woods and springtime

Harry and I recently went to Natural Bridge State Resort Park near Slade, KY, one of our favorite places to hike. Our spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is blooming (read last year’s spicebush post), and I was pleased to find it scattered through the woods as well.

blooming lindera benzoinWith all of our recent warm weather, plants are a good two weeks ahead of their usual schedules and there were plenty of signs of spring.

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Turkey Tail mushrooms

I’ve seen these mushrooms before and called them “little brown ruffles.” I was recently surprised to find them in the backyard and learned they are called Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes veriscolor).

Maxine Stone’s Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms and the Mushroom Expert were helpful in identifying them. The amusing name refers to the mushroom’s design and colors that resemble the tail of a strutting wild turkey.

Trametes veriscolor

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Scarlet Cup Mushroom (Sarcoscypha coccinea)

Scarlet cup mushsroom

Mushrooms seem magical to me. I found these last weekend at Natural Bridge State Resort Park, near Slade, KY. I was looking and hoping for signs of spring and not having much luck. Then I spied these small, bright red mushrooms peeking out from the brown and gray leaves and twigs. The largest one was about the size of a silver dollar.

Later, I checked The Mushroom Hunter’s Field Guide by Alexander H. Smith and Nancy Smith Weber, to identify them as scarlet cup mushrooms. To my surprise I found that I had indeed discovered a sign of spring. They usually appear before the trees leaf out and “they may last for several weeks if the weather remains cool.”  I’ll be watching for more of them in the next few weeks.