Treasures in the Forest

April 21st, 2009

It rained incredibly this past weekend, but for a few hours on Saturday morning we went exploring with nice weather.   And what did we find?  Ah, the elusive morel!  Finally… it wasn’t even on our property, but in a state natural area.  We hiked all over both upland and bottomland forest, and ended up finding eight morels.  Not very much for the time we spent, considering that some folks find them in the hundreds.  But we were excited and had a lot of fun exploring.  This morel was over 3 inches tall…  a little breading and it fried right up- yum!  All together we found 4… The young one loved finding one of his own.   Turns out that I’m about the only one interesting in eating them…  maybe I can get the boy to try them…   but hey, somebody has to do the hard jobs right?!  Hopefully with the weather warming up this week we’ll have a chance to find a few more.


As we hiked along we found many wildflowers – my favorite is Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria).  I remember long ago wandering in a similar place at this time of year- there were thousands of these carpeting the forest floor, it was amazing. What a great name for a wildflower.


A group of yellow violets were found in a bottomland site.  I think this is Viola pubescens var. leiocarpa.


We also came across a fallen log revealing the love someone shared for another… and maybe they still do.  This was a fallen sycamore tree, about 4 feet in diameter. The names are carved sideways on the log, so the carving is probably not too old, but I don’t know.  You could write a story from something like this.  Have you ever carved your name in a tree?  I think I did long ago when I was younger once.  Wouldn’t these two be surprised to see their names here?!


Speaking of trees- can anyone identify this one? The tree itself was only about 6-8 inches in diameter, but the bark was amazing.  And the tree was 20-30 feet tall, with no twigs or other identifying material low enough to examine. There were no other trees like it in the area.


And the young one discovered an amazing field of purple henbit and yellow mustard flowers. He wandered through the field joyfully picking tiny flowers and enjoying the colors… These are the kinds of things I’ll remember when he grows up.  It was a nice day.


12 Responses to “Treasures in the Forest”

  1. R. Sherman

    Congrats on the morels. I’m surprised you found a dry spell to get out this past weekend.

    Re: Natural Areas. There are so many good ones in our state. I’ve yet to be disappointed when I’ve popped in on one.


  2. I’m heading out this weekend to hunt some mushroom. Unfortunately, all three in my family love to eat them.

    The tree is a hackberry tree easy identifiable by the bark as you pointed out with your camera.

  3. Dutchman’s Breeches! My favorite spring wildflower! They smell good too (put your face down close). I read that they have a cousin, Squirrel Corn, which is solid instead of divided, but have never seen any.

    I envy you the morels. I used to go picking champignons with my grandfather in Germany. But like your son, I would only pick, not eat. Wish I could have them back now.

  4. pamela

    The morels are nice, but the yellow violet is spectacular.
    That sounds like a fun family weekend. It so made me miss my out of town kids.

  5. R.- It was pretty darn wet, but we lucked out- the rain stopped when we started, and resumed when we quit!

    Ed- I’m sure you’ll find a bunch in your old haunts- I’m looking for one of those sweet spots that I can keep secret! I was thinking hackberry too- but the bark just seems more excessive/corky than others I’ve seen. Glad to know that’s what you thought…

    Edelweiss- Isn’t it a cool flower!? But you know, I never realized they had a fragrance. I’m afraid I may have to wait until next year to enjoy it, I only saw a few at the end of their bloom. I’ve never heard of squirrel corn- that’s funny. And champignons? I’ll have to read of them- what a special remembrance of your grandfather.

    Pamela- I didn’t think much about the yellow violet at first after seeing the blue and purple ones the past few weeks- but later I was so glad I took the picture, because I only saw two or three in as many hours! It is such a pretty flower.

  6. Congrats! You found the morels! I need to search again, hope I don’t have to share. :)

    You always have such great pics, thank you. :)


  7. Congratulations on the morels–Ed seems to have the best luck/skill in finding them, at least among the bloggers.

  8. I’ve seen them like that and with smaller ridges of more dense bark too. I have always theorized that it has something to do with moisture or soil conditions but have never been anywhere with enough of them in a small enough area to prove it. I can usually also identify a hackberry by stepping back and looking at the limb structure in the top of the tree. It has a cluttered, unorganized look to it compared to other hardwoods.

  9. Ron- I hope you find some too! (and thanks for your thoughts :)

    Sage- I think you’re right, Ed is an old pro!

    Ed- I wish I had thought to take a picture looking up… that would have helped to be sure. I’ve seen the smaller ridged versions, but that’s why this one confused me. But I’m with you on the hackberry. Interesting tree- I’ve only seen the bark one other time years ago and didn’t recognize it.

  10. Carol

    The tree with the interesting bark is a cork oak. That’s where cork comes from.

  11. Leroy

    I live in Virginia, and native persimmons also have bark like that but only when they reach great age. I have a piece of persimmon bark off a huge old tree (now dead) that is 4″ thick and has over 110 layers visible. I’m guessing that it’s older and some of the early layers may be missing. The tree was maybe 50 feet tall and about 7-8 feet in circumference.

  12. Hi Leroy! That must have been a beautiful tree with bark so thick. Thanks for coming by :)

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