I spent most of last Sunday's hike splashing around the creek and its tributaries since it was so warm and humid, but I did venture up a few hills into the forest and was able to get some great mushroom and fungus pictures.
Orange Mycena grows in clusters on dead logs and these clusters are easily spotted due to the bright orange color of the mushrooms. This common species of mushroom is found throughout the eastern United States and is even known to have some medicinal qualities.
Pale Touch Me Nots are so similar to Spotted Touch Me Nots (I. capensis) that I have a hard time telling the two apart, unless they are flowering. And I've noticed that they must be a favorite for deer since many of the plants I encounter show signs of deer predation. Both Pale and Spotted Touch Me Nots are also known as Jewelweeds, but I prefer the common name Touch Me Nots, since it relates to their seed pods which burst open at the slightest touch.
Eastern Hophornbeam is named for its seed pods that resemble the fruit of the Hops plant that is in the making of beer. I've also made a few bows over the years from Hickory, Red Oak, and White Ash so I from my research that Hophornbeam is a quality bow wood used by early Native Americans.
Hairy Wood Mint, also known as the Hairy Pogoda plant, is a species of wild mint that is native to our area. In some New England states is it considered endangered but it seems to be fairly common around here so it must not be a species of concern in our area. As the name suggests, the plant's leaves give off a minty odor when crushed, but it has never been used generally as a source of food by humans.
Beech Aphid Poop Eater fungus is what is known as a "sooty" mold. It grows in thin black layers on leaves in which the Beech Aphid has excreted their poop, which as it turns out is a sugar-rich liquid. This sugar-rich excretion is also known as a "honeydew exudate."
I've hiked most all of the length of Little Sewickley Creek and the only backwater I've ever encountered is one that is well established pond and holds water even during the dryest of summers. Much like vernal pools, backwaters provide excellent nurseries for multitudes of different aquatic and amphibian species adding one more niche to the ecosystem as a whole.
Considered by many to be a weed, Orange Hawkweed grows in my front yard and it is one of my favorite flowers. Even though Orange Hawkweed is not native to our North America, the tiny orange and red petals are so beatuiful to me and I'm amazed at their hardiness since they return after each time my yard is mowed.