A Puffball, a Turtlehead, and Lots of Asters

Autumn is take a hold even though we've had some warmer temperatures lately.  The trees are really starting to show some color and the woods smell like dead leaves.  It won't be long before colder days and nights become the norm and summer is a distant memory.

Pear Shaped Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme) - 
Pear Shaped Puffballs, like almost all puffballs, are considered a choice edible when they are young and their flesh is still white.  Eventually the white flesh will turn a greenish-brown in color and disintegrate into the powder that they are known for spreading when touched.  These specimens looked to be healthy and in their prime if one was interested in eating them.

Smooth Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) -
Smooth Blue Aster is similar to New England Aster, but is commonly much shorter and has fewer blossoms.  Both are quite beautiful, but Smooth Blue Asters flowers are also smaller and its leaves are smooth to the touch.

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) -
We actually found two different clusters of Chicken of the Woods while hiking on Sunday.  The first seemed just past its prime, but this cluster was perfectly healthy.  If you remove the bright pink outer skin of Chicken of the Woods, the white flesh beneath actually looks very similar to cooked chicken breast... I personally still haven't tried eating it, but someday I'm sure I will.

Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) -
I was really surprised to find a Wingstem plant that still had petals on its flowers, but as I've written about before, this has been a strange year.  The plant was very short with only had one blossom and looked "stunted" so I doubt I'll be seeing anymore Wingstem this year.

Pink Turtlehead (Chelone obliqua) - 
Pink Turtlehead is listed as an uncommon wildflower primarily native to the state of Illinois, but can be found throughout the midwest region.  So it's not suprising to me that I find so few Turtlehead plants, but they are in our area.  And their blossoms, which do in fact resemble a turtle's head, are a very beautiful shade of pinkish-white.

Big Boulder - 
This rather large boulder sits at the junction of two very small tributaries of Little Sewickley Creek.  Both tributaries are steep and narrow with a lot of waterfalls and cascades along their lengths, so getting there is not terribly easy, but it's worth it.

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) -
New England is definitely one of my favorite wildflowers, mostly because its purple blossoms are so beautiful, but also because I seem to see it everywhere.  This specimen is growing right along the stream and looked extremely healthy.

Spotted Touch Me Not (Impatiens capensis) -
I haven't really been looking for the Touch Me Nots lately because I thought for sure they were finally done for the year, but as it turns out there are quite a few Spotted Touch Me Not bushes down by the stream clustered together among the other tall grasses and weeds.  And the flowers, such as this one, looked perfectly healthy and didn't show any sign of decline so I'm honestly not sure when their season will end this year...

White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata) - 
I find a lot of White Wood Aster along the trails and fields around the Little Sewickley Creek area.  As I've said before though, there are a lot of different Asters blooming right now, so identification can be challenging.  The yellow center discs of the White Wood Aster's flowers turn to purple as they age, making for a nice mix of color in photographs.

Fall Phlox (Phlox paniculata) - 
Fall Phlox, as is the case with many other types of Phlox, is a favorite for gardeners and landscapers to include in flower beds, but it is in fact a wildflower.  I found this Fall Phlox at the edge of a field and the dew drops on its petals made for a great picture.

More Pictures:

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

Turkeytail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)

Fall Phlox (Phlox paniculata)