Slugs, Bugs, and Chicken of the Woods

It rained a lot of Saturday so the woods were especially wet on Sunday morning when I hiked.  Surprisingly the creek wasn't as high as I expected it to be alhtough it was pretty cloudy from all the runoff.  But for those creatures that prefer a damp existence, they're probably in heaven.

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) -
While I'm fairly familiar with Indian Pipe, this is the first I've actually seen the internal parts of the flowers, particularly the "anthers." The flower petals seem to have dropped exposing the anthers, which to me look like tiny little flowers themselves.  Indian Pipe is also known as the "Ghost Plant" from its pale appearance due to the lack of chlorophyll in the plant.

Crown Tipped Coral Fungus (Artomyces pyxidatus) - 
This is the first I've run into Crown Tipped Coral fungus this year and surprisingly I found this cluster with several other clusters nearby.. more than I've ever seen before at one time.  So I can only assume it's due to the especially wet summer we've had.

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) -
I found five or six good size clumps of Chicken of the Woods on just one large oak stump.  The bright orange, yellow, and pink colors of this common shelf fungus really stood out on a grey day and the "shelves" will continue to get bigger in the coming weeks.  According to my mushroom field guide, Chicken of the Woods is a "choice edible" and apparently tastes very similar to chicken (hence the name... haha).  Disclaimer: As always, never eat any plants or mushrooms that you have not positively identified.

Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera) -
This was the only Star Chickweed plant I found on Sunday and as with many of the other specimens I find, it was right next to the creek with its roots probably in the water.  A pretty little flower, the blossoms are no bigger than a nickel and the plant only reaches about knee high in height.

Apheloria Millipede (Apheloria virginiensis) - 
This is the first I've photographed an Apheloria Millipede and I'm almost certain of my identification.  This milipede was walking across some moss and wouldn't stop so the picture is a little out of focus.  But I wanted to include it in this post since I saw three other Apheloria Millipedes on Sunday, so they must like wet weather too.

Slug on Impatiens Capensis
I could see from a distance that this Spotted Touch Me Not flower (Impatiens Capensis) was oddly shaped but it wasn't until I got up close that I realized it was because there was a slug is wrapped around it.  I am not sure what type of slug this is, I guess it could be the Common Garden Slug (Arion distinctus) but either way I thought it was interesting to see it on such a pretty flower.

Slug on Walnut Shell - 
I hadn't walked more than twenty feet or so and I ran into another slug sitting on a fresh Black Walnut shell (Juglans nigra) with a tiny pool of water at the bottom.  As with the other slug, it might be a Common Garden Slug (Arion distinctus) but I'm really not sure.  I like this picture though, it looks like the slug is drinking water from the bottom of the shell. 

Dew Drops - 
These dew drops caught my eye in the grasses along the trail as I was hiking down a steep hill.  I was able to get a few good pictures, this being my favorite.  And if you look close, I think you can see my reflection in one of the larger droplets.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) - 
At quick glance, I counted 32 bugs climbing in and around these Common Milkweed flowers.  I've written about how important Milkweed is for butterflies, moths, and countless other insects... so I guess I now have photographic proof.

More Pictures:

Crown Tipped Coral Fungus (Artomyces pyxidatus)

Pennsylvania Smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum)

Spotted Touch Me Not (Impatiens capensis)

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus

Apheloria Millipede (Apheloria virginiensis)

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

Dew Drops

Heal All (Prunella vulgaris)

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)