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Archive - October 2013

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Of Migratory Warblers and Resident Turtles

Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 03:32:56 PM

I just always find something new around the Garden. Same is true for my own garden, but it’s quite a bit smaller than Fairchild. Nevertheless, last Wednesday I was hunting for mushrooms and lichen to photograph along the mulch path of the Allee (which, by the way, is defined as a walkway lined with trees or shrubs). Instead, I looked up and spotted a turtle. South Florida lakes have a ton of turtles, but it’s not so often I see any box turtles.

Florida box turtle

Terrapene carolina bauri is the Florida box turtle, a subspecies of box turtle endemic to Florida and extreme southern Georgia. It makes sense that I don’t see Florida box turtles near lakes, since they do not usually enter water deep enough to swim in, preferring instead to remain in damp or swampy areas. This seems to be a female based on its yellow to brown eyes; males have red eyes. The Florida box turtle is distinguished by its beautiful yellow stripe patterns. They are protected by law.

Well today, another nice encounter: Our chief operating officer alerted me to a bird that seemed to have been stunned by possibly flying into a window. We went out and I caught it after several very clumsy attempts. It’s a palm warbler Setophaga palmarum (possibly an immature version, based on its dearth of yellow plumage), a migrating bird probably heading to Central or South America, or maybe the Caribbean.

 Palm warbler release

We kept him/her — who I’ve named Corbin since he/she was found near the Corbin Building — in a box to rest for a little while. I later released Corbin outside the Gallery Building, and he flew, weakly, up into its lower branches. So Corbin’s still recovering; his wings seemed intact, and didn’t appear broken or awkward. Good luck, Corbin!

Palm warbler in cannonball tree


The False Parasol Mushroom

Tue, Oct 01, 2013 at 10:52:15 AM

For a couple weeks now some rather large, doorknob-shaped mushrooms have been sprouting up on the lawn between Cycad Circle and the Glasshouse Café outdoor seating area. At first there was one very large one, then as that one started becoming moribund a few other small white buttons began to emerge a few inches apart.

Chlorophyllum molybdites
The false parasol mushroom, Chlorophyllum

At one point a fairy ring of mushrooms nearly formed. I visited them just about every morning, since I can practically see them on entering my office. After a little research online and in my National Audubon Society field guide, I was able to determine they are the false parasol mushroom, sometimes referred to as the green-spored lepiota. To avoid confusion, I’m going by Chlorophyllum molybdites.

According to my guide, these are pretty common across the U.S., especially on lawns. Though not deadly, they are listed as poisonous, and are a common source of mushroom poisoning. The result of consuming them is said to be a few days of “violent purging.” Yikes.

I wasn’t 100% certain of the species—I’m not as patient as I should be in identifications—until I got a shot with my phone of the underside of one of the mushrooms. The spores, and as they mature, the gills, turn from off white to a sordid grayish green.

Chlorophyllum molybdites

Chlorophyllum molybdites trio


Chlorophyllum molybdites gills
Chlorophyllum molybdites gills—they eventually turned
an even grayer green.


Found at Fairchild Blog
Found at Fairchild Blog
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