Monday, May 03, 2021

And bam! It got fun!

May rolled in with hot weather and high winds. Our fire danger was Extreme which is unheard of in our neck of the woods. The land of steep valleys and plentiful streams.

But it was true. Our stream banks were dry and the water levels were low. Mosses had turned brown and had gone dormant in the forest. I found two types of fungi in the woods. A Pheasant Back and one lone Morel.

Pheasant Back. I've heard from others that these are eatable. And since I am grew up hearing that all mushrooms would KILL you from my grandmother, the only one I am confident on in the wilds is the morel.

88 degrees with winds that howled and tossed branches around was a summary of May 1st.
We watched dust devils whirl about in the winter pasture. The interior of the house was at 65 degrees and felt cold when we went inside. I read on the porch most of the day. So the 1st was a bust.

I got up at dawn for some reason on Sunday and decided to go for a morning walk. The hot weather made the wild apple trees burst forth with blossoms. I decided to go for a walk up through the old meadow and woods to get Saturday's mail in the early light.
In spring I feel that need to be out every day and watch in wonder as trees that have been so barren and stark all winter burst forth with leaves and flowers or catkins. It is Fall in reverse. 

I pulled out my books on trees and wildflowers and set them aside for when I got back from my walk with Charlie.

Knowing my trees is important while hunting morels. So after years of putting off learning about trees and ID'ing them from their bark, shapes, and leaves, I have decided to make another attempt at it. Maybe if I can figure out my trees, I can find morels faster? I don't know!

My husband said there were NO elms left because of Dutch Elm disease. Imagine my surprise when I ID'd this shot below. Classic elm tree shot, right? I think so! I've seen several of these in the woods. After the seeds drop though, the leaves look so similar to the Ironwood tree that litters our forest.

This one could be a slippery elm.

This one is obvious. The oak tree. But what type? 
I'm pretty sure this is a red oak. 

There were several types of maples leafing out. I think this one is a Red Maple. 

I know the neighbor on the ridge taps the 'Sugar' Maples but I'm not even sure if I can tell the difference in them until they fully develop leaves. As I said, I'm no expert but am curious to see if I can learn the difference.

Below is where I get all my apples. They are wild apple trees probably planted by the cattle that used to roam these woods and pastures or the birds? I even named this tree after my mule Opal. Opal Apples. This tree makes the best apple jelly of any of the wild trees. Opal used to rise up on her hind legs and pick apples. 

It was a sight to see!

I have many photos to go through. I have a possible cherry tree and perhaps a Prickly Ash and any regular Ash trees I can find. 

There were some bushes along the road that perplexed me. I've noticed the flowers before and the bush but never could figure out what exactly they were. 
I'll save those for later.

My all time favorite tree is the Hawthorne Tree. It has sharp spikes and interesting leaves and flowers.
I went through the meadow to the edge of the woods to see if the Hawthorne was blossoming yet.

I love its structure and its leaves.

It generally has blossomed out by the first of May.
I'll be going back every day until I get the blossoms. Walking through all those wild apple trees is like walking through a Pez candy container. The air is sweet and delicious.

Charlie went with me in the afternoon ... but decided he'd had enough of tall grasses. He simply sat down eventually in the grass and refused to move.

He decided when we got home to take his place on his throne, also known as the porch bench and rule his world from a more comfortable place.

His underbite gets me all of the time. His expression is priceless.

I think this is his imitation of being 'The Godfather'.


  1. Northern Red Oak would be my guess on your Oak. You have spring popping up all over. Today I noticed that the willows look green...Saturday was real warm here:)

    1. I think so too but there is a black oak out there too. The red oak is more common. Thank you!

  2. You can have allll our Hawthornes, I dislike them. They are invasive here, and their thorns hurt. Yea, I don't eat wild mushrooms either. Just not confident in my ID ability. A small group of older folks at the Wellness Center I used to be a member of was deep in conversation (with me on the bench in between) about finding/cooking wild white button type mushrooms. I really wanted to invite them over to pick mushrooms on our property. We had a healthy supply of what they were describing that season. I minded my own business instead. We are finally getting rain today! It is pouring as I type. Everything is instantly growing. Cute pics of Charlie, who clearly rules the house.

    1. I will trade you for Buckthorn? They are pretty ugly. There are only 3 trees within about 50 acres of here. I know hubby dozed them down with the skid steer when we used that pasture. I just like their texture and foliage.
      The rain has been wonderful the mules are making mud pies and the grass grew a foot. Yeah, I exaggerate.

      A lady in our area was asking around for places she could come and forage and pick mushrooms. I had the same reaction but told her to try all the public land around.
      It would be too easy for someone to get lost out in our area.

      Yes, Charlie rules the house. Funny that my husband caters to him!

    2. Pretty sure I mentioned the wrong invasive. My apologies!! I am very much still learning. Had to look your fav tree up, and it is referred to as a "fairy tree" that farmers believe is bad luck to cut down. Geez, I don't want the fairies mad at me! They can make a mess of things. I believe we have both of these thorny tree's growing on our property, the invasive one is Buckthorn (bush vs tree?). We have a lot of scrappy stuff growing because of our poor soil, making ID more difficult for me. Now I am curious and need to take a closer look at the larger thorny tree's. Anyways, so sorry for dissing your fav fairy tree!!

    3. No worries! I wrote about the Hawthorne Tree being a fairy tree and the May Tree about 10 yrs ago when I first delighted in finding them. Hubby said he dislikes them. He makes Fairies very mad! :)

  3. *3 Hawthorne trees.

  4. Pheasant back is edible! ( I have eaten it!) It is TOUGH! So most people cut the edges and eat that like they would chicken of the woods. ( another DELICIOUS edible tree mushroom.) Some people pickle and can pheasant back. I have discoverd that if you dry it ( doesn't matter what part, though I try not to accept the tough stems.) slice it thin and after drying, you can grind or powder it up for soup stock or gravies. They have a wonderful mushroom flavor... especially when dry. And in powder form, you wont encounter any "tough" chewy parts. I'm pretty sure there are still elms in north America. ( Ok, I know there are. ) They may have the disease, but it takes time to kill them. Lucky you are finding morels! We just had some rain, so fingers crossed.

    1. Awesome! Thanks for the info. I think dried pheasant back might be the best way to go as I love putting dried morels in soups and stews. Are the big BIG ones good? Or the ones just starting?

      I was surprise at really how little I know about trees. When I was a child, we lived on a street that in the summer was like an incredible tunnel of trees. The trees were elms. It was a sight to see.
      I haven't tried chicken of the woods yet either, but think I found a huge pile of them last year!