Species #9 to #15

Dates: 8 -14 March 2020

These were the “Lifeforms of the Day” for the second week … they originally appeared on this Facebook page. If you would like to follow that page you will get a new species to enjoy and learn about each day until some embuggerment or another prevents me posting.

The images can be clicked on to view them at full size.


Species #9
Dark-eyed Junco / Junco ardoisé (Junco hyemalis)

8 March

A tiny sparrow that comes south to Montreal in winter in the same way Montrealers head for Florida. Small flocks of them can be found on the snow wherever there is food to be gathered – especially under seed feeders in gardens where they clear up after the messier birds have scattered seeds on the ground. They will go onto feeders but much prefer to gather their food on the ground. Found all across Canada, there are fifteen distinct forms of this species, four or five visually distinguishable, which many people will consider to be be different species, but they are not. The one we see here in the east is the Slatey-backed Junco. in breeding season they are up on the dense boreal forest but winter habit is for more open spaces. Welcome visitors and cheery friends in winter.

Species #10
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

9 March

After a week of this I thought to slip in a bit of unseasonal greenery while we wait for spring. This plant, also known for some reason as bachelor’s buttons, grows regularly around here and we have clumps in the garden. Another Asteracea, it is not native to North America but seems well naturalised. It has a purported ability to treat fevers, headache and mask unpleasant flavors in food – it is also reputedly efficaceous against mosquitoes, creatures we have many of here in summer and which will certainly feature in the 1000 Species list at some point (possibly flattened).

Species #11
Boreal Oakmoss (Evernia mesomorpha)
10 March
 
I noticed that Tom (who “invented” the 1000 Species challenge) has spent increasing amounts of time with lichens recently. I had thought to skirt around these as they are, like Gulls, known to be difficult. However, when out birding in a wooded area we happened upon this rather splendid antler-form species and then started spotting them all over the place. Hence the next three days are going to going to be devoted to lichens – which are very interesting things. Note – identifying lichens in winter is not the ideal time as reproductive structures are not exactly evident … must return in spring and summer and look for more.
 
Note: I puzzled for a long time over the identity of this lichen. It is VERY similar to Oak Moss Lichen (Evernia prunastri) which exists all over the northern hemisphere, mostly on the bark of oak trees but also on firs and pines and a few others. In France it is harvested for fragrant compounds used in perfumes. An expert on iNaturalist confirmed that it is E. mesomorpha … good to know. Apparently what we have here is an immature thallus. Soredia are not delimited in patches as in E. prunastri and smaller branches are not flattened.

Species #12
Common Greensheild Lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata)

11 March

A medium to large foliose lichen that has a very distinctive pale yellow green upper cortex when dry – and it was certainly dry on this winter’s day. It is found on a wide range of surfaces and may grow to cover an area the size of a dinner plate – it was certainly the commonest lichen seen in the woodland we were visiting. Its name comes from ‘flavus’ in Latin, which means yellow or golden. This may be a little misleading as its colour is mostly an apple green.

 

Species #13
Candleflame Lichen (Candelaria concolor)

12 March

The golden colour calls to the eye. Probably a species I will need to return to later in the year when its growth should be more “helpful”. To quote form an expert – “This micro-beauty usually appears in discrete, suborbicular, flat cushions, which are quite small, less than 10 mm in diameter. But, it can be also be abundant, in larger, irregular, widespread fragments, sometimes confluent and covering the whole small branches circumferentially. When looked through a hand lens it is an incredible natural filigree of golden lobes set in a delicate and stochastic ornament. The lobes are attached to the bark with scattered, white, simple rhizines.“ The yellow pigment provides a “sunscreen” for the algae that dwell in this species and grow better in low light levels. One of the more common tree lichens.

Species #14
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

13 March

There is a huge specimen of this tree about 10 minutes walk away from where we found this specimen – but this one was small and had greenery that was close enought ot the ground to be photographed. Known to the Haudenosaunee first nation people as the “Tree of Peace”. very widespread in eastern north America – or was before early settlers cut millions of them down. Considered to be the tallest tree in eastern North America. In natural pre-colonial stands it is reported to have grown as tall as 70 m (230 ft) – this speciemn has a lot of growing ahead of it before it reaches those dimensions.

Species #15
Spongipellis sp. – possibly pachydon

14 March

This fungis is parasitic on oaks and other hardwoods; causing a white heart rot. Grows gregariously or in shelving or fused clusters and is widely distributed in eastern North America. This speciemn is quite small and discrete compared to what it can become.