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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Some Humble Rain-loving Organisms of the Region

We are getting an excellent wet season, with over 30 inches of rain so far since July 1, 2016.

The soil is deeply saturated, and moisture-loving organisms like fungi, slime molds and bryophytes are making many appearances in San Diego County.

I've managed to explore a bit here in the Cuyamacas, and also "down the hill", searching for fungi and other interesting things that will not be much in evidence in a few months when the dry season arrives.

Some delicate white mushrooms, to be determined. Felicita Park, Escondido (as are the other mushrooms below). Late January.

Mystery mushroom with upturned gills.

Possibly an Amanita sp.

Slime mold (a "protist", not a fungus). This one is Badhamia utricularis. Found close to our house, Cuyamaca Woods. Early February.

Badhamia utricularis, older sporangia. Found with the younger sporangia seen above.

Another slime mold, probably Leocarpus fragilis. Spotted by Gary on a walk near Stonewall Mine in the Cuyamacas.

Liverworts, which are relatives of the mosses. Non-vascular plants, they need to live very close to the ground, and usually don't reveal themselves unless it is somewhat moist out. This seems to be Asterella californica, and these may by male individuals. Found at Dos Picos County Park in Ramona in early March, as were all the remaining liverworts below.

Asterella californica archegoniophores, which contain archegonia, the female reproduction structures which produce eggs. The male plant's sperm must SWIM to these eggs; thus the need for moisture!

I think this is probably Asterella palmeri. It was growing right next the species above.

Fossombronia sp., tiny liverworts that I did not even see when I photographed the bigger, more spectacular liverworts above (if liverworts can be described as "spectacular!). I saw them in my photos, and luckily was able to crop out this image. The black "balls" are the diploid sporophytes (the green tissue is haploid).

2 comments:

  1. Fascinating changes. Not quite as dramatic here in the AZ desert. Funny, as a kid I hated liverworts. They grew in my grandmother's moist, cold, plant-less little yard (she also had a beautiful garden elsewhere) between her big brownstone and an abandoned stable for horses that I never met. The liverworts were slimy, slippery and seemed mis-shaped to my kid's eyes. (I was about 4) I never knew that they would become special and a rare sight - never expected to end up in the desert.

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