December 15th, 2010


50 More Urban Species: #48 Conifer Witch's Butter

Conifer witch's butter, Dacrymyces chryospermus, pushes fruiting bodies out of the thick paint on a pine bench.

This jelly fungus is one of the delights of the mushroom fan in winter. When the ice thaws and a chilly rain falls on everything, the translucent orange lobes of witch's butter appear. On hardwood trees, the witch's butter is Tremella, a parasitic fungus eating the wood-digesting fungus within. On conifers like pine and hemlock, Dacrymyces grows instead. (D. palmatus is the most common binomial listed in online sources, but D. chrysospermus seems to be the more up-to-date scientific name.) Besides habitat, Tremella and Dacrymyces can be distinguished by the microscopic features of their spore-producing cells. Apparently the base of Dacrymyces fruiting bodies can be whitish, but I honestly have not observed this myself. Tremella is known to be edible, but on the question of Dacrymyces, mycologist Gary Lincoff says it "helps if you're a witch."

3:00 snapshot #649

I sustained just about the most minor injury that could possibly make me lose time at work (except for back muscle strain, which I've already done twice). I was cutting up a diet (greens for a box turtle, if you must know) when I cut Collapse )my fingerCollapse ). It didn't hurt too much, until I got to the hospital and the doctor poured some sterile water over it to clean it. "That smarts a bit," I said, clenching my eyes shut and writhing about the edge of the wax paper.

The doctor got me some pain meds (she initially offered muscle relaxants for some reason) and some cookies and ginger ale. Perhaps she's used to pediatric patients? Then she put on the giant bandage, the base of which is a Star Trek fabric called Surgicel, which will bind to my skin. The paperwork sent back with me indicated I could return to work so long as I didn't "lift, carry, push, or pull" anything, which summarizes my job description pretty well. My boss sent me home to keep me out of the way of the more useful people who will be expected to do my job. I stayed home today mostly out of shame.

Alexis redressed the bandage today, and the injury is a nice healthy gangrene black. It's just clotted blood but it's pretty gross. Tomorrow, which I had already taken off to pack and clean (lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling things) I have a morning appointment to have the injury reevaluated and hopefully a new bandage put on that is small enough to cover with a nitrile glove. Alexis' twitter followers were treated to my winter glove improvisation: a wool sock with the heel cut off so my giant finger can protrude. I'll say one thing for the bandage, it's keeping the finger nice and warm.

Urban Nature Pictures 12/15

Garden of Art, a small open space on Parker Street on Mission Hill. It's directly across the street from the tiny Franciscan monastery. There's very little information about the Garden online, but it appears to be maintained by cooperating groups including local colleges, elementary schools, and Shawmut Springs Church.

It looks like it would be a wonderfully lively place in the non-winter months; I'll have to pay a return visit.