Rains Bring Winter "Wonders"

Today’s Glimpse from the Field is the latest edition of David and Doug's San Bruno Mountain Rare Plant Alert email, from February 2017. Soeven though this "Rare Plant Alert" is not about plants (or animals) - it's about other eucarotic, multicellular organisms that thrive in moist mountain locations. David Nelson and Doug Allshouse are on the Mountain every Saturday in their search for interesting, rare and endemic plants - this ongoing research is the basis for their upcoming book. Together they are writing "The Natural History of San Bruno Mountain", a long-needed and detailed natural history of the Mountain. The book will be published by the California Native Plant Society.

David Nelson, aside from being a surgeon, is a devoted Mountain Watcher and amateur botanist. Doug Allshouse is an expert on San Bruno Mountain flora & fauna who has studied the Mountain for 38 years. They send out regular SBM Rare Plant Alert emails to interested persons. David can be contacted at nelsondl@pacbell.net and Doug at dougsr228@comcast.net. Contact David if you would like to be on the SBM Rare Plant Alert List.


Greetings to all who love San Bruno Mountain! This is a San Bruno Mountain Alert, bringing you plant and other news from the Mountain (The last Alert went out December 3, 2016). Some of these winter wonders are not identified, so if you know an ID, please contact David.
 
Rain has been on the menu virtually every day since the beginning of January, so we will start with the mushrooms, what we call the "Wildflowers of Winter", which have been spectacular.

This beauty is a form of Fairy Fingers called Clavulinopsis luteoalba, or Apricot Club fungus (thanks to Mark Sustarich, our Third Musketeer, for the ID). We have seen a white variation of this fungus once before, on 2/7/15, along the trail to April Brook, part of the Summit Loop Trail. This fungus was growing low down in Brisbane Acres, preferring a level area with deep leaf litter. We saw about a dozen, 6 cm tall.

Coral Fungus

Coral Fungus

Not far away was this beauty! A Coral Fungus, Ramariopsis kunzei, about 5 cm tall. This fungus preferred a vertical and mostly bare embankment. Again, we saw about a dozen.

 

We went from small to tall with this giant mushroom. This one below was 20 cm across. The ID is unknown; if you know, contact us. It was growing in a cluster, low down in Brisbane acres, on a steep embankment that was heavily covered in mulch.

This one is Leocarpus fragilis, commonly referred to as Insect-Egg Slime Mold.

There are some great videos online of slim molds traveling, just google "slime mold". David kept one in the kitchen a few years back - quite entertaining if you have the right disposition to keep a moving, growing slime mold in the kitchen with the food.

Helvella vespertina

Helvella vespertina

When transected, it looks like this

When transected, it looks like this

And where would winter be without Witch's Butter, Tremella mesenterica? This was found on many decaying bay tree limbs. This species has been found every winter after a good soaking, along the upper half of Buckeye or Owl Canyon, in the forests. Many of the bays died in the fire and are now decayed enough to support this fungus. In a few years, the substrate may not support it anymore, and we may not see them.

Finally, while we are looking the water-loving life forms, our study would not be complete without a liverwort, which actually IS a plant, but a non-vascular plant.

Liverworts, like mosses, are spore-bearing plants without vascular structures, so they typically are very small - these were 12 mm tall. These were found on rocks above and east of April Brook, halfway up the ridge. On the right is the reproductive part, the archigonium. The spores will be borne on the white structure extending down from the umbrella-shaped top. It is unclear, but the fine filament in the foreground on the left may be the antheridium, the male structure. This was the highlight of the day on 1/28/17.

David & Doug