Shaggy Mane Mushrooms

Shaggy Mane Mushroom - Coprinus comatus
Shaggy Mane Mushroom – Coprinus comatus

Most mushrooms change their appearance, some dramatically, as they go through their life cycle. This can make them difficult to identify because most field guides only show them at the peak of maturity. Shaggy Mane mushrooms grow quickly, open into a bell shape, and then turn black. They are not poisonous.

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Empty Diatoms

Empty Diatom -  Genus: Pinnularia
Empty Diatom – Genus: Pinnularia

This is also a Pinnularia, but a different species. It is an “empty” diatom; meaning that it has died and all of its inner features have disappeared. This makes the details of the frustule much more visible. Many amateur microscopists treat diatoms with harsh acids to dissolve their inner workings for this reason. Acid does not harm the frustule, which is virtually indestructible.

Vernal Pond

Vernal Pond (Elton PA)
Vernal Pond (Elton PA)

A vernal pond is a small temporary body of water which usually makes its brief appearance in the springtime. This is a local one that I use as a source of micro-organisms. The number of micro-critters is relatively high but the variety is not so great. This is because the only permanent residents are those which can withstand repeated de-hydration and re-hydration as the pond comes and goes throughout the year.