Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Robert C. and Rosella C. Johnson Nature Preserve, Allen County

      I had the pleasure of visiting the Johnson Nature Preserve together with my husband, Sherman.  It is rare that he and I get to venture out into nature without our kiddos!
      The Johnson preserve actually shares space within an 88 acre area with two other nature preserves, the Tom and Jane Dustin preserve and the Whitehurst preserve.  Since it's nearly impossible for the average hiker to know where one preserve ends and another begins, I'll do my best to share photos that I'm pretty sure came just from the Johnson preserve.
How nice..."his & hers" trails.
      I should have known when Sherman offered to accompany me on this day's hikes, that it wouldn't take long for him to loose interest.  
Some of the preserves I've hiked have been so secluded as to have no cell service.
Lucky for Sherman, this location is fully connected. 
      While Sherman was busily texting away, I was snapping pics of anything and everything.  Here are a few interesting things I saw...
Aren't these tiny mushrooms adorable?!
These are young polypore fungi.  Polypores are one of the most common and widespread types of wild mushrooms.  Many are edible, and none are poisonous.  There are 3 characteristics that polypore mushrooms share: 1) Nearly all polypores grown on wood, such as trees, logs, or stumps.  These mushrooms are either decomposers or parasites and wood is their food. 2) Polypores are shaped more like a shelf than an umbrella. For this reason they are sometimes called "bracket" or "shelf" fungi. If they have a stem it will be very short and off-center.  3) All polypores have many tiny holes, or pores, on the underside of their caps.  Hence the name polypore, which means "many pores." Microscopic spores emerge from these pores as part of the fungal reproductive cycle. 

**Please note: not all shelf-shaped mushrooms, mushrooms growing on wood, or mushrooms with pores on the underside are non-poisonous! To be a polypore the fungus must exhibit all three of these characteristics together. 
The skeleton of a former pine tree.  
Juniper berries.
These aren't really berries.  A juniper berry is actually the cone of the juniper tree or bush.  The scales of the cone are unusually fleshy and merged together which give it it's berry-like appearance.  Did you know...the alcoholic spirit gin gets its flavor from juniper berries?  

     As I turned to show Sherman the juniper berries I had found, and tell him he should make his own gin if he could find a recipe, this is what I saw...
I'm sure he wasn't Googling gin recipes.
      In between texts I managed to get him to hike with me down a steep bluff to the edge of Cedar Creek, and into the next preserve.  But halfway down, we discovered this amazing tangle of exposed tree roots...

These very old trees have experienced lots of years of topsoil erosion, leaving empty spaces
 underneath and in between their root systems.  If Hank were with us, I'm sure he
would attempt to investigate these mysterious alcoves.

      I'm pretty sure we've crossed over into the neighboring nature preserve by now, the Tom and Jane Dustin preserve.  Stay tuned as our husband/wife hiking adventure continues!

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