Shortly after Bill and I moved into the house we built on our 200-acre Decatur County, Iowa property we planted three serviceberry trees west of the house. Since then we have lost one of the trees but the other two are thriving. We particularly like these trees not only because of the showy white flowers but the many birds attracted to the fruit. However, the flowers bloom so early in the season that they are very susceptible to frost damage which negatively impacts fruit abundance. This year, for example, the serviceberries began blooming on April 12. On April 17 we had 10.5 inches of snow. Luckily damage was minimal and each tree was packed with ripening fruit in June. That’s when the cedar waxwings appeared. They devoured the berries even before they were fully ripened.
In late June I was surprised to find the Hidden Prairie full of blooming New Jersey tea. It was much more abundant than I have ever seen. (The Hidden Prairie is a high quality remnant completely surrounded by oak and hickory woodland.) Numerous hairstreak butterflies were nectaring on the blossoms. Here at Timberhill we have observed five hairstreak species: Banded hairstreak, Hickory hairstreak, Edwards hairstreak. Coral hairstreak and White M hairstreak. The Coral hairstreak is easily distinguished by the lack of tails, row of red-orange spots along the hind wing and no blue tail spot. I can also ID the White M and Edwards hairstreaks, but I find distinguishing between the Banded and Hickory specimens difficult at best. Identification can only be based on multiple traits since both species show individual variation. Even then I am never sure. I submitted this hairstreak photo to the Iowa Insects list serve for ID help. Of the five replies I received, two identified it as Hickory hairstreak, and three as Banded. Even the experts don’t agree.
So far this summer the abundance of mushrooms has compensated for the poor morel mushroom season. The prized edible, golden chanterelles, began fruiting on June 6. These fungi lack true gills on the underside of their caps. There are gill-like wrinkles and ridges instead. They are still fruiting and each week have at least one breakfast of scrambled eggs with chanterelles. I heat a film of olive oil in my egg skillet, add a garlic clove and bay leaf which I remove when the garlic just starts to brown. The I throw in the chanterelles , tossing and turning until they are just tender and have released their juices. Then the butter. When it begins to sizzle I add 4 eggs whisked lightly with a tablespoon of cream. When the eggs are runnily set I season them with salt and pepper and serve with buttered toast. Delicious!
For the first time in several years I found a cluster of black trumpet mushrooms, Craterellus cornucopoides, also fruiting in the East Savanna. The deeply depressed trumpet shaped cap is brown to ashy gray is quite unattractive. This species has several common names including horn of plenty, trumpet of death and fairy’s loving cup. It is usually found associated with oak and hickory.
That same week I also collected several specimens of this lovely red bolete, Boletus rubroflammeus. It is identified by the unpolished deep vinaceous-red cap, thick, soft bright yellow flesh, red pore surface and coarse red reticulations on the yellow stipe. All parts of this species turn blue when bruised. It is apparently uncommon. The only observations recorded on Mushroom Observer (https://mushroomobserver.org/name/map/1573) are in Connecticut and Iowa.
Important note: Do not eat any mushrooms found in the wild unless it has been identified by a mushroom expert as 100% safe.