August 10, 2015

A Walk in the Woods: A Vast Small World

Looking closely at the tiny details of a woodland habitat can confuse a sense of scale: clumps of moss become wooded hillsides; masses of mushrooms rise above the forest like water towers or oddly shaped wind turbines; the lines of pine needles are downed logs.
(click click click to enlarge and see the scale shift)

A small army climbs up the steep rounded slopes.

Waving above the frothy mosses are the tall red stalks of their fruiting bodies.

Lichens too have tall reproductive structures: pillars topped with shallow cups.

Alongside the mushrooms, lichens, and mosses, new plants have beginnings: a small leaf....

....a maple....

....a conifer.

All this life, this variety of species, is growing on a pile of decaying logs about 5 feet long and 2 wide. Decay is not an ending.