Sunday, March 28, 2021

Little green balls

The rainforest floor is a living thing. Here, on a base of decaying wood, old, crumbly leaves, last year's evergreen needles and cones, broken twigs and scraps of bark, fungi and mosses intertwine, their roots and hyphal threads digging deep, binding the fragile soil together. Slime molds hide in crevices; lichens colonize surfaces from rocks to wood living and dead. Scurrying through the inch-high forests, busy springtails, mites, and spiders search for food; slugs and snails slide over the surface, eating algae and mushrooms.

It's a complex world down there. Nothing is ever just one thing.

Small stump (under a foot tall), with grass, moss, mushrooms, lichen, and green algae.

Mushrooms, moss, dark green algae and well-rotted wood.

Mushrooms, Cladonia pixie-cup lichen, moss, and algae. The leaves are red sorrel.

I was curious about that dark green coating on the oldest, dampest, most sheltered wood, and zoomed in on it.

Tiny green balls, from yellow-green to a deep blue-green.

This grows only in the darkest, most protected areas of the forest floor; at the bottom of stumps, on the shady side, on the underside of mushy logs, deep under overhanging evergreen branches. On an old log, half buried, half turned into soil, moss covers the exposed top, mushrooms and lichen grow down the sides, and under it all, where the sun never shines, there's this coating of damp, slimy green stuff.

In the photos, zooming in (and I took a hand microscope to the woods to double-check) it looks like it's made up of tiny balls. Just in case it was really miniature leaves, I brought a bunch of sticks home and looked at them all under the microscope.

Looks like balls. I can't see stems. The white spots are reflections of the lights of the microscope.

I'm assuming its a variety of algae. I can't find it on the web, possibly because I don't know what to look for.

What else was down there. tomorrow.

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El suelo de un bosque pluvial es un ser vivo. Aquí, sobre un base de madera podrida, hojas viejas, desbaratadas, los conos y agujas de árboles de hoja perenne caídos hace un año, ramitas rotas y fragmentos de corteza de árbol, una variedad de hongos y musgos se entrelazan, sus raices y hilos de hifa enterrándose hondamente, fusionando los elementos frágiles del suelo. Los mohos mucilaginosos se esconden en las grietas; los líquenes colonizan superficies desde piedra hasta madera, viva o muerta. En estos bosquecitos de unos cuantos centímetros de altura, animalitos corren de un lado para otro; colémbolos (brincacolas o saltadores), arañitas y garrapatas muy ocupados en buscar comida; babosas y caracoles deslizándose por encima, comiendo algas y hongos.

Es un mundo muy complicado. Nada existe por sí solo. 

Las fotos: 1. un tronquito, con musgos, hongos, líquenes, pastos, algas verdes.

2. Musgos, hongos, y algas verdes.

3. Y ahora con líquenes Cladonia "taza de duendecillo".

4. Más de cerca. Ese alga verde; pelotitas verdes.

Me llamó la atención ese organismo verde que se ve solamente en las partes más protegidas, más húmedas, más escondidas de la madera podrida. En un tronco caído, ya viejo, medio enterrado, bien suavizado, la parte superior, expuesta a la luz, llevará su bosque de musgos; en los lados y las grietas, crecen una variedad de líquenes. Y abajo, donde nunca pega el sol, donde las ramas de los árboles de hoja perenne lo mantiene en sombra perpetua, aquí crecen estas bolitas verdes.

5. Me traje varios pedazos de esa madera a casa para mirarlos bajo el microscopio. Sí, parecen pelotitas. No veo ningún tallo ni raices. (Las manchas blancas en la foto son reflejos de las luces del microscopio.)

Creo que es alguna especie de alga. Pero no lo encuentro en mis libros, ni en la red.

Que más vi allí, queda para mañana.


3 comments:

  1. I think your green balls and mushrooms might be associated. Check out Lichenomphalia umbellifera

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! That's it! Thank you! And so interesting!

      Delete
  2. I am not sure if my first attempt went through. Your green balls and mushrooms might be associated. Check out Lichenomphalia umbellifera

    ReplyDelete

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