Tag Archives: Northern Tooth fungus

Nashville Conservation Reserve

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Nashville Conservation Reserve is made up of over 900 hectares of land that was bought up by the Conservation Authority in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel there were plans to create several large flood control reservoirs.  The lands in this conservation reserve would have been developed into a large pond created by damming the Humber River.  Funding wasn’t made available and the property was left to passive recreational uses.

On a previous visit to the Conservation Reserve we had followed the old road allowance for Kirby Road and had not ventured too far into the actual park.  We returned to do a further exploration, once again parking at Kirby Road and Huntington Road.

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Structurally the bridge is in bad shape.  The steel reinforcement is exposed everywhere and large chunks of concrete have already fallen away.  The TRCA Management Plan for Nashville Conservation Reserve included a clean-up of the bridge in 2015 that removed a lot of the deteriorating concrete.  A similar bridge over the Humber River on Old Major Mackenzie Drive serves a single house on the one side of the bridge.  The City of Vaughan is legally responsible to maintain the bridge for the family that lives there.  It is estimated that it will cost about $800,000 dollars to repair that structure.

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As we saw on our previous visit to the reserve the bridge no longer serves anything but pedestrian traffic on the Humber Valley Heritage Trail.  Kirby Road through this section was abandoned in the 1970’s and the bridge closed to vehicular traffic.  With the cost of repairs likely to be similar to the Old Major Mackenzie bridge it looks like the days of this bridge are numbered.  The official plan is to permanently close the trail on both sides of the bridge sometime in the next few years.  The view from below the bridge supports the idea that it should be removed before it collapses into the river and creates a flooding obstacle.

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With the spread of dog-strangling vines and the subsequent decline in common milkweed it was feared that monarch butterfly populations could suffer decline.  It appears from personal observation that this year has been good to the butterfly population and there are plenty of examples to be seen every time we go out hiking.

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Just past the bridge and near the top of the hill we made a left turn to enter the northern loop trail through the woods.  Trails are marked with blue slashes and were all but deserted as we made our way along.

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Northern Tooth fungus is typically found on Maple Trees where it grows in densely packed shelves from wounds in the tree.  Over time it kills the heart of the tree leaving it hollow and susceptible to being blown over in strong wind storms.  One of the trees along the trail has several large patches growing out of it but it appears that it is the only tree in the area to be suffering from this fungus.  Undoubtedly this tree has already been destroyed, it just hasn’t fallen over yet.

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The carrots we enjoy at dinner time are cultivars of wild carrots, also known as Queen Anne’s Lace.  A cultivar is a plant that has been selected because it has a desirable trait that it will continue to pass along.  The trait that has been cultivated from the wild carrot is our domesticated carrot.  The flowers on Queen Anne’s Lace are white and clustered in dense umbels.  Among all the white flowers was a single plant which had all four or five umbels that were pink coloured.

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Artist Bracket or Artist Conk is a bracket fungus that grows on trees where it decays the heart of the tree.  When they are young they are white but quickly turn darker as they age.  When the spore bearing surface below is scratched it forms dark lines that become permanent when the conk dries. Artists use these to create permanent pictures.

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There were several small mushrooms growing in a cluster at the base of a rotting log.  Orange Mycena produces an orange pigment known as leinafulvene.  It has been shown to have antibiotic properties as well as being toxic to certain tumor cells.

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Nashville Conservation Reserve is still largely unexplored and we’ll have to come back sometime to see what is happening with the old bridge.

Google Maps Link: Nashville Conservation Reserve

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Bruce Trail – Hockley Valley

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Bruce Trail and several side trails wind their way through Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Preserve.  We decided to investigate using two cars.  One was parked at the Bruce Trail lot on Hockley Valley Road.  The second car was left on Dunby Road in another official Bruce Trail parking location.

The trail that leads south from Dunby Road is restrained by fences on both sides.  Along these fences there is extensive Virginia Creeper growing.  It is a member of the grape family but the Greek name for the plant means “Virgin Ivy” from which the name Virginia Creeper is derived.  It can reach heights of up to 30 metres climbing by the use of sticky tendrils sometimes completely covering the tree that is supporting it.  It is one of the first plants to start showing red leaves in the fall.

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Hockley Valley Resort was a small operation in 1985 when it was purchased by the Adamo Family.  Under their management the 28 room hotel was transformed into a world class resort, spa and ski facility.  There are 15 runs and from the start of the trail we had a good look across the valley at them.  As we returned to the car at the end of the hike we found that we had made it almost all the way to the resort.  Some of the ski runs can be seen in the picture below.

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The Gem-Studded Puffball has a a dual layer of spines on the fruit body, one shorter and one longer.  The longer spines detach easily leaving a scar on the surface of the mushroom.  The base is often elongated and sometimes looks like a stalk.  This little fungus looks kind of scary but is said to be a choice edible.  Like any puffball there are look-a-likes that are not edible.  The test is to cut the mushroom in half and ensure the flesh inside is undifferentiated and that there is no sign of gills.

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Yellow Tuning Forks grow from August until November and have a gelatinous texture unlike the brittle corals that look similar.  These jelly fungi are also known as yellow false coral and grow on primarily on pine logs.  They can reach up to 10 centimetres in height which is tall for a slime mushroom.  They can be eaten but their texture and lack of taste make them unattractive for foragers.

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Northern Tooth Fungus grows primarily on sugar maples.  It gets into the heart of the tree and rots it from within.  These shelf fungus grow annually until the tree is hollowed out and is blown over in a strong wind.  These polypores have long tubes underneath that disperse the spores.

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Dead Man’s Fingers has to be one of the most unusual names for a mushroom.  Sometimes they grow in small clusters which look like a hand reaching up through the ground.  They grow on stumps of maple and beech trees and are whitish in the spring becoming hard and black as the summer progresses.

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Coho Salmon are native to the Pacific Ocean but have been introduced to Ontario and are now naturalized here. When the Europeans arrived in Ontario the salmon crowded the rivers every year.  They spend most of the year in the cold waters of the Great Lakes and return to the rivers and tributaries every year to spawn.  It didn’t take long to destroy the habitats with pollution and to block the spawning routes with mill dams.  The salmon population was decimated and in 1969 it was decided to stock Lake Ontario with Coho Salmon.  Since then all the Great Lakes have been stocked with Salmon and each fall they can be seen fighting their way through the shallow waters of the streams to reach their spawning areas.

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The trail winds through the woods following a couple of ravines.  There are several little bridges that it uses to cross tributaries of the Nottawasaga River.  The largest one carries the water that has come over Cannings Falls which we didn’t visit because it is on private land.

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Wolf’s Milk Slime is similar to a small puffball in the method of spore release.  They will develop a small hole in the top for the distribution of their spores when they are ready.  When this slime first appears it has the consistency of paste but it becomes powdery as the spores mature.  It is also sometimes called Toothpaste Slime.

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Nearly 2 kilometres from Hockley Valley Road are the remains of a 1939 Chevy Sedan that are being slowly disassembled and removed.  The property belonged to Dennis Nevett who owned and farmed it until 1974 when he sold it to the government for the creation of the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Preserve.  The family used the sedan from about 1951 until 1959 when it died.  Over the next year or two it was towed to the back corner of one of the fields and left to rust away.

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Pretty much everything that can be removed has already been stripped off of the car.

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The Jeju Olle walking trail is the most popular hiking trail in the country of South Korea.  It has over 200 kilomtres of trails that work their way around an island up to the brim of an extinct volcano.  In September of 2011 a section of the Bruce Trail in Hockley Valley was twinned with the Jeju Olle Trail.  To mark the start of the twinned section there is a blue pony which is the marking system used on the Korean Trail.

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This trail promises to be very beautiful in the next few weeks when the fall colours are at their best.

Google Maps Link: Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Preserve

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