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Remember: Mushrooms on South Mountain

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mushrooms on South Mountain

Walking around a forest, just past the peak of summer, when the nights are first starting to turn colder and autumn hangs heavy on the horizon allows the eyes to be treated to a wonderful explosion of a deciduous forest ecosystem. Throughout the year, our local forests are tapestries of organic life that at all time reflect, embody and radiate the weather around them.

On a late August afternoon I took a walk into the forests of South Mountain after a few nights of thunderstorms; as a refreshing coolness took hold in the green leaved ceilings. At this time of the year, the wildflowers have all but bloomed themselves out and their former blossoms hang, withered on stems. The forest floor begins to take on a hue more brown than green and change is noticed with every glance.

It is also a great time of the year to see an explosion of flowers without rival in uniqueness, importance and slow beauty.

Nature manages herself quite efficiently. Throughout the trophic levels of any given ecosystem exist numerous processes and relationships that result in an equilibrium of birth, growth, death and rebirth. While the bright wildflowers of late spring and early summer signify the peak of growth, these "flowers" on this August afternoon are the resurrection agents of the ecosystem.

These flowers of death are naturally mushrooms. These guys are the decomposers of the ecosystem. They grow and use dead organic material to obtain the energy they need for survival and in turn release new nutrients which then leads to rebirth and new life.

Mushrooms are diverse, statuesque fungi that are often unnoticed between footprints or attached to the side of dying trees.

Mushrooms are wonderful, awe inspiring reminders of the beauty of death and on this August afternoon they were in abundance across the forest floor. At every turn of the head or movement of the foot were mushrooms. They were of all shapes, sizes and colors. They were incredible.

I found myself a lucky man that afternoon to be able to kneel in the soft dirt of the forest floor and see these odd flowers doing what they do best, decomposing, paving the way for the explosions of life to come this spring.

*This is the 200th post on Remember, woot!



Anonymous Sue said...

This is just one more reason to leave some fallen trees and leaf litter on the forest floor. When the park workers are directed to pick up, tiety up, rake out, all natural material; make everything all clean, manacured and "park like", we lose this beauty and all the other rich life that depends on the cycle of growth, life, and decay.

December 3, 2009 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

I couldn't agree more Sue.

December 3, 2009 at 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sue, I've been to South Mountain many times over the last several years and have never seen the woods "cleaned up." In fact, even at Lehigh Parkway there are distinct areas of unmaintained woods, and cleared park areas. I guess I feel like the best park systems offer both, and Allentown strikes a pretty good balance.

December 3, 2009 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...


You are right about the Parkway, although in my opinion, we need a little more "unmaintained" nature in our parks.

December 3, 2009 at 11:53 AM  
Anonymous sue said...

The tendency to "clean up" is more pronounced in some of our parks than others. South Mountain doesn't get the "clean up" treatment, thank the Good Lord. Some parks get virtually no attention. It is time to get serious about removing invasive plant species in ALL the parks. Some areas including parts of the Little Lehigh Parkway get over cleaned and over mowed, esp.,
where the woods meet the meadow or lawn. This buffer area is so important for wildflowers, butterflies, etc. I wouldn't argue about a reasonable balance.For me, I am just always going to come down on the side of less "clean", more mushrooms, birds, critters, butterflies,wild flowers, etc.

December 3, 2009 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 3, 2009 at 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets get a group together and we can remove the invasive plants from our parks.

December 3, 2009 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...


I have been trying to organize that for awhile, I am actually planning an event of that nature in trout creek parkway this spring, if it is possible to do it.

I'll keep the site updated with news.

December 3, 2009 at 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's very complicated to effectively remove invasives. There should be a place for volunteers but the City park workers, and Friends of the Parks and others have to be on board in a big,big,way. There may be a need in some cases to use powerfull herbacides. Changes in maintenance will be needed. Proper native replacement plants need to be planted at the right time. Not rocket science but not a weekend project. Get on line, find some good information and do your homework, or pipe down. Know what you are talking about. This should be done for sure, but it's not a weekend event. Look how hard it is to get creek buffers done right.

December 3, 2009 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...


Thank you for the concern but rest assured I know exactly how hard the process would be especially if people try to remove the knotweed at Trout Creek parkway which is what I want to do.

I would first like to get a committee of interested and informed individuals together first and see if a plan can be developed.

There is no way I am going to be marching into a park with a shovel and an axe and rip stuff up.

As I have posted about repeatedly lately, the city, FOTP, wildlands and whomever else need to get the ball rolling on this right away. New training for park workers needs to occur as well. I know some was done but the environmental restoration of our parks has barely gotten off of the ground level.

This spring and summer, I hope to see things really start moving.

December 3, 2009 at 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good responce Andrew.
But shouldn't the leadership for this be comming from the Parks Dept.? I sort of remember a news release comeing from the city last year that Wildland was handeling all this stuff along with a South Mountain plan, stream buffers and a bunch of other important parks things. Whats with that? Could you check with your Wildlands contacts? The city and Wildlands made a big deal of this if I remember correctly. I would have thought they had this all planned out.

December 3, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...


A plan is in the works and whenever I hear anything it will be posted on Remember right away.

December 3, 2009 at 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the balance was really correct, one would not see so much erosion along the cities streams. All that grass cutting clear up to the stream bank might be an aesthetic balance for some, but it is not good stewardship. Or a good use of energy or time. Americans sure do love their lawns. No denying that.

December 4, 2009 at 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Parkway is in such balanced condishion why is there standing water on mowed grassy areas a week after a rain { ex., in front of Lime Kilns }? Wetland is being mowed. Anywhere there is standing water -marsh-bog-or swampy condishions should absolutely NOT BE MOWED.{ The cattail area at the Fly Fishing Shot is a spot where it is done right.} Mowing crushes sensitive wetland and all the rich life that might live there. Also, look at major hillside errosion on the steep hill on the left as one enters the Parkway, with many large trees with their roots exposed. The Parkway need some work before it could be called balanced. Anon. 11:51 doesn't get it. Andrew you should know better. Wildlands should know better for sure. Duh? Balanced if you like golf courses, and not well maintained ones at that! Check out streambank errsion in the Parkway and some of the riparian zones are 12 in.s wide. It is a start, and some parts of the Parkway are well maintained, but let's get serious. And don't blame the workers, they do not make the rules. {And yes MM, the WPA work should be restored, striking a historical balance.} This is a productive blog spot, nice work Andrew Kliener.

December 6, 2009 at 10:28 AM  

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