A Second Trip to Kenny Ranch, 01-22-20

My Birthday Week: Day Four. Happy birthday to me!  I got up around 6:30 this morning, got the dog fed and pottied, and then headed out with my friend Roxanne to Kenny Ranch in Grass Valley.  We had been there earlier in the month to go on the Mushroom Mosey, but the pace of that was too fast for me. I wanted to explore more and see what else we could find on our own.

Start Time: 7:30 am
Start Temperature: 41º F
End Time: 4:30 pm
End Temperature: 59º F
Weather: Partly cloudy with sunshine in the afternoon
Total Hours in the field (includes travel time): 9 hours
Miles Walked: 2.6

After stopping for breakfast, we got to Kenny Ranch around 9:00 am and took our time, looking at everything. I’d brought my cane along, and was glad I did.  Not only did it help me maneuver and support me where the ground was particularly uneven, we were also able to use it to overturn rocks and fallen logs to see what might be hiding underneath them. 

We found quite a few of the Rosy Short-Head Millipede (also called Cherry Millipedes), Brachycybe rosea, in varying degrees of color.  They rosy-up as they age, so we were seeing little white young ones up to bright pink adults. The babies feed on fungus.

Millipede, Rosy Short-Head Millipede, Brachycybe rosea. Presumably males and lots of offspring.

There’s a super interesting 56-page report on another Brachycybe species called “Natural History of the Social Millipede” by Victoria Louise Wong that cites how the males care for the eggs.  “Males exclusively cared for eggs, but care of juveniles was not observed. In one case, the clutches of two males became combined and they were later cared for by only one of the males.”   Most of the report is mind-meltingly technical, but I was still able to glean a lot of interesting information from it.

These little guys, for example, use a chemical defense mechanism.  Adults carry “isomers of the alkaloid deoxybuzonamine” in all but the first 4 segments of their bodies and the chemical is used to repel ants – a major predator of the millipedes.  Babies have the ports for the chemical secretion, but don’t have the chemical itself, so they need their dads to encircle and defend them when they’re young. So, a lot of the adult ones we saw might presumably have been the males.  [[There is also a B. californica species, too, but I haven’t been able to find any information on it.]]

As I was going through the photos of the millipedes, I noticed I’d also captured part of the plasmodium of Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica. I was so focused on the millipedes at the time that I didn’t even notice the slime mold until I got home.

In the bottom half of this photo you can see the bright yellow-orange tendrils of the plasmodium of Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

We checked out the old Tongue Galls on the alder trees at the beginning of the trail, and noticed that the male catkins on the trees were just starting to come out and color up. They were actually quite gorgeous: chartreuse  green with brilliant pink cross-hatching on them.

Male catkins of the White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia, tree.

There were so many different lichen, I went a little crazy trying to identify them all. I have a couple of field guides on them but they’re still difficult for me because they can look different when they’re reproducing than they do when they’re not. Among the new finds for me were the Stonewall Rim Lichen, Sagebrush Goldspeck Lichen, Yellow Map Lichen, Star Rosette Lichen and the Powderhorn Lichen.  Phew!  Lots.

Among the new mushrooms we found were the Aniseed Funnel Mushroom, Clitocybe odora, that smelled just like licorice, and some HUGE specimens of Shellfish-scented Russula, Russula xerampelina. Those were thick and leathery, red stained, and as big as my open hand. 

This time around, too, we noticed the silk and lichen lined doorways that lead to the dens of the California Turret Spider. So cool!

California Turret Spider, Antrodiaetus riversi

We noted the Mountain Misery plants growing everywhere along the trail and wondered how they had gotten its name.  It’s actually quite a pretty ferny-looking plant, and gets white flowers on it in the spring.  When I got home, I looked it up and found that, apparently, early settlers in California got their feet tangled in the stuff and it pissed them off.

“…Mountain Misery was named because of the sticky resin on all parts of the plant and its strong medicinal odor. Also called bear mat, the underground stems form a tangled mat of vegetation.”  

We didn’t see or hear many birds in the forest (only a few along the highway near the parking lot.  I thought that was weird.  The quiet forest was lovely, though, with the sounds of trickling and rushing water here and there along the way.

We’d actually taken what we thought was the shallower route this time around (and avoided the deep ravine by the irrigation ditch), but the trail seemed to go on “forever”.  After a few hours we sat down on some logs, caught our breath, and tried to figure out where we were in relationship to the parking lot where the car was.  Google maps told us to head south for 250 feet and then turn left.  We figured that was easy enough, so I got out my brother Mark’s compass (which my sister Melissa had given to me after Mark died) and found “south”, and we continued on down the trail for the 250 feet… There the trail dead-ended, and “left” was straight up the side of the mountain.  D’oh! 

I knew it was going to be super difficult for me to manage that climb so I sent Roxanne off ahead of me.  She’s got more mountain goat in her than I do and was able to make the climb easier than I could.  I kind of zig-zagged my way up the steep incline, trying to maneuver myself near trees where I could use them as helping hands and using my cane to steady myself. I made it, but it took me almost an hour. Phew!  When we got back to the car, I told Roxanne, “Once I sit down, I may not be able to get up again.”  Hah!  She was very encouraging and congratulated me on making the climb.  I. Never. Need. To. Do. That. Again.

We headed back to Sacramento, tired but satisfied with our findings, and got back to the house around 4:30 pm.  A long day, but a fulfilling one.

Species List:

  1. Alder Tongue Gall Fungus, Taphrina alni
  2. Amber Jelly Fungus, Exidia recisa
  3. Aniseed Funnel Mushroom, Clitocybe odora [smells like licorice]
  4. Beaked Twig Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis plumbella
  5. Bicolored Bracket Fungus, Gloeoporus dichrous [white with gray center]
  6. Black Oak Stem Gall Wasp, Zapatella davisae
  7. Bryum Moss, Bryum capillare
  8. Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus
  9. California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii
  10. California Turret Spider, Antrodiaetus riversi
  11. Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
  12. Collared Parachute Mushroom, Marasmius rotula
  13. Common Bird’s Nest Fungus, Crucibulum laeve
  14. Common Jelly Spot fungus, Dacrymyces stillatus
  15. Cricket, Arboreal Camel Cricket, Gammarotettix bilabatus
  16. Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
  17. Cushion Moss, Leucobryum sp.
  18. Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica
  19. False Turkey Tail fungus, Stereum hirsutum
  20. Fluffy Dust Lichen, Pacific Fluffy Dust Lichen, Lepraria pacifica [blue-green dust lichen]
  21. French Broom Gall Mite, Aceria genistae
  22. French Broom, Genista monspessulana
  23. Gem-Studded Puffball, Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
  24. Gilled Polypore, Trametes betulina
  25. Globular Springtail, Ptenothrix marmorata
  26. Golden Dwarf Mistletoe, Western Dwarf Mistletoe, Arceuthobium campylopodum
  27. Golden Floccularia, Floccularia albolanaripes
  28. Gray Pine, California Foothill Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  29. Hoary Lichen, Hoary Rosette, Physcia aipolia
  30. Horsehair Mushroom, Gymnopus androsaceus
  31. Incense Cedar, Calocedrus decurrens
  32. Long-tailed Silverfish, Ctenolepisma longicaudata
  33. Lyell’s Bristle-Moss, Orthotrichum lyellii  [semi long panicles, dark with green ends]
  34. Manzanita Leaf Gall Aphid, Tamalia coweni
  35. Millipede, Rosy Short-Head Millipede, Brachycybe rosea
  36. Mountain Misery, Chamaebatia foliolosa 
  37. Pale Brittlestem, Psathyrella candolleana
  38. Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
  39. Powderhorn Lichen, Common Powderhorn, Cladonia coniocraea
  40. Queen Anne’s Lace, Wild Carrot, Daucus carota
  41. Rocktripe Lichen, Emery Rock Tripe,Umbilicaria phaea
  42. Rosy Saucer Lichen, Ochrolechia trochophora
  43. Sagebrush Goldspeck Lichen, Candelariella rosulans [yellow, on rocks]
  44. Shellfish-scented Russula, Russula xerampelina
  45. Silky Pink Gill Mushroom, Nolanea sericea (Entoloma sericeum ssp. sericeum) [very dark brown cap with a nipple on top]
  46. Smokey-Eyed Boulder Lichen, Porpidia albocaerulescens [white with black dots]
  47. Star Moss, Syntrichia ruralis
  48. Star Rosette Lichen, Physcia stellaris [hoary colored, black apothecia]
  49. Stonewall Rim Lichen, Protoparmeliopsis muralis
  50. White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia
  51. White Cup Fungus, Calyptella capula [no gills]
  52. White Leaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. Viscida
  53. Yellow Map Lichen, Rhizocarpon geographicum [bright yellow-green with dark spots]
  54. ?? Lichen, Family: Tephromelataceae