Sunday, January 31, 2010

Antennae in the Snow

The snow continues to focus attention on those things that might have gone unnoticed. In this case, it appeared that there were little flags projecting from the snow.

Could these be tribal banners marking a tiny pixie encampment? At closer range, there appears to be a stalk that thickens near the end and then quickly narrows to a point. They look something like the antennae of a skipper. Maybe I’ve found the wintering grounds of the rare Polar Skipper.

No, it’s not animal. This is definitely a plant part. I’ll bet at least one of you has figured out what this is. Probably someone who recently had a couple of days intensive training on the subject.

Remove a little snow and we find the clump of moss to which these stalks belong. There’s nothing strange or exotic here at all. It’s just spore capsules from a moss plant. The snow gives a background that makes it easy to see some rarely noticed details.

It becomes harder to see the stalks and capsules as more of the moss is exposed. When the snow melts, this will all blend into the background of the forest floor.

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