Japanese Camellia

The Japanese camellia (Camellia japonica), is one of two camellias commonly used as ornamental shrubs in the southern United States. The other common camellia is the Sasanqua camellia, which has smaller blooms and leaves. In SE Louisiana the Japanese camellia has recently begun blooming in early January, just as the earlier-blooming Sasanquas are finishing flowering.

Japanese camellias originated in east Asia, and were introduced to the southern United States in the early 1800’s. Now there are thousands of Japanese camellia cultivars available to provide color to winter landscapes. Some have been developed that are hardy as far north as Zone 6.

Full Cold Moon

According to the Farmer’s Almanac the full moon in December is known in North America as the Full Cold Moon. Tuesday, December 29 was the day that the Full Cold Moon was at its fullest, but it was still very impressive yesterday (December 30) when these pictures were taken.

The weather was unseasonably warm in SE Louisiana yesterday, so it was comfortable to be outside experimenting with iPhone settings in attempts to get photos that do the scene justice.

Clear Water

We are fortunate to live beside a lake with very clear water. Effectively capturing its clarity in a photo is difficult.

Real estate ads for properties on lakes in the area with clear water commonly include photos like this, taken looking down on the water from our dock. Plants on the lake bottom, under about 3 feet of water, are clearly evident — but it does not provide a good perspective.

The short video above shows how you can watch fish in the lake from your kayak. I think they are bluegills.

Pictures of lily pads in the lake taken from the kayak give a better perspective of the water’s clarity.

This Painted Turtle was also enjoying a day on the lake. It is easy to see these turtles swimming under the water, but getting a photo of this is tough.

Attractive Fungi

What’s our first thought about fungi? Fungal infections? No doubt certain occurrences of fungus are unpleasant (athlete’s foot, black spot on roses). However fungi are critical to all life, particularly because over 90% of plant species benefit from a symbiotic relation with fungi termed mycorrhiza.

Occasionally fungi in the form of mushrooms are attractive. Following are two examples.

These small mushrooms were growing on wood chip mulch in our garden. They most likely are Coprinopsis lagopus, commonly known as the hare-foot mushroom. These mushrooms last only a few hours before they dissolve into an inky mess.

These large mushrooms were found growing from a standing dead tree in the Chippewa National Forest, near Walker, Minnesota. They are Pleurotus dryinus, or Veiled Oyster mushrooms. This mushroom is most often found growing on decaying wood of oak, ash and beech trees.