Earthwalk: How Forests Work - Photo Recap


Last week I went on an guided walk in Pacific Spirit Park with Terry Taylor to learn about forest ecology. Terry is one of Vancouver's foremost biologists and is one of the founding members of the Vancouver Mycological Society!

The walk started at the entrance of Lily of the Valley Trail at Pacific Spirit Regional Park.

The trail is named after all the Lily of the Valley plants found there. These are its leaves. 

Terry explained to us the "Edge Effect" where the plants on the edges of a forest area are different than the ones growing in the centre. That's because of the edges are more exposed to light and air than in the middle. Red alder trees are one of the first to grow because they love light. Then douglas firs. Hemlocks and cedars like the shade so grow under these trees.

Alder trees also have a type of bacteria growing in their roots that fix nitrogen which is essentially adding fertilizers to the soil. This prepares the soil for plants that like rich soil e.g. salmon berry, raspberry, elder berry. Because of the nitrogen fixing bacterium, the alder tree doesn't rely totally on photosynthesis. You can tell because their leaves fall off in the fall green. This is just to add to the soil to give themselves a head's start on the next years growth.

Terry talking about cellulose and lignin. Fungi grow on wood and decomposes it by eating the lignin, which is the glue that holds the wood fibres together. Fungi eat all themselves out of house and home so they also die after there is nothing else to eat but they emit spores to find another tree. Every time the bark of a tree damaged, that could be a site of infection!

It is just the start of the mushroom season. Mushrooms like rain and there hasn't been much lately.

Chioneus fungi? Growing on dead wood.

Dust lichen love shade and grow in places with little water. It is protected by a layer of wax that repels water because it uses water vapour and water sitting on it would prevent them from taking the vapour up.

Birds nest cup fungi? I thought it was little rocks inside the cups but apparently they contain the fungi's spores!

An inchworm or looper that probably fell out of a tree.

This is a liverwort, one of the oldest land plants.

I think this is Toothed Jelly Fungus, a small shelf-like white mushroom that grows on rotted conifer logs.

The damage to this tree was made by woodpeckers. There must be a lot of bugs in this tree!


This walk was part of a series of ten Earthwalks organized by the Little Mountain Neighbourhood House, Village Vancouver and the False Creek Watershed Society to showcase the diversity of nature found in Vancouver. There are two more walks coming up in the next two weeks. Check out the False Creek Watershed Society's website for more details

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