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Goldenrod and asters predominate the landscape around my yard in late summer.  It has been a particularly good year for the goldenrod (Solidago), it seems.  Here it is, lining the cul-de-sac off my driveway:004And more, this time at the rear edge of our back deck:007There’s more along the top edges of the rock garden and along the edge of the woods next to our house.  I was very relieved several years ago to learn that goldenrod does not typically cause allergy symptoms, but that ragweed does instead.

The bright yellow of the flowers help identify this plant as goldenrod:018 As do its unlobed leaves:010While I have not taken the time to determine which cultivar of Goldenrod I have (there are many!), I believe the wild asters hiding behind it on the bank along the roadside are White Wood Asters (Eurybia divaricata).  It’s also present along the edge of the woods and in the rock garden:006These white flowers, barely an inch in diameter, grow in shady areas (which explains the plethora of them behind the much taller goldenrod!).  They are not very tall, and seem to prefer to lie near the ground. Here is a close-up of its leaves:026In one small corner of my yard, I spotted some tiny bright pink flowers, very close to the grass.  I’m fairly certain these are Deptford or Grass Pinks (Dianthus armeria).   In the picture below, you can see that its bud definitely looks like a Dianthus bud, just in miniature.  Aren’t they sweet?029Finally, I bring you my annual fairy circle:011After years of seeing this colony magically appear on the lower slope of our front lawn when the weather is especially moist, I finally did some research and have determined that these are Jack O’Lantern Mushrooms (Omphalotus olearius).  They grow near a razed tree stump and its roots, mostly in clusters, rather than singly: 012It is often mistaken for an Orange Chanterelle mushroom.  However, the Jack O’Lantern has true gills on its underside: thin, well-defined, and easily separated:032Additionally, when cut open, the Jack O’Lantern’s flesh is the same orange or yellow-orange as its surface.  An Orange Chanterelle has false gills that look more like folds on its underside, and a creamier colored interior.  It is important to know the characteristics of these mushrooms and to properly identify them since the Chanterelle is edible and the Jack O’Lantern is poisonous!  

An additional feature of the Jack O’Lantern mushroom is its luminescence.  Apparently the gills contain a chemical that glows in the dark!  It remains to be seen whether I venture outside on a very dark night sometime soon to see this for myself!

I am happy to be linking with Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone.  While I’ve always been aware of the many wildflowers around me, it’s only since I started following and participating in this meme that I’ve finally been learning what so many of them are, so thanks, Gail, for encouraging me and so many other bloggers to expand our knowledge and awareness!