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In an evening’s gloom,
Is an orange mushroom
Producing a batch of shoots
That rise from a dead tree’s roots. 

The big orange mushrooms are growing off the root of a dead tree.

Mushrooms are one part of a fungus.  They carry the spores which, when blown, washed, or knocked off, may settle and grow into a new fungus.  The spores form along the thin folds on the underside of the cap.  The folds are called gills. Much of a fungus exists as a network of fine threads (hyphae) that spread through the soil or where there might be food.  Many are associated with the roots of the plant, and the fungus and plant help each other out.  Other fungi like this one (it is called Gymnopilus or Pseudogymnopilus) use the dead wood as their source of food.   

We eat various fungi. Many fungi are poisonous, so do not eat any that you do not buy in a shop, or get from someone who knows about fungi.  Pseudogymnopilus has a very nasty taste (or so we are told), but there are some other fungi that look similar that are really poisonous.

If you can think of any advantages to being orange, add them to the comments below.

Common buckeye butterfly

Next to red, its neighbor,
Orange, has a gentler flavor.
Less harsh, more golden browned.
Better for hiding on the ground.
Used by the common buckeye
A North American butterfly.

We are a little out of sequence with the rhymes.   The buckeye butterfly has, like many butterflies, a complex combination of orange, brown, yellow, and other colors that are like the colors of the ground, dead flowers and leaves, and branches.    The erratic arrangement of colors is ‘disruptive’ because it breaks up the outline and makes it harder for a predator (mostly birds) to recognize the  whole organism.  The much more contrasty blotches are often called ‘eyespots’, and some folk will tell you that they can be used to scare and distract a bird that may be trying to nab a meal. These butterflies are mostly found to the South and East of the United States.

And if you like to collect latin names, the formal name for the common buckeye is Junonia coenia. 

Last, to the right, an orange orchid
In which little men are hid.
They are only a quarter of an inch tall
Orangen’t you glad you’re not that small.

Orange flowered orchid
Detail of orange flower of an orchid

The Orange Crucifix Orchid (Epidendrum ibaguense) is native to South America.  Bright orange flowers make them very visible to any possible pollinators.  As with many orchids, they often have fancy flowers. The crucifix orchids have five petals and in the middle is the little man – a lip.  The lip is the part of the flower where insects land, and where they seek nectar and pick up pollen.    The lips of quite a few orchids have a human-like appearance.

If you have questions or comments, please let us know below.

Nature Reader colors web Orange

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