poetry and prose about place

(brackets in the birch grove)

with 2 comments

Last week we went for a walk (more like a struggle) through the birch grove at the base of the grey woods (see the ‘map of the grey woods’ under ‘about’).   To get there, we crossed the fern gully, mostly dry this time of year, and entered a mixed wood of birch, maple, spruce and fir, much younger than the mature spruce in the grey woods. 

These trees grow in very wet conditions, and the forest floor is a hummocky, spongy growth of Sphagnum moss and  fern. 

There is no path through this woodland, so the ‘walk’ was an up-and-down, over-and-under kind of trek.  To stay dry, you must take giant steps from hummock to hummock.  To stay upright, you must check your footing and hang on to the young trees.  With all this concentration on moving forward, I tend to miss some of the interesting detail, so I try to use each ‘balancing moment’ as a time to look around and observe the wild life.

One occupant of the birch grove is the bracket fungus.  This is a type of fungus that grows like shelves on both living and dead trees.  The fungus forms thick flat pads on the tree, usually parallel to the ground.  They remind me of steps, a spiral stair to ascend the tree.

The semi-circular body of the bracket fungus is called a conk.    The conks of the bracket fungus growing in our woods are thick, often oddly shaped, and constructed of various cream, tan and brown coloured layers.  The conks are the outwardly visible, reproductive part of the fungus.  The vegetative portion of the fungus grows as an extensive network of threads within the tree.


bracket fungi



in this forest




could any form

construe to magic?


fairy rings

moths in spectral flight

spider webs, witches brooms

burrows and subterranean

rooms, hollows in wizened

logs, red toadstools

white-spotted, mottled




bracket fungi

steps ascend

a branchless tree


© Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

October 28, 2011 at 7:09 am

2 Responses

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  1. I like how the middle verse carries onto the next verse in the poem. Nice shots Jane. And the sketch is great … as always. I do know that bracket fungi are edible (Piptoporus betulinus): but I won’t be putting any in my mouth anytime soon 🙂 Also they can be used for paper making. Didn’t I just impress you with my extensive fungi knowledge? lol You know us back to the lander types …. 🙂



    October 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    • Hi. I don’t know the bracket fungi very well… one of the few identification guides I don’t have. I am impressed by how much you know… but please don’t eat the bracket fungi!!! Jane


      jane tims

      October 29, 2011 at 12:15 am

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