When I went out to look for edible mushrooms in a stand of oaks, beech, and hemlocks recently, I found uprooted, overturned, and torn-apart mushrooms everywhere. It looked like a tiny hurricane had targeted only the fungi. A closer look revealed rodent toothmarks. Small mammals like chipmunks and red squirrels feed on mushrooms; the scene of destruction might be explained by this year’s chipmunk baby boom, which was spurred by high seed production in oaks and beeches in 2019.
The fiddleheads we savor in spring are the young, coiled up leaves of the ostrich fern, a tall, graceful fern common along rivers and in moist, rich upland forests. They appear in bottomlands in late April, and they last only a few short weeks. Once the fiddleheads have come unfurled, as most have by now, the leaves are bitter and are no longer good to eat.
Fingernail clams, freshwater relatives of oysters and mussels, lives in Vermont’s forests alongside fairy shrimp and salamanders.
Carnivorous plants like sundew inhabit peatlands, but relations with their six-legged neighbors can be… sticky.