Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Mushroom Mystery Solved!
A lot of very knowledgeable folks were stumped by this shaggy brown THING I found growing in a bog on Halloween. It had a kind of damp rubbery texture that made me think "mushroom," but boy, it sure didn't look like any mushroom I'd ever seen. Couldn't find it, either, in any of my mushroom books.
For one thing, most mushrooms are smoother on top than they are on the bottom. This thing had it backwards, being smooth underneath and shaggy as a wet teddy bear above. No gills or pores that I could see, which might at least place it in a category I could search.
One person suggested it might be an aberrant form of the sphagnum moss it was growing among, a "witch's broom," so to speak. I liked that idea, first, because the edge did sort of look a bit like moss, but especially because I had found it while looking for something spooky in a bog. Finding a witch's broom on Halloween sure would have been fun.
But I couldn't shake my gut feeling that this was a mushroom. And mycologist Sue Van Hook agreed. "What a great find!" she told me in an email she sent me today, asserting that it was indeed a fungus in the aphyllophorales. "The first name that comes to me is a Thelephora terrestris," she continued. "I googled the image, and sure enough it is!"
I googled Thelephora terrestris myself, and sure enough, that's what it is. And not a very common mushroom, either. Thank you very much, Sue Van Hook. And thanks to all my other naturalists friends for also trying to figure it out. We just can't help ourselves. We just have to know!