Wednesday, September 28, 2011
More Moreau Mushrooms
The rain that started last night kept going this morning, but not hard enough to spoil plans for a walk around Moreau Lake with Sue today. I'll be off to Mt. Kisco tomorrow to babysit grandkids until early next week, and I knew I had to have a good dose of Saratoga County nature to carry me through. Moreau Lake lay still and lovely under a soft gray sky, the misty light only emphasizing the radiant colors of the trees along the far shore. Every year, I notice that ruby-red tree, and every year, I neglect to find out what kind of tree has leaves that turn such a striking color. And I didn't find out today, either, since Sue and I stayed on the opposite side of the lake the entire morning.
My original plan was to walk all around the lake, work up some speed, get a little aerobic exercise and all, but of course we hadn't gone 20 yards from the parking lot before we screeched to a halt to examine these mushrooms. Such a lovely celadon green, tipped with yellow, and underneath, its gills were brownish gray. But I can't find any mushrooms this color in any of my books. So I don't know its name, alas.
Update: Thanks go to mycologist Sue Van Hook, who has identified this mushroom as Bulbitius vitellinus. This mushroom is all yellow when young, but turns pale and sometimes greenish as it ages, while keeping its yellow center.
While kneeling down to photograph the mushrooms above, we noticed these itsy-bitsy stripey brown cups covering much of the nearby bank. A closer look revealed that each cup had tiny greenish-gray "eggs" inside (as well as holding water from the rain). I wish my photo was better focused to better show those "eggs," but at least the image was clear enough that I could locate their look-alikes in my mushroom guides. This is called Striate Bird's Nest (Cyanthus striatus).
A quick look around revealed another species of bird's nest fungus, White Bird's Nest (Crucibulum laeve), with tiny whitish "eggs." Those eggs are actually spore capsules, called peridioles, which are released when rain or drip water splashes them out of their cups. These cups were very small, as my fingernail demonstrates. I wonder if those really tiny orange balls nearby will grow up to be splash cups. We found some cups that had single orange balls inside, instead of whitish eggs.
More itsy-bitsies . I'm pretty sure these are Marasmius, possibly M. capillaris. These tiny fungi on wiry stems will disappear in dry weather and reappear overnight when we have a good rain. They were everywhere in the woods today. Sue Van Hook suggests that these are M. rotula instead of M. capillaris.
Another fungus just everywhere in the woods was this hair-fine cream-colored stuff, which I never would have seen without Sue's eagle eyes to point it out to me. With my bad eyes, they just blended in with the pine needles at my feet. My camera could see them better than I could, although not perfectly. But well-enough to allow me to find their match in my guides. These have the wonderfully apt name of Fairy Thread (Macrotyphula juncea).
From tiny fungi to one of the whopping biggest: this is Hen of the Woods, which can grow to bushel-basket size and many pounds. This particular clump was much more diminutive than that, not much more than a handful. There were bigger clumps around, though, enough for me to make a delicious mushroom soup, redolent of the fragrance of the forest.
A few of the fungi had knock-your-eye-out colors, including this brilliant yellow clump. It's possible these are Yellow Wax Caps, but I don't know for sure. There are several species of bright yellow mushrooms that grow around here, and I haven't figured out how to tell them apart.
I don't know what this one is, either. Its top is flaming orange, but its true beauty lies in the marvelous ruffled gills of its underside. I wonder if this could be a Chanterelle, perhaps Cantharellus cinnabarinus?
Another ruffly 'shroom that resembles a Chanterelle, but I couldn't say for sure. Sue Van Hook thinks this is Clitopitus prunulus.
I am pretty sure, though, that this one is Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), a particularly striking one with beautiful contrast between its rich brown stripes and creamy-white ruffled edges.
Fungi sure can take all kinds of different forms. Did this white mold spread from the tree to the ground, or the other way around?
Here was another puzzle. How could this leaf just hang in mid-air, turning around in the breeze? It didn't take long to discover the spider silk from which it dangled, but it sure caught our attention at first sight.