Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mushrooms and More Mushrooms, and More

These past soggy days have kept me close to home, just running out to local spots for an hour or so between rainstorms.  On Saturday I headed out to the Skidmore Woods, mushroom basket in hand, hoping to forage for some of the myriad fungi sprouting now all over the forest floor.  Maybe I could find some Honey Mushrooms or, even better, a nice big Bear's Head fungus.

Did I say "sprouting?"  I think "EXPLODING!" would be a better word for what these big brown boletes were doing.  This one was about the size of a medium pizza.  Could this be the mushroom that's called King Bolete (Boletus edulis)?  I was hoping so, since that species is supposed to be a prized edible. And just one of these was more than enough for a meal.



I broke one in half to look at the flesh, which was snowy white and didn't turn color on exposure to air or upon being pressed.  That was a good sign.    Another sign that this could be the King Bolete was the yellow-green color of the tubes.  Trouble was, though, that this yellow-green color indicated that the mushroom was old, for its tubes are white when fresh and good to eat.  Alas, no mushrooms for supper this night!




In fact, most of the mushrooms I found in the Skidmore Woods were well past their prime, and many of them were being consumed themselves by other kinds of fungi. The process had just begun on this big brown bolete, blotched with fungal infection.




This mushroom was so completely covered and distorted by a chrome-yellow mold, it was impossible to tell which species it was (had been?).


But at least it still possessed its mushroomy shape, unlike the completely disfigured blobs below, which looked more like pink-stained dough than any kind of mushroom.





Ooh , look at this oozy mess, all covered with some kind of gray mold and weeping drops of amber fluid.


So on Saturday, I went home with an empty basket.



Today, Tuesday, the clouds thinned a bit this afternoon, so I wanted to venture out.  But where to?  I usually think of our local state park as a place for golf courses and swimming pools and picnic pavilions, rather than as a place for a woodsy walk.  But then I remembered the park had a nature trail through some old-growth woods off of Crescent Avenue and decided to give it a try.




Turns out, it's a lovely trail through mixed hardwoods and conifers, over little brooks and passing through several clearings shaded by towering Black Walnuts.  Today, the trail was a bit muddy in spots, but not so swampy I couldn't find my way around.  And my oh my, were there mushrooms!  All over the place were these fluffy clumps of white coral fungi, looking like whole families of white hedgehogs out for a stroll in the woods.




I also found several logs that were dotted with the fruiting bodies of Blue Stain Fungus, a fungus that more often makes its presence known by the way it stains rotten wood a dark blue-green.




Well, you could see these mushrooms coming a mile away!  Such a vivid color and looking like nothing I'd ever seen before, either out in the woods or in any of my mushroom books.




I picked one up to examine its structure, noting its free gills, the ring around the stem, and a white cup at the base (not shown here), as well as the yellow-orange color of both stalk and gills.  Could this be the mature stage of the American Caesar Amanita, a mushroom I've seen before only in its button stage?  After looking at many photos on the web, I'm willing to venture a guess that that's what this is. (For an image of American Caesar in its button stage, see my post for 8/30, "After Irene.")





These tiny orange wormy things were sprouting up all over the ground around a rotten stump.  You can see how small they are by comparing them to the Red Maple leaves around them.  Could they be Ramariopsis laeticolor?  I wish I had broken one off to see if it was solid or hollow, perhaps tasted a tiny bit to see if it was bitter or mild.  Then I could make a better-educated guess.





This twisty yellow fungus could possibly be one of the Earth Tongues, or at least I think it belongs to the sac fungi group.  The closest match I can find in my books is Neolecta irregularis, which, as its name suggests, can assume different shapes.  Including this convoluted one.





This lovely apricot-colored mushroom presents quite a puzzle to me.  It's obviously a gilled mushroom,  but not like any gilled mushroom I've ever come across.




I have never seen a gilled mushroom that has a flattened hollow stem like this one.  I sure hope that some mushroom expert might see this photo and tell us in a comment what it is.


Update:  Ruth Schottman has offered the suggestion that this is a species of Hygrophorus, or Waxcap. After searching among images, I do believe she is right and that this is an Orange Gill Waxcap (Hygrophorus marginatus), a mushroom quite varied in coloration.  It's also varied in nomenclature, as it is also known as Hygrocybe marginata and Humidicutus marginatus.


Not everything of interest these past few days was fungal.  For example, I found this Orange-fruited Horse Gentian fully in fruit at Skidmore,  its little tomato-colored berries circling the stalks in tiers.





In lots of low damp spots where Jack-in-the-pulpits grow, their fat clusters of brilliant red berries are much in evidence now.





Lining the Hemlock Trail at Spa Park were thickets of Panicled Dogwood, its snowy-white waxy berries held on hot-pink pedicels. Quite a lovely color combination.





Here's another lovely color combination: a bright yellow mushroom and an equally vivid Red Eft.





This little toad is remarkable for its almost complete absence of color.  Have you ever seen such a black toad?  I would never have seen it if it hadn't hopped onto those bright green leaves.  It was living in a very deeply shaded Hemlock woods where the earth beneath the trees was very dark.  I wonder if toads who live in a sunny, silvery Beech woods take on a lighter color?

2 comments:

Louise said...

What a multitude of mushrooms! Thanks, for the millionth time, for the education.

Anonymous said...

What a delightful description of some pleasant foraging! Very nice photos, too. Thanks!