Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mushrooms Galore on the Red Oak Ridge

Sunshine at last!  My friend Sue and I have been waiting and waiting for a day like today to hike the Red Oak Ridge Trail at Moreau Lake State Park.  It's a beautiful trail through mountainous terrain, lots of rocky outcroppings and tumbling streams, shaded by maples and hickories and oaks, with stands of hemlock and pine.  It's a great trail for getting a good aerobic workout, too, with lots of ups and downs.  Although in our case, our ups and downs involve more crouching to take photographs of trailside finds, rather than speeding along a mountain trail.

After so many days of rain, those trailside finds consisted of mushrooms and more mushrooms, an amazing array of colors and shapes.  Most of the fungi we found today were new to me, except for the snowy white Destroying Angels (Amanita virosa) that shone like beacons across the dark forest floor.  This mushroom is the first one any beginning mushroom forager needs to know, since to eat it means almost certain death.

I learned quite a few new species today, although many still remain a mystery to me.  This odd little white sac fungus is one of my new ones.  It's called White Elfin Saddle (Helvella crispa), and when we first saw it scattered across the grass, we thought somebody had tossed some popcorn down to feed the birds.

Here's another new one for me, a coral fungus called Flat-top Coral (Clavariadelphis truncatus).  My book says it's edible, but since it's hollow, it would take quite a few to make a meal.

Common Jelly Baby (Leotia lubrica) is an appropriately descriptive name for this small sac fungus that resembles Jujubes or Gummy Bears.  My third new species today.

Similar in appearance to the Jelly Baby but in an entirely different group, the jelly fungi, this is Fan-shaped Jelly Fungus (Dacryopinax spathularia).  It looks quite a bit like Orange Jelly Fungus, except it stands up on little stalks.  Fourth new species.

And here's another in the jelly group, called Toothed Jelly Fungus (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum), a small shelf-like white mushroom that grows on rotted conifer logs.  This is the underside, showing the tiny pointed teeth that give this fungus its name.  Fifth new species.

Another white one, called Worm-like Coral ((Clavaria vermicularis), counts as my sixth new species today.

I recognized this as an Amanita at least, which sent me to the right section of my mushroom guides, where I found a match in A. rhopalopus, distinguished by those little warts all over the cap.  Another distinguishing feature, I learned,  is its long, deep-rooted bulb, but I did not dig this one up to find it.  So maybe I got it wrong.  If not, this is Number 7.

Back to the sac fungi for this one, called, appropriately, White Sac (Neobulgaria pura).  I think.  If so, this is number 8 for new species today.

This perky little yellow-stemmed red mushroom, Conic Wax Cap (Hygrocybe conica), isn't the last species I found today, just the last one I could identify using my guide books.  This makes nine new ones I am able to name, from just one outing.  It was quite a trip!

The remaining photos are of species I'm just not sure of or else I don't even have a clue.  These pretty yellow ones look at first glance like Chanterelles with their depressed tops and descending attached gills.  But something about them doesn't match my image for Chanterelles.  Besides, it's getting pretty late in the year for finding that summer species.  Yikes, could these be the deadly Jack-o-lanterns?  But those are orange, aren't they?  Don't know.  (P.S.: Don't miss two other fungi captured in this shot, the dainty pink pleated ones and the wee little orange dots.)

My guess is that these are Mycena leaiana, but I was so entranced by the way the light was making them glow, that I neglected to examine them in adequate detail to be sure of their species.

Ooh, what a lovely blue-green color!  Once again, my attention was focused on the color, and I neglected to notice other diagnostic details.

I could have pulled this sturdy purple knob apart to see how it was constructed,  but I only had eyes for that lovely lavender surface.  Any guesses?

Another pretty purple shroom, this one really tiny and fragile.  Maybe a Mycena, maybe a Coprinus, maybe a . . . what?

Talk about tiny!  These little guys stood less than half an inch high.  How did I see them?  Sue saw them first.  Neither one of us knew what they were. We just knew they were really, really cute.

More itty-bitties.  These tiny cups, each one attached by a stalk to a rotting branch I found lying on the ground, were closed by a delicate membrane that tore at a touch, revealing pinkish gills within.  I wonder if I'm holding the branch upside-down from the way they grew.  I wonder what they are.  Nothing looks like them in any of my books.

Last, and yes, indeed, least.  No bigger than heads of pins, each of these minute balls is attached by a tiny stalk to what looks like the vein of a leaf that's been eaten away.  I'll bet they're not even fungi, but maybe some kind of slime mold.  Or critter eggs.  I don't have a clue where to go to find out.  Anybody?  Update:  On 10/04/11, the NY Times science section featured an article about slime molds that was illustrated with photos of various kinds, including one that looked quite a bit like this, called Didymium iridis.

Anyway, these photos represent just a small portion of the fungi we saw in the woods today.  If I'd been given an equal number of jewels, they couldn't have delighted me more.  What a treasure we have  beneath our feet, and it's free for the looking.


Andrew Lane Gibson said...

You REALLY know your fungi! That's one of the few areas of the natural world I'm about as green as it gets in. I know my tasty Morels and that's about it :/. Your blog is very, very helpful!

Mike Whittemore said...

Cool jellies! I've heard some of them called fairy butter and witches butter - such vibrant things! Also, pluck one of those suspicious chanterelles, take it into the bathroom and shut the door. If it glows in the dark, don't eat that thing! The gills of jack-o-lanterns are known to glow in the dark.

Anonymous said...

Indeed - a treasure no gems could match. You've inspired me to head out this morning. Ciao!

Interesting about the jack-o-lanterns Mike!

Ellen Rathbone said...

So many beauties!

With all the rain we've had, too, I suspect we have tons of 'shrooms on our trails, too. Haven't had a chance to get out lately, though. AND! It turns out there is quite a mushroom guy at the local community college and he says he's found some very unusual (unexpected) specimens here. I'm hoping to get him to do some walks for us.

Emma said...

Saw this in the paper today and thought of your post:

Louise said...

Lovely mushrooms, and what a variety. Who would think that there was that much color and variety in the mushroom world?

Raining Iguanas said...

I played golf at beautiful Brookhaven yesterday and thanks to your blog I had the added pleasure of looking at and for mushrooms while I was rooting through the woods in search of my elusive golf ball. Much too much time spent doing that by-the-way.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, dear friends, for all your kind comments. I do love hearing from you. Those mushrooms just keep coming! I try to learn a few new ones each year, but this year I can hardly keep up.

I've heard that about Jack-o-lanterns, that they glow in the dark, but since they are so poisonous, I've always been a bit leery about handling them.

lesnichka8888 said...

The Purple baby looks like a cortinarius, poisonous - you can tell them by the spiderwebby sac at the bottom.

I had a similar situation with the - jackolantern this weekend. crazy how similar they look.

check out my instagram account for mushrooms- I have a bigger cortinarius pictured there as well as many other mushrooms . lesnichka8888