Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Fine Day for Fungi

"Pretty maids all in a row."  That nursery verse came to mind when I spied this colorful patch of Smooth Chanterelles (Cantherellus lutescens) in a swampy spot at the Orra Phelps Nature Preserve in Wilton.

 I had gone out to Orra's on Tuesday to see if the Fringed Gentians were blooming yet.   But it took me quite a while to reach the old sandpit where the gentians grow, since my steps were slowed by stooping to examine the multitudes of mushrooms that had sprung up following two days of rain.

I'm still not sure that these ground-hugging flat-topped fungi are what is called Black Tooth (Phellodon niger), but after looking at dozens of photos both in my mushroom guides and on-line, Black Tooth remains my best guess.

As this view of the underside reveals, this is certainly a toothed fungus, anyway.

A nearby downed tree trunk had provided the substrate for a large area of crusty fungus I cannot identify.  Perhaps one clue is the white powdery stuff on the ground beneath.  Is that stuff the white spores from the overhanging fungus, or is it another species of fungus that just happened to  grow at this site?  Opinions would be greatly welcomed.

This one I do know.  It's called Gemmed Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum), and it's very prettily decorated with all those tiny white bumps.

I also know that this is a Lobster Mushroom (Hypomyces lactiflorum), although that is kind of a misnomer.   H. lactiflorum actually refers to the orange fungal coating that has completely covered another mushroom, most likely one of the Lactaria, the Lobster Mushroom's usual host.

Another bright-orange mushroom, called Wooly Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus).   The rainwater collected in its vase shape has smoothed away the interior wooliness that gives this mushroom its name.

I almost missed these little guys, so tiny I first thought they were just pine needles.  But a closer inspection revealed they were the little coral fungus Ramariopsis laeticolor

What a cutie!  I didn't even see this tiny toad until I stooped to examine the trio of small rosy mushrooms that shared the toad's log and frightened the toad into hopping.  But then it just sat there and let me take a nice photo of it.  I was so taken by the toad's adorableness I forgot all about the little fungi.  But look how pretty, the toad's spots are almost the same rosy color .

Another really pretty sight was the Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana), its terminal leaf cluster streaked ruby red and crowned with blue-black berries.

At last, I found the flower I had come to Orra Phelps to see:  the radiant Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita).  Even though its flowers were only partly unfurled, their shining blueness, epitome of blueness, made them easy to spot from many yards away.

So lovely!   What a gift from the flower gods, sweet compensation as we prepare to bid farewell to the flower season.

But then, the fungal season has just begun.  So many other beauties await.


Ellen Rathbone said...

hm...I see blogger has messed up your pics, too (less than half are showing up). Maybe it IS sunspots!

The Furry Gnome said...

Beautiful and very interesting as always.

Raining Iguanas said...

The object of your search the Fringed Gentian are spectacular. Thank you for sharing them with us.

Unknown said...

Ah the vagaries of fungi are a brave man, thanks for the beautiful specimens.. The Fringed Gentian takes my breath away..How have we paved over and dug up most of the beauty? Thanks for sharing what you've seen!