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Friday, October 23, 2009

Mushroom Walk

I took advantage of a break in the rain the other day to go for a mushroom walk and see what's been growing in all this damp weather we've been having. I started noticing fungi and attempting to identify them last year, so I'm looking forward to improving my skills this fall. So be forewarned that most of these IDs are tentative!

On rotting logs you can find witch's butter (Tremella mesenterica), which looks like its oozing out of the decaying wood. Here it is plump and blob-like since its full of water. In drier weather it shrivels and looks more brain-like:

I found several different polypores, which are tough, shelf-like fungi that mostly grow on wood. My favorite is probably the small, colorful turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) which grows in bunches, often on the flat part of stumps:

This polypore embodies what the field guides call a hoof-shaped fungus. I think its possibly Phellinus igniarius:

Here is the red-belted conk (Fomitopsis pinicola). This photo shows the sponge-like layer that makes up the underside of most polypores:

Finally, this is a varnished conk (Ganoderma spp.). There are two similar species that both show varying amounts of white, brown, and orange, but notice how the top looks shiny (varnished!), especially compared to the much duller red-belted conk above:

This little mushroom found growing on a twig on the forest floor is the toothed jelly fungus (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum). It looks like something that might glow in the dark, and as such I was unable to get a crisp, focused shot of it - a problem I had when I saw it last year too. My David Arora field guide, All That the Rain Promises and More..., is filled with his informative and colorful descriptions. He describes this species as follows:

This pretty little mushroom behaves more like a rubber thingamig than like a fungus: it quivers when prodded. Although it has small spines under the cap as in the teeth fungi, it is one of the jelly fungi, as evidenced by its texture.

Finally, here's a species that seems pretty distinct but I haven't been able to identify it yet. It was growing singly and in clumps on a decaying log, and the caps were covered with these soft, fine yellow hairs. Anyone have any ideas?


julie said...

very cool, monika! just north of us in mendocino, people do a lot of foraging for mushrooms. they usually go with experts to identify ones for eating. that idea scares me a little, though i do love eating them. your pictures nicely capture the diversity of shapes they come in and places they like to hang out... cool fungi!

Monika said...

Julie - Mushroom collecting is pretty big here in the Pacific Northwest too. That's actually how all this started when my dad went out with a friend of his who collects mushrooms a few years ago - that got him and me looking at them more. In a sense it would be cool to go out and forage for them and then take them home and eat them, but I'm not a fan of eating mushrooms myself.

As of yet, I haven't really gotten into making spore prints either, which is a key way to help identify them. A lot of people pick them and take them home, then set them over white/black paper to see what color the spores are. It's something ingrained in me to take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints, I think! ;)

julie said...

That's a good motto to live by... particularly with mushrooms, which, though not scarce, are not quite abundant like a field full of flowers. I've been finding a few mushrooms in the neighborhood here in Sebastopol, popping up after a recent rain.

Fall is nice but in two weeks, I return to spring in the southern hemisphere! Hopefully, we'll keep in touch. I did start my own meager blog. It's not much yet but hopefully will become interesting when I start posting from Argentina. The address is It will be good to hear from you, wherever you'll be hanging your hat!

Heather said...

Some cool 'shrooms here, Monika. That very last one, I don't know what it is unfortunately, but I did see one on our recent trip to Kentucky. I'll be posting photos eventually!