Monday, October 4, 2010

Mycological Mug Shots

On October 2nd I had the privilege of attending a fall nature walk sponsored by the Tweed and District Horticultural Society. Many thanks to Donna Fano for her time and guidance in identifying the many fascinating species of fungi found along the trail near Downey's Rapids (a few of the mushrooms below I've identified on my own, if there are any errors, they are mine).

In addition to George Barron's Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada, Donna also introduced the group to another must have book for the budding mycologist, the Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, published by the National Audubon Society.

First, a look at some bracket fungi. These closely packed shelves of small fungi fruiting on hardwood are called Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor). The average length of the backets is about 5 cm.

Some views of the hoof-like Tinder Polypore (Fomes fomentarius) growing on a dead birch. These specimens were about 10 cm to 12 cm wide.

About the same width as the Tinder Polypore above and also making itself at home on the fallen birch was an aptly named Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus).

Appearances can be deceiving. At first I took these white 5 cm to 8 cm long formations on this hardwood log to be a species of polypore. Not so ... a look at the underside reveals that these are actually representatives of yet another group of fungi, the Tooth Fungi. I think this might be Steccherinum sp.

Moving on to some gill fungi ... a group of Honey Mushrooms (Armillaria spp.). This complex consists of several closely related species that may require a microscope to distinguish between them, so I'm not going to go farther than the genus level with this one. The caps on these mushrooms were about 5 cm to 8 cm in width.

This mushroom looks like it's been sampled by the local wildlife. Based on what's remaining of the 5 cm wide leftovers I'm going to hazard a guess and call this a Funnel Clitocybe (Clitocybe gibba).

With caps approximately 3 cm to 5 cm wide, brightening up the forest floor is a group of Cinnamon Cort (Cortinarius cinnamomeus)...

... and a vibrantly colored Hygrocybe sp. (width about 5 cm)

Although discolored and faded with age enough of its original reddish hue remains to make this Rosy Russula (Russula sanguinea) stand out among the dead leaves. The width of the cap is about 10 cm.

A common species at this locale, due to their large size (a good 15 cm at their maximum width) Milk Mushrooms (Lactarius piperatus) are also easy to spot despite being half buried under pine needles.

Another common fungus in this area, often found growing on decaying tree stumps and logs, is the Deer Mushroom (Pluteus atricapillus). These mushroom's caps ranged roughly 8 cm to 10 cm in width. (Note: The ID on this may be in error. I've done further research and the gills of Pluteus atricapillus should be free; they are decurrent in the lateral view of the mushroom.)

Most people are familiar with the ubiquitous common puffall but these Pestle Puffballs (Calvatia excipuliformis) were new to me. The rounded end is close to 5 cm in diameter. The second photo includes a complementary Nursery Web Spider, Pisaurina sp.

An older Pestle Puffball, lacking the studded surface.

Smaller and less often noticed than their larger cousins, the jelly fungi are an interesting and colorful group. The following three images depict a Leafy Jelly Fungus (Tremella foliacea). The lengths varied from a few centimeters to about 8 cm or 10 cm.

Witch's Butter (Tremella mesenterica) can be confused with ...

... the superficially similar Orange Jelly (Dacrymyces palmatus). Both of these cheerfully colored fungi measure up to roughly 5 cm in length.

There are two different species of fungi in the following image. The tarry looking stuff is Black Witch's Butter (Exidia glandulosa); the little red cups, the largest being perhaps one centimeter in diameter, are Eyelash Fungus (Scutellinia scutellata). Which brings us to the next group of fungi ... the Sac Fungi, but before moving on, why "Eyelash" Fungus? There isn't enough detail in the photo but when viewed in the field using a hand lens very fine black hairs only .04 mm thick are visible around the perimeter of the cups.

At first glance Dead Man's Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha) doesn't obviously appear to be a sac fungus. Hmmm ... spiders, Witch's Butter and Dead Man's Fingers, and the colors yellow, orange and black ... seems like we have a Hallowe'en theme going here.

Despite their aspect the black and brown domed shapes on this log, roughly 2 cm to 3 cm in diameter, are also sac fungi ... King Alfred's Cakes (Daldinia concentrica).

Tiny, with caps only a few millimeters in diameter, a large grouping of Blue-Stain Fungus (Chlorociboria aeruginascens) decorate a decaying log. These colorful little sac fungi, with cups no more than ½ cm in width, actually have short stems that aren't visible in the photo.

The less gaudy but larger Peziza sp. (2 cm to 3 cm wide cups)

While the "focus" of this walk was fun and fungi there were plenty of other interesting things to be found in the debris on the woodland floor, for example, this Wolf Spider. Probably Trochosa sp., this spider is a big girl at least 15 mm in length, perhaps a bit more.

Something small and green moving among the brown of the dead leaves caught my eye ... an Assassin Bug nymph, Zelus luridus.