Friday, October 14, 2011

Toadstool Trail Mix

"Trail mix" not meaning edible, but rather the mash, medley or miscellany of mushrooms found along or near "the Trail", whereas the folk name toadstool generally does refer to a mushroom that is poisonous.

The etymology of the word "toadstool" has been obscured by time; some think that in bygone days people believed toads used such mushrooms for seats, thereby passing on their toxins. And here's an example of a batrachian perching on a polypore – a Green Treefrog lounging on a Dryad's Saddle.

Beautiful but lethal ... a group of Deadly Galerina (Galerina marginata) photographed along a woodland path following the north shore of Stoco Lake.

These cheerful little sac fungi were brightening the shadier areas of the same decaying log. Lemon Drops (Bisporella citrina) are tiny, the caps of the largest specimens were no more than 3 mm in diameter.

Closeups of a Warty Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum), the second image shows the inside. A common species, a cluster of these small puffballs (about 25 mm in diameter) were making themselves at home in an open, sunny clearing.

Mycology is a relatively young science, with the names of and relationships between fungi being in a constant state of flux. I encountered several groups of these attactive mushrooms east of town along the trail, all of them growing on boxelder. My copy of Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada calls the mushrooms in the following images Hypsizygus tessulatus, but according to MushroomExpert.Com this species is named Hypsizygus ulmarius.

The moist shady woods further east are the habitat of these large white mushrooms, probably Clitocybe robusta. A cell phone is included in the photo to impart a sense of scale.

A group of Coprinus sp. growing on a lawn in town – fungi can be found everywhere and you don't have to go far from home to find them. I'm not sure if these are Tippler's Bane, Mica Cap, or maybe some other species ...

A section view of one of the mushrooms.

Often called Inky Caps, the fruitbodies of Coprinus can autolyze or self-digest in a relatively short time. This is what a group of mushrooms looked like four days after they were first photographed.

Of course, the local library is a good place to study mycology ... about a hundred Leucocoprinus birnbaumii were growing in the potted plant in the reading room. At this stage the mushrooms are still immature and the caps have not yet opened to expose the gills.

Two days later: the caps have assumed their familiar parasol shapes.