Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mushroom things getting serious after some rain, Oct. 2013

No preamble! Go! I had seen something at the base of a huge old oak on a rural road, and wondered if it was a clump of dead leaves on a fallen branch—several days later I was there again and had time to run over and see, and it was an enormous hen of the woods! And I didn't have my camera on me so no pics of it in situ!
hen 16 pound in trunk

But as soon as I got home I got
the camera! Here it is, in the trunk of a 4-door Accord for scale!
hen 16 pound on scale

Here it is on a scale for scale! Sixteen pounds of choice edible Grifola frondosa!
Don’t use this blog as a mushroom ID site! 

hen 16 pound in arms
Here it is in the arms of my friend, cradled on a paper grocery bag. I banged on her door and there I was, she didn't know what the hell I was holding, I made her hold it while I took a pic, to try to give you a sense of how big it was. My friend is used to this sort of thing now. I thought it might have been a little past its prime (getting dry or corky), but it wasn't.

I called another mushroom friend and hacked off a nice 5-pound chunk for him.

I was giddy over this find. Later, I was giddy again when I realized if I had not found it about 20’ from the road, and had actually been in the middle of the woods (typical hike is 3-4 hours long), I would have had to carry that 16-pound thing for a couple miles. Using both arms.

This is a very meaty mushroom and I made a pot roast out of several pounds of it, substituting it for meat, because I could. Very good idea.

Now here are some turtles.

box turtle one box turtle two
Okay sometimes the Three-toed box turtles can get pretty fancy, and as we know it can be hard to get a good look at their hind feet to count their toes, but I have learned that Ornate box turtles have nice ornate plastrons, if you really have to find out. I suspect the one on the left is a Three-toed, and the one on the right is an Ornate; that being said, I don’t actually know, because I didn't check.

orange thing on leaf

I have no idea what this is.

Whatever it is, it’s tiny!

orange thing on leaf w fingertip

orange fuzz ball I don’t know what this is, either! It looks like a spider
egg case—but orange?
*Edit: five years later (2017) I found another one, and posted a pic of it on an insect ID page, and got an answer in about 10 seconds. It's the egg case of a Pirate spider!

Why is everything tan or orange???

Abortiporus biennis
This is Abortiporus biennis, early in its development. Apparently, it can just sort of get bigger and lumpy (while exuding red juice and bruising brown) or it can develop something like a cap and stem (sort of). It might look soft but it’s actually firm and rubbery. Plug it into a search engine to see many other growth stages and forms. It grows around things in its path.

There’s a little spider on it.

Abortiporus biennis with spider


What the heck is that mess!

It’s the underside of the cap of an ink-cap mushroom, as found (broken off its stem). Coprinus comatus (pretty sure)—“shaggy mane.” When young and fresh, the cap is a tall, narrow cylinder. When the spores are mature it starts to auto-digest, which makes the gills separate and curl back, allowing the spores better access to dispersal. There’s a great article about this written by one of Kathie Hodge’s Cornell U. students, here.

ink on hand

Oh yes I did!

Calvatia craniiformis from trail
Another “visible from the trail” specimen. It’s a pretty big puffball, Calvatia craniiformis, “skull-shaped puffball.”
Calvatia craniiformis skull-shaped puffball-012

I tapped around on it trying to determine if it was fresh and moist inside and decided to go for it. Here is the cut base, which saddened me, as it looked too far gone. But wait!

Calvatia craniiformis cut base-016

I cut a wedge out of it and the upper section was pure white and soft.

Calvatia craniiformis cut wedge

Later I read about the “stem-like, sterile base,” so this is typical. That helped to know later when I actually found the stem-like sterile base, with the top worn off. Other puffballs are just balls, and don’t have much of a stem or stalk, if at all.

Here is a still-life interlude:
coral and 2 mushrooms

An older, darkening, crown-tipped coral and some scruffy-topped gilled mushrooms I didn't identify. The crown-tipped coral is very pale when young.


Oh, look! More orange mushrooms!


Pholiota three caps

Pholiota cap closeup

These could be P. aurivella, or P. limonella, it’s another case of needing microscopic examination of spores to really be certain. Since I was a little distracted because I had just figured out where I was after ending up somewhere completely unfamiliar (read: "lost"), I didn't even get a shot of the stem or gills.

Pholiota two caps

means "scale" in Greek.

One book calls this “onion-bagel Pholiota”!

Below: this is typical fall foray fun. If this one had been after a summer of normal rainfall and temps, there would have been much, more more!
foray table

That big frilly mound someone is pinching is Sparassis crispa, which I would love to find. It was quite a foray coupe even though it was way past its prime. When fresh they are creamy yellow.

hen of the woods cut open
Above, yet another Grifola frondosa, cut open in the privacy of my home, so you can see a little of the inside structure. Turned out to be a good year for hens, so much so that I forget where I found this 8-pounder!

Lycoperdon pyriforme
Lycoperdon pyriforme, the end.


  1. I found a 16 pound hen two falls ago. I just love hen of the woods. Thanks for sharing and getting us up to date with your hiking.

    1. Here's a fabulous recipe for hen soup, easy! I could eat a gallon of it. http://mdc.mo.gov/conmag/2010/10-0/fall-wild-mushrooms