This small pale blob (about an inch across) was intriguing, with its lumpy network of holes, but I could not find anything remotely like it in any of my books or online. I wasn’t even sure it was a fungus! Could have been an egg-case, maybe. The problem, as it turned out, was this was a very young growth stage of this fungus—but thanks to the magic of the internet, I posted the image on you-know-where, tagged it with the names of the authors of some of the best mushroom books, and somebody ID’d it definitively in minutes (Gary Lincoff himself!). Then I plugged in the name, and got somewhere!
As Abortiporus biennis matures, it turns into what Michael Kuo (MushroomExpert.com) calls “…a gnarled, messy-looking mass…”, and it oozes a reddish juice. Yum!
After seeing some images of mature ones, I realized I must have stumbled upon them, but thought they were something moldy or too far gone to bother getting any closer. You can look them up, if you want, but they do look a mess. In any case, many thanks, Gary Lincoff! Your years of experience are a true treasure.
Next on the menu is another peculiar polypore which also stumped me.
I confess that when I see most bracket-like tree fungi I often roll my eyes and keep walking, mainly because I have a lot of trouble with them—to me, they tend to blur together, and I can’t keep track of which is which. Never seen these before, though, and they were quite distinctive. Had to pull out the big guns and pester the pros again.
Looks like some kinda bread or cake! Or, as Michael Kuo so eloquently puts it, “…kind of a big, doinky doofus…” among polypores. That must be why it got my attention! He also says “…it is not often mentioned in field guides (perhaps because it's too much of a doofus?).” The above specimen is about 5” from top to bottom. They grow on oaks, mostly. They’re parasitic.
Below is a nice swirling Berkeley’s polypore, Bondarzewia berkeleyi. It was a good 16” across. And there were three of them. These are not uncommon (and they come up in the same spot for years), and I didn’t have to send telegrams to experts for this one (partly due to an ID mishap when I found one before. Now I know!).
Just a pretty fungus swirl on the forest floor.