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 thought it was a clump of dead leaves on a fallen branch—several days later I was there again and I just had a feeling, so I pulled over and ran to 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!

Grifola frondosa  hen 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!

Grifola frondosa  16-lb hen 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!

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.

Grifola frondosa Rocheport 16-lb hen in arms

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 a hike (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; but I don’t actually know, because I didn't check.
                                                                                                                                     Orange on leaf

I have no idea what this is. Assuming the next photo is the same thing, I’d say it was a type of fungus, based on the irregular shape. Whatever it is, it’s tiny.

Orange on leaf with finger for scale

Pirate spider orange egg case

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 sac of a Pirate spider (Mimetus genus). The egg sacs usually hang from a thread. Pirate spiders eat other spiders!

Abortiporus biennis

This is Abortiporus biennis, early in its development. Apparently, it can just get kind of 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 (stem broken. Near the trail. People kick mushrooms. I did, too, as a kid. People can change). 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 (“deliquesce”), which makes the gills separate and curl back, allowing the spores better access to dispersal. At least, that’s what everybody says, but personally I don’t see how something sloppy and wet would be better at dispersing spores than a dry microscopic powder. 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 puffball, Calvatia craniiformis, “skull-shaped puffball.”

Calvatia craniiformis skull-shaped puffball

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 skull-shaped puffball sterile stem base

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 just 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, probably Armillaria gallica. The crown-tipped coral (Artomyces pyxidatus) is very pale when young.



Pholiota 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 when I found these 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.

Three Pholiotas

Pholis 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 was a drought, and it was much hotter than usual), there would have been much, more more. But there are just about always mushrooms. Join a group and go on forays together. Find mushrooms, then go back and have lunch and try to ID them all. It’s fun!

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.

Grifola frondosa cut open

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

Lycopderon pyriforme

Lycoperdon pyriforme, the end.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mid-October 2012 fall mushrooms backlog--hen of the woods, a dryad's saddle, red russulas and more

Keep it moving! Keep it moving! Almost through the post-drought 2012 logjam!

***Heads up, snake-o-phobes! There is a little snake further down the page, and I am holding it. 

I’ve been smooshing two or more hikes into a single post or everything will get completely out of hand.

hen of the woods at tree base

Do you see that nice Grifola frondosa at the base of that tree?

hen of the woods in leaves

Might not look like much but they are one of my favorites.

hen in hand

This is a little demitasse hen, compared to how big they can get.

lion's mane distant

Do you see that nice Hericium erinaceus on that log? Dead center.

lion's mane close

Might look like some kind of shaggy mess, but they are one of my favorites.

lion's mane with hand for scale This one is also a little on the small side, and not at optimum pure white sweetness. Pretty sure I took the big one and trimmed yellow off. Not a perfect workaround, but I bet I ate it happily.

old Lycoperdon pyriforme
An aged Lycoperdon pyriforme, pear-shaped puffball. The hole is where spores come out.
Dryad's saddle with foot
A dryad's saddle, Polyporus squamosus. This is not an atypical size.
Red Russula three in leaves

Do you see those lovely red Russulas amongst the leaves?

Red Russula as found in leaves close

They are quite common in the woods here, but I like them every single time. They can be so red!

This is turning into The Summer of No Specific Epithets! Science is overtaking the field guides and it’s turning out that many fungi we amateurs (read: “me”) were slapping a complete Latin name on (with some confidence) are actually not what we thought they were, indistinguishable from similar species without a microscope or DNA tests! So I would probably have called this Russula emetica, but now I really can’t say what species it is. There are several red Russulas. It’s a red Russula.

Red Russula cap and gills

It is beautiful. End of discussion.

Here comes the snake--I posted it small so the snake-fearers can bleep past it. Click to view large.

It’s the best of a bad lot of pics, it was dusk and way too dark for normal camera function! Had to use some “low light” setting (the flash pics were hideous) and resolution suffered. But I have to include it, because I’d been wanting to find one of these for at least two years, when I first learned of them, and I was so excited! It’s a rough green snake, Opheodrys aestivus.

rough green snake on arm
They’re not uncommon but you never see them because they are exactly the color of leaves. They hang around in bushes on the edges of woods. I saw it and thought it was a shoelace or a croakie or something!

It was so slender, about the thickness of a pencil, but easily two feet long! I was afraid of holding it too tightly so I’m trying to just barely hang on with that awkward hand position. See its tail looped twice around my arm? I actually had a little trouble convincing it to get off me.

They are benign and eat crickets and other insects and hunt exclusively by sight. I very much hope to see one again. And not that I hope to see this, but they fade to blue when they die.

Spongipellis unicolor

Above: Spongipellus unicolor, the one Michael Kuo calls “a big, doinky doofus”.

Spongipellis unicolor side view

They grow on oaks (mostly). They’re parasitic. That’s about all I could rustle up on them.

wood ear frilly

Tremella foliacea, which I thought was just an extra-frilly wood ear (Auricularia auricula) for quite a while. But these are much thinner, and grow in clusters like this.

I was here.