July 24, 2007

Yesterday's Foray Finds

I was a bit too tired to bother writing all this table code last night (Blogger needs a better way to do simple tables!), so I'm just getting to it this morning. Here are photos from yesterday's outing at Silver Lake State Park (Hollis, New Hampshire). Nothing amazingly amazing, but new to me as a new arrival in New England (tomorrow marks three weeks since we got here).

A blue-staining fungus of some sort; it may or may not be a pathogen. Like most fungi, it's hard to identify without fruiting bodies or microscopic or genetic examination.
The golden chanterelle, Cantharellus cibarius, a choice edible. I found only three of them or else I'd certainly have brought home a sack-full, as it's one of my favorites.
Clavulinopsis fusiformis, golden fairy fingers. This specimen is a little past its prime, but the color is still remarkable.
Artist's conk, Ganoderma applanatum. The fruiting bodies produced by this fungus is extremely durable, sometimes lasting a century and so serving as a home for numerous generations of associated beetles. In this case, a couple of forked fungus beetles are visible (close-ups below). Like many larger polypores, this one gets rid of excess water by secreting drops of fluid around the growing edge. The color of this fluid can itself be useful in attempting to identify the fungus.
You know you're a bit obsessive when you feel compelled to identify an Inocybe down to the species; I think this one is I. agglutinata. I wouldn't testify to that under oath, but I can't imagine why I'd ever have to. The Inocybes are important mycorrhizal fungi but among the most difficult to identify. Precise taxonomy of the genus awaits clarification.
A member of genus Merulius, which is just a polite way of saying "dry rot." This one is growing in the woods, and you should be thankful for that. This fungus causes many millions of dollars to homes and other structures the world over every year.
Birch polypore, Piptoporus betulina, is among the most common polypores in New England. Reputed to be edible, it was the first wild fungus I ever tried to eat, way back in 1987. I carefully followed cooking directions from a book, only to find that the fungus tastes just like bitter ashes. Yummy.
Deer mushroom, Pluteus cervinus, is a decent edible if you can find one that hasn't been overrun with fungus gnat larvae. It's relatively easy to identify once you get the hang of it; the distinctly light pink gills that do not touch the stipe and growth on wood (never on the ground!) are good indicators. Not taht I'm advocating that you eat them until you've gotten some help identifying a few. Everyone's gotta start somewhere.
There's not too much to say about the elegant polypore, Polyporus elegans, other than it has very tiny spore tubes that make its underside look completely smooth. The stipe is black at its point of attachment to the substrate, too. Other than that, most people wouldn't even notice this organism.
The coral fungi, on the other hand, tend to be a bit more spectacular. They can get quite large and ornate, and some species come in shades of brilliant red, yellow and purple. On the other hand, this specimen of Ramaria stricta is a bit on the pallid side. Nonetheless, the branching is quite beautiful. While not toxic in the "you have three days to live" sense, almost all of the Ramaria spp. taste very bitter and will cause a badly upset stomach if one manages to actually choke it down.
Once upon a time, Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) was thought to be a fungus, but it's really a parasitic plant that's given up producing its own chlorophyll in favor of sucking the nutrients from the roots of trees. Always attracted to the unusual, I like this delicate, ghostly organism and certainly had plenty to look at at Silver Lake. They were everywhere.
It's nice to find familiar things in a new place, and I've grown very familiar with forked fungus beetles (Bolithotherus cornutus). These were living in the artists' conk pictured above.
Another insect with which I became acquainted in Florida is the banded netwing, Calopteron reticulatum, a distant cousin of the firefly. I saw scores of them yesterday, many of them on the leaves of horse chestnut trees. These two are working on ensuring the continuation of their species and paying no attention at all to the photographer. Bug porn!

Sphere: Related Content