September 16, 2007

Another Day, Another Foray

Once again, a few of the days finds.

Once again, I came up with a large mass of Laetiporus sulphureus. This was a very young fruiting and the best I've had for dinner yet. And, oh yeah, I kept a sample for the herbarium, too. Check out the color of this mass.
Meet Leotia viscosa, one of the uglier fungi you're likely to see and aptly named. It makes its close cousin, L. lubrica, look good by comparison. When fresh, the "head" of this fungus is dark green. This specimen is a bit past its prime. Unlike the other fungi seen here, this is an ascomycete. The other fungi shown, basidiomycetes, produce their spores on the ends of specialized hyphae. Ascomycetes produce them inside of them. Their spores are also a bit larger on average. Ascomycetes never have gills or pores; to find the spore-bearing structures (asci), one simply looks at the "skin" of the fertile surface, which in the case of Leotia and the like are on the upper surface of the "cap," unlike in the basidiomycetes where the structures (basidia) are generally found on the underside of the cap. The underside of Leotia's "cap" is a sterile surface.
After that last ugly fungus, this one is a nice change. It's Pholiota squarrosoides and, while a bit sticky, has a scent somewhat reminiscent of bread dough. It's allegedly edible though not recommended. Just beneath the scaly pellicle is a thin gelatinous layer containing only a relatively small number of hyphae.
I wrote a bit about the cystidia found in the hymenium of Pluteus cervinus earlier and won't belabor the point. They'll grow on just about any dead wood or sawdust; this one is growing inside a hollow hemlock log.
Russula compacta is said to be edible, but after smelling them I'm not so sure I'd want to try it. I'd describe their odor as a combination of radishes and kerosene with just a hint of fish. The tan pellicle is sticky and peels easily, and the whole thing seems like a mass of grainy cystidia. I'd be interested to hear the experience of anyone who has actually tried eating this mushroom.
I still have two more specimens left to identify. The spore prints should be ready tomorrow morning.

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