Thursday, October 7, 2010

On The Mushroom Trail

We arrived in darkness the evening before I hit the trail of the woods, anxious to see it in August, never have I been present so late in summer. I was told it would be cool and dry this time of the year, but it was warm and humid, much like the NYC we had left behind. There had been significant rains in the prior weeks, leaving fresh signs of muddy torrents. The mosquitoes told the same tale, trailing me, humming it in my ear.

On the northern slopes, where the forest canopy is nearly impenetrable by sun light, and amongst the few plants, there is much fallen timber. Whether or not something is wrong with this woods, as it appears to my senses, the tangle of twigs and timber is the understory. There is little to no leaf litter, no humus, not much of anything. But, on those fallen trees, there are fungi of all sorts. Ever since my experience in the Pine Barrens of LI, I've held a casual, but definitively greater curiosity about mushrooms.

The beautiful, velvety, green and white Turkey Tail, trametes versicolor, or, if not, possibly Stereum ostrea.

Unidentifiable mushrooms were fruiting everywhere; the cool blue-tinged browns, grays and greens of the understory punctuated by yellows and oranges.

Of course, there are rotting logs and timber everywhere for the saprobic fungi to decompose.

Dappled light occasionally appears on the forest floor. Wait, is that? Yes, those are mushrooms.

Hundreds of small white mushrooms growing on a few logs, dappled by sunlight.

They are humorous in appearance -in that pubescent way.

But also a bit alien, mysterious. These turn out to be Lycoperdon pyriforme, pear-shaped puffballs, edible when young. Tom Volk says the name can also mean pear-shaped wolf fart, if translated -"Lyco" meaning wolf, "perdon" to break wind.

An aging Coral mushroom, possibly Ramaria stricta, along side the little puffs.

Simply striking.

And startling.

Well named and creepy, Dead Man's Fingers, Xylaria polymorpha, easily spooks those prone.

It is hard to seek out mushroom IDs on the internet. The characteristics often necessary to ID fungi are often overlooked, often underneath, sometimes microscopic, and often discovered after the fact.

Quite possibly Chinese Snow Fungus, Tremella Fuciformis. I'm guessing "Tremella" for its shaky nature and "Fuciformis" for its seaweed-like form. Am I getting good at this?

I really want this to be called Bread of the Woods, Panisilva mellidermis!

And these could be called Toadstool People, Mycosella minipopulus.






  1. That is an awesome display of mushrooms. Gorgeous. Everytime I see mushrooms growing wild, I always want to eat them. I dare not.

  2. What a great post! I am fascinated with mushrooms and funghi. How fun to walk around and find so many different types. Dead mans fingers? Wow! I'm going to be on the lookout now when I go out hiking next...

  3. Thanks guys. But there's more...


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