Monday, July 28, 2008

Mushroom Madness

All this rain had to be good for something besides the watertable, and the things that are flourishing are mushrooms, mosquitoes and mosses! I went out on the trails this morning to try and get some photos of the flowers that are in bloom, and what I ended up with was close to 100 photos of mushrooms!

Now I'm not mushroom expert (remember, an ex is a has-been and a spurt is a drip under pressure), but I do love seeing the amazing variety that fungi exhibit. And the names! Who wouldn't be fascinated by things with names like "Dead Man's Fingers," "Earth Tongue," "Hare's Ear," "Devil's Urn," and "Common Jelly Baby"?

Some of these fungi were easy to identify, but others remain a mystery. If you are a mushroomer, perhaps you can help out with the ID of some of my mystery mushrooms.

Here are a few of the more interesting mushrooms found along our Sucker Brook Trail today:

White Elfin Saddle (Helvella crispa) - this funny looking fungus is apparently wide-spread, but not common. It's a solitary mushroom, found growing either directly on the ground or on very rotten logs, usually in conifer forests (this one was in a hardwood forest).

White Bird's Nest Fungus (Crucibulum laeve) - this is a fungus I have always wanted to see! It looks just like a tiny (as in 1 cm tall and 1 cm wide) nest. I found several patches, all in various states of development. The "eggs" contain the spores (I believe). This is apparently a common fungus and is widespread, occurring on dead twigs, leaf mould, rotting wood, etc.

Velvet-stalked Fairy Fan (Spathulariopsis velutipes) - these are really neat-looking fungi, growing in massive groups. Considered widespread and locally common, it grows either directly on the ground or on well-rotted hardwood logs. All the patches I found today were growing right out of the ground on the side of the trail.

Lacquered Polypore (Ganoderma lucidum) - this is a really lovely fungus, and on one tree I found it in several stages of growth. A common bracket fungus, this polypore is found on hardwoods. This one, however, I believe is actually G. tsugae, a similar species that grows on conifers.

I'm not sure about this one, but it might be Deadly Cort (Cortinarius gentilis), or not. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know. There were a lot of these, all sparsely located about the forest floor. If it is, then, as the name suggests, it is poisonous. Wide-spread but not common, it is found under conifers or in mossy areas. Update: after consultation with another naturalist, we suspect this is not actually deadly cort. However, it might be a Chanterelle Waxcap (Hygrocybe canthrarellus). I need to collect one and do a spore print to be sure.

This is another mystery mushroom. It was very tiny, maybe an inch high, if that. My first thought is Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) because of its color, but the amanitas tend to have rings, or collars, around the stalk, and this one does not. This is a very young mushroom, though, so maybe it hasn't developed a collar yet? Again, if anyone has a better idea, please let me know. The same person as above agrees with me that this might be an amanita, but too young/small for it to have the characteristic structures showing.

This Chanterelle (Cantharellus spp.) was just lying in the trail. It was a rather large mushroom - maybe the size of my hand. Not being a fungophile, I don't know which variety of chaterelle this is. It might be C. cibarius, or C. cinnabarinus, or it could even be Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, which looks like C. cibarius, but is in fact a false chanterelle and while edible has been known to cause problems with some people who eat it. I know a lot of chanterelle foragers who might now be tempted to come to the VIC and harvest a sack full of mushrooms, but please remember that it is illegal to pick or collect anything on the VIC's property.

Last one. This odd-looking fungus is Worm-like Coral Fungus (Clavaria vermicularis) - I think. My first thought was it might be an Earth Tongue, but I'm leaning now more towards this coral. Wide-spread and common, this coral is found in grassy spots in open woods. This particular specimen was found in an almost open area of the woods.


  1. nice mushroom photos. the white bird's nest is amazing. all the rain has mushrooms popping up everywhere. i'm in the early stages of "learning mushrooms." if anyone knows of a group doing the same in the general area of north creek, please let me know.


  2. Paul - try Wes and Noel Dingman in North Creek - they are mushroom enthusiasts. Good luck.

  3. Nice pics. At first glance I would guess that the mystery yellow mushie is an amanita, however I doubt it is a fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) They are normally bright red but there is also a yellow variation (Formosa) Muscaria caps have white "warts" or scales and are not crusty like that one. the ring or you mentioned probably wouldn't have formed yet since that happens when the cap opens up, tearing the skin that covers the gills. The skirt may not always be there though.

  4. Hi,

    I was looking for great locations in the Adirondacks that would be good for the Ganoderma tsugae and lucidum. In the areas that you go, do you find good amounts of either? My wife and I have developed into shelf hounds for these. We just got back from Cook Forest in PA this evening with a couple of bags of them. They are the best natural medicine in the world for the body, being called the Immortal Herb in Chinese medicine lore. Let me know what you think at

    Thanks, and I enjoyed your great photos!

    Ryan Tomazin
    Bridgeville (outside of Pittsburgh), PA

  5. Ryan - I am a hit and miss mushroomer! I appreciate them when I find them, but I don't actively hunt for them. I'm afraid I won't be much help for your mushroom search! I will send you an email with more details...