Friday, September 28, 2012


Some of our most interesting and diverse finds from a fall walk in the woods were mushrooms!

The Scarlet Wax Cap
 The brilliant red cap of the Hygrocybe coccinea, Scarlet Wax Cap drew my eyes across the forest floor.  It was so small I thought it was a partridge berry!  This is an up close macro photograph, and it is probably 2 to 3 times as large as the real life 'shroom.

Fairies' Bonnets
Clusters of Fairies' Bonnets, Coprinus disseminatus clung to a rotting log in the deep woods.  They are members of the "Inky Cap" group of mushrooms- look for the dark underside.  Most inky caps "melt" into a stick black mess once they become fully mature.  The sticky black substance attracts flies, which "track" their feet though the fungi's spores mixed in with the black mess.  Now that is a creative way to spread genes around!

 Jim Davidson investigates over-ripe mushrooms.

Our friend Jim explains deliquescence.

What are these rotty-looking 'shrooms?
 In mushrooms rotting is the strategy the Coprinus species use to attract insects for spore dispersal.   "Deliquesce" means to liquefy or become liquid. Some mushrooms just become rotten or the consistency of slime.

An Umbellate mushroom looks as though is has a "belly-button" where it attaches to the stem. 

This photo show the various stages of a disintegrating Umbellate Polypore. The ones on the right are still fresh, and rather attractive.  The middle mushrooms are well on their way to becoming black gooey masses.  It is "snot" very pretty!

Fungi are some of our earliest and most basic life forms, which have been around over 1,400 million years. They have developed all types of strategies for survival and can be seen as molds, yeast, and an endless variety of mushroom forms.

Mushrooms have many strategies for reproduction, too. Inky caps deliquesce. Some mushrooms, like puffballs, "shoot" their spores in the air.  Others are tasty enough to attract little woodland animals to feed upon them and in turn, become dispersal systems for the fungi. 

Mushrooms are so clever! If you just start by looking at the ones with bright colors, pretty soon you will find you may be "hooked' on the whole fungus family.  

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