October 17, 2011
Wild Mushroom Discoveries
You may recall my blog about hunting for Chanterelle mushrooms while at my home in Skylands this summer. The rainfall has also spurred a surprising amount and variety of mushrooms at my farm in New York. Fungus thrives in moist areas and loves growing on decaying wood. While many may try to eradicate mushrooms from their lawns, they are an important part of the forest ecosystem. Because they live off of decaying plant matter, fungus breaks down and disposes of fallen tree branches, leaves, and even animals. Fungus also digests rock particles and other organic matter in soil, in a way cleaning it for new plants to grow.
With thousands of types of fungi, it can be difficult to identify them, but it is quite rewarding when you can. Here's a collection of the mushrooms I've found recently.
1 The rain has kept the ground very wet, causing all sorts of mushroom varieties to pop up around my property.
2 Some of the mushrooms grow in large clusters.
3 It's also not uncommon to find a singular mushroom here and there. This one had a lovely ruffled cap, exposing the ridges underneath.
4 This one looked as if it had tipped over. It is a type of ringstalk, named for the extra ring around its stem.
5 The caps on mushrooms vary from thin and delicate, like this one...
6 ...to much thicker, like this one. This one is also much older, as it has browned and is falling apart.
7 This cap was surprisingly thick and had a nice reddish-orange hue.
8 A tiny bright yellow one poking out of the grass
9 The lovely shade of red caught my attention
10 Bracket fungi, like this, is quite common on trees.
11 It grows in many rows of flat or ruffled conks, as they are called.
12 These beautiful seashell-esque bracket fungi grow on trees.
13 Looking upwards at the same brackets, the coloring looks different.
14 These bracket mushrooms grow on a log in my stone pile.
15 They almost look like the wings of a monarch butterfly.
16 Discovering slimy mushroom caps in your kitchen means that the mushrooms have gone bad, but slimy caps are quite common in the wild.
17 When there is an indentation in the middle, it is commonly called a navel cap.
18 These brightly colored stalks are called stinkhorns. They smell like carrion or dung to attract flies to spread their spores.
19 This one is most likely a Dog Stinkhorn. They have no cap and the tip of their stalk is covered in spore slime.
20 This is a cluster of mini puffballs.
21 I tapped them with a stick and the spores burst out in a cloud!
22 These were growing on a tree and look much like puffballs.
23 They are much firmer and spongier, not the same texture as puffballs, and when tapped do not spread spores.
24 This is a type of coral fungi, named because of it's resemblance to coral.
25 They grow like delicate little sculptures.
26 Coral fungi is edible, though many types are bitter and some can have a laxative effect.
27 I found this tiny mushroom growing next to this furry patch of moss growing on a rock.
28 My property manager, Mike, found this large cluster of mushrooms. It was growing on a decaying log.
29 He said it reminded him of a mushroom he would find in the wild as a child.
30 Look how large this specimen is!
31 We took it inside to get a closer look at it and see if we could identify it.
32 Without being able to positively identify a mushroom, it is not safe to eat it.
33 While a crop like this would be lovely for cooking, we couldn't risk eating it without knowing what it was. Because we could not identify it, we tossed it back in the woods.