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Showing posts from June, 2022

False Turkey Tail

  I encounter False Turkey Tail ( Stereum ostrea ) frequently. As its common name suggests, it resembles the equally common Turkey Tail ( Trametes versicolor ). The key difference is the underside. Turkey Tail has a white pore surface. False Turkey Tail has a reddish underside that lacks pores. (See the second-to-last photo.) Another useful distinguishing feature is that False Turkey Tails tend curl more than Turkey Tails. These mushrooms are annual but persistent. The last photo shows last year's growth on the same log. A very similar species is Stereum subtomentosum , which stains yellow when cut or handled, but this is not so straightforward, as S. ostrea may bruise yellow too. Bessette writes in Polypores and Similar Fungi of Eastern and Central North America that what's been identified as S. ostrea  in North America might be S. subtomentosum . The name ostrea  means "resembling an oyster."

Black-staining Polypore

  The Black-staining Polypore ( Meripilus sumstinei ) combines the color of Hen of the Woods with the form of Chicken of the Woods (specifically Laetiporus cincinnatus ). The staining on this specimen was very gradual. I cut off a piece and left it in the sun all day. (See the last picture.) This is an edible mushroom; the texture resembles Chicken of the Woods. Another similar mushroom is Berkeley's Polypore,  Bondarzewia berkeleyi , which has larger pores and larger, less divided individual lobes. This mushroom was growing parasitically on the root of a Bur Oak ( Quercus macrocarpa ).

Deer Mushroom

  It's been very dry for a while, so this Pluteus cervinus  was a special find. This is one of the most common mushrooms in our area, but it never grows in large groups. The deer mushroom is fairly easy to identify once you become familiar with it, but given how nondescript it is, it can be misidentified. I recommend that the beginner take a spore print to verify that it has pink spores. Macroscopic features to look for: the gills do not touch the stem and there is no partial veil or ring. The color is also usually helpful. It's called a deer mushroom because its color is similar to a deer's winter coat. What I look for, however, is the sheen. It has a distinctive sheen that reminds me of fish scales. The one in the photos is quite pale, so it lacks this sheen. Another useful ID strategy is to harvest only the ones growing on logs. These do grow from the ground (this one is), but you will have a more certain ID if you see it growing directly on well-decayed wood. A final fe


  It's been hot and dry lately, but I thought the rain we had a couple days ago would perk up these Chanterelles ( Cantharellus cibarius ). No such luck. Even so, they're my first harvest of the year, so they're worth posting about. I did find some Smooth Chanterelles ( C. lateritius ) in the Shawnee near One Horse Gap on June 9, but I let those be.  Chanterelles are a mycorrhizal mushroom, typically more yellow-orange than these faded specimens. They're an excellent mushroom for beginners: They're tasty, usually easy to see, and have a distinctive morphology: trumpet shaped with "gills" running down the stalk. The gills are actually ridges that smear like wax. If you find a mushroom with true plate-like gills that otherwise fits this bill (though typically bigger and oranger), then you have the poisonous Jack O'Lantern ( Omphalotus illudens ). Also, Jack O'Lanterns grow from wood (though sometimes buried wood). Chanterelles grow directly from the

Elegant Stinkhorn

  The Elegant Stinkhorn ( Mutinus elegans )--one of my favorite names for a mushroom--has the pungent odor of semen, and more often than not you will smell it before you see it. It grows in leaf litter and its top is covered in brown spore-filled slime, which attracts flies.  Notice the veil remnant in the last two photos. Like Amanitas, these hatch from eggs, and the volva can usually be found in the ground at the mushroom's base (second-to-last photo). And sometimes a veil remnant can be found near the tip (last photo). Mutinus  is another name for Priapus, a Greek fertility god who had a constant, large erection. 

Old Man of the Woods

  Two species in Illinois are called Old Man of the Woods: Strobilomyces strobilaceus (syn. S. floccuopus ) and Strobilomyces confusus. They are nearly identical and both are edible, no taste to speak of, but a pleasant texture.  This is a somewhat common mushroom that is very easy to identify since nothing else looks like it. The flesh when cut turns salmon pink. This specimen was found growing alone beneath some Post Oak and Shagbark Hickory. The cap was 4.3 cm across and the stem was about 3.5 cm long.

Peanut Butter Cup

  The Peanut Butter Cup, Galiella rufa , is a common early summer mushroom in eastern North America. It's saprobic on hardwood sticks and logs and grows in the shape of a little cup (2-4 cm wide) with a densely hairy dark-brown exterior, and peanut-butter interior. If you tear it open, you will find beneath the interior surface gelatinous flesh.

Yellow Blusher

  I found this  Yellow Blusher  growing in the woods. The volva, which is often underground, is clearly visible here. 

Variegated Russula

  Russula cyanoxantha , I'm pretty sure. The oldest specimen here has a cap 7.5 cm across. Its stalk is 3 cm long and 2 cm wide, slightly larger at the base. The gills are white, close, and slightly oily. They're not brittle. They are adnate and slightly decurrent. A few of them fork near the margin. The cap is dry and a lovely hue of green-gray especially in the center. The margins are striate and white. The spore print was white, and the spores were mostly round with little bumps. They were about 6 μ across. Arora lists R. cyanoxantha as edible and choice, certainly the beetles think so, as they were everywhere. I didn't try this one. Maybe next time.  As a side note, I was attacked by my first horsefly of the year today. I'm curious to see if there is a correlation between this russula and them next year. "A Book of the seasons--each page of which should be written in its own season & out of doors or in its own locality wherever it may be"--Thoreau'

Pinwheel Marasmius

  Pinwheel Marasmius, Marasmius rotula,  is a tiny mushroom: the cap is less than 1.5 cm across, and the stem is less than a millimeter wide, though a couple guide books list it as 1-2 mm wide. The gills are well spaced. The cap is white or cream, pleated, and convex with a central depression with a dark spot in the center.  Kuo says that this species is nearly identical to M. capillaris , but that grows on fallen leaves rather than wood as M. rotula does. These seem to appear overnight after a rain. In truth, they were already there, just shrivelled into invisibility, but rain restores their bodies--this is a characteristic of the Marasmius  genus.  Rain yesterday and overnight. Walking in the woods in the morning amid fog. Everything is wet and cool. I think of yin . We know  yin and yang  as opposite, complementary concepts: yen  is the cool, dark, moist, soft female aspect; yang  is the masculine hard, dry, sunlit aspect. We often think of these as abstractions, but they're not

Ochre Spreading Tooth

  Ochre Spreading Tooth ( Steccherinum ochraceum ). This mushroom is growing on the dead limb of a sour cherry tree ( Prunus cerasus ). This grows in resupinate patches that have ochre teeth that are up to 3 mm long and are often forked at the ends, giving the fertile surface a shaggy appearance. What little there is of an upper surface is covered in velvety hairs best seen with a hand lens. The similar Irpex lacteus  has milky-colored teeth. Evolutionary theory posits the kinship of all life forms, all having (to a greater or lesser degree) family-resemblance. Thus, two dissimilar life forms will have an intermediary between them (living or extinct). The tooth fungi are an intermediary between polypores and agarics. The teeth are essentially pore-tubes that have separated from each other. The teeth of this mushroom are somewhat flattened, so it's easy to imagine how they could fuse and become gills. The Beefsteak Polypore, Fistulina hepatica , is itself an intermediary between the

Yellow Blusher

  Here's a good image of a young  Yellow Blusher . I've been seeing quite a few of these the past couple weeks. 

Mystery Polypore

This is a mushroom that I can't figure out. It began growing last fall on a Shingle Oak stump and causes a white rot. It grows in overlapping shelves that fuse both laterally and vertically. The widest of the flat, semicircular caps is about 17 cm across, before fusing with its neighbor. I have seen no indication of hairs anywhere on the mushroom at any stage. In age it develops vague concentric ring zones and is sulcate nearing the margins. It's bumpier and thicker toward the base. The older shelves have algae growing on them toward the base. The mushrooms are creamy white becoming a light brown toward the edges. The edges are thick and rounded when young but taper to an thin edge that turns downward in age. The mushrooms become dry and hard when old and bleach white but are firm, elastic, and moist when young. These mushrooms are noticeably fragrant (reminiscent of Ganoderma  spp.) when fresh. Another key feature is that the pores are somewhat round and angular toward the mar