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Showing posts from July, 2022

Crowded Parchment

  Crowded Parchment, Stereum complicatum , is not the most photogenic mushroom, but it might be the most common. It prefers oak, and often grows next to Turkey Tail, as this one is (see the last picture). These often grow resupinate. The species name complicatum  means "folded back on itself," which refers to the way the margin will curl back on itself. Individual caps can be 2 cm across and are very thin (.4 mm thick). They typically fuse laterally. Notice in the second-to-last picture how you can see the mushroom growing between the gap in the bark and then spreading out on the surface. These mushrooms are typically an orangish hue. Bessette says that the upper surface is "coated with whitish, silky hairs that are appressed toward the margin and erect toward the point of attachment." This is true of these, though it was difficult to tell even with a hand lens.

Ganoderma lobatum

  Ganodermas can be divided into shiny and not shiny. This and the similar Ganoderma applanatum  are in the not-shiny camp, and also like G. applanatum, you can draw on Ganoderma lobatum's fertile surface. In my experience, individual species of polypores are more morphologically various than agarics. I wish more field guides would post more pictures to give a sense of this variety. One site that often does a good job of this is from Messiah University .  This specimen had the wonderful Ganoderma smell, and the new growth was growing directly on the old growth, as you can see in the last picture. Notice also how the two new caps grow one on top of the other. The pores were typically about 4 per millimeter. "Lobatum" means having lobes. You can see the lobed ridges on the older specimens, and the thick lobe-like margin on the new growth. Note the Violet Tooth Polypore growing to the right at the base of the tree. My dog Rambo is very fond of this mushroom and asked if he

Marasmius siccus

  Marasmius siccus is a tiny mushroom that grows in leaf litter. The caps were 1 cm or a little more, orange-brown, glabrous, slightly rough, pleated, convex to bell-shaped. The gills were quite distant and pale, sometimes splitting toward the margin. The stem was very thin (around 1 mm or less on some), pale toward the apex, then dark and shiny below. All the specimens I gathered were shorter than 6 cm. A key feature to separate this from the closely related Marasmius pulcherripes  is the spore size. These measure 22 μm. The spores of M. pulcherripes  measure 11-15 μm, according to Mushrooms of the Midwest .

Violet Toothed Polypore

  The Violet Toothed Polypore, Trichaptum biforme , could easily be misidentified as a Trametes  species were it not for the teeth on the fertile surface. This mushroom is typically between 2 and 9 cm wide, thin, and zonate (though not as distinctly as Trametes versicolor ). It has a velvety upper surface that becomes glabrous with age. A key feature is the violet (sometimes brownish) margin. Trichaptum biforme will sometimes develop algae, as these have. When they do, if you look closely with a hand lens, you will see Fairy Pins. (See the last picture.)  As Bessette writes in Polypores and Similar Fungi of Eastern and Central North America : Fairy Pins are "the dark olive-brown to blackish fruitbodies of Phaeocalicium polyporaeum. . . . They are the sexual reproductive structures of a parasitic, nonlichenized fungus" (p. 355). These can also be found on Trichaptum abietinum (a closely related species that grows on conifers) and Trametes versicolor . 

Smooth Chanterelle

  Cantharellus lateritius  has the simplest of all dichotomous keys: Does it look like a Chanterelle? Yes. Is the fertile surface primarily smooth? Yes. > Then you have the Smooth Chanterelle.

Trametes villosa

  I found these growing on a stick. The fresh specimens measured no more than 2 cm across and were less that 2 mm thick. They were fresh, and I could easily tear them. They were distinctly hairy--the hairs are sometimes upright, sometimes more tomentose. The caps were concentrically zoned and somewhat concentrically sulcate. The mushrooms had a noticeable odor when torn that I would describe as somewhat anise-like. At the least, it was a sharper smell than your typical mushroom smell. The pore surface was cream colored. The pores were angular and irregular, becoming somewhat tooth-like. I'm not entirely confident in my identification. These specimens were quite young. I should have studied the older specimens on the same stick more closely.

Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail, Trametes versicolor , is one of the most common mushrooms. It's also one of my favorites. I'm fond of many polypores, but what attracts me to this one is how it rewards close observation and how various in color they can be.  The Mushroom Expert's key  for identifying this mushroom is very useful. The key features: thin and leathery, strikingly different concentric zones (often in many different colors), a somewhat hairy surface, and a white pore surface with pores just barely visible. With a hand lens you'll see that the pores are about 4-5 per millimeter. The various Stereum species (see  False Turkey Tail ) lack a pore surface. Trametes pubescens and Trametes ochracea  are less distinctly zoned. Trametes hirsuta  is hairier and thicker and often concentrically sulcate. See also my post on Trametes villosa . Turkey Tails are frequently used as medicine. They have been shown to be immuno-modulatory stimulants and to have anti-viral properties. Paul Stamets

Artist's Conk

Ganoderma applanatum. I found these in Giant City State Park. This is one of my favorite mushrooms, and these specimens were particularly lovely. The cap color is variable, but the creamy brown of these is what I see the most. The thin crust, which can be chipped off with a knife, is concentrically sulcate. The pore surface appears to be solid, but with a hand lens you can see four to six circular pores per millimeter. The key identifying feature is the easily bruising pore surface which can be drawn on.

Ash Tree Polypore

  The Latin binomial for this mushroom,  Perenniporia fraxinophila, means "the ash tree loving perennial polypore." They love them to death, and then some. I found these growing on a fallen ash tree. Presumably, they began forming when the tree was still standing. And now that the tree's fallen, they've had to alter their morphology, which probably accounts for the mostly resupinate form. (These typically have more developed caps.) The caps of these are various brown hues with some algae. The margins are thick and rounded, and the pore surface, which doesn't bruise, is dingy white with three or four pores per millimeter. But many of the pores are disfigured, as you can see somewhat in the last photo. This might also be the result of its altered morphology, but it's not uncommon for polypores to have varied pores.

Amanita thiersii

  This is the kind of mushroom your mother warned you about. They just show up in your front lawn from time to time, looking so pretty, and next thing you know you're in the ER getting your stomach pumped. Of course, I'm not sure why anyone would eat this mushroom. It has a foul odor reminiscent of raccoon musk and dog piss. The cap measures 10.5 cm across. I would describe the cap as between umbonate and convex. It's covered in powdery veil fragments, typical of Amanitas. The mostly even stem measures a little over 1 cm in width and 17 cm in height. The stem is solid and has an enlarged base. It has a thin, fragile ring toward the top and veil residue all along the stem. I didn't see the volva. The gills are wavy, close, and tend to scrunch up toward the margin. It has a white spore print. Amanita thiersii  did not begin appearing in Illinois until the late nineties. McFarland and Mueller write in Edible Mushrooms of Illinois  that it's been seen as far north as ce

Chestnut Bolete

  The Chestnut Bolete ( Gyroporus castaneus ) is a lovely mushroom. I found this one growing solitary in the woods. The broadly convex cap measures 2.8 cm across; it's dry and slightly velvety and is an uneven light brown. The uneven stalk is roughly 5 cm long and 7 mm wide. It too is dry and snaps cleanly. The very light pore surface consists of faint, irregular (though mostly round) pores. The pore tubes measure 3.5 mm long. A distinctive feature of this genus is the hollow stem, which you can see in the second-to-last picture.  Arora says it's "edible and highly esteemed in Europe." Bessette says it's "edible by most accounts but not particularly good." McFarland and Mueller say "it could be a small Porcini if nobody told you." All can be right since mushrooms and plants often taste different in different regions.