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Showing posts from August, 2022

The Ringless Honey Mushroom

  The Ringless Honey Mushroom, Armillaria tabescens , is a September mushroom. Were I a shut-in who didn't follow the weather, I would know the first cool nights of the year had arrived just by seeing these growing in the yard. This is a fairly easy mushroom to identify, once you see it in person. It has a distinctive tawny cinnamon color. The cap is dry and convex becoming flat; it's covered with dark scales and is often faintly striate. The gills are nearly distant, sometimes decurrent. The stem is lighter than the cap, and lacks a ring; this is a key feature to distinguish it from others in this genus ( Armillaria  means "ring"). The interior flesh is white or light tan. Another diagnostic feature is its cespitose growth form, which you can see in the second-to-last photo. This mushroom is edible (though bitter), but harvest only the youngest specimens. They quickly decay, and it's likely that when you find these you'll also find nearby a clump of insect-ri

Ganoderma curtisii

  Some books list this as Ganoderma lucidum , but the current best name for it is Ganoderma curtisii . Then again, it could be Ganoderma ravenelii , which "is nearly identical and grows on broadleaf trees or on the ground, but it has a creamy white to buff flesh that lacks black, shiny, resinous deposits" ( Polypores and Similar Fungi of Eastern and Central North America , p. 146). I found this growing at the base of a half-dead Shingle Oak ( Quercus imbricaria ). It is a tough, corky mushroom with a varnished cap and stem. The pore surface is yellow-white and readily bruises brown. In Mushrooms Demystified , this mushroom keys out easily: The pore surface is not rosy; the cap and stem appear varnished; it grows on hardwood; and the cap is "ochre to whitish or only partly red" (p. 574). This one's cap was a lovely pale yellow. Ganoderma  means "shiny skin" and the species name honors Moses Ashley Curtis. This mushroom is closely related to the east Asi

Silky Volvariella

  In Mushrooms Demystified, Volvariella bombycina keys out easily: The Volvariella genus is marked by mushrooms with close, pinkish gills; a well-developed sac-like volva (but without an annulus or partial veil); and a central stalk. Once you're there, it's smooth sailing: This mushroom is not growing on other mushrooms and the cap is wider than 5 cm at maturity. Volvariella bombycina  grows on wood and the cap has long white hairs. The cap of this specimen measures 8.5 cm across. The stem: over 10 cm long; 7 mm wide at apex, enlarging to 13 mm at base.  Arora says it's edible "and according to reports, choice."  It's a stately mushroom, and it's time for me to invest in a good camera to rightly report wonders like these.

White Coral Fungus

  This is typically known as Tremellodendron pallidum. But  Index Fungorum  says Sebacina schweinitzii is its most current name. And  The Mushroom Expert says it should be called  Tremellodendron schweinitzii. He also says that it "is by far the most common of the coral mushrooms--except that it's not, strictly speaking, a 'coral mushroom.' Believe it or not, mycologists place it with the jelly fungi, on the basis of the microscopic structure of its spore-producing basidia." It's unpleasantly complicated.  What's more, there are a number of similar coral fungi. Arora says this one "can be distinguished from other whitish coral fungi by its tough or tenacious texture and flattened branches" (p. 644). Most of these were 4 cm tall. I found them on a grassy path in the woods. Note the white spots on the ground in the last photo. These spots will eventually develop into the mature specimens pictured here. Compare  Crown-tipped Coral  which grows on w

Bubble Gum Polypore

  The Bubble Gum Polypore, Gloeoporus dichrous , is an interesting mushroom because the white surface faces up and the colored side faces down (unless it's growing resupinate, as in the last photo). This polypore has angular pores 4-6 per mm. The white upper surface can be glabrous or tomentose, and the individual caps often fuse. When these are fresh, they are elastic like bubble gum. They're saprotrophic and cause a white rot.   Gloeoporus  means "a glutinous polypore"; d ichrous  means "having two colors."

Black-stalked Marismius

  Black-stalked Marismius, Tetrapyrgos nigripes, is similar to the  Pinwheel Marasmius , but the two key differences are that Tetrapyrgos nigripes  has tiny white hairs on its stalk and doesn't have a pleated cap. The gills are distant and slightly decurrent. The stalk is white and darkens from the base upward. This mushroom lacks basal mycelium and grows directly out of the substrate.  Though my photo is poor, the spores look like four-pointed pears, which I believe is the reason for the genus being named Tetrapyrgos . Tetra  means "four," and pyr  can be either "fire" or "pear."

Crown-tipped Coral

  Crown-tipped Coral, Artomyces pyxidatus , has two key identifying features: it grows on wood and has tips that are (with some imagination) crown-like. They are typically between 4 and 13 cm tall, and the individual branches are between 1 and 5 mm thick. I found these at Castlewood State Park in Missouri. 

American Parasol

  The current Latin binomial for this mushroom is  Leucoagaricus americanus , but many might know it better as Lepiota americana . This is a mushroom that begins showing up mid-summer. The cap can be from 3-15 cm wide, and the stalk is 7-14 cm, but these were a bit shorter than that. It grows in lawns and wood chips. These two were likely growing from the dead roots of a Bur Oak ( Quercus macrocarpa ). The gills are close and white, and are free from the stem. They quickly bruise yellow and then red (see last photo). It's a dry mushroom with red-brown scales on the cap. The stalk, which has an annulus, is smooth and firm and bulbous toward the base, but there is no volva, as one sees with Amanitas. This is an important detail to look for. The spore print is white. This mushroom is edible, but it's not great, and I don't recommend it since there are several poisonous mushrooms that somewhat resemble this one, including Amanita rubescens , Amanita thiersii , and Chlorophyllum


  This Puffball, Lycoperdon marginatum , can be told from  Lycoperdon perlatum   by its rounder (not pear-shaped) form. These measured around 2 cm. They can sometimes be flattened on top (see the second-to-last photo) and often develop a pinched base, which you can see in the last picture, somewhat. These lacked the "whitish warts about 2 mm high" ( Mushrooms of the Midwest , p. 266), but some that I found a couple days prior did. What's left here are some tiny brown patches. These were growing beneath Oak and Hickory. 

Amanita thiersii

    Traveling through Washington County and then through Centralia yesterday, I saw several patches of  Amanita thiersii  in yards, often growing in fairy rings, as in the first photo. The Missouri Mycological Society posted some images of these too. It's likely that this widespread flush owes to the heavy rains we had last week. My Shiitake logs are fruiting too, and I know that was caused by the rain. Note in the last photo the partially missing cap. I looked around for the rest of it, thinking maybe a deer knocked it over, but I didn't see it anywhere. I wonder what might be eating these foul smelling mushrooms.

The Common Wolf Fart

This puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum , was found growing alone in our field not far from some trees. It measures 3 cm across and 3.5 cm tall. The spines are sharply pointed and tend to bend over at their tips. The surface is powdery. Another key feature is the pear shape. This puffball is similar to Vascellum curtisii . Two key differences: the smaller, acuter spines and the pear shape. Puffballs are edible so long as they are solid white inside. An easy way to tell without plucking them is to give them a light squeeze. If they're firm, they're good. Puffballs often remind me in taste and texture of white fish.  An older name for the puffball is puckfist , which means "fairy fart." Interestingly, Lycoperdon means "wolf fart." Perlatum  simply means "widespread." Hence, I like to call this puffball the Common Wolf Fart.