Fine Fall for Fungi
Abundant rain made for highly productive mushroom hunting this fall. Two forays of the Blue Ridge Mycological Society in October and November added 14 fungal species to the Quarry Gardens consolidated biota (quarrygardensatschuyler.org/thegardens/), bringing the total fungi list to 38, with some specimens yet to be identified—including the featured mushroom of this post! Among October and November’s finds:
- The famously psychoactive American yellow fly agaric, Amanita muscaria var. guessowi.
- The edible red-bleeding blue-gray milk cap, Lactarius paradoxus.
- The notoriously toxic brown Deadly galerina, Galerina marginata, or Funeral Bell.
- Hericium erinaceus, an edible and medicinal mushroom belonging to the tooth fungus group.
- The Bulbous honey mushroom, Armalaria gallica, whose modest fruiting bodies belie an extensive underground network of mycelia (A single specimen found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula covered 37 acres.) This one is bioluminescent, and edible with caution.
- The fleshy, pale lavender-gray Wood blewit, Clitocybe nuda, a powerful destroyer of soil bacteria. It’s edible—we proved it, with pasta.
- The shelf fungus Trametes betulina, commonly Gilled polypore, which has been found to have medicinal value, with antioxidant, antimicrobial, antitumor, and immunosuppressive properties.
- The Dyers polypore, Phaeolus schweinitzii, which causes brown rot at the bases of conifers, and is an excellent natural source of green, yellow, gold, or brown color, depending on the material dyed and the mordant used.
Results of these forays will be shared with the North American Mycoflora Project http://mycoflora.org. The project is a collaboration of professional mycologists and citizen scientists to identify and map the distribution of macrofungi throughout North America. It allows the scientific community to tap into the vast amount of knowledge and data amassed by individuals and mycology clubs.
The Blue Ridge Mycological Society meets on the second Sunday afternoon of each month at the Quarry Gardens Visitor Center. For more information, contact Pat Mitchell: email@example.com.
A winter project for Quarry Gardens: Identify the most interesting mushroom photographs and compile a loop for the Visitor Center’s digital photo exhibit.
Some photos of the groups in action:
Mike McMahon’s daughters Claire and Emma found the tiniest mushroom (red)—and many others, perhaps advantaged by proximity to the earth.
To accurately identify a mushroom, it’s important to note the appearance of not only the top, but also the underside of any cap, the stem, and any underground bulb. Even after that, a spore print may be needed.
Hunters: November’s hunters brought back specimens of thirty-some species for loser study–and a pile of Blewits to eat.