Saturday, October 13, 2012


Big Turkeytail
Sunday was our annual Missouri Mycological Society (MOMS) foray at Bull Creek.  It was a chilly 45 degrees when we met up, hauling in potluck dishes for lunch, the real reason to never miss a foray.

The action started with a 90 minute hike in the woods, usually in pairs.  Actually it is more of a creep as we study every feature on the ground as well as on trees, standing and fallen.  We collect a specimen of every new species for later identification.  If we find edibles, they all go into the basket.

Daedaleopsis confragosa
You may recall the unknown picture on Sunday.  It was described as a "fun guy" (forgive me) which hangs around trees.  This was the underside of a shelf mushroom which grows on hardwoods.  The closeup view of the underside of this mushroom shows the pores which release its spores.  Many species have interesting patterns on top, in this case leaving ring-like ridges.  This one is Daedaleopsis confragosa.  You don't need to remember that- I know I won't.

Once back at the cabin we begin the identification process.  This requires careful examination, delving into the books, and usually asking Kenton Olson or George Lantz who speak mainly Latin.  Not only do we learn the names, but some of the fascinating characteristics.  For me this is always interesting as I forget the names over winter so each year is a brand new experience!

This white gilled mushroom looks like a lot of other white mushrooms at first glance.  Characteristics such as the attachment of the gills, their spacing, and features of the cap and stalk identify it as Aminita bisporigera, also known by its common name as Destroying Angel.  You may have guessed by the name that this isn't edible.  In fact it is considered the most toxic North American Amanita mushroom.  My lesson is never eat a white stalked mushroom growing in the soil, no matter what anyone says.

Old Man of the Woods
You can't always predict edibility by the appearance or beauty of a mushroom.  The Old Man of the Woods isn't exactly a beauty but is said to be delicious when young.  You would never know it from the picture.  Its Latin name, Strobilomyces floccopus, doesn't exactly enhance its marketability.  This specimen has been around quite a while with its background color turning gray.  Someday I hope to try a fresh one.

Mycena species
Lots of the tiny mushrooms are my favorites, beautiful and delicate.  The only thing they lack is a little fairy princess sitting below them.  You can judge the size of this Mycena species by the fingers holding it.  They grow on dead wood and it frequently pays to roll over a decaying log or strip off rotting bark to expose them.  Some are a beautiful bright orange and may occur singly or in clusters like this one.

Jack O'Lantern
Some mushrooms have bioluminescence, with a faint glow from their gills.  This requires acclimatizing your eyes to the dark over 5 minutes.  A famous example is the Jack O'Lantern mushroom, which is toxic to eat, not killing you but occasionally making you wish it would go ahead and finish you off.  We took this one into the cabin bathroom and turned off the lights and waited.

You have never really lived until you have stood in a tiny dark bathroom with two other adults for five minutes, waiting for your eyes to adjust to the dark to see if a mushroom really glows in the dark.  I bet you wish you were there with us.  If this appeals to you, first join us at MOMS and then come to a foray.  Oh, by the way, the food was great.