Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fun on the Forest Floor

The woods last week were full of mushrooms, coming out in response to the rain and high humidity.  Many showed signs of being eaten by turtles, squirrels and even slugs.  Among the finds were several beauties.

The cobalt blue caps were Indigo Milk Mushrooms, Lactarius indigo.  The "lact" in the name is for milk, the fluid that appears on the cut or bruised surface.  Some Lactarius species ooze far more than the indigo.   For fun with mushrooms, you can write on these using a stick.  (We naturalists are fun-guys and gals!)
Oozing blue - Mark Bower
These first come out on a stalk, rounded like a donut with the hole not complete.  With time the edges flatten out to a thin shelf.  Once home I researched L. indigo and came across Tom Volk's description of them as a "delicious edible mushroom."  Having left them in the woods I was depressed until Mark Bower reassured me that most people don't find them that good.

There are other mushrooms that you can draw or write on the caps.  I found a few of these beautiful boletes close by.  After a lot of searching I finally settled on Boletus rubroflammeus and sent it to Mark for confirmation.  As a friend, he let me down gently:
"You were close, and boletes are like Russulales - horribly difficult to get to the species level. That said, the species you propose has a reticulate stem, which your mushroom lacks (stem appearance is one of the few reliable features of boletes. I suspect you have Boletus subluridellus, which I have never seen and am exceedingly jealous, etc., etc."
Mushroom identification, like spiders, beetles and lots of other things in nature is quite complex.  Some species are readily identifiable but most aren't that easy.  Many require looking at details like above.  My consolation was that I could entertain myself by scratching the underside lightly with a broken twig.  It doesn't take much to entertain me.  The mushroom cooperated with a nice black line.

The writing on the upper surface gave a blue line.  I even wrote a note on one to wife Barb. (Sorry, the message is confidential but it had a heart in the middle.  We naturalists are romantic devils.)

On a rotting 4" stump

There were lots of other little species to entertain me without the burden of studying them for identification.  Tiny parasols and fairy villages can be enjoyed by getting your knees dirty and getting your camera on the ground.  Bugs I will research, but mushrooms go straight to my mycologist friend.

Umbrella for an elf?
I finally found a batch of delicious Chanterelles that others had been reporting.  A large bag full will keep Barb busy in the kitchen.  They will be prepared in butter with a little salt (two of the four seasonings of life, lacking only pepper and bacon).  Even without eating mushrooms, there is a lot to enjoy by searching the forest floor.

1 comment:

  1. FYI: the multiple small orangish mushrooms on the stump are Xeromphalina kauffmanii, with the unwieldy common name "Cross-Veined Troop Mushroom". The bright yellow ones are Amanita flavaconia, "Yellow Patches". Characteristically, it has thick yellow patches on the cap which fall off and can be found lying around the base of the stem.