Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Introduction to some Mushrooms

Mushrooms, we have all seen them, either on our lawns, or in the woods and even in the supermarkets. But there is more to the group than the standard white mushroom with gills that we purchase in boxes at the Market. Depending on the source mushrooms have been broken down into at least 12 groups, only one of which is mushrooms with gills.

I have always been fascinated by mushrooms and when I acquired a digital camera and started wandering the local woods and parks I also started photographing anything that I found unusual or interesting.  Today's photographs are a selection of some of those photos, some made this year (2017) but others made in previous years. I am not going to try a identify these photos with specific Latin names, only the general group to which they belong, nor am I going to address edibility, if you are interested in that I suggest you purchase one of several guides that can be found either on-line or in a bookstore.  It takes more than a photograph to correctly identify a mushroom, smell, spore prints, etc. are details given in books that I am not even going to try to touch here. Note: I rarely pick the mushrooms I see, so correct identification usually isn't possible.

Before I start identifying the photographs I want to say that all mushrooms have a couple of things in common no matter the shape of the fruiting bodies, and what I have photographed are "fruiting" bodies, they are fed and created by fungi networks (mycelium) that live in soil, wood or other organic substances. The second trait they share is they reproduce by spores.  

OK, on to the photographs, the mushroom in the top photograph (by the way the color is accurate, I did not Photoshop this photo other than to resize it for the web) is a member of the Polypore or Shelf Mushroom group. I believe that this is actually a Sulphur Shelf, but since I am not sure the species of the tree it is growing on I wouldn't eat it. I found this growing in my local Brockton, MA park just this past week. I actually pulled the car over as I was driving by so I could walk back and make the photo.

The mushrooms above are a member of the Coral Fungi family. They sort of look like coral don't they. I believe this is a Ramaria Sp. but could be totally wrong.  I found these in Borderland State Park, Easton, MA. in 2011. 

These spiky white balls are a member of the Puffball family. They have no gills, and while some members of this family may have stalks they still release their spores through slits in the outer covering that occur as the mushroom matures. Photographed this summer in my local Brockton Park. I believe this is Lycoperdon echinatum, but can't swear to it. 

One family in the Mushroom category looks like a "standard" mushroom until you look under the cap to find there are no gills. The spores are released through tubes, so the underside looks spongy. This family is the Boletes. This a semi large family and I am not sure what the above is, perhaps chestnut Bolete (Gyroporus castaneus). Photographed in Ames Nowell State Park, Abington, MA. this summer.

These next three photographs are of mushrooms that belong to the Agarics or gilled mushroom family, which includes most of the mushrooms found in the supermarket. This group is very hard to identify by looks alone as their appearance can mislead the identifier at different stages of growth leading someone to think they have an editable mushroom when in reality it is deadly poisonous.

The white dots on the above mushroom are the remains of the volva (the membrane that covered the mushroom as it developed, and ruptured as it emerged above ground). There are so many types of gilled mushrooms that I haven't even attempted to name these three. The one above was photographed in my local Brockton Park this summer.

Gilled Mushrooms often grow in in clumps, above are a trio that I found growing in the woods in Nasketucket Bay State Reservation in Mattapoisett, MA. this summer. 

This larger clump also photographed this summer was found in Ames Nowell State Park. Can I say that I love to photograph clumps, well I also find individual mushrooms interesting but the clumps really spark my interest.

There are other families of Mushrooms that I haven't photographed (to my knowledge), they include Morels, Stinkhorns, Jelly Fungi, Cup Fungi, False Morels, and Hydnums (Tooth Fungi). I took my family names from a Petterson Mushroom guide I borrowed from the Library. Other information comes from a couple of web sites I have found that are devoted to North American Mushrooms. 

David Fischer's American Mushrooms,   Mushroom Expert,
and Merriam Webster Visual Dictionary 

The first two sites are packed with photographs and detailed information about mushrooms and how to identify them. They also both have information about guide books for those who wish to pursue an interest in Mushrooms.  But be warned both sites are complex and finding exactly what you want may take some time and a bit of browsing. The Webster site identifies the structures of a mushroom.

One last photo, and this one has nothing to do with mushrooms. It is a Doe that I photographed in the Power Line cut at Ames Nowell State Park. I rarely see or even hear deer on my walks even though I know most of the locations where I walk have them in residence. On the day I was in the park there were very few other visitors and none of them must have been in the cut prior to my arriving. This deer was eating until she heard me. She stood like that for about a minute (time for me to make a couple of photographs) and then took off. She looks healthy and well fed so hopefully she will survive the coming winter. She was fairly large so I am assuming a mature Doe, White Tailed Deer, sort of wish it had been a Stag but one takes what one can get.

That is it for today. Took me far too long to pull this post together, hope you enjoy it, comments are welcome, esp if you can identify any of my mushrooms.