Wednesday, December 16, 2009
They look superficially like oysters, but on pine? No, these are the orange mock oyster, Phyllotopsis nidulans. Astipitate (without a stipe or stalk), on wood, these ones didn't smell fetid to me though they are reported to be nasty smelling. The pileus is fluffy in appearance on the top.
I just recently discovered another mycoblog, Mycorant. They have a link to my blog (thanks!) and do have some of the same material (i.e. fungal news), but a lot more of it. Did they get the inspiration for the name from looking upon my blog? Maybe. I'd like to think that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I recommend checking it out.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I came across this article recently, about the banning of yellow ribbons to honor soldiers in Litchfield, Connecticut. The reasons the town council gave for banning the ribbons were ridiculously flimsy. One reason was that the ribbons may cause a tree-killing fungus. This is absolute rubbish. Once again, fungi are being used as a scapegoat, and thankfully the citizens are not amused.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I've been slacking again. I just got back from a visit with my folks in Charlottesville, VA, where I had few fungal adventures, other than finding this lovely oyster mushroom growing on a tree on the Lawn of the UVa campus.
What else has been going on? Well, for one thing, Morrissey, former singer for the Smiths, decided he would launch into a tirage against Aer Lingus, calling it Aer Fungus. Grrr, why? Such a feeble insult! Clearly he knows little about the wonderful world of fungi.
In other news, a prime specimen of the white truffle was purchased by a Philadelphia restaurant for $4,100. The truffle weighed in at over a pound, and was found in Italy. You can see the fungal nugget in all its glory in this YouTube video.
Perhaps I should be looking for a job in the UK? A 90% drop in the number of mycologists may lead to more mushroom poisonings, according to this article.
And finally, an investigation into the abundance of fungi in mammoth dung has provided evidence that the decline of their populations was long and drawn out, not precipitous as would be expected in a meteor-caused extinction.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Fungi are also getting a lot of press for the diseases they are causing in the animal kingdom. Frog populations have been in decline due to chytridiomycosis, and bats are getting hammered by white nose syndrome, caused by another fungus, Geomyces sp. The risk has prompted closure of several of Alabama's caves.
In happier news, a violin made of fungus-infected wood outplayed a Stradivarius (they don't mention WHICH fungi). Previously I had blogged an article which suggested that Stradivari used fungus-infested wood to produce his masterpieces.
And finally, a fungus, Metarhizium, may be enlisted to help fight varroa mites, which have been linked to honeybee decline.
Monday, October 26, 2009
My eye was drawn to these babies as I was driving around town this afternoon. I do believe what we have here is jack o lantern mushrooms (Omphalotus sp.). They are common at the base of oak trees or on adjacent roots (as these were). These ones were really bright orange, so they stood out and I just had to stop and tiptoe across a bit of lawn to get these pics.
I've had a friend mistake these for chanterelles, as they do have decurrent gills, but fortunately she didn't eat them, as they are poisonous. Probably won't kill you, but you won't be happy for a while if you do try eating them.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I'm planning on starting a post-doc out here in January, at least part-timing between Montana and Alabama, since I've got some roots in Alabama the Beautiful.
Here's a pic taken in Alabama by a friend of mine. I wish I could've seen this in person. That does appear to be a Hericium (coralloides or ramosum?), which is edible and choice.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
And yet another. Really, these things are EVERYWHERE. I've blogged about them before, like in my neighbor's yard (UPDATE: she moved away! The new neighbors do not appear to be so mycophobic).
Today I was out in the woods near Tuscaloosa, and saw some fine fungi out there. I'm most jazzed about the gilled bolete I found, Phylloporus rhodoxanthus (sensu lato). I knew of its existence, and I can't remember if I'd ever found one before, but I saw the cap from above (being taller than most mushrooms) and thought "Aha, bolete!"
Turning it over, I was quite pleasantly surprised to find this:
It reminded me of a time (in California) when I picked up a Douglas-fir cone with a mushroom growing out of it, which I thought was Strobiluris trullisatus, and was surprised to find teeth (it was Auriscalpium vulgare). This mushroom looks just like a gilled mushroom (or "agaric") only with a bright yellow hymenium like a bolete. This particular one did not stain blue, which can happen, but does have forked gills (click on photo to zoom in), like a transitional form between true gills and the poroid (actually tuboid, boletes have tubes, not pores).
Also on the topic of boletes, I found some nice specimens of Strobilomyces dryophilus, "old man of the woods", good enough to eat, which I just might do!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
This photo and the following two are of a mushroom I found in my backyard. It's a Russula sp. How do I know? Well, for one, the bright white gills which reflect the white spore print. Okay, that's not a great character because gill color often doesn't betray spore print color. But the next clue is the crisp break in the stalk. This is a giveaway for the Russulaceae, and is caused by distinctive boxy shaped cells called sphaerocysts. The two main genera in the Russulaceae are Russula and Lactarius. Lactarius spp, as the name suggests, exude a milky secretion when the cap or stem are broken. So that leaves us with Russula. Which Russula? I don't know. There are no distinctively green capped Russula spp. in Bessette et al. Some Russulaceae are edible and choice, others not so much and could hurt you.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
I was walking out of the lab today and came across this bright orange something. It turned out to be a chanterelle, the first I've seen in Alabama. All this late wet weather we've been having has brought out all kinds of strange things.
This one is most likely either Cantharellus confluens or C. lateritius. Bessette et al. have pictures of both but indicate that they may be a single species. The folds are not well developed, so they don't look very much like gills, as chanterelles are not directly related to gilled mushrooms in the strict sense. Chanterelles are some of the more 'easily identified' mushrooms, but as always, that's a relative term.
So what did I do? I said I wasn't going to eat it, because it looked a little beat up, but the more I looked at it and the more certain I became of my ID, the more it seemed to be crying out for some brushing off, chopping, and frying in Amish butter. So that's what I did. Just brush off the dirt (soggy mushrooms aren't very nice), chop, fry in butter with a pinch of salt. Dee-licious!
I'd almost forgotten how delicious fresh wild mushrooms can be. What a treat!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
between showers, and man, did I get worked to an embarrassing degree. I
did stop and smell the mushrooms, so to speak, including these
Ganoderma lucidum sporocarps. Now how do I attach photos?
Pretty good for a layman, to acknowledge that mushrooms are not plants. But of course, the correct answer is that Fungi (yes, big F) are not a family, but a kingdom, in the sense of Whittaker's five-kingdom tree of life. Yes, Dr. Robert Whittaker, the same ecologist who monographed the flora of the Siskiyou Mountains straddling Oregon and California, he was the one who wisely deemed fungi not plants, at least he was the first to raise a decent stink about it!
Recall from your intro biology: Kingdom, Phylum (or Division, technically, since Fungi are named under the International Botanical Code of Nomenclature), Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. So we're only off by four levels in the hierarchy. And now we add domains above kingdoms, to really try and clarify things: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya. Fungi (with a small f) being in the last with every other macroscopic organism.
In other, more local fungal news, be on the lookout for oak leaf blister! Personally, (and I confess to being biased) I think ugly is not an appropriate term for the blisters. Okay, maybe they're not particularly beautiful, even by my standards. The causal agent is Taphrina caerulescens, which is an ascomycete which doesn't produce an ascoma, but produces naked asci on the surface of the host. These fungi typically deform the plant that they've infected, as in peach leaf curl (caused by T. deformans), or if you've ever seen deformed alder cones (caused by T. alni). These are considered a basal lineage of ascomycetes.
Also, if you're looking for interesting and tasty ways to cook mushrooms, rather than rant about them, try The Mushroom Channel. It looks like we may get our links from the same source (Google News Alerts), but they focus more on the culinary side of things.
I want to note that a friend of mine recently told me she'd found some morels growing 'nearby'. This was in a site that she's had her eye one for years without seeing them. I guess the bounty of rain we've received has inspired them to sporulate. Bully for them!
And no, she wouldn't tell me where they were.
Update: 28 Jan 2011. I had to update the title of this post because the previous title was attracting spam like you wouldn't believe!
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Now, these specimens are being repatriated including the rare Lentinus tigrinus, pictured above. (a local species of Lentinus is pictured in the masthead). A neat story you can read all about here. And here's a nice quote about the specimens from Cornell's Herbarium Director Kathie Hodge "To an average person, they look like something you would sweep off your kitchen floor. But under the microscope they're beautiful and exciting and incredibly diverse." How very true.
But of course, because the story is about fungi, it's filed under STRANGE (sigh).
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
It's been a wet spring, for sure. And wet weather brings fungi as sure as it brings the wildflowers.
I just found some interesting little harbingers of spring out there recently. Urnula craterium, (Ascomycota, Pezizales, Sarcostromataceae) which was growing just like they said it might. It looked like it might have been growing out of the wood, but it actually grows out of the ground.
Here's a look inside the apothecium, you can see that the cup extends down pretty far in there.
I think I also figured out another one of my mystery fungi, one that I'd seen several months ago. I'd taken photos but didn't quite have a handle on the name. I was thinking Pezizales, or maybe something with some type of Hypocrealean mycoparasitism, but not sure what. I'm thinking this other guy is Humaria hemisphaerica, at least from looking at the picture from Phillips' Mushrooms of North America. That's my best guess thus far, anyway.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Here are some good news stories about fungi.
First, a video about how fungal mycelia can be used as a green insulating material:
Second, a study of Chinese women suggesting that mushrooms(what kind? maybe oysters) and green tea may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
What else can mushrooms do? Perhaps be used to replace potentially hazardous preservatives like BHT.
A documentary called "Know Your Mushrooms" is slated to be released soon, featuring music by the Flaming Lips.
Here's an excerpt (without music):
And finally, perhaps the best use of an acronym I've seen in a while; the Multidisciplinary UnSheltered Homeless Relief Outreach Of Morgantown (WV), or MUSHROOM.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
While I'm happy for the fungi, it is a pet peeve of mine that fungi are referred to as "flora". This is one of those relict institutions from the days when fungi were thought to be closely related to plants. After all, both fungi and plants are non-motile (Oomycetes, Chytrids and slime molds being important exceptions). Fungal nomenclature follows the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (rather than the zoological, e.g. fungal families end in -aceae instead of -idae). But the fact is that fungi are actually more closely related to animals than they are to plants (as in sharing a most recent common ancestor).
Do I think Outdoor Alabama should have a separate category for Mycota? To allow the Flora a chance to shine again in photo contests? No, not right now anyway. I just hope the world is someday ready to embrace this level of biological literacy.
And also, if you want to see some AMAZING photos of fungi, I highly recommmend Taylor Lockwood's books and website, link over there on the right-->
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Thanks to my good buddy Dave for forwarding this along to me!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Here's a video of an Amanita muscaria sporocarp (mushroom) developing. It's missing my favorite part, when the universal veil breaks up and forms the white spots on the cap. This is what makes it look strawberry-like, at least in the red morphs. But it's understandable because the videographer probably wouldn't have recognized the mass as a Amanita muscaria mushroom until after the veil had started to break up.
Sorry I can't embed this, the embedding has been disabled. But it's a very cool video featuring time-lapse photography of some fungi growing. The music reminds me of the music from the Mushroom Men: Spore Wars, probably no coincidence.
It seems like a good time to mention the difference between fungi and Fungi. The first critter in the second video is a slime mold, which is a fungus, or more correctly, a fungus like organism. Stinkhorns, oysters, and the other mushrooms are all Fungi. What is the difference? Fungi with a capital "F" are of the Kingdom Fungi (Eumycota), which all share common ancestry. This includes chytrids, zygomycetes, glomeromycetes, ascomycetes, and basidiomycetes, and most of the Fungi formerly known as deuteromycetes.
With a small f, most fungi were considered to be closely related to the Fungi at one time or another, but all are now recognized as being more closely related to algae, or protozoa (a rather nebulous term). These include the oomycetes, like Phytophthora (species of which caused the Irish potato famine and sudden oak death), or myxomycetes, like the slime mold shown in the video.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
This year's Miss Missouri hails from Richmond, as well, and was announced as being from the Mushroom Capital of the World.
Unfortunately for me, Ray County, Missouri, appears to be in the northwest corner of the state, about as far from Alabama as it could get. So I'm not sure the mushroom festival will fit in my agenda. But hopefully I'll get there someday, as any place with such myco-braggadocio must be all right.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
These saprobic mushrooms do grow in the wilds of Europe and North America, commonly in grassy areas, and while button mushrooms may have gills that appear pinkish or white, they actually have a dark brown spore print at maturity. There are several species of Agaricus that share this niche, and some are edible, even choice (no surprise there), while others are 'poisonous to some individuals', or just plain poisonous. Some have interesting aromas, like anise, almond, phenol, bleach, or 'fungal', and the staining reaction (color changes when cut or bruised) and skirt (partial veil) characteristics are also important for identification. As always, don't eat anything if you're not SURE you know what it is.
The species epithet 'bisporus' comes from the two-spored basidia. Four is the most common number of spores/basidium in the holobasidiomycetes including most mushrooms.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I'm hesitant to say that any mushrooms are easy to identify and unlikely to be confused with anything else, because easy and difficult are relative terms. I've known people who've mistaken jack o'lanterns for chanterelles, which could have been a fatal mistake if they hadn't decided against picking them at the last minute. I don't think these mushrooms look much alike. I also don't think Gyromitras look much like morels if you look closely, but mistakes get made and people end up in the hospital or cemetary.
There are mushrooms that are great delicacies, and I enjoy eating beyond the regular button mushroom very much. But there's no reason to risk your life for a good meal. Mushrooms are much maligned in our culture, out of misunderstanding and ignorance. I shouldn't chastise those who at least try to broaden their palates, although it rankles me that people don't exercise more caution.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I have yet to see the Nuked Vet tag, but I'll let you know when I do.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Here's what I thought was the pick of the bunch.
As usual, you can expect a lot of good fungal love from Japan. This is Shonen Knife with a song called "Brown Mushrooms", which isn't particularly descriptive. Lots of found mushrooms are often immediately shunted into Arora's "LBJ's" (Little Brown Jobs). But hey, at least I'm posting something.
Really, most of the mushroom news hasn't been too exciting of late.