We’ve had fairly regular rainfall this year, and the garden and natural areas around us are lush. This means ideal conditions for fall fungi and a great time to grab your camera, tripod, reflector, diffuser and macro lens and head out to explore local natural areas. Yuet and I did a walk in Elk Island National Park recently, along the Amisk Wuche trail, and we were not disappointed.
Amanita muscaria, the Fly Agaric, is a mushroom I have not seen for a while. It was not in an ideal location, but it is such a stunning mushroom that it was worth the effort of pulling back branches and tucking away grasses to get a clear view. It is not fully open yet, but in that form, it is the classic storybook mushroom, something you expect gnomes to sit under or fairies to fly around. Poisonous, this Amanita can cause delirium, sweating and ranting,something you don’t normally associate with children!
The Hericium genus of fungi (above) looks like a frozen mass of tiny icicles that have erupted from the dead tree. The size of the mass and the bright whiteness is sure to capture your attention when walking through the woods.
Because bracket or shelf fungi (above) are often found on dying and dead tree trunks and sometimes at eye-level, they are perhaps the most visible fungi to the casual observer. These are polypores (family Polyporaceae) so named because they have massed tubes (the pores) rather than gills to support the spore-bearing basidia. Click on the above images to enlarge.
Besides the many types of bracket fungus, Lycoperdon puffballs (above) were probably the most visible fungi in the woods. Children (and immature adults 🙂 ) love to poke them to see the spores puff out like smoke. Drops of rain are the normal trigger for releasing the spores, and wind helps disperse them. Rainfall guarantees that they are released during moist conditions necessary for spores to begin germination.
And finally, another puff-ball in the genus Lycoperdon (above) that looks like a white hedgehog, probably L. echinatum. White puff-ball are generally edible at this stage before spores begin to develop.
Comments or ID corrections? Please let me know!
Special Note: I dedicate this post to Annie Pang, who checked up on me at 2 in the morning (!), wondering if I was working on another post for Splendour Awaits! Thanks for reminding me, Annie! 😉
- Thanks to Martin Osis of the Alberta Mycological Society for assistance with ID (Bisporella and L. echinatum)
- Mushrooms of Western Canada. Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, AB, Canada. Schalkwijk-Barendsen, H.M.E. 1991.
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms by Gary A. Lincoff, Gary H. Lincoff, Carol Nehring. 1981
Next: Photographic techniques for the forest floor