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Fungi of the Fletcher Wildife Garden

In the fall, we suddenly start to see fungi everywhere. The season usually starts when someone reports seeing a "baseball" or "soccer ball" in the woods and investigation turns up a giant puffball.

This year we started photographing what we find, and this is a first attempt to sort the photos into divisions and classes. Any names we've assigned are tentative at the moment.

ABOUT MUSHROOMS AND FUNGI

by Christine Hanrahan

Mycena sp. on an ash tree in the Ash woodsMushrooms and fungi appeal to us in part because of the edibility of some species, but also because of their beauty and astonishing variety. However, fungi are more than pretty objects or culinary ingredients. They play a very important role in forest ecology, indeed, one could say, a vital role. Scientists are continually finding new ways in which the complex interactions of fungi in the forest ecosystem work. As Hoff et al. (2004) note,

Studies of fungal biodiversity in forest ecosystems can provide baseline information for determining interrelationships among organisms and indicate potential roles of fungi in forest ecosystem dynamics. Understanding the role of fungi in forest ecosystem processes is key to characterizing stability and succession of biological components (for example, trees), while information on fungal biodiversity can provide insight on sustaining fungi as beneficial resources.

The two main types of fungi are wood-rotting and mycorrhizal. Of the wood-rotting type, perhaps the most visible are the saprophytic mushrooms, the ones we often see after a rainfall. They serve as primary recyclers in the forest ecosystem. By breaking down woody material and other plant matter such as leaves, they not only help to replenish the soil through conversion of debris to humus, but are important for carbon and nitrogen cycling. Of the saprophytes, polypores are generally considered the best and most efficient of the wood decaying fungi. The real work of these organisms goes on below the surface, and the fruiting bodies, or mushrooms, which we see, are just the visible manifestation of a complex structure.

The mycorrhizal fungi are important because of the symbiotic relation they form with many plants, in particular with trees. Although not all species of trees require this relationship to grow, some cannot thrive without it. Explaining how the mychorrhizal fungi work in relation to trees, Smith et al. (2004) note

The underground mycelium of the mushroom grows extensively around the root tips of specific trees forming a protective sheath with some mycelium penetrating into the root tissue. The mycelium grows also in the soil mass and, eventually, appears at the surface as typical mushroom fruit-bodies or underground as solid fungal masses.

Many species of fungi have complex relationships with other unlikely organisms. Some insect species are entirely dependent on symbiotic relationships with specific fungi. Some fungi produce chemical defences against herbivores for grasses and trees. One wood-rotting fungus even has a complex mutually beneficial relationship with flying squirrels.

Even parasitic fungi — those that occur on living trees and cause rot to set in, eventually killing the tree — have a beneficial role in forest ecology. As the tree dies, insects move in and further weaken the tree, but these insects attract species such as woodpeckers which in the process of tapping into the tree seeking insects, create cavities. These cavities provide homes for many species of birds and mammals such as flying squirrels. Downed trees or logs, give shelter and breeding sites for innumerable creatures including snakes, salamanders, toads, and insects which in turn are fed upon by other forest animals. When a tree falls it creates a gap in the canopy allowing more light to penetrate the forest floor, encouraging new growth.

DIVISION ASCOMYCOTA — SAC FUNGI

Spores are produced inside a sac-like cell called an ascus. This large group of fungi includes morels, truffles, mildews, ergots, and many wood-rotting species.


30 Sept 2006
Bisporella citrina — Lemondrops
Only a few millimetres in diameter

1 Oct 2006
Helvella crispa — White Elfin Saddle
4 cm tall; ground, Ash Woodlot

11 July 2007
Xylaria polymorpha — Dead Man's Fingers
4-6 cm tall; growing out of rotted tree stump next to BYG, 10 July 2007
Photo by Brian Turnbull

DIVISION BASIDIOMYCOTA

Spores are produced externally at the ends of specialized cells called basidia.

Class Gasteromycetes — puffballs, earthstars, etc.
Spores are produced inside the fruiting bodies instead of being ejected into the air.

30 Sept 2006
Scleroderma? — Earthball

23 Sept 2006
Bovista pila(?) — Tumbling Puffball?
many, all about 4-5 cm; on ground; northwest corner of Ash Woodlot

30 Sept 2006
Calvatia gigantea — Giant puffball
15-20 cm diam.; Ash Woodlot

5 Oct 2006
0.5-1.5 cm; on buckthorn?; birch grove
 
Class Phragmobasidiomycetes — jelly fungi
Small, gelatinous. In dry weather these fungi shrivel and almost disappear, but rehydrate rapidly after rain.

30 Sept 2006
Witches' Butter

16 Oct 2006
Dacrymyces palmatus — Orange Jelly
2-3 cm, on downed spruce trunk; southeast corner of Ash Woodlot

30 Sept 2006
Exidia glandulosa? — Black Witches' Butter
 
Class Hymenomycetes
Coral fungi
Spores are produced by a layer of mother cells that covers the upward pointing branches of these fungi.

1 Oct 2006
Grey Coral(?)
6 cm tall; ground, Ash Woodlot

23 Sept 2007
Clavulinopsis corniculata (?) Coral(?)
4 cm tall; ground, Ash Woodlot
 
Bracket fungi or polypores
Grow on wood; usually shelf-shaped; spores are produced in tubes on the underside of the fruiting body, which open via pores, which form a distinctive pattern.

12 Sept 2007
Plicaturposis crispa
1-2.5 cm; on birch log, Ash Woodlot

5 Apr 2007
Plicaturposis crispa
Underside

30 Sept 2006
Polyporus umbellatus

30 Sept 2006

3-6 cm; on Birch; birch grove

30 Sept 2006

6 Oct 2006
Ganoderma applanatum — Artist's conk
About 15 cm diam., but thin; on Birch; birch grove

30 Sept 2006
Ischnoderma resinosum

20 Oct 2006
Daedalea quercina — Oak Polypore
Largest about 10 cm long; pores labyrinthine at centre with band of elongated ones along outer edge; on oak branch, Ash Woodlot

30 Sept 2006
Fomes fomentarius — Tinder Polypore
15 cm, hoof shaped perennial; on Birch; birch grove

30 Sept 2006
Another Tinder Polypore

30 Mar 2007
Pore surface of Tinder Polypore; photo width = 1 cm

23 Sept 2006

30 Sept 2006
Panellus stipticus

12 Sept 2007
Panellus stypticus
1.75 cm across; on birch; Ash Woodlot

11 Sep 2007
Trametes pubescens
3-5 cm diam.; immature cluster on birch snag near ravine
11 Sep 2007
Trametes pubescens
Underside

5 Oct 2006
Cerrena unicolor?
2-7 cm, fuzzy upper surface; on Buckthorn; birch grove

Sept 2007
Trichaptum biforme — Violet-pored Bracket
1-4 cm, smooth, thin; on birch snag; birch grove

5 Oct 2006
Trichaptum biforme — Another view

5 Oct 2006
Under side of bracket at left showing deep purplish pore surface

16 Oct 2006
On birch

16 Oct 2006
1 cm bracket on Cork Elm with many lichens

5 Oct 2006
Trametes versicolor — Turkey Tails
3-10 cm, smooth, thin; on fallen dead wood; Ash Woodlot

5 Oct 2006
Phlebia radiata?
Largest patch about 20 cm; on birch; birch grove

16 Oct 2006
Grifola frondosa — Hen of the Woods
Several, about 10 cm diameter, at the base of a large Red Oak tree in the Ash Woodlot

May 2007
Polyporus squamosus — Dryad's Saddle
4-15 cm diam; small one found in June 2006; very large one in May 2007 on large rotting, but fairly dry, log in the ravine

12 Nov 2007
Irpex lacteus covering one side of a branch of a crabapple
Boletes or sponge mushrooms
Generally grow on the ground near trees; underside is made up of thousands of tubes, through which the spores are released

10 Sept 2007
Gyrodon merulioides — Ash Bolete
About 7 cm diameter; on ground in Ash Woodlot

23 July 2007
Gyrodon merulioides
 

3 Oct 2006
Suillus americanus? — White Pine Bolete?
About 12 and 7 cm; northwest corner of Ash Woodlot

Jan 2007
Unknown; found at northwest corner of Ash Woodlot; 8-10 cm diam.
Gill fungi
Classification depends on spore colour, among other things.

23 Sept 2006

23 Sept 2006
Stropharia aeruginosa? — Verdigris mushroom
4.5 cm diam., up to 10 cm tall; ground under pines; Ash Woodlot

30 Sept 2006

23 Sept 2006

30 Sept 2006

30 Sept 2006

30 Sept 2006

30 Sept 2006

30 Sept 2006

30 Sept 2006

30 Sept 2006
Coprinus comatus — Shaggy Mane

23 Sept 2006

23 Sept 2006

30 Sept 2006

5 Oct 2006
1-2 cm diam., about 7 cm tall; base of Spruce tree; Ash Woodlot

3 Oct 2006

3 Oct 2006
Hypsizygus ulmarius? — Elm Oyster?
3-10 cm diam., spores white, gills very deep and completely detached from stem, cap thin; on grafted elm

16 Oct 2006
Same as at left, but 2 weeks later

3 Oct 2006
10 cm diameter; under White Snakeroot in Ash Woodlot

5 Oct 2006

5 Oct 2006
10 cm diam., very soft, disintegrated when spore print tried; under spruce; Ash Woodlot

16 Oct 2006
Clitocybe nuda? — Blewit? 7-12 cm diam., spores pale peach, large "root"; on ground under spruce trees; northwest corner of Ash Woodlot

30 Sept 2006
Schizophyllum commune — Split Gill Fungus

30 Sept 2006
Schizophyllum commune — Split Gill Fungus

11 Nov 2007
Grey mushrooms
1-4 cm; on ground under pines; growing close together

11 Sept 2007
Amanita muscaria — Fly Agaric
8-9 cm; on ground under pines and birches

11 Sept 2007
Mycena sp.
About 2 mm; on oaks in Ash Woodlot

REFERENCES

MORE ABOUT FUNGI


This page was revised 7 December 2007
© Fletcher Wildlife Garden
Photos by Christine Hanrahan and Sandy Garland (and others where noted)
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