Note: This is an archived post. The current version of this post is available here. This is a beautiful little waxy cap that displays one of the most striking color changes of all mushrooms. Gliophorus psittacinus is easily identified by its slimy texture and bright green color that becomes yellow as the mushroom matures. Because the color fades, older specimens are easily confused with the many other yellowish waxy caps. For easy identification of this mushroom, you really need to find young specimens that are still green and slimy. As with other waxy caps, the flesh has a texture reminiscent of candle wax. However, to experience this, one would first have to get past the considerable sliminess of the cap and stipe. Because of its initial bright green color (which one might term “parrot green”), G. psittacinus is commonly called the “Parrot Mushroom” or “Parrot Waxcap.” Indeed, the root word...
Note: This is an archived post. You can find the current version of this post here. Boletinellus merulioides is an odd mushroom, both in appearance and ecology. The Ash Tree Bolete can be readily identified by its pore surface – which is only a few millimeters thick and looks more like a network of ridges – and by the fact that it fruits only under ash trees. merulioides appears under ash because it has a unique symbiotic relationship with a pest of ash trees: the Leafcurl Ash Aphid.
Note: this is an archived post. You can read the current version of this post here. Happy New Year! To celebrate, I decided to use some fungal cannon fire to start 2016 off with a bang! Although it is tiny, Sphaerobolus stellatus gets just about as close as a fungus can to actually being a firework. The tiny, star-shaped fruiting bodies are designed to launch a spherical sac of spores high into the air. This unique spore dispersal strategy has resulted in a variety of common names, including: “Artillery Fungus,” “Cannonball Fungus,” “Cannon Fungus,” “Sphere Thrower” (which is a literal translation of its Latin name), “Shotgun Fungus,” “Shooting Star,” and “Bombardier Fungus.”
Note: This is an archived post. You can find the current version of this post here. “Our next contestant in the Ugly Mushroom contest performs thousands of hours of community service every year and is an accomplished artist. Its goal in life is to make the world a better place and form lasting relationships with those around it. Give it up for…Pisolithus arrhizus! [applause]” There seems to be little doubt among people that arrhizus is one of the ugliest mushrooms in the world. The fruiting bodies of older specimens become distorted and can be mistaken for anything from animal poop to decomposing tree stumps. Despite its unsightly appearance, this earthball can be used to dye wool, thus earning it the common name, “Dyeball.” The fungus is also prized by gardeners and foresters for its ability to form robust mycorrhizae in extremely poor soil conditions.
Note: This is an archived post. You can read the current version of this post here. Unlike most fungal rusts, Cedar-Apple Rust produces large fruiting bodies during one stage in its life cycle. These structures are probably the strangest-looking fruiting bodies found in North America.
Note: This is an archived post. You can read the current version here. This woody shelf fungus is found on locust trees. Because of this, identification of this fungus is greatly simplified if you know your trees.
Note: this is an archived post. You can find the current version here. Ganoderma applanatum is unique among fungi in that it is primarily used by humans as an artistic medium. This large, woody bracket fungus features a flat, rapidly-staining, white pore surface, which readily becomes a natural canvas for an artist. By lightly scratching the pore surface, an artist can produce beautiful sketches without using a pen, pencil, or paint. The pores stop growing once the mushroom is removed from its substrate, so the stains remain on the pore surface. Conks produced by applanatum are woody and therefore decay very slowly. As a result, artwork produced on the Artist’s Conk can last for many years when kept indoors.
Note: This is an archived post. You can find the current version of this post here. You are undoubtedly familiar with this mushroom, even if you recognize neither its scientific name, Amanita muscaria, nor its common name, “The Fly Agaric.” If the word “mushroom” does not immediately bring this fungus to mind, then the word “toadstool” probably does. You have certainly encountered Amanita muscaria’s distinctive red cap with white spots in a wide variety of visual art forms. This toadstool frequently pops up in paintings, cartoons, video games, movies, and decorations. It is because of the artistic over-use of the Fly Agaric that I referred to it above as “The Type Mushroom.” When describing a new taxonomic division or species of fungi, mycologists collect a “type specimen” which best exemplifies the characteristics of that taxon. This ensures that future mycologists know exactly what the original author intended to include in...
Note: This is an archived post. Read the current version of this post here. It is easy to see how this mushroom got its common name: the upper surface of the fan-shaped fruiting body sports rings of color that vary from gray to brown to reddish orange. In fresh specimens, the edge of the mushroom is white, making it look remarkably like the displayed tail of a wild turkey.
Note: This is an archived post. You can find the current version of this post here. Legend has it that witches use this fungus to cast hexes. When this fungus appears on your gate or door, you have certainly been the victim of a witch’s evil spell. The only way to counter the hex is to pierce the fungus with straight pins, allowing the inner juices to drain and thus killing the fungus and the spell. Unfortunately for those who believe this superstition, this method probably doesn’t work too well for two reasons. First, the mushroom is specifically designed to survive repeated dehydration and rehydration. Second, the main body of the fungus is still living inside the wood. Unless you replace the wood you will probably find the mushroom repeatedly fruiting from the same place.