Another flashback to warmer months. Next time I return to winter, and animals.
[Disclaimer: Occasionally below I comment on edibility, but you should NEVER eat a mushroom unless you really know what you are doing. I have never eaten any of those in this post, and never will!]
We associate mushrooms mainly with the fall, but from snow-melt onwards they start to pop up.
In April, a stunning burnt-siena-colored secondary fungus (i.e. growing on a different one underneath). It is called Pycnoporus cinnabarinus, and it was used in dying, creating a golden-brown color. In the first picture you can see how it gradually creeps over the substrate mushroom. The second picture shows a close-up.
In May, I found this huge 4″ brain-like Conifer False Morel, Gyromitra esculenta. Notice the word ‘False’: true morels are great delicacies, and I have never found one here. Parker Veitch, who confirmed the ID for me, says: “I’ve never tried it. I’ve read that a chef was boiling some with the lid on the pot and when he took it off he inhaled the fumes (monomethylhydrazine – same stuff as in rocket fuel) and died. My mentor also told me that it’s rated the 6th best edible in Europe.” My mushroom book simply says it is “deadly”. I did NOT try it.
In June, minuscule 2mm sunny saffron-yellow jelly fungi, Dacrymyces capitatus, sprouted on a piece of dead wood:
In July, the Russulas start to appear. This Tacky Green Russula, Russula aeruginea, is a rather implausible green color, suggestive of chlorophyll, but fungi lack chlorophyll and do not photosynthesize. The Latin name refers to the green patina that copper acquires over time. Maybe there is a copper compound in these fungi, I not been able to discover the answer. It is supposedly edible, but somehow I find its green color extremely off-putting, and have never tried it.
By August, some of the more familiar autumnal mushrooms start to appear. This is a Shingled Hedgehog, also called a Scaly Tooth, Hydnum imbricatum, which David Arora accurately describes as looking like a “charred macaroon”.
September brings out some of the more dramatic tree fungi, This is a Comb Hericium, Hericium ramosum:
And in October, I found a Ravenel’s Stinkhorn, Phallus ravanelii, past its smelly best, but still unusual looking. It was about 6″ tall, with a white ring at the top.
and it grew out of a little cup at its base:
When I turned it inside out, the interior of the cap had a mesh just like tripe:
The spores are contained in a smelly green slime that coats the outside of the cap, and attracts flies. The spores then stick to the fly, which helpfully disseminates them. Eventually the slime washes off the outside of the cap, leaving the mushroom as you see it here.
Off to a dinner of nice safe supermarket shiitakes.