In my last post I promised you colors without flowers. There are rare moments in the forest when I stumble upon something so beautiful that it isn’t hard to imagine all of creation crying with joy at its sight. I think that mushrooms especially fit that description because I find many of them every bit as beautiful as flowers. I hope that you might feel the same way after seeing some of these recent finds.I’ve seen little orange mushrooms all over the place and they all seem to differ slightly is size, shape and color intensity. I never knew there were so many different orange mushrooms! I think these might be one of the wax cap mushrooms; possibly one of the hygrocybes. This type of mushroom is considered one of the most colorful and also one of the most aesthetically pleasing, according to mushroom identification books. I have to agree.This red headed mushroom was quite small. I think it might be a mushroom called Emetic Russula (Russula emetica.) There aren’t many mushrooms with red caps and white stems so the chances of mistaken identification are somewhat lessened compared to other colors. You don’t want to eat this one by mistake-“emetic” is a clue that it will make you very sick. This mushroom is said to become sticky after a rain. This is the only one of these that I’ve seen this season. I’m seeing a lot a bracket or shelf fungi all of the sudden, but I see very few with purple in them like these. I saw some bracket fungi that had purple slime mold growing on them a while ago, but I think these in the photo were just plain old turkey tails (Trametes versicolor) with purple edges. The purple is a nice touch.
This is probably the most easily recognized mushroom and the one that most frequently pops into people’s minds when they think of mushrooms. I’ve seen many yellow ones but this is the first red fly agaric (Amaita muscaria) that I’ve seen. I was surprised at such a deep, deep red that almost looked maroon to me. It is quite a different red than the scarlet hood mushroom above. This mushroom is toxic.
Update: Fellow New Hampshire blogger jomegat tells me that this mushroom is brown, which reminds me that colorblindness can, at times, be tiring. The only brown amanita that makes any sense is amanita ceciliae. Another called royal amanita looks exactly like this picture but is said to only grow as far south as Alaska. In any case, any mushroom that looks like this one is most likely toxic and better left alone.
This is a very beautiful mushroom in my opinion, but it is hard to identify. I think it is the gray tooth (Phellodon melaleucus.) Toothed mushrooms have thousands of tiny spines on the underside of the cap that look like teeth. I saw several of these one day and poked one of them to find that it had very firm flesh. I have since learned that these mushrooms are used in dye making. The mushroom pictured could also be the very closely related Blue-black tooth (Phellodon atratus.)
I’m surprised that I don’t see more yellow mushrooms; I might see only one yellow for every thirty I see that are other colors. They aren’t common and don’t seem to grow in large groups here. This one grew all alone behind a boulder. I think it might be one called the butter wax cap (Hygrocybe ceracea.) Whatever its name, I think it’s a beauty.
These little purple mushrooms are scattered throughout the woods and are probably the most numerous colored mushrooms after the orange ones. I’ve noticed that this mushroom and virtually all of the orange ones are left untouched while white and other colors seem to be eaten almost as soon as they pop up. Eaten by what I don’t know, but I assume it’s an animal of some kind. These little purple ones get lighter purple as they age and my mushroom books tell me that they are probably the Viscid Violet Cort (Cortinarius iodes.) These mushrooms have brown spores and usually fruit near hardwoods. The ones that I’ve seen have all been growing in deep, dark shade and their caps always look wet. This fallen tree was big-too big to step over-and was covered with these large, saucer sized white mushrooms that I believe are oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus.) This tree was a hardwood, which points to the oyster mushroom. If it had been a softwood they most likely would have been another mushroom called angel’s wings (Phyllotus porrigens,) which look very similar to those pictured. This was hands down the largest mushroom I’ve ever seen, so I put a quarter on it to give you an idea of the scale. This giant was growing on a log buried in the soil and was probably close to a foot and a half across. I can’t imagine what it must have weighed. I think it is a chicken of the woods (Laetiporus Cincinnatus.)
Another shot of the chicken of the woods. These looked more like gigantic turkey tails than anything to do with chickens, but it is said they taste like chicken. I wonder what hen of the woods tastes like? These ones stood about knee high and I had to gather my wits about me and tell myself that I really was seeing such big mushrooms. After seeing microscopic slime molds and tiny mushrooms for a couple of days, these were quite a surprise! I’m seeing a lot of coral mushrooms now too. I think this one might be crown coral (Clavicorona pyxidata) but I can’t be sure because of the color. It looks pink to me but it could be white, gray, or tan. I’ll let any new readers in on a secret: I’m color blind, and when it comes to certain colors like blue and purple or orange/yellow/red sometimes I can’t tell what I’m looking at. Light pinks are another shade I have trouble with, but if these are indeed pink than they could be the crown coral mushroom, pink tipped coral, or clustered coral. There is a jelly fungus called false coral fungus but it is said to be tough, dry, and non-gelatinous. This one felt soft and pliable like a mushroom. It was about as big around as a coffee cup. Another coral mushroom is clustered coral (Ramaria botrytis,) identified by its habit of bruising brown and having pink or brown tips. It is short, dense and pink to purplish. It is also very brittle and breaks easily. Many people say this mushroom looks like cauliflower when it is young. Older plants have longer branches like those shown here.
This picture was taken in a hurry and I’m surprised that it isn’t more out of focus. When I knelt on the ground to take the picture I landed on a yellow jacket’s nest and they had stung me 3 times before I could even stand up. Luckily, they didn’t chase me as I ran through the woods slapping at my leg. And luckily, nobody saw me running through the woods slapping my leg. At least, I don’t think so. I didn’t get any shots of the yellow jackets. This mushroom looked far pinker in the woods than it does here. It looks slightly brownish in the photo but still has the translucence that made me stop and wonder about it. Unfortunately it’s another one that is tough to identify, but I think it might be a lilac bonnet (Mycena pura.) The lilac bonnet is said to have a strong, radish like odor but I didn’t smell it. Its color is also said to be extremely variable and it usually has splits in its cap.This one I don’t have trouble with as far as color goes because I can see that it’s brown and black. What I am having trouble with is knowing exactly what it is. I’m not sure if it is a brown jelly fungus or if it is some type of mushroom that is past its prime. Brown jelly fungi usually look ear or brain-like instead of like the above example, but they turn black as they dry out. In any event this post is supposed to be more about color than anything else and brown is well represented in jelly fungi, bracket fungi, and mushrooms.These could be brown and white but I see maroon and white with a velvety texture. These were very difficult to even begin to get a fix on as far as identification goes, but after much searching I think they might be the Earth Fan (Thelephora terrestris.) I think this is one of the prettiest mushrooms I’ve seen, but I’ve also seen pictures of an indigo blue one (Thelephora indigo) that is so beautiful I can’t even begin to describe it.Finding these club or flat topped coral mushrooms (Clavariadelphus truncatus) is always a pleasant surprise. They aren’t very big but their colors are usually quite bright and that makes them easy to see. My mushroom book says that these are widespread but uncommon. Other than that, finding reliable information on these mushrooms is difficult. The color of these club coral mushrooms is much tamer and more softly pastel than that of the ones we just saw. I read that their color starts to fade as they age, so maybe these were older versions of those in the previous photo. White toothed jelly fungi (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum) look like the heads of cobras poking up out of a log. The undersides of these fungi have thousands of tiny teeth and their color can range from the ghostly translucent white shown here to dark brown. The cap is kind of tongue shaped and feels like jello. I can’t think of another mushroom that looks quite like these but there are white “brain” and witch’s butter fungi.At the start of this post I said that I had been seeing little orange mushrooms all over the place. At first I thought these might be slime mold fruiting bodies but no-they were mushrooms. I saw a few logs with colonies like this one and many more little orange mushrooms growing on the ground, so I must have seen thousands this day on a three hour hike. They are beautiful things to see.
The best time to find mushrooms at this time of year is right after a heavy rain, so if you have thundershowers get into the woods the next day and see these beauties up close and personal. I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t remind everyone once again not to eat any wild thing that you aren’t 100% sure of. Those little orange mushrooms might be cute, but many of them are also deadly. The following quote says it best:
You can eat all mushrooms, but some only once ~ Annonymous
Thanks for stopping in. If I you know of any mistakes in identification please let me know.