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Posts Tagged ‘Crust Fungus’

1. Tree Carving

As soon as I mentioned wood eaters this tree spirit started looking worried. Actually this carving doesn’t have anything to do with this post other than to show a tree’s remarkable ability to heal itself. This was carved into a tree on his property a few years ago by a local resident and it shows how quickly the bark is coming together to heal the wound. In a few more years if the tree stays healthy you won’t be able to see any sign of this carving.

2. Turkey Tails

On the other hand if you see a tree with turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor) like these on it, the chance of it healing itself is slim to none. Turkey tails are sabprobic fungi, meaning they decompose dead or decaying organic material. Though they do occasionally grow on live trees, if you find them on a standing tree it is most likely dead. Turkey tails cause white rot of the sapwood. They also show great promise in cancer research.

3. Orange Crust Fungus

Crust fungi are called resupinate fungi and have flat, crust like fruiting bodies which usually appear on the undersides of fallen branches and logs. Resupinate means upside down, and that’s what many crust fungi seem to be. Their spore bearing surface can be wrinkled, smooth, warty, toothed, or porous and though they appear on the undersides of logs, the main body of the fungus is in the wood, slowly decomposing it. Some, like the white rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysorhizon pictured above have been found to be useful in degrading of various pesticides, PCBs, and other poisons.  Some will even “eat” plastics. Because some crust fungi break down lignin, which is the brown in wood, and leave the white cellulose behind they are also being studied for use in the paper industry for “biopulping.”

4. Blue Crust Fungus

It’s too bad that many crust fungi grow in hidden places like the undersides of logs because many are quite beautiful. I’ve spent quite a while trying to identify this blue-gray one but haven’t had much luck. I think it must be a variation of the cobalt crust fungus (Terana caerulea.)

The forest would be a very different place without fungi breaking down all of the twigs, branches and logs. It would probably be more like an impenetrable brush pile, just waiting for a fire to come and clean it out.

5. Cobalt Crust Fungus

Here is a cobalt crust fungus (Terana caerulea) that I showed in another post recently. I’m showing it again here to illustrate the difference between it and the example in the previous photo, and also the one that follows.

6. Bluestain

Though this appears to be close to the same color as the cobalt crust fungus I think that it might be bluestain, which is also called sapstain because of the way it stains the sapwood of logs. If this log were sawn into planks the blue color could show on the surface of one or more of the planks. Both deep and surface bluestain can be caused by fungi called Ophiostoma minus and others, which all seem to be collectively called bluestain fungi and which can eventually kill the tree. It is thought that bark beetles and mites help it spread.

7. Toothed Crust Fungus

Some crust fungi have teeth, like the toothed crust (Basidioradulum radula) in the photo above. This crust fungus starts life as round, brownish yellow patches with creamy white margins. These round patches eventually grow together to form large irregular colonies like that in the above photo. It is very tough and has a waxy coating that protects it and allows it to revive after drying out. It’s another crust fungus that feeds on dead and decaying limbs and logs.

8. Milk White Toothed Polypore

This milk white, toothed polypore (Irpex lacteus) is another upside down (Resupinate) fungus with a tooth shaped pore surface. As the photo shows, it will sometimes try to grow a cap which is white and hairy, and grows curled up around the edges. This fungus feeds on the dead sapwood and occasionally the heartwood of fallen hardwood logs and causes white rot.

9. Bootstrap Fungus

Bootstrap fungus is caused by honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea), which are parasitic on live wood and send out long root like structures called rhizomorphs between the wood of a tree and its bark. When fresh these rhizomorphs are cream colored but darken to brown or black as they age. The fungus is also called armillaria root rot or shoestring root rot. It causes a white pulpy rot in the wood and kills many species of both soft and hardwood trees.

 10. Honey Mushrooms

These are the honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea) that cause the bootstrap fungus seen in the previous photo. If you see them growing on a live tree, it’s all over for that tree. These examples were well past their prime when I found them.

11. Fungal Rhizomorphs

Fungal rhizomorphs are threadlike or cordlike structures made up of branched tubular filaments called hyphae. They absorb nutrients and moisture and I think of them as a mushroom’s roots, even though that isn’t entirely accurate. They are worth looking for in leaf litter and on the undersides of logs because they can be very beautiful.

12. Pink Stain on Tree Bark

Trees and logs can be stained various colors, including black, white, brown, blue, green, yellow, red, and even pink. Discolorations can be caused by fungi, molds, bacteria, yeasts, minerals in soil, inorganic deposits, metals, enzymes, and even stress brought on by tension or compression. It takes a microscope and a trained eye to uncover what causes discolorations and since I have neither I can’t say what caused this pink stain on the bark of the tree in the photo. It looked good and healthy otherwise and I didn’t see any fungi growing on it.

13. Pink on Cut Log

Nor can I say what caused the pink stain on the wood of this cut limb. It isn’t a color that you see often in nature, though.

14. Spalting on Elm

Sometimes woods affected by fungi can become very desirable to woodworkers. Spalting is essentially any form of wood coloration caused by fungi but there are 3 major types; pigmentation, white rot and zone lines. Sometimes all 3 can be present as they are on the end grain of the elm log in the above photo. Pigmentation is the blue gray color, which is probably caused by bluestain or sapstain. The white rot can be seen in the areas that look soft or pulpy, and the zone lines are the dark, narrow lines found radiating randomly throughout the log. Zone lines often form where 2 or more types of fungi meet.

15. Spalted-Maple-Lidded-Box

A few woodworkers have learned how to recreate the natural spalting process artificially, and the worth of a log can jump from $30.00 to $3,000.00 after a few weeks of spalting. Why would a log attacked by fungi be worth so much money? Because of the beautiful things that can be made from it, like the spalted maple covered box made by Michael at Michael’s Wood craft blog. Michael knows wood and he makes some beautiful objects from it, including cutting boards, ice cream scoops, honey sticks, and just about anything else you can think of. If you haven’t seen his blog you’re missing a real treat. You can visit it by clicking here. You’ll see some of the most beautiful woods that you’ve ever laid eyes on.

I’ve found by studying wood specific fungi that I have a greater understanding of how the forest works, and a greater appreciation of the beauty of the fungi themselves. I’ve also had a lot of fun and have learned a lot by searching for various fungi and learning how they affect certain types of wood. It’s a fascinating subject!

If you want to learn about nature, to appreciate nature, it is necessary to understand the language that she speaks. ~Richard Feynman

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving.  Thanks for coming by.

 

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1. Wrinkled Crust Lichen Phlebia radiata

A couple of posts ago I showed what I suspected was a lichen that I found growing on a pine log. Though it felt fleshy like a fungus I had the idea in my mind that it “should be” a lichen, and so when I got home I looked through hundreds (literally) of lichen photos with no luck identifying it. Luckily Rick from the Between Blinks Blog had seen examples before and knew it to be a crust fungus called Phlebia radiata, or wrinkled crust fungus. These curious fungi lay flat on whatever they grow on much like crustose lichens would, and radiate out from a central point.  They have no stem or gills or pores. Most interesting about them to me are the various bright shades of pink and orange they display. This is a fungus that doesn’t mind cool weather, so it is often seen at this time of year. Thanks again for the ID Rick!

 2. Green Algae Trentepohlia aurea

So let’s see, this one I showed in a post from about a month ago is orange like a fungus, grows on stone like a lichen, and is hairy like a moss. I guessed that it might be some kind of strange orange moss, but I’d never seen anything like it. If I hadn’t stumbled across it online while searching for something else I never would have guessed that it was actually a green algae called Trentepohlia aurea. I know, I said the same thing-“it isn’t green, it’s orange.” These algae get their bright orange color from a pigment known as hematochrome, which forms in nitrogen starved algae and protects and hides the algae’s green chlorophyll. It can be orange, yellow or red and it also colors some lichens, making their identification even more difficult.

 3. Beard Lichen

Bristly beard lichen (Usnea hirta) is often found on the ground but it doesn’t grow there; the wind blows them out of the trees. Many lichens like sunlight and grow in the tops of trees where there is less shade from the leaves. Native Americans used lichens medicinally for thousands of years and lichens in the Usnea group were described in the first Chinese herbal, written about 500 AD. Today scientists estimate that about 50% of all lichen species have antibiotic properties.

 4. Fringed Wrinkle Lichen

Last year I found fringed wrinkle lichens (Tuckermannopsis Americana) growing in a birch tree near a pond and they are still there this year. The color of this lichen varies greatly from when it is wet or dry, but its wrinkled surface and the way that its fruiting bodies (Apothecia) appear on the lobe margins help identify it. The purple dye used to color the togas of the rich and famous in ancient Rome came from lichens, and many other dye colors can also be extracted from them.  Some of the rich colors used in Scottish “Harris Tweed” also come from lichens.

5. Indian Pipe.

The seed capsule of this Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) split open to release its seeds. The seeds are so small as to be nearly microscopic, and are wind borne.  Each plant will release thousands of seeds, but if they don’t fall in exactly the right conditions, they won’t grow. Indian pipes need both the right fungi and the right tree roots to grow because they don’t photosynthesize and make their own food. Instead they parasitize both the fungi and the trees they grow on.

6. Cattails.

Cattail (Typha latifolia) seeds are also borne on the wind, but there will be plenty left when the female red wing blackbirds come back in the spring. They and many other birds use the seeds to line their nests. Native Americans had uses for every part of this plant and one of their names for cattail meant “fruit for papoose’s bed.” Even the pollen was harvested and used in bread.

Some of the information on Native American uses for cattails used here comes from the folks at The International Secret Society of People Who Sleep with Cattail Pillows. No, I’m not kidding. Their motto is “You’ll Do Good Deeds, If You Sleep on Seeds!”

7. Bolete Mushroom

This tiny mushroom was all dried out but its dime sized cap had plenty of pores on its underside that were worth taking a look at. These pores are tubes where the mushroom’s spores are produced. Mushrooms with pores instead of gills are called boletes. If a shelf or bracket fungus has pores it is called a polypore.

 8. Broom Moss aka Dicranum scoparium

Broom Moss (Dicranum scoparium) is a North American native that grows on soil, stones or logs, but I usually find it on the ground in semi shaded places that don’t get strong sunlight. The scoparium part of the scientific name comes from the Latin scopae, which means “broom” and the common name broom moss comes from the way that all of the curved leaf tips point in the same direction, looking as if someone swept them with a broom. Scopae also describes the brush like hairs used to collect pollen that are found on the abdomens and legs of some bees.

 9. Woodpecker Tree

When you come upon a tree that looks like this in the forest you might think that a bear had gone after it, but this damage was caused by a woodpecker-a Pileated woodpecker, to be exact. I see trees that look like this all of the time, and have even seen trees cut in half with their top on the ground. I wish I had gotten the large pile of woodchips at the base of the tree in this photo, but I wasn’t thinking.

10. Juniper Berrires

The fruit of an Eastern juniper (Juniperus virginiana) looks like a berry but it is actually a soft, fleshy cone. They are a deep, bluish purple color but are covered with a white wax coating that makes them appear lighter blue. The most common uses for the “berries” are as flavoring for cooked game or to flavor gin. Native Americans used them medicinally and in food.

11. Snow on Monadnock

Mount Monadnock has had its first snowfall, though the bright sunshine almost hides that fact in this photo. Once the snow really starts to fly bare granite won’t be seen up there again until late spring. I decided to climb to the summit one warm April day years ago and had to wade / crawl through waist deep snow. By the time I made it back down several hours later I looked like I had been swimming with my clothes on and even had to pour water out of my wallet and shoes. Climbing with no snowshoes was a foolish and dangerous thing to do, but at 18 I wasn’t always the sharpest knife in the drawer.

About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow
.
~A.E. Housman

Thanks for stopping in.

 

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