Saturday, July 18, 2009

There is a fungus among us!

Today was yet another rainy day. I feared that I would be all alone in the park again on a summer Saturday. Thankfully, I was wrong. There were some hard-core park visitors who knew what they wanted and didn't let a little rain stop them. I greeted everyone and made sure that everyone paid and I made regular trips to the spring, river, and picnic area. Most people did not want to chat today, and I can't say that I minded. The mosquitoes have made an overwhelming resurgence and even in the rain, they swarm around everyone. So today, I mastered the art of taking pictures (which for me takes two hands) while holding an umbrella and swatting mosquitoes. Try to picture that! Along with the mosquitoes, all of this rain has brought mushrooms! I am not a fan of eating mushrooms, but I am always amazed at them when I see them growing. They come in so many different shapes and sizes and colors. Some will sprout and stay for days and others only hours.
I had a good time taking pictures today but it seemed like everytime I thought that I had photographed all of the fungi, I would see more. Its fun sometimes, to have a theme in mind when I start my day. More often, a theme will arise throughout the day and I will be on the lookout for a certain type of plant, animal, or bug. I really notice a lot more outside when I have a goal in mind or I am looking for something in particular.
I hope that you enjoy all of my fungus pics, I apologize to anyone on dial-up... there is a lot to load today! I won't try to identify all of the mushrooms. Fungi don't make it easy on us. They don't have leaves or petals that we can count. Some can be identified by color or shape, but there are many look alikes and sometimes their growing conditions will modify their shape. I will tell you what I can though. The first eight photos are probably the shape that comes to mind when you think of a mushroom. The next one is unique and unfortunately, I don't have any information on it. I believe that it is a fungus of some sort because I saw several sprout throughout the day and there aren't many plants that grow that quickly. It also had the soft, pliable texture of a mushroom. I tried briefly and unsuccessfully to find information online. For now it is a mystery fungus, lets call it a red spike mushroom until I have more info. Photos 10 and 11 are another mushroom that I saw for the first time today. It is a Lactarius indigo. I was drawn to its pale blue color on its cap, but when I flipped it over, I was amazed! There was more blue and when I touched it, it left a blue liquid on my hand. When I looked it up online, I was surprised to find that it is edible! The stories online indicated that these mushrooms are fun to cook with because of the color.(****NOTE: Do NOT eat mushrooms that you find in the wild without a trained expert on hand! As I mentioned before, there are a lot of look alikes in the mushroom world and a mushroom that looks like one you have eaten before, just might kill you!****) Photos 12 and 13 are called bracket or shelf fungus. They stick out from dead trees and logs like a little shelf. These fungi will help with the decomposition of the log their are on. One of the bracket fungi (photo 13) and the last photo are examples of lichen. Lichen are not single living things, but two things living together. It is a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship between a fungus and some algae. The fungus provides a place to sit and some shelter to the algae and the algae photosynthesizes and shares food with the fungus. They also, make beautiful things for us to see!


Linda said...

Your photos are wonderful! We were always wary of what we called LBM's...or little brown mushrooms. And I only collected chanterelles, oysters, and the chicken stuff that grows on escapes me...but how cool to watch everything pop up. As for the mosquitos...I'm bitten from head to tow...and thank goodness I got some cortisone/steriod cream before heading out to the lake because some of the bites are miserable. I can definitely sympathize with you and your visitors.

Ranger Amy said...

Thanks for the comment. Your mosquitoes in Alaska are twice the size of the ones here. You've got it way worse!