Saturday, October 12, 2019

Mushrooms on Top of Mushrooms

This blog post was written by both Lynda (text in blue) and myself (Anthony). If it works well, we may continue this format next year when we resume our walks.

This month our Second Sunday Nature Walk was held at the Jay Recreation Area Trail System. In the parking lot behind Spruce Mountain High School in Jay a collection of explorers began to assemble as 9:00 am approached. Lynda and I had explored the trails on the previous day and found them not only to be in fine condition but teeming with mushrooms and fall wildflowers as well. It seems that our preparation and pre-walk email piqued the mycological curiosity of a few.

 As the group assembled I began to recognize the faces of folks who had been on some walks with us already, a few new faces, and some friends and associates. I was glad to see Lynda's friends Mike Ladd and Justin Beaudet, Mike is a member of the Maine Mycological Society and very knowledgeable about fungi. Fellow Maine Master Naturalist and all-around good guy Alan Seamans was lured in by my email to my surprise and delight. Alan is also super knowledgeable about fungi and able to share that information with enthusiasm and ease. Rounding out our group of mycology experts is Lynda. Long before discovering her newest passion for ferns, Lynda was deeply invested in learning all things mycological. Although she claims to be a bit rusty when it comes to fungi her ability to identify most common mushrooms far surpasses my own, which makes her an expert in my humble opinion.

Definitely today’s walk was especially exciting for the “shroomers” in the group!  There haven’t been many mushrooms around this summer, but today there were lots of mushrooms to look at.  
Lynda shows the parts of a mushroom using Aminita muscaria as an example.
It quickly became clear we were going to have some difficulty completing the entire walk in the two hour time frame we usually try to keep.  We stopped multiple times before reaching the trailhead.

photo credit: Justin Beaudet
                      Once on the trail we continued to encounter fungi of all colors and shapes.

Unknown ID
A species of Boletes

Painted Suillus (Suillus Pictus)

The little purple mushrooms are in the Cortinaris family.

Earth Tongue

Hemlock Varnish Shelf
One exciting find today was an Earth Tongue, a Geoglossum species.  Earth tongues are easily reorganized by their usually black club like fruiting body (pictured left).  The trick is finding one because they are usually hidden in their surroundings and because of their dark color and small size.  Anthony spied this one.  

Hemlock Varnish Shelf (Ganaderma tsugae) (left) set themselves apart with a dry, but shiny (varnished) upper surface.  This one is not so shiny because it’s rather old!

The pictures on the right and left are species of Coral Mushrooms.  The mushroom in the center is a Hydnellum species.  They have “teeth” rather then pores or blades

We also spent some time looking at a few of the marvelous lichens we encountered. Some folks on the walk were surprised to learn that lichens are a very special group of combined organisms in a mutualistic relationship comprised of a fungal component and algae or cyanobacteria as the photosynthetic component.  
British Soldier Lichen

The medium where many of the fungi and lichens were growing was rich with an array of mosses and liverworts. This beautiful backdrop went largely unnoticed at the time. Luckily the images captured (mostly by Justin) show some of these as well.

There were still plenty of entomological curiosities to keep the group interested. Here we found a Virgin Tiger Moth caterpillar and a few steps later we found a Sphinx Moth caterpillar (not pictured) and after remembering to look up on occasion, we found a large Bald-Faced Hornet nest.

We eventually made our way to a meadow where the asters and goldenrods grew in abundance. Lynda made a quick reference sheet of some common asters we'd identified the day before and our group put them to use.
New England Aster

Calico Aster
Flat Topped Aster
Squarrose Goldenrod

Unidentified Bumble Bee on Stiff Goldenrod

Orange Belted Bumble Bee on Stiff Goldenrod

We saw bees and flies of all kinds visiting the aster and goldenrod flowers. We noted Queen Anne's Lace (not pictured) and Pearly Everlasting flowers as well.

Unidentified fly with water droplets
Sweet Everlasting
On our way through the meadow we visited an area where American Chestnut tree seedlings had been planted. A young porcupine sitting along the edge of the plantation decided we were too close and waddled off into the brush.
We stopped to see the wild grapes and a few of us tasted them once we were sure of their identity. They were sweet and tart.

Wild Grapes

Although It's a handsome flower, there was an abundance of Himalayan Jewelweed. An invasive species that spreads quickly due to its explosive seed distribution. In Maine we have a similar species, the Spotted Jewelweed which has a much smaller flower. It has the same slipper shape but is orange.

Ghost Pipe

Justin, who is responsible for most of the great photos used for this blog entry, found these interesting specimens. These are actually plants that lack chlorophyll. They gain nutrients through an association with a soil fungus. The fungus is in an additional mycorrhizal relationship with a tree and the host tree roots and soil fungus provide nutrients for the plant.

On the final leg of our walk we discovered more mushrooms to enjoy.

On the left is a Crested Coral (Clavulina cristata).  Center is a Jelly Fungus, probablyWitches Butter (Tremella mesenterica).  Witches Butter is a neat curiosity, but it doesn’t taste like much!  The mushroom on the right is a Bolete.  It has a surface under the cap is like a sponge.  
Another hard to spot mushroom because of its size is the Golden Thread Cordyceps (Cordyceps ophisoglossoides).  We were lucky to fine one --thanks Allen!  It is a small thin mushroom that looks like a club or a misshapen tongue.  It is a fun find, but you have to be paying attention!  This mushroom attacks/parasitizes underground truffles (another type of mushroom).  Allan showed us how to follow the “golden thread” (root-like) that attaches it to the underground truffle.  

 Perhaps the most interesting mushroom to the mycologically-minded explorers among our group was this apparently parasitic mushroom growing out of the top another one. Alan mentioned in a later email that this was likely Powder Cap (Asterophora lycoperdoides)  Sorry Anthony,  my favorite find was the Golden Thread Cordyceps).

It was a fun and interesting walk. I enjoyed learning more about the mushrooms in our forest. Those who have expertise in mycology were able to share their knowledge and those who are new to mushrooming bring fresh eyes and enthusiasm. Still others who are less interested in mushrooms were able to bring other observations to the group. Our two hour timeline for the walk was pushed to three and a half hours. Usually I like to stick to the timeline to avoid folks getting to saturation point with information. It seemed to me that everyone had a great time and there was plenty of things for all to see.

Identified Organisms:

Bald Faced Hornet    Dolichovespula maculata
Orange Belted Bumble Bee    Bombus ternarius
Virgin Tiger Moth     Grammia virgo
Fall Webworm Moth  Hyphantria cunea  
Sphinx Moth (Family Sphingidae)

Calico Aster     Symphotrychuim lateriflorum     
White Wood Aster     Eurybia divaricata
Small White Aster     Symphotrychium racemosum
Flat Topped Aster     Doellingeria umbellata
New England Aster     Symphotrychium novae-angliae
Purple Stemmed Aster     Symphotrychium puniceum
Whorled Aster     Oclemina acuminata
Sweet Everlasting     Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium
Stiff Goldenrod     Oligoneuron rigidum
Squarrose Goldenrod     Solidago squarrosa
Spotted Touch Me Not     Impatiens capensis
Himalayan Touch Me Not     Impatiens glandulifera
Canada Goldenrod     Solidago canadensis
Queen Anne's Lace     Daucus carota
Pinesap     Hypopitys spp.
Ghost Pipe     Monotropa uniflora
White Rattlesnake Root/ White Lettuce     Nabalus albus


The Boletes we found along the trail:
Chrome footed-bolete (Harrya chromapes)
Dotted-stalk Suillus (Suillus granulatus)
Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum)
Lilac-brown Bolete (Tylopsis eximius)
Red-mouth Bolete (Boletus subvelutipes)
Ornate-stalked Bolete (Boletus ornatipes)
Painted Suillus (Suillus pictus)

The Gilled (Agaric) Mushrooms we found along the trail:
Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria)
Frost’s Amanita (Aminita Frostiana)
Destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera)
Bracelet Cort (Cortinarius armillatus)
Velvet-footed Pax (Paxillus strotomentosus)
Milky Cap (Lactarius deliciosus)
Waxy Cap (Hygrophoraceae family)

We also found the following mushrooms that don’t fit int the Boletus family or Agaric Family:
Clavulina cristata
Hemlock Varnish Shelf
Hydnellum species
Jelly Babies (Leotia lubria)

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sunday, August 11, 2019
Jay, Maine

North Jay White Granite Park

Today was the 4th walk of our Second Sunday Nature Walks.  We met at North Jay Granite Park for an easy, one mile walk that meanders through what was once a working apple orchard.  Apple trees can still be seen along the trail as well as old farm equipment.

Seven eager nature enthusiasts joined us.  After introductions all around, we learned a little about the quarry, how long it has been there and if it was still active, and yes it is!  We were surprised to learn that one million paving blocks were made every year while it was in production in the early 1900’s. The quarry reopened several years ago and because it is active, the one trail that overlooks the quarry is now closed.

As we started our walk, Anthony pointed out the “din” to us.  What was that constant noise?
Image result for black fall cricket bug
He said they were Fall Crickets (Gryllidae species) in the grass. We learned that they were strong jumpers and even though most have wings, they cannot fly. The slightly higher, more silvery tone was likely made by Allard's Ground Cricket, Allonemobius allardi which is one of the common types of ground crickets in our area, though there are a few others too, but we caught one and identified it as best we could as Allard's Ground Cricket.

At the beginning of the walk we saw and identified a Grey Catbird and maybe a Barn Swallow .
We took time to check out some some plants that included the Panicled Aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum), a Viburnum species,  Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), Asiatic Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) and Goldenrod (Solidago species) with Goldenrod Galls.
                                                                                                                  Image result for goldenrod gall
Anthony explained that they were caused by the goldenrod gall fly ( (Eurosta solidaginis) that emerges in the spring. He also mentioned two other goldenrod galls, one made also on the stem by a moth which tends to be more elliptical in shape, and a goldenrod flower gall, made by a midge.

This walk included a lot of bugs, Anthony’s favorite topic! We checked out a Fall Webworm  on a bush that had some small caterpillars in it.  We saw a few moths fluttering in the grassy field and our nature walkers wanted to know how to tell a butterfly from a moth.  We learned that butterflies have long, thin antennas, while moths have more or less feathery antennas.

As we continued our walk,  Allen  pointed out a Hophorbeam Tree (Ostrya Virginia)                                                         

with its fruits.  We learned that it can be a slow grower and an understory tree which means it grows below taller trees in the forest.  I did not know that!  It is called Hophornbeam because the fruits that form papery clusters resembling the hops (made by another plant) used in brewing beer.  It's related to birch trees and is in the family betulaceae. We all agreed that we would like to have a Hophornbeam tree in our yard!

We couldn't get far without seeing all of the amazing Milkweed plants (ascelepia syriaca), and yes, we took time to look for caterpillars.  There were a lot of Monarch caterpillars! We even saw a few Red Milkweed Beetles Tetraopes tetraophthalmus whose name means four eyes. Anthony forgot to mention that if you look closely at their eyes, their antenna seem to bisect their eyes on both sides of their head.


On closer inspection of a tree we found other caterpillars to take a look at, including several of these critters!  This caterpillar was probably a Polyphemus moth, who will turn into a giant silk moth.


 There were other caterpillars to look at...
The Pink Striped Oakworm Moth Anisota virginiensis

Pine Sawfly Larva, possibly  Diprion similis.


Although many insect species create leaf mines this is probably a moth called the Aspen Leaf Miner  Phyllocnistis populiella  

We continued on the path and it led us into the woods were we found more plants to enjoy.             
We discovered a bunch of fallen Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis) catkins. We were able to see the seeds inside and the bracts left behind, looking like little bird's feet.

We saw several more wildflowers including Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea),
Cow Vetch (Vicia cracca) and one of my favorite wild flowers, Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana).

Anaphalis margaritacea
Pearly Everylasting
Image result for purple cow vetch
Cow Vetch


Indian Cucumber Root

Anthony was a good sport and showed us what he and his childhood friends did with the giant leaves of the Moose Maple (Acer pensylvanicum).   They tucked the stem of the leaf under their shoe laces and walked around with duck feet.  Interesting friends you had!

At the end of our walk we saw two varieties of Mushrooms. 

We found a large Bolete, but it was to old to identify, but I was able to point out how the inside of the bolete turned blue when you pressed on it, one of the identifying features of Boletes. 

Wow, we spotted a Lobster Mushroom (Hypomyces lactiflurum).  This is one of my favorite edible mushrooms.  This one was to old to pick, but when they are fresh and cut on a plate they are very white inside with the orange/red layer on the outside and yes, they do resemble lobster meat.  Yum, they are delicious!  Caution:  only pick if you can identify it for yourself with 100% confidence! 

   This was the last plant of the walk that we identified.  The race was on to see who could identify it first with their field guide.  Allen was the winner!

It was a fun walk and we look forward to our next Second Sunday walk on September 8, 2016 at the Jay Recreation Trails.