Fungus in the Tuscarora

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

August 23, 2011

As summer begins to wind down, and summer thunderstorms periodically soak the mountains, we usually get a fruiting of mushrooms in our forests.

This weekend, the Tuscarora State Forest will be hosting Bill Russell from the Central Pennsylvania Wild Mushroom Club at the Karl Guss Picnic Area on Fishing Creek west of Mifflintown. A mushroom walk is a good opportunity to learn from an expert. For more information, see the Tuscarora State Forest’s Facebook Events page.

Identifying mushrooms can be very difficult, I seldom get farther than genus. So, instead of me saying “but I’m not sure” every couple of sentences, if I set off a scientific name with a comma and question mark–I’m not sure.

I took the opportunity to troll through three years of August photographs from the Tuscaroras to see what might be fruiting. I found chanterelles—normally funnel-shape fungus with ropey veins on the undersides.

Chanterelle (Cantherellus spp.)

Chanterelle (Cantherellus, cibarius?)

There were boletes, which look like regular old cap and stem mushrooms, but the underside looks like a sponge.

Shaggy-stalked Bolete (Austroboletus betula)

Shaggy-stalked Bolete (Austroboletus betula)

And I found a couple of somewhat identifiable gilled mushrooms (Agarics) like the brick red Russula.

Russula spp.

A red Russula. There are several closely related species.

This large white mushroom looks very distinctive, and I thought it would be easy to identify. Not so much. It is an Amanita, and that’s all I’m sure of. I suspect it may be the white form of Amanita muscaria (var. alba). In any case, it is a striking fungus.

Amanita spp.

Amanita spp.

I also found a shot that I took late one day of the Jack-o-lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius), which can be an astonishing color of orange. These fungus glow in the dark. I have actually seen it, but I have never managed to get a photo.

Jack-o-lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius)

Jack-o-lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius)

There are tiny little Bird’s Nest fungus.

Bird's Nest Fungus (Cyathus striatus)

Bird's Nest Fungus (Cyathus striatus)

And the very large Ganoderma tsugae. The tsugae part refers to hemlock, which this fungus invades once the tree is compromised by damage or disease or insects. There has been a huge flush of Ganoderma among the hemlocks damaged and killed by the Woolly Adelgid.

Ganoderma tsugae

Ganoderma tsugae

I found this Cauliflower mushroom (Sparassis [herbstii]) along the Little Valley Road. I particularly like this shot. With a  “soft” subject like this, I often check the focus by magnifying the image and looking in my view screen. When I did, I found a  Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica).

Cauliflower mushroom (Sparassis [herbstii])

Cauliflower mushroom (Sparassis, herbstii?). See the frog? 10 o'clock.

Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa) is another large fungus that can often be seen at the base of trees; it prefers hardwoods.

Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa)

Hen of the Woods is usually grayish, but I often find tan-colored specimens. This photo was taken last year at the Karl Guss.

If you get a chance, come out and join the good folks from the Central Pennsylvania Wild Mushroom Club this weekend. If not, maybe you should visit their website–you might even want to join their club.

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