Tuesday, December 13, 2011

White Spots on Trees

Recently I've been noticing the various white spots found on the bark of trees.  Many of these spots are actually crustose lichens of one sort or another, growing within the upper bark tissue.
Many of these white, splotchy, bark dwelling lichens sport various black spots or squiggles (apothecia in various shapes).  These features can aid in identification, but ultimately it seems that a microscope is needed to make any kind of exact identification.
To make identification more difficult, there are also unlichenized fungi that look very similar growing on the bark of the trees
I suppose they aren't much to look at, but they do add a bit of contrast to the woods, especially this time of year in Minnesota.  But what I think is interesting is that they are fairly common and easily seen, but largely unknown to most of us.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mushrooms in the Snow

Winter Mushrooms - Flammulina velutipes
Flammulina velutipes, commonly known as the Winter Mushroom, aka the Velvet Foot, aka the Velvet Stem.  Winter Mushroom might seem like an apt name given the above picture, taken today with the snow.  But F. velutipes can be found during fall, winter, and spring.  Most books use the name Velvet Foot, or Velvet Stem.  They all use F. velutipes (by the way, there are two other identical species, that differ in their habitat.  In Minnesota we just have F. velutipes).

  Another cluster of F. velutipes from November.
From October.
From June?  I'm not one hundred percent positive that these are F. velutipes.  They didn't quite look right.  And all sources I've checked indicate that F. velutipes is a mushroom that grows anytime but summer. But I can't come up with anything else.  Maybe I'll find them again next June for further study.
From April, growing on the same tree as in the first picture.

By the way, the name Velvet Foot or Stem comes from the fact that the lower stem of this mushroom has a black, slightly fuzzy appearance.