Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Recent Mushrooms - Late July 2012, part II

Reticulate Bolete - Boletus cf. reticulatus

A bolete that is very similar to the prized King Bolete, Boletus edulis.  I believe it is B. cf. reticulatus.    Some details that led me to this identification:
No bruising reactions.  The pores slowly turned to a brownish something-or-another color in the ones I brought home.  They described as turning brown, or not bruising when mature.  The flesh remained white.
White reticulation on the upper portions of the stem, browner lower down.  The stem peels in the older mushrooms, as in the photo below.
This mushroom also strongly resembles a Tylopilus bolete, but mushrooms of that genus tend to taste bitter (sometimes extremely so), and have spore prints on the reddish side of brown; this mushroom tasted very mild and had a brown spore print on the olive side of things (I find trying to discern the various shades of brown spore prints to be a bit frustrating and very subjective).

Note: B. reticulatus is a European mushroom.  The cf. in the name means this mushroom resembles B. reticulatus, but may actually be a different species.  Also note that when I first posted this mushroom, I misidentified it as B. variipes (and I could have misidentified it yet again).

Orange Grisette - Amanita crocea

Tall and spindly (like me), but like most Amanitas, still quite appealing to the eyes (quite debatable).  It was hard to find a description of this species; it closely resembles A. fulva and A. vaginata, both of which also lack a ring around the stem (most Amanitas have a ring around the stem, which is the remains of the partial veil, or the tissue that covers the immature gills).  Other identifying features:
Orangish colored cap.  The margins of the cap are lined, with a darker center.  The surface was a bit viscid. 
Gills free from the stem, visible in the mushroom pictured to the right, which is an older specimen.
Orangish, scaly stem.
A sac-like cup (volva) at the base of the stem, which I had to dig around to make visible.

Sulfur Shelf - Laetiporus sulphureus

This one is past it's prime, but I found another one that's going to be cooked into a curry noodle dish with tomatoes from the garden.

Crested Coral - Clavulina cristata

I was going for some creative lighting effect.  What do you think?

Lepiota sp.

These are well past their prime, but I thought they looked interesting.

Garlic Marasmius - Marasmius scorodonius

The tough, wiry stem is a good clue that these mushrooms are a species of Marasmius.  They have a definite garlic smell, and can be used to add flavor to dishes.  

Orange Pinwheel Marasmius - Marasmius siccus

Again, the tough, wiry stem indicates a species of Marasmius.  And the small size.  This one seemed to float above the dead leaves and twigs on the ground.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Banded Tussock Moth

Banded Tussock Moth, Halysidota tessellaris, a member of the Arctiidae family, or the Tiger, Lichen, and Wasp moths.
A few interesting facts about the Banded Tussock Moth (from "Tiger Moths and Wooly Bears" edited by William E. Conner).

  • Caterpillars often rests and feed in conspicuous places, so they are probably distasteful to birds.
  • Caterpillars eat their molted skins, including the hair (setea), possibly to retain toxic compounds they have obtained from feeding.
  • Caterpillars incorporate their hairs into their coccoons, presumably for further protection.
  • Adults feed on certain plants containing PAs (pyrrolizidine alkaloids, toxic stuff) that are used in the production of pheremones used during mating (mostly female moths).
  • They do this by regurgitating on the plants and then drinking the fluid which contains PAs dissolved from the plant tissue.
  • Word of the day: pharmacophagy (meaning literally drug eating).  Many members of the Artiidae practice pharmacophagy and use the ingested chemicals for defensive or mating purposes.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recent Mushrooms - Late July 2012

Agaricus sp.

These particular Agaricus fruit every summer and/or fall after some good rain in the woods at Westwood Hills Nature Center.  The two in the foreground are younger specimens that haven't fully opened up yet.  I think they might be A. silvicola.  Below are some pictures that feature identifying characteristics of the genus, and features that lead me to believe it to be A. silvicola.
Agaricus mushrooms have a thick veil covering their gills at first.  According to most guides, the veil of A. silvicola usually shows a cogwheel-like pattern, and is white with yellowish stains. 
As the cap expands, the veil breaks away from the cap and forms a skirt-like ring around the stalk.  The shape of the ring varies between different Agaricus species and can be important for identification.  Agaricus species have pink or pale gills when young.
As an Agaricus mushroom matures, the gills typically turn a dark brown.  The spores are also dark brown.
The gills of Agaricus mushrooms are free from the stalk.
An important feature in identifying species of Agaricus is how the stalk and cap stain when bruised.  These mushrooms stained yellow, though not dramatically.  Odor is another important id feature.  I didn't notice a particular odor;  guides note a sweet, almond-like odor.
The caps of the mushrooms I found seemed to darken with age, a feature not mentioned in guides.  But Agaricus species, while easy to recognize as a genus, can be difficult to identify to species.  One of the reasons is that the features that separate the different species vary with their particular environment.  It's also possible that I was looking at two different, but similar species.

Fawn Mushroom - Pluteus cervinus   

Unidentified mushrooms

Tough little mushroom, growing from wood chips.  Maybe a species of Marasmius.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Recent Mushrooms - Late June to Early July 2012

It's been pretty dry recently, so there hasn't been a lot of mushrooms out.  Plus, I haven't had a lot of time to look, but below are a few that I found and photographed in the past few weeks.

Malodorous Lepiota - Lepiota cristata

Amanita sp.

Possibly Amanita vaginata, commonly known as the Grisette.  Unlike most Amanitas, it lacks a ring around the stalk.  It does have a cup at the base, like most other Amanitas.

Little Helmets - Coprinellus disseminatus

 Puffball - Calvatia fragilis

A medium sized (4-8 cm wide) puffball commonly found in lawns and other grassy areas.  When the interior is white, it is edible.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fuzzy Orange Caterpillar

Yellow Caterpillar - Spilosoma virginica
Despite its color, the caterpillar featured in this post is know as the Yellow Bear, Spilosoma virginica.  They in a variety of colors: whitish, yellow, orange, brown, to nearly black.  They are the caterpillars of the Virginian Tiger Moth.  They eat a wide variety of plants.
They are similar to the more familiar Woolly Bear Caterpillar, Pyrrharctia isabella.  The Woolly Bear is typically black on its ends with orange in the middle, but it can be all orange, like the Yellow Bear pictured here (it can also be all black).  So they can look very similar, and have similar habits, but the Yellow Bear typically has a long hair projecting from each tuft of short hairs (this feature can be used to distinguish it from other similar Tiger Moth caterpillars).