Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mushroom Log - Late August 2017

Laccaria ochropurpurea
Though this mushroom does show some variation in color, the differences in coloration in these photos is probably more due to differences in the lighting.

Mycena semivestipes
 Bleach-like odor, growing on a well decayed log.

Marasmius siccus
This small mushroom decomposes hardwood debris.

Suillus americanus
 Growing under white pines.  Note the brown coloration that occurs when the mushroom is "bruised".
Amanita sp.
A. vaginata or one of it's many look a likes.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mushroom Log - Late August 2017

All the mushrooms featured in this post were found in white pine stands at Afton State Park.

Lactarius indigo
I think all mushrooms are pretty cool, even LBMs.  But a big blue mushrooms is really cool!

Laccaria sp.
 Possibly L. laccata or similar species, of which there are a few.

Inocybe sp.

Possibly I. geophylla.

The two species pictured just above were everywhere in one patch of white pines.  I think it's interesting how both species are so highly variable in appearance, especially as they dry out and more or less blend together to the casual observer.

Trichloma sp.
 Possibly T. myomyces based on it's overall appearance, small size, and habitat.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mushroom Log - Late August 2017

Suillus subaureus
I found these growing under a small white pine next to the parking lot of a Little Caeser's.  Features that led me to this identification include: habitat, large size, overall orange to brown color, yellow flesh, and the dark dots on the stem (which are called glandular dots).  There's speculation that this mushroom has shifted its habitat preferences from strictly white pine to aspen and other trees as white pines were logged in the 18th century.  I wonder if the mushroom photographed has "switched" back to white pine that are planted in landscaping.  Or maybe as species it's always had fairly catholic habitat preferences and the observed change from white pine to other trees just reflects changes in vegetation (not sure if I explained that thought well, but I'm in a rush).

And by the way, I had forgotten my wallet, so I couldn't get any pizza!

Chlorophyllum molybdites
Growing in lawns in my NE Minneapolis neighborhood.  Collected by my daughter, Adele.  Note the greenish gills in the lower center photograph, this is key in seperating this species from the very similar C. rhacodes.  Also note that C. molybdites is poisonous/

Tubaria furfuracea
Unknown mushroom

These mushrooms were growing near and among the above.  I didn't take really good notes, but the variable cap color (changing as it dries), fragile stem, and a dark spore point to a species of Psathyrella.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mushroom Log - Mid August 2017

Simocybe centunculus
A wood growing LBM with a granular sort of texture to give it some distinction.

Bolbittius reticulatus
It features a slimy cap.

Coprinellus disseminatus
The mushrooms in these photos inhabit a well-rotted stump.  I think I first noticed these mushrooms about fifteen years ago, when instead of a stump, they inhabited a rotten spot at the base of a basswood (if memory serves me correct).  We're sort of friends at this point.
 Mycena haematopus

Trichaptum biforme

 Xeromphalina kauffmanii

Unknown Mushrooms
Light brown spore print, growing in loose cluster along the edge of a trail that followed the edge of a deciduous woods.  Tough, especially the stem.  The stem also showed some slight granular texture.  Maybe Pholiota terrestrias, but most sources describe that species as more scaly. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Firefly, Lightning Bug, Glow-worm

Firefly, lightning bug and glow-worm are three names that all refer to the same thing, sort of.  They are all commonly used names for a group of bioluminescent beetles in the the family Lampyridae.  Bioluminescence is the ability of some animals to create light from compounds produced within their bodies.  More specifically, firefly and lightning bug refer to the adult beetles while glow-worm refers to the larva.

Firefly and lightening bug refer to the adult stage of lampyrids, but they are actually not flies or bugs, they are beetles.  And the use of the words fire and lightning is a bit ironic since the light that lampyrids create is "cold".  All of the energy used (in the form of ATP) produces light with none lost as heat, a feat we have been unable to achieve with light bulbs so far.  The name glow-worm refers to the larval stage.  Of course they aren't actually worms at all, and to my eye are one of the least worm-like larva I've seen, instead resembling some sort of miniaturized ankylosaur.  But hey, it should really come as no surprise that commonly applied names don't stand up to taxonomic scrutiny, and something more descriptive like cold light beetle doesn't have the same ring.

There are about 170 species of fireflies in North America.  Minnesota has about a dozen species; there's no comprehensive list that I could find, and though fireflies as a group are easy to recognize, identification to species isn't always easy.

A few generalities that can be made about fireflies:
  • The larva are usually predaceous and are found in damp environs, often rotting wood.  
  • The larva usually over winter
  • Adults use their light producing abilities to attract mates, with different species often having different flash patterns.
  • Adults are thought not to eat.
see below for illustration credit
But like so many groups of organisms, there are just as many differences and variations, including:
  • Some overwinter as adults, possibly emerging when maple sap starts to flow.
  • Some firefly species are active during the day and don't have bioluminescence.
  • The adults of some firefly species are predaceous and mimic the flash patterns of other species in order to lure them in.

There's more to know and other interesting adaptations (like reflex bleeding) that I could write about, but I think I'll refer you to some excellent online resources.


The picture I used in the middle of this post is from an article entitled "Studies on the Flash Communication System in Photinus Fireflies" by James E. Lloyd" published by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Miscellaneous Publication No. 130, 1966