Tuesday, August 20, 2013

So Many Miscellaneous Mushrooms

Hi, folks! With our nice, moist spring and this coolish summer, it has been a great year for mushrooms!

As you might remember, Sue and I enjoy going "mushroom-watching." We like to take picture of them on our hikes, even though we're not very careful about getting identifications "just right." As I explained in a previous post, we usually aren't looking for mushrooms to eat.

Nope, we're not into picking them at all, really--well, except for morels (which we can't resist)--since mushrooms are the fungus's spore-bearing structures, picking them represents a dent in their ability to reproduce. If you don't pick wildflowers because you understand wildflowers create seed, then why pick mushrooms willy-nilly? And so we photograph them.

Sue, with her nice camera, takes excellent photos at various angles, while I concentrate on getting ground-level shots and photos of the undersides, which her big camera can't do (remember, my little camera swivels so I can hold it on the ground, beneath the cap, to photograph gills and pores without disturbing the mushroom).

We recently went hiking on some of the nature trails at Columbia's Cosmos Park--near the Bear Creek Trail. I haven't been hiking out there in ages, though I used to hang out at the beaver pond there a lot during college . . .

Anyway, we decided it'd be fun to check out the place again. My, how it's changed!

And yes, there were a lot of mushrooms popping out--various species--what fun!

Here's some type of bolete we saw.

Here's a more artsy picture of the cap of another type of bolete. (If I do say so myself.) I think it might be a two-colored bolete (Boletus bicolor), but again: I'm not too anal about getting them id'd "just so." I'm content to exclaim, "Wow, look at this beautiful bolete!"

Maybe, when it comes to mushrooms, I'm just easily amused.

Here's one I'm fairly confident about identifying: It's an "old man of the woods" (Strobilomyces floccopus). There was a patch of them at one place along the trail. They were kind of camouflaged against the dirt and leaf litter, but once we saw a few of them, they seemed to be all over (in that area).

This was the first time I'd ever seen this type of mushroom "in person." I've seen pictures of them and thought, "That's a cool-looking thing. Wonder if I'll ever seen one." And there they were!

Since they are usually out in July, August, September, and October, I guess it's not surprising I haven't seen them--midsummer, with the skeeters, other bugs, and humidity, isn't my favorite time for hiking in Missouri. But with the unusual cool weather, we got outside and made discoveries!

Well, these few pictures are just a small sample of what we saw, which was itself just a small sample of all that's out there right now. I mean . . . we weren't even looking for them.

If you're interested in mushrooms and want to get more regular updates on what fungi are popping out here in Central Missouri, check out Lisa K. Suits's blog, Mycologista. She takes lovely photos of mushrooms, and she goes the extra mile to identify them correctly. As she says, she's "crazy for wild mushrooms." But if you ever thought mushrooms were boring, you should scroll through her posts for an attitude adjustment.

It's funny how you can go into the woods, say, with binoculars and a bird guide, and plan on seeing a bunch of birds; or you bring old sneakers, a few nets, and containers and a magnifying lens for looking at aquatic invertebrates--but you end up having a "mushroom trip" instead. Or maybe it's the butterflies that are somehow everywhere that day, or daisies. Nature outings, "field trips," can be like that.

. . . And it's always fun!

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