Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cool Fungus, Questionable ID

One excellent thing about walking in the forest this time of year is that I’m seeing things I don’t much notice during other times of the year. During April and May, my eyes and ears are consumed with finding and seeing those lovely little jewel birds, the warblers. In September and October, I’m more concerned with raptors. Winter, of course, has its own loveliness. Summer is green and flowery. But March?

Right now I’m finding a lot of cool fungus and mushrooms. I’ve also discovered that I can’t ID many of them, despite currently owning 2 mushroom identification books (and have just ordered a third one) and visiting multiple and often very nice Web sites. In the process, I’ve discovered an entire subculture of nice people who are really, really in to mushroom identification and photography. However, even they can’t agree on identifications but seem to enjoy the arguments to no end. Who knew?

So here I am with today’s photo, a nice grouping of fungus that I discovered on a recent evening walk. What is it? I’m not sure, but I’ve narrowed it down. At the moment I’m leaning toward something in the polypore family, and more particularly towards something called Mossy Maple. If I’m correct, the green color is really moss on the fungus and not a color of the fungus itself. The fungus is not on a maple stump, but I’m told this isn’t a dealbreaker by any means. Polypore fungus include most of the fungus that look like a shelf, as this one does.

In fact, it’s this green color that makes the identification difficult. The other possible and seemingly likely choices, such as Turkey Tail or even False Turkey Tail, to name just a few, are not typically green towards their centers, ranging more to browns and reds.

So for now my identification is a tentative one. Sometimes that happens and not only with fungus. Back in the day when I was a beginning birder I saw a lovely huge shorebird at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, and I spent 8 years considering my ID of it a tentative one. What I saw was a bird that wasn’t supposed to be where I saw it, so I assumed I must have identified it incorrectly. Years later I came across a book of bird sightings in the county that included a record of the bird I saw with the ID I originally made. And it was only then that I moved my ID from the tentative side to the certainty side of my records. But that’s a story for another day.


Cicero Sings said...

Oh I'm glad to hear it! I've 2 or 3 fungi books, visited various and sundry sites and still can't identify the ones I've found and photographed either. So glad to hear someone else has the same problem! Fungi are such fascinating things though, when you can find them, the shapes they can take, the colors.

Enjoy your discoveries.

Dana Jones said...

Yours looks like a larger variety of a similar fungus on my dead oak. I'll post a photo on my blog. Yours is really a nice example. I'd almost be tempted to use those shelves as a stage for little toys, maybe animals who live in the fungi forest. But I know the naturalists would not approve. Dare to dream.