The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Crushing on mushrooms

I’m assisting in an ecosystems-based ecology course this term, and it is a FREAKING RIOT.  The labs are  entirely field-based, and we take students out to explore different types of ecosystems in the region around The University, often with the help of various experts.  For today’s lab, we had a fungus expert leading the way.  After a brief lecture, we set the students loose in the woods, armed with paper bags and pocket knives for collecting specimens.  We were only supposed to bring back ONE species each.

I think I got a little carried away. (And this little pile was what remained after grudgingly handing over other Really Cool Stuff to students who hadn’t had as much luck as I did).  

What amazed me most was when we all regrouped – we laid out our treasures in a circle, and there was hardly any overlap in species; almost everyone had picked something unique.  Holy diversity, Batman!

I think the brownish jelly cup fungus (bottom left corner) and the yellow-capped Pholiota sp. (top right corner) were my favourites, but I also developed a huge crush on coral fungi.  One student found a clump as big as a soccer ball!  We found several shades of them too, including a soft purple.

Here’s a look at some of our goodies.  I think I’ll be paying more attention to these beauties in the future!

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12 responses to “Crushing on mushrooms

  1. Andrea J. September 21, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    So, did you get any edible species…? Because *that* would have been the best ecology lab ever.

    • TGIQ September 22, 2010 at 8:15 AM

      The two corals and the yellow Pholiota on my book are edible (though the corals were past their prime and the Pholiota is not thought to be terribly tasty). We found quite a lot of “edibles” but were all made to promise not to taste anything, just in case, to avoid any ugly legal repercussions for the instructors. 😛

  2. Warren September 21, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    this post is freakin sweet

  3. Heath September 21, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    I can’t look at fungus of any sort without thinking of what kind of beetles might be there. Probably some cool little staph beetles and maybe some sort of erotylids or tenebrionids. Either way sounds like a good class to assist with.

    • TGIQ September 22, 2010 at 8:17 AM

      Actually, we spent a considerable time picking apart/cutting open a number of mushrooms near the end of the day, poking around in feeding chambers. I found a few lep larvae and some pretty, spotted mites in some puffballs, and saw what I presumed to be beetle damage on many shelf fungi, but never found any actual beetles, sadly.

  4. Steve Willson September 21, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    Wonderful fungi. Our drought is now into its tenth week and there’s not one fungi to be found.

  5. jason September 21, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    Corals are definitely the Fonzies of the fungi world.

  6. MObugs41 October 1, 2010 at 8:06 PM

    The only thing I like to photograph more than insects are fungi!!!! I am creating my own personal field guide and challenge myself to learn their ID. I just photographed a new one to me called a Honey Mushroom. I would faint or my head would start spinning at the mushroom overload you experienced…WOW. That purple coral mushroom is incredible!

    • TGIQ October 15, 2010 at 5:02 PM

      This is something you should share, methinks. Photographs and field notes, all online…it would be Teh Awesome. And yeah, that purple coral fungus pretty much made my head explode, it was so cool.

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