This is a great summer for mushrooms. A walk in the neighborhood or in the woods of Rock Creek will show you an amazing variety of shapes and colors.
My recent article in Forest Hills Connection (“The wild and wonderful world of mushrooms”) sparked interest, and friends began to send me interesting photos. Sadly, I can’t identify most of them. So just enjoy the pictures.
Orange mushrooms growing out of a mossy log.
This green russula was found in Rock Creek’s woods. Russulas come in many colors – pink, yellow, beige. The stout stem and white gills aid identification
A slug is about to chow down on this rose-like mushroom. Insects and animals destroy many mushrooms. This is a polypore, a mushroom without gills. Spores come out of little pores in its spongy underside.
This time of year I look for this “coral mushroom” on dead logs in Rock Creek Park. No gills – it carries its spores on those spikes that look like icicles.
These mushrooms send their hypha (roots) into a dead tree, working to break down its wood to get food. The chemicals the hypha secrete will decay the wood.
To identify a mushroom you need to see the cap and study the underside, particularly the kind of gills it has. The books suggest you smell and even taste it. Even so, I have not been able to identify this clump.
This fresh mushroom has just pushed through the soil. You can see the remains of the veil which covered the cap. In some mushrooms this veil becomes a ring around the stem.
There are lots of different boletus in the woods this year. This is a yellow one with a spongy underside and little pores that release the spores. Boletus species have a symbiotic relationship with tree roots, and this one is probably growing under an oak.
Members of the sparassis family are known as “cauliflower” mushrooms. This one is growing from the roots or base of a tree.
Known as Caesar’s amanita, this yellow member of the amanita family is poisonous. Notice the bulbous base, a characteristic of amanitas.
The mushroom season will last through October. Some species will disappear, but new species will pop up with each rain if the temperature is right.
Thanks to Carol Simon, Marlene Berlin and Eric Kravetz for the photos.