New England weather in early winter can be quite a roller coaster of ups and downs, snow one week, then mid 50's the week after, rain and polar cold winds with a mix of sunshine. We have five more months before any scheduled mushroom forays with the mushroom club, and the fresh wild food foraging can be scarce. Today was one of the sunshine filled 50 degree days, so I ventured out to a local park here in Norwich for some fresh air and to have a peek around. I only had my cell phone with me, so the photos may not be the best.
I found a few ascomycetes, a family of fungus that you might not recognize as a "mushroom" because of their shape. Ascos are usually small and often grow on decaying wood. They can come in many colors, and perhaps the most famous (and the tastiest!) is the morel. Ascomycetes are distinguished from basidiomycetes by how their spores are dispersed. We often use a jeweler's loupe to view the small features of ascos.
|Ascocoryne sarcoides-purple cups|
|Exidia recisa (brown jelly) and Hypoxylon frangiforme (black bumps)|
|Bisporella citrina-yellow discs|
I also came across several parasitic ascos, Elaphocordyceps sp. They are parasitic on an underground elaphomyces truffle, which is not considered edible. The ground is still a bit frozen. so I did not dig up the truffle for observation.
|Elaphocordyceps sp. growing from an underground truffle|
|Trametes versicolor- turkey tails|
|Daedaleopsis confragosa- maze polypore|
I am happy I was able to take advantage of this mild January day. I guess I'll keep an eye on the weather and hope for a few more mild breaks throughout the winter for another adventure and hunt in our local woods.