face of the forest

Discoveries from the forest floor and beyond.

Banksia Seed

by amy – November 4, 2012 in Photography
banksia seed, recolored

banksia seed, recolored

Here is an Australian banksia seed that has been made into a wine stopper. These seeds are used ornamentally in wood turning. The colors here have been exaggerated by my tampering; this seed is really just shades of brown (still pretty). However, the banksia flower spike, when blooming, comes in vivid colors.

The Lichen Mushroom

by amy – April 20, 2012 in Mushrooms, Photography

Lichenomphalia umbellifera-2

Here is Lichenomphalia umbellifera, a fungus that is also a lichen! I’m lichen it as my desktop picture.


by amy –  in Words

Sunset - Songweaver

I am a river catching clouds,
Carrying them over mountains.
Over aeons I weave songs in my flowing.
Mellow, lulling, lifting, slowing.

I twinkle with the echoes of knowing.
Men and women’s voices
Wrapped in a veil,
Emitting light,
Are my sheen and my thrum.
In the stillness at twilight,
I weld their frequencies
With the fire of sapphire suns.

At night I am constellated by stars,
My depths struck by angel’s flutes,
And when dove feathers come to rest,
I touch them one by one,
And let them go.

Chicken of the Woods

by amy – February 4, 2012 in Mushrooms

2009-07-18 chicken of the woods2-2

Mushroom: Sulfur Shelf, Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus sulphureus
Location: Somewhere in the woods, Berkshire Mountains
Date: 2009

This was a gigantic sulphur shelf on a log in the middle of a very mossy area, which made it all the more striking for the color contrast. I’ve never tried eating these. It’s edible but doesn’t taste so good in older age. I hear it gets its name from the way it looks when young – which is like uncooked chicken (gross!). Like chicken, you shouldn’t eat this one raw. As I’m just getting into fungi identification, I’m sticking to the ones I know for sure because they’re easy to spot.

This guy is soft and fleshy when young, but eventually gets tough and crumbly. Normally favors oak trees. They are full of water and can weigh up to 50 pounds!

A Raggedy Russell’s Bolete

by amy –  in Mushrooms


Boletellus russelliiMushroom: Russell’s Bolete, boletellus russellii
Date: 2008
Location: Berlin, MA

Here stands a pretty good size Russell’s Bolete, otherwise known as the Jagged Stem Bolete. This one is striking and from what I’ve read, uncommon. The stem/stipe is reticulate, or coursely ridged. The pores are olive-yellow. You can eat it if you want, but it doesn’t come highly recommended due to its blandness. The stalk is quite long in proportion to the size of the cap, giving it quite the royal stature – this one was around 15cm tall. It was standing by its lonesome near hardwood trees. The cap is dry.

Holy Pholiota!

by amy – February 2, 2012 in Mushrooms


Mushroom: Scaly Pholiota, Pholiota squarrosa
Date: 2008
Location: Berlin, MA

This is a nice-looking young cluster of Scaly Pholiota on a fallen maple or cherry tree. The caps haven’t expanded enough yet to break the veil concealing the gills. When this happens, there is a rupture in the scaly surface at the top of the stalk, so you can see its white flesh underneath the cap.

The latin name includes phol meaning scales, and squarrosa meaning that the scales stand upright. As you can see this gives it a spiny sort of appearance. It’s quite a distinctive mushroom.

They smell like garlic, but are not very good to eat. They’ll probably give you a stomachache. The Audubon North American Guide even classifies them as poisonous. These are common in North America on logs or stumps, or at the base of both deciduous trees and conifers, particularly aspen and birch. Their season is July – October.

Horn of Plenty

by amy – February 1, 2012 in Mushrooms

2008-08-17-black-chantarelle-320x426Mushroom: Horn of Plenty (Craterellus cornucopiodes)
Date: Fall 2008
Location: Garfield Woods, Berlin MA

I found this beautiful Horn of Plenty, along with a few others, standing on their own in some moss at the base of a tree. If I had known at the time that they were edible, I would have picked them. Apparently they are renown for their flavor, more than their cousins, the chantarelles, and they’re great for drying.

This is a very distinctive mushroom with its trumpet shape, making it easy to identify. Interestingly, it lacks gills of any kind. It has a few colloquial names including Poor Man’s Truffle and trumpet de mort (trumpet of death). This one may be Craterellus fallax, but the underside doesn’t appear to be salmon or yellow tinted, so I’m sticking with Craterellus cornucopiodes.

According to David Arora, the Horn of Plenty is often overlooked because of its dark, somber appeareance and shadowy habitats. Normally they are hard to find I guess. And it usually appears in clusters, so it is odd that these were standing alone out in the open. I was proud to stumble across them. I think they’re very pretty.

An angel in disguise?

by amy – January 31, 2012 in Mushrooms

2008-08-17-white-umbrellaLocation: Garfield Woods in Berlin, Massachusetts

I found this back in 2008 when I was living in MA. When I first discovered Garfield Hill out in the backwoods of the quaint town of Berlin, I was amazed at the abundance of fungi in every variety and color. It became a favored spot instantly.

Sadly, I don’t remember what kind of mushroom this was. I’m tempted to think it was the Destroying Angel that I found in the vicinity (which I also have a picture of and is unmistakably the Angel). But it lacks the characteristic skirt-like ring near the top of the stem, and the cap is concave. In any case, it was a beautiful specimen. Perhaps this summer or fall I’ll take a trip back there.