face of the forest

Discoveries from the forest floor and beyond.

Category: Mushrooms

Otari-Wilton Winter Foray Part II

by amy – July 16, 2016 in Mushrooms


We were back at Otari-Wilton Bush today to see what else the trails had to offer in the way of fearless winter fungi. We’ve had a few chilly days recently, but nothing close to freezing. Today was sunny and the air was fresh.

There were only tiny mushrooms visible on the trailside. Some had caps that measured only a couple millimeters across. Here are a few of those miniscule shroomy subjects for your perusal. read more

Mushroom foray in Otari-Wilton Bush

by amy – July 10, 2016 in Mushrooms
Gills of a Cortinarius species found in Otari-Wilton Bush.

Gills of a Cortinarius species found in Otari-Wilton Bush.

I had originally intended this blog to be about discoveries “from the forest floor” – particularly mushrooms. I love photographing all kinds of mushrooms, and this developed into an interest in identifying them too. When I moved to Vancouver in 2012, I joined the mycological society (the VMS) and was a member for three years, eventually becoming a board member as well. We did annual forays which were a lot of fun and very informative. Since moving to New Zealand last year (it’s been one year to the day, today!) I haven’t done any outings specifically to hunt for mushrooms. I’ve missed it.

More recently I discovered Geoff Ridley’s blog called Spores, Moulds and Fungi where he posts frequently about fungi found in the local Wellington area. This gave me the “fungus fever” and I decided to head out to Otari-Wilton Bush for the first time, which is a botanic garden of native plants and trees just a 10-minute drive from our house. Florian joined me and we spent the better part of the afternoon walking through some beautiful forest trails. We had a great time. I got my mushroom fix and took lots of photos. There wasn’t anything too exciting out, perhaps due to it being the winter season, but there were a few finds which I’m going to share here.  read more

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.

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.

Miniature marasmius on an oak leaf

by amy – November 10, 2011 in Mushrooms