Posts filed under ‘Fungus’

Tentacle Beards in Nature?

When I first encountered the Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) in Douthat State Park, I thought it looked like a Koosh Ball.

Karyn at Boulders 2 Bit uncovered another fungal look-a-like this past June at the NC Museum of Life and Science— Cedar-Apple Rust (Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae) and Davy Jones from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean!

I highly recommend checking out her post to learn more about Cedar-Apple Rust and see part of its lifecycle in action!
I’m Galled By It: Cedar-Apple Rust

November 23, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Opening Your Eyes to Fungi

Earlier this year, I ran across a wonderful quote by Alexander Graham Bell:

We are all too much inclined to walk through life with our eyes shut. There are things all around us, and right at our very feet, that we have never seen; because we have never really looked.

Bell’s thoughts were particularly fitting a few weeks ago when Tony Airaghi and I hiked the 0.6 miles to the giant Keffer Oak. We brought along a copy of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. With our eyes on the lookout, this section of trail– mind you a section I have done numerous times before– unveiled a whole other world. We found mushrooms all around us, sometimes right at our very feet.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Possible Chrome Footed Bolete
Possible Chrome Footed Bolete
Sinking Creek Mountain - Possible Chanterelle
Possible Chanterelle
Sinking Creek Mountain - Yellow Unicorn Entoloma
Possible Yellow Unicorn Entoloma
Sinking Creek Mountain - Some Kind of Cup Mushroom
Some Kind of Cup Mushroom
Sinking Creek Mountain - Walnut Mycena Mushroom
Possible Walnut Mycena Mushroom
Sinking Creek Mountain - Emetic Russula and Baby Pine 2
Possible Emetic Russula
Sinking Creek Mountain - Spindle Shaped Yellow Coral
Possible Spindle Shaped Yellow Coral
Sinking Creek Mountain - Tacky Green Russula From Side
Possible Tacky Green Russula

We found so many mushrooms, in fact, our journey to the Keffer Oak was incredibly slow. Every few steps, we spotted another specimen and began flipping through the field guide again.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Tony Looking up Mushrooms
Tony Looking Up More Mushrooms

It took us well over an hour to make it to the tree. Where, with our eyes calibrated for fungus, we discovered yet another mushroom– this one growing right on the giant oak. : )

Sinking Creek Mountain - Tony, Mushroom  Book and Mushroom on Keffer Oak
Tony with Mushroom Growing on Keffer Oak

Sinking Creek Mountain - Tony, Mushroom  Book and Mushroom on Keffer Oak (Cropped)
Mushroom on Keffer Oak

With all these new discoveries on a familiar section of trail, I have to applaud Alexander Graham Bell. When it came to fungus, I was all too inclined to walk this section with my eyes shut.

More pictures of our mushroom discoveries and the hike to Keffer Oak can be found on my Flickr site.

P.S. Do not eat anything based on my photo captions. We are beginners and have very little confidence in our identifications!

Appalachian Trail – Keffer Oak

Length: 1.2 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: There is a brief hill near the beginning of the trail, but nothing too scary.

Driving and Parking: The roads are all paved and there is a small gravel parking lot at the VA-630 trailhead.

Directions from Blacksburg, VA
Take 460 West
Turn right on VA-42
Bear right to stay on VA-42

Turn right on VA-629
Turn right on VA-630
The trailhead will be on your left shortly after passing over a bridge

August 31, 2009 at 5:00 am 5 comments

Newbold-White House Recreation Trail

Nineteen miles southwest of Elizabeth City, the town of Hertford is home to the oldest brick house in North Carolina. It is known as the Newbold-White House and it was built in 1730 as part of a riverside plantation. Today the house is a museum, open March 1st through Thanksgiving, where visitors can partake in a 45 minute tour of the grounds.

It wasn’t the historic building, however, which brought me there last January. Ryan Somma and I were looking for an afternoon outing with the dogs. The Newbold-White House is set upon 143 acres and has its very own Recreation Trail to the Perquimans River and better yet– the trail is open year round.

The Recreation Trail itself is straight forward– about a mile round-trip, flat and wide. We did take the time to explore the shoreline, a nearby swamp, a nearby decaying tree and the surprising remains of an automobile in the sand. It was a humble outing, but an interesting and fulfilling one.

The trails starts views of the historic buildings and ends at the beautiful Perquimans River. A nearby Bald Cypress Swamp adds to the scenery.

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - House
The Newbold-White House

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Henry on Sand
Henry Enjoys Shoreline

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Water Ripples
Bald Cypress Tree and Spanish Moss from Dock

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Decay and Bald Cypresses (Landscaipe)
Bald Cypress Swamp

Along the way, Somma and I spied three separate fire ant nests. Hoards of mussels were present in the river and finally, there was evidence a raccoon(?) had visited the river recently– its footprints were still in the sand.

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Ryan Points to Fireants
Ryan Points to Fire Ant Nest

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Ridges in Mussel Shell, Ridges in Fingersl
Shellfish from River

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Raccoon and Henry Prints
Raccoon Tracks? (Above the fresh Henry track)

The trail passes through plantation lands, so you get to see an old cotton crop. I was surprised to see a yellow dandelion in full bloom in the middle of January. On the other hand, I wasn’t surprised to see the bald cypress trees, Spanish moss and mistletoe that are prevalent to the area. There were some great dried up yellow berries (anyone know what they are?). But it was the fungus that stole the show for me. Lots and lots of fungus.

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Jimmie in Cotton Field
Jimmie Runs Through Domesticated Flora

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Old Roots and a Standing Cypress Tree
Old Bald Cypress Roots, Cypress Trees and Spanish Moss

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Lots of Yellow Berries
Yellow Berries

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Mushroom and Foam
Fungus Sneaks into a Crevice

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Mushroom Colony From Above
Layers of Fungus on Dead Tree

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Tiered Mushroom
Leaf Catching Mushroom

Right on the shoreline of the Perquimans River, slightly south of the dock, we found some old rusted parts in the sand. It turned out to be an old automobile being reclaimed by the elements.

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Car Fossil -  Springs and Engine Block
Car Fossil – Springs and Engine Block

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Car Fossil -  Sand Filled Speedometer
Car Fossil – Radio

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Car Fossil -  Rusted Car Part in Wave
Car Fossil – Part in Wave

Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Car Fossil -  Spark Plugs
Car Fossil – Transistors

More information about the museum and its grounds can be found at the official Newbold-White House website. And as always, more pictures of our visit can be found on my Flickr site.

Newbold-White House Recreation Trail

Length: ~1 mile round trip

Elevation Gain: None

Directions from Elizabeth City, NC

Take US-17 South about 15.7 miles

Turn left at Church Street

After about 1.4 miles, turn left on Newbold White Road

Road ends at the museum parking

February 23, 2009 at 6:00 am 8 comments

Koosh Balls in Nature!

Last weekend I went hiking with both dogs (Henry’s first real hike since his leg injury!) in Douthat State Park. On the Blue Suck Falls Trail, I got introduced to a new fungus. The scientific name is Hericium erinaceus. Like fern fronds (a.k.a. fiddleheads), the fungus has a bunch of common names based on its appearance such as “Lion’s Mane Mushroom” and “Hedgehog Mushroom”. Until I was enlightened, I called it something else entirely.

I called it the “Koosh ball fungus”.

My Koosh ball fungus from Douthat State Park

Perusing Flickr, it looks like I’m not the only one who has spotted Koosh ball dopplegängers in nature! And these copycats are diverse. With my mushroom, the Plantae, Animalia and Fungi kingdoms are all represented. A variety of habitats are accounted for as well- tropical, underwater and even deserts.

Here are a few of the Koosh ball impersonators, courtesy of Creative Commons:

“koosh?” by Brenda Anderson

“Nature’s Koosh Ball” by mattsabo17

“koosh ball tree” by orphanjones

“It looks like a Koosh!” by skyfall

“Koosh” by omiksemaj

“looks like a koosh ball” by whalt

“au naturale koosh® ball” by druid labs

“Artichoke flower” by Erik++ (The description reads “It kind of looks like a koosh ball”)

And finally—

“smokey @ 5.37p” by yatta (The description reads “Her famous koosh ball impression.”)

Yup. I do believe this is cause for another Flickr group. 🙂

October 23, 2008 at 12:43 am 5 comments

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